Friday, August 1, 2014

A Hundred Years Ago

It was a hundred years ago today....that Prussia (Germany) entered into World War I. For the most part, people had heard rumors for almost a month over negotiations taking place.  What was generally believed until the last couple of days prior to the war starting....was that it'd be strictly a Habsburg Empire/Prussia situation against Russia, Serbia, and France.  Based on a fair amount of reading that I've done on the topic....the Kaiser came to some moment of shock finding out that England would also be in on the conflict.

The general perception on this day by the Kaiser and his Prussian military staff.....was that the war was destined to be six to twelve months long.  Prussian strategy and strength would quickly overcome the Russians....maybe in a matter of three months, and then they'd turn the mighty force quickly from the eastern front to the western front, and take down France quickly.

The objective with the short war?  Simply blunt force....get people to the table to talk over the war, and then sign over property to Prussia as the winner.

The public sentiment in Prussia?  Nationalism went into turbo, and I doubt if you could have found anyone pushing a peace agenda.

On this day in Wiesbaden a hundred years ago?  The wealthy aristocratic visitors from Russia, England, France and so on....were desperately being told to vacate the area....get on the train....and head out of Prussia ASAP.  Some could not believe the speed at which things were progressing.  Those who took their time....quickly found their wonderful hosts....were not so wonderful.  A number of British citizens caught in the middle.....became prisoners and spent months in some Germans prison.

The Kaiser's mental attitude?  What most will say from a historical that by the sixth month of the war....he began to realize that it wasn't going to early easily or quickly, and his mental attitude started to slide in a dramatic fashion.  He was not a guy capable of handling this type of situation....nor easily capable of grasping when it was time to fold on the situation that had developed.

Wiesbaden in general....would suffer greatly from the effects of the war.  The foreign guests who were chased away.....really never came back.  The vast sums of money that built a lot of the mansions in town?  It peaks out in the summer of 1914.  Economically, it would never return to that level of capital generation....even today.

Whatever the Serbs felt would be gained from the murder of the Crown Prince....I doubt if they understood the players in this conflict or where it would lead onto.  As for Russia?  Standing beside Serbia was a pretty stupid move, without any real payback.  If the Czar had simply told the Serbs to cooperate to some degree with the Hapsburgs....the war is avoided, and the world is never changed by the chaos and events of World War I and II.

So a hundred years have passed since that day.

No comments: