Asia had a very different political and economic landscape in the 1930s before the Second Sino-Japanese War. Due to the Xinhai Revolution in 1911, the Qing Dynasty collapsed into several weak states. This was a far cry from the unified superstate that dominates Asia today.
By John Keller | United States
In 1914, the stage was set for a world war with European imperialism, growing nationalism, and a web of alliances all coming to a head. The “Powderkeg” of Europe, the Balkans, was set to explode for the third time in two years with the assassination of Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The German Empire, a key military power of the Central Alliance, lost the war before a shot was even fired. How is this possible? There are several reasons for this, but they fall mainly into seven themes: The German independence of command structure, the mass alteration of the set military plan, the gross misjudgement of French military power, the inability to calculate the size and power of the Russian military, the underestimation of the British field army, overestimation of Austro-Hungarian military strength, and the failure to keep Italy in the Triple Alliance.
An Independent Command Structure
The first major error of the German military was its structure of independence of command. The German officer corps, deeply rooted with origins in the Prussian military dating as far back as 1525, boasted a strong tradition that if an officer was correctly trained he could act independently of orders because he would simply know what to do. This system, although effective when dating back to the set-piece battles of the 1700’s, proved to be disastrous for the German Empire. An example of this is at the Battle of the Marne, occurring September 5th through the 12th, 1914.
The German First and Second Army were attacking towards Paris and were starting to lose momentum. The French commander, General Joffre, quickly counterattacked against German General Bulow’s First Army’s right flank. Due to Bulow lacking direct orders in the field from von Moltke, the German Chief of Staff, Bulow ordered his men from his left flank to reinforce his right. This created a several mile wide gap between his army and the neighboring Second Army under General von Kluck. Joffre recognized the opportunity, seized the initiative, and ordered the British Expeditionary Force forward, directly into the gap. As the gap widened, panic struck the two German generals and, lacking communication, a general collapse of the German armies ensued. Lastly, the head of the German command, von Moltke, was proven to be an incompetent leader due to his belief that once he set a plan in motion, his generals would be able to swiftly execute it without major issues or direct intervention from his headquarters. This is apparent during the First Battle of the Masurian Lakes and the First Battle of the Marne when von Moltke issued a total of two orders, neither directed towards either of the battle zones. This inability to coordinate attacks and failure of the German generals to cooperate cost them the war.
A Modified Plan
Although the German officer corps was plagued with issues in regards to the autonomy of their generals on the field, they also suffered from Moltke’s constant alteration of the original military strategy. The German military plan, originally formed by Schlieffen, called for a strong right-wing thrust through the Netherlands and Belgium and into northern France, where the bulk of the army would be in position to take Paris and strike the rear of the French military, leading to a swift victory and allowing for the Germans to then swing their full military might on Russia. The problem that arose occurred when Moltke ordered 40,000 men, roughly the strength of a corp, away from Third Army, under General Hausen, which served as the center of the swing through Belgium. These men were strategically redeployed to the 8th Army in East Prussia preparing to fight against Russia in the case of a two-front war. This was further an issue when in September of 1914, when the German attack through Belgium was in full swing and was on the verge of ending the war in the west, von Moltke ordered three divisions, roughly 54,000 men, to the east to support von Hindenburg’s Eighth Army, which had recently won a miraculous victory at Tannenberg. Due to Moltke’s meddling with the original plan, roughly 94,000 men were taken away from the main German thrust into northern France, which led to the Germans being forced to switch from their main drive from the West of Paris to the east, leaving a 296 kilometer gap between the German far right flank and the sea.
Underestimations of the Enemy
Furthermore, the Germans grossly underestimated the military power of the French. With the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, the Germans believed the French army to be weak, and rightly so. In the German Empire, they had a population of roughly 40 million people, in which they mobilized 1.2 million men. The French Empire, which had a total population of 42 million, only mobilized 900,000 men. The aftermath of the war was roughly 139,000 French killed to roughly 28,000 Germans killed. With such a grand victory over an empire that was larger, the Franco-Prussian War showed the weakness the French army had and led to Germany being the undisputed European superpower on land. Germany also believed that France and its army was lacking in quality due to the French army’s failures abroad in their interventions in Mexico (1862-67), their loss to Korea (1866), and their slow victory over Algeria, taking them 17 years to conquer this small nation lacking in modern military equipment, when the Germans defeated France’s modern army in roughly nine months. This all led to the underestimation of France’s military, which, in 1914, boasted a mobilization strength of 2.1 million men and 4,000 artillery pieces to Germany’s 2.9 million men and 5,700 artillery pieces.
