Doubleday Page & Co. New York 1920
|This book was published in 1920
and was the fruit of 14 years the author spent working in the Austro-Hungarian diplomatic
service at the level of Consul General.
As such it's a first hand account of events leading up to WWI which is interesting as this reviewer hasn't seen it referred to in the current confusing debate. Revisionist author McMeekin says that the Russians and French were at fault, others say the Germans and Austro-Hungarians and still others say that Serbian radicals started it or everyone was "sleepwalking towards war"or perhaps railway timetables and mobilizations took on a life of their own.
Goricar pins the blame directly on Germany/ Austria-Hungary. Basically this alliance wanted war and Russia and France didn't, and he provides a good deal of first hand evidence:
He shows for instance that 30 years before WWI, the ideas of "Lebensraum (living space)" and the "Drang nach Osten (drive to the East)" were well established as where ideas of German racial superiority.
After Von Moltke's 1871 victory over the French he wanted a direct attack on Russia. A voluminous Pan-German literature supported these ideas with one example among many being Karl Jentsch's 1893 book, "Neither Communism nor Capitalism" saying, "The German colonists, spread over these wide areas, would be under the protection of the German Kaiser. In this manner, the whole European East, aswell as Asia Minor, would form one mighty German Empire, a rampart for European culture against Russian and Mongol hordes, Germany becoming the Empire of empires."
Slavs (i.e. Russians, Poles, Slovenes, Slovaks, Czechs, Serbians, Ruthenes and Ukrainians) were constantly referred to as so-called inferior races and on P.86 he quotes from the address of German publicist Maximilian Harden to an audience which included the foreign minister, Count Berchtold and a dozen leading army generals, "Every war is justified, even against a small people, if it is for the purpose of guarding national prestige and if it brings advantage to your country."
Or Hugo Witte, the German consul in Mukden, Manchuria, replying to the author's question, "Why should Germany proceed aggressively against Russia?". (top)
|Answer, "...that Russia has
immense, undeveloped and uncultivated territories in her empire. These territories must be
opened to human activity. ....Russia must be partitioned among Austria-Hungary, Germany,
Sweden, Rumania, Turkey and Japan. .... We must give Russian such a blow that we may take
away from her not only the Baltic provinces but also Petrograd, and make Finland
independent or give it to Sweden. etc.
The obvious question is whether these bellicose words were matched by action and the answer is surely yes.
The Treaty of Berlin 1878 allowed the temporary occupation and administration of Bosnia-Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary under the suzerainty of the Sultan of Turkey, however on the 7th October 1908 the territory was formally annexed to Austria-Hungary, much to the consternation of neighbouring Serbia.
They logically assumed that they were next, and 6 months later they did in fact face an utimatum from the Austro-Hungarian Council of Ministers requiring the "Unconditional recognition of the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and renunciation of agitation against the Hapsburg monarchy" so under threat of invasion, Serbia accepted the terms on the 31st of March 1909.
The book doesn't say it, but from the Austro-Hungarian point of view, they were worried by the example of Serbian nationalism animating nationalist feeling among the many Slavonic peoples within the Empire, threatening its collapse (which eventually happened - but after WWI) or the idea of Pan-Slavism in general.
The German answer was seen in a pre-emptive strike against Serbia-Russia in a combined Austro-Hungarian and German action especially considering 1) the German view of the invincibility of its army 2) the perceived current weakness of Russian forces.
Goricar goes at some length into the cynical German-Austrian attempts to hide their strategy but the basic facts still remained. After the assassination of Grand Duke Ferdinand, Austria-Hungary didn't have to give an ultimatum to Serbia but they did. Germany didn't have to give the ultimatum unquestioned support but they did, and an international call for a Pea