Moreover, the Germans had the inability to calculate the size and power of the Russian military. Although Russia had suffered a string of defeats, it had also seen a vast improvement overall. The Russian Empire had suffered a defeat in the hands of the “Allies”, a united alliance of the French Empire, British Empire, Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia, in the Crimean War of 1853-56. Although the Russian Empire lost the war itself, they had won most of the land battles. They were only forced to surrender when the Tzar ordered a backing out of the war (and the Danube region, giving power back to the Turks) as a result of the need to train the Russian Army. They had sent their men into combat inexperienced and mostly untrained which cost them about half a million men. As a result of this war, Russia was misjudged as weak; however, Russia took from their mistake and started equipping and retraining her army.
The belief that Russia was weak was furthered by a series of 1500 minor mutinies in the Russian ranks up until 1903. At this point, Russia was on the verge of completing its initial reformation policy; however, in 1904 they were at war with Japan in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05. Japan had attacked the Russian Empire without a formal declaration of war. The Tzar was totally stunned by this and ordered a mobilization of forces into Siberia. The problem was that there was only one railway into Siberia and the bulk of the Russian Imperial Navy was in the Baltic Sea when it needed to be deployed against the Japanese in the Sea of Japan. It was clear that the Japanese had the clear advantage in the war, and after about a year and a half of fighting the Russians were defeated, Nearly one-third of the Japanese Imperial Army was killed (86,100 men) compared to the Russians dead of 54,400 men.
The Russians, then returning from a “defeat”, were then tossed into a war-torn empire with the outbreak of the Revolution of 1905. After winning the revolution and a constitution put in place, although the Tzar kept his throne, several political, economic, and primarily military changes went underway. From 1856 to 1905 the Russian Imperial defense budget dropped by 12%, coming to only 56% of the German military’s budget, even though the Russian military was nearly 47% larger. Russian mobilization strength went from a million men and 22 artillery batteries to 3.1 million men and 385 artillery batteries. By the time their new policy was implemented and ready to go, the Russian Empire would be able to raise ten armies fully backed by artillery (an estimated 13,400 artillery pieces). This compared to Germany’s mobilization strength of 2.9 million men composed into eight armies supported by 206 artillery batteries (5,700 artillery pieces). This miscalculation would lead to a brutal campaign that would force Germany to move over 100,000 men away from France, which would be crucial in the first campaign.
In addition to this, the German high command seriously underestimated the British Army and disregarded it as an effective force in the field. A key factor in this assumption was the size of the British professional army. It had only 125,000 men composed into six infantry divisions and one cavalry division backed by only 470 artillery guns. The entire British field army had hardly the strength of a German field army; however, they still had a militia reserve of 285,000 men. In addition, they had only 66% of the artillery one German army would have. To further the German’s belief that the British army was inferior was the recent defeats and poor conduct of the British army. While fighting the Zulu African tribe for control of South Africa, they lost most of their battles despite holding superior firepower. Furthermore, in the Boer Wars, the British Empire had to fight South African militia rebels, and the British suffered nearly 22,000 dead to the Boers 9,000. Although the British had won, thousands of British were left dead or seriously injured at the hands of the South African militia. Moreover, the British Empire had a naval focus. The British Navy boasted nearly 160 modern warships and the German navy boasted a strength of only 87. In addition, the French Navy supported the British Navy with an additional 91 warships. By having twice as many warships, the British spent £173,500,000 on their navy (roughly $267,190,000) and the Germans spent ₰986,523,189 on their total military (roughly $573,000,000). This vast difference would be a key premise that lead to a major underestimation of the British military power.
The Overestimation of an Ally
To add to the miscalculations by the German General Staff was the overestimation of the military strength of Austria-Hungary. The first error of this was that Field Marshal von Moltke expected his Austrian counterpart, Field Marshal Conrad von Hotzendorf, to field a modern and effective army. The Austro-Hungarian army fielded about one million men at mobilization, supported by 1,200 artillery pieces. 26% of the Austro-Hungarian army had equipment dated back to 1895. The remaining 74% of the Austro-Hungarian military had mainly 1903 equipment; however, their artillery force used mainly guns dating back to 1908 and even fewer more modern 1911 guns. The main rifle being used by the Austro-Hungarian field armies was the Mannlicher-Schonauer, a rifle that went into production in 1903. The secondary rifle of the Austro-Hungarian field armies was the Steyr-Mannlicher M1895. This army was expected to decisively defeat 420,000 Serbians using generally more modern equipment, notably pre-modern (post-1900 production) rifles and artillery, as well as roughly 2,000,000 Russians, using mainly postmodern rifles and artillery, due to the modernization after the Russian loss in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05). Outnumbered and primarily outgunned, the German high command expected the Austro-Hungarian to perform ably and decisively in the field.
To cause this belief among the German General Staff was a recent string of Austro-Hungarian victories. The Austro-Hungarian Empire had a stunning victory over the Ottoman Empire, where they funded a revolution in Bulgaria. This sparked the Russo-Turkish War of 1877, in which the Austro-Hungarians brought their two greatest rivals against each other, which lead to a serious weakening of the Ottoman Empire when the independence of Bulgaria was established in the postwar treaty. This war further benefited Austria-Hungary, because the Russian Empire was forced to back down when they attempted to make Bulgaria a puppet state and assert their dominance in the Balkans, due to the fact the British Empire stepped in and humiliated the Tzar. This caused a restriction on Russian influence in affairs in the Balkans.
With such a stunning result, and wanting to further their gains, the Austro-Hungarian Empire annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1905 and became the undisputed power in the Balkans. This, however, was a major diplomatic and political victory, and not a military victory, which the Germans were depending on their southern neighbors to make in the next war. The Austro-Hungarian Empire’s military problems were furthered by their Chief of the General Staff, Conrad von Hotzendorf, who proved unsuited for his position. He was fancied a military genius by colleagues when this proved to be nowhere near reality. He simply could not deliver a decisive victory when it was needed. He lost battles in Galicia, got, an entire army enveloped and entrapped around the Fortress of Przemysl, and was forced to abandon his positions around Krakow. Conrad von Hotzendorf proved in his many failures that he could not lead the Austro-Hungarian military, and the defeats were only going to add up as the war prolonged.
The Italy Problem
The final issue that brought the German Empire ruin was their failure to keep Italy in the Triple Alliance. The main reason for this was the Austro-Italian complex. Article Seven of the Amended Triple Alliance, written in 1912, states that:
“Austria-Hungary and Italy, having in mind only the maintenance, so far as possible, of the territorial status quo in the Orient, engage to use their influence to forestall any territorial modification which might be injurious to one or the other of the Powers signatory to the present Treaty.”
Between 1848 and 1866, Italy fought three wars of independence from the Austrian Empire. Although independence was eventually granted, Italy still had claims on the Tyrol Region (Trento), Trieste Region, the Dalmatian Islands, and much of the Austro-Hungarian coast on the Adriatic Sea. This all contributed to strained relations between Italy and Austria-Hungary, which created the Italo-German Complex. After Italy gained independence and Prussia unified Germany and formed the German Empire, they became natural allies, as they were the only new nations in the world power struggle of the era; however, as time went on, it was clear that Germany and Italy had different national goals. Germany planned on taking territory from France and weakening Russia as a European power. Italy had very limited plans about war with France, as they had helped secure Italian independence. Furthermore, Italy had made plans to reclaim their lands from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and form an Empire dominant in the Mediterranean and Africa. These plans would cause the final issue, the Ottoman-Italian complex. The Ottoman Empire had formed a secret alliance with the Germans, which was a problem for the Italian Empire. The Ottoman Empire dominated the eastern Mediterranean which made it a prime rival for the Italians, who proved they were on a warpath with the Ottomans in the Italo-Ottoman War of 1911 in which they seized several Ottoman islands and took Ottoman controlled Libya. These all led to the following message from the German Ambassador at Rome, Baron Ludwig von Flotow, to the German Foreign Office in 1914:
“The Minister, who was in a state of great excitement, said in explanation that the entire Ministerial Council, with the exception of himself, had shown a distinct dislike for Austria. It had been all the more difficult for him to contest this feeling, because Austria, as I myself knew, was continuing so persistently with a recognized injury to Italian interests, as to violate Article 7 of the Triple Alliance treaty, and because she was declining to give a guaranty for the independence and integrity of Serbia.”
This culminated in Italy rejecting the Central Powers offer to join them in their war against Serbia, which violated Article Five of the Amended Triple Alliance of 1912, “They engage henceforward, in all cases of common participation in a war, to conclude neither armistice, nor peace, nor treaty, except by common agreement among themselves.” This then further disconnected Italy from the Central Powers and would eventually cost the German and Austro-Hungarians 1.6 million casualties and forced 66 divisions away from the other main fronts.
The German Empire, through their independence of command structure, the mass alteration of their military strategy, the gross misjudgement of French military power, the inability to calculate the size and power of the Russian military, the underestimation of the British field army, overestimation of Austro-Hungarian military strength, and the failure to keep Italy in the Triple Alliance, lost World War One before even a shot was fired. Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War, “The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.” The German Empire failed to do the many calculations needed to wage war, and therefore the First World War was lost to them before it was even fought.
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By Charlie Gengler | GERMANY
Monika Schaefer was recently arrested on charges of hate speech in Germany. This marks yet another hate speech related detainment in Germany. This follows a pattern, and if history is any guide, it shows Germany’s current trajectory. Let us track that pattern.
During the German Empire, Otto von Bismarck launched a series of policies and political attacks officially against the Catholic church and its political influence. Kulturkampf, as it became known, while not only against the church, was completely unsuccessful, but more than that, it was unethical and completely against principles of liberty. One reason it failed was that the political influence of the church was negligible. Despite making up about one-third of the population, Catholics held very few positions in governance, and none were church officials. Secondly, the population continued growth during the empire and, as it grew, its Catholic population grew too. Lastly, as it normally does, oppression unified the Catholics, who were previously divided on the case of papal infallibility. Their repression reminded them of their history, and their duty. Due to all of these, the Kulturkampf was slowing down. To gain steam, Bismarck doubled down, taking Catholic education, specifically that of priests, under the hand of the state. He exiled scholars and Jesuits and jailed or exiled bishops, priests, and other members of the clergy. Discrimination against the clergy and the laity was subtly encouraged, and civil approval was instituted for marriage. He attempted to meddle and influence the election of popes and bishops and began efforts towards the destabilization of Catholic countries. He kicked out the only voice for Catholics inside of the government, the Catholic Department within the Ministry of Culture. Moving away from religious oppression, he was an early adopter of the welfare state. He adopted a basic form of government aid in healthcare and provided benefits to those in poverty. They increased war production and therefore economic dependence on the state and, lastly, they increased government oversight, regulation, and overall control of education. After getting done persecuting Catholics, they decided to economically and politically persecute socialists, the dominant party of the time. This only led to increased union power, more socialist welfare, and, much like in the Kulturkampf, more socialists and more unity among said socialists.
Directly after World War I brought an end to the German Empire, the Weimar Republic came about. Modelled after its European neighbors, it was much freer than its predecessor. It only lasted around fifteen years, but in this time the increased the aforementioned welfare state, pushed stronger health protection and government provided services. While oppression of specific peoples wouldn’t return until the next era in German governance, this government did expand the state, and its economic policies ruined Germany and gave rise to the Nazis. The Great Depression caused a massive economic downturn and the government proved completely inept at dealing with this. Their policies, along with incredulous amounts of reparations, caused massive hyperinflation, reaching stupid amounts, bread had to be bought using literal wheelbarrows of notes. During all of this, a socialist party arose, preaching a comforting and fiery rhetoric.
Adolf Hitler became chancellor in 1933, marking the beginning of probably the darkest hour of German history. He immediately nationalized the German economy, instituting socialist policies. He enacted more control over the economy and then immediately to directed it towards the military effort. Hitler believed in the concept of Lebensraum, the concept of constant expansion for population and supply reasons. His policies were extraordinarily aggressive, sending forces to the Rhineland as early as 1936. They took Czechoslovakia and Poland in 1939, starting World War II, and then proceeded to invade and/or annex several countries. Moreover, Germany brought the world into chaos and lead directly into the Cold War, forty and a half years of tension, propaganda, and communism, with the world toddling on a knife’s edge. Perhaps darker than this, however, was his changes made at home, the Holocaust. This is what truly makes this period the darkest in German history, if not in the history of the world. The treatment of minorities, specifically Jews, but also Blacks, Gypsies, and other religious, was truly and obviously abhorrent and dreadful. Not only on a personal level, but an extra layer when a libertarian considers the absolute and complete violation of human dignity, liberty, and rights. They broke almost every libertarian convention when enforcing the “Final Solution.” Every single basic human right was trespassed against, the right to life, liberty, property, and pursuit of happiness. Their homes were stolen, mandatory abortions and the mass extermination as if they were trash to be thrown into the fire or a landfill. They were made slaves, forced laborers whose chains were connected to the state that hated them, and “fortunate” few who weren’t made to do hard physical labor had their businesses and career opportunities, along with family and almost any option afforded to them prewar, was stripped or made impossible to obtain. Further than this, perhaps not as bad though is the cult of personality formed around the state. Instead of forming a sort of “necessary evil” dynamic, or even a “part of life” mindset, they made the state their life. They totally devoted themselves to an evil state. They were duped by a legendary public speaker with devious intent. By establishing a cult of personality, they allowed for levels of commitment not only absurd in our modern perspective but unprecedented to them and history in general. Child soldiers, mass murder with little remorse, even going so far as to hang their own neighbors for not doing enough. This distortion, in reality, is what drove people to insane levels of nationalism and racism they never thought they would, or even could, do. They instituted subtle changes too. Like the medals of honor and service for bearing children of specific attributes or censoring of books. They put marriage under complete control, determining if they’ll allow based on race and advantageousness to the state.
After the Nazis fell the country was split. One side was a broken down “hell of war” scene and the other was a communist broken down “hell of war” scene. Within twenty years the western side was thriving under US control and aid, European style government with a touch of American-ism, and capitalism. They were bastions of freedom for a time, especially compared to the Soviet-run state of East Germany. It was a nightmare, no food, no freedom, no escape. At first, the Russians blockaded both sides of Berlin, both corresponding to their larger counterparts, despite Berlin being entirely in the east. The Berlin Airlift rescued Berlin, but the eastern side of the city was not quite as lucky. They were starving, and son there was an epidemic of refugees and people attempting to escape. This was such a “problem,” that they had to build a wall to stop them. Walls are usually to keep people out but the living conditions in East Berlin were so dreadful that they had to keep people in before their population ran dry. This compounds itself with the God-awful system that is socialism/communism. The jobs were not available, they just didn’t exist. And when they were available they were assigned and awful. Hard working conditions, long hours, and little pay. Soviet patrols were indiscriminate to all peoples. They treated them all equally poor, equitably awful. Moreover, the censorship was back, with books and other literature, along with entertainment such as movies and radio, all affected. The state also meddled in religion, sponsoring atheism and making harder, while not impossible, for both Protestant and Catholic communities to grow.
Now we move on to move on to modern Germany with people like Monica Schaefer and their new hate speech laws. Merkel came to power in 2005. As of late, she has devoted herself to the destruction of Germany. She has pledged to accept a number of refugees equivalent to .12% of its population. That’s a lot! And if anyone detests that number, speaks out in favor of the opposition, or even makes a joke about it, they get thrown in a cage. The German government celebrated the raid and arrest of 36 people promulgating “Islamophobia” and “hate speech.” These are just a few of the several cases of this all over Germany. So now when Germany gets more authoritarian and militaristic, then we only have ourselves to blame.
By James Sweet III | GERMANY
In Germany, hate speech, fake news, and illegal material must now be removed by social media sites within 24 hours of being reported. Passed in June, the Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz law gave social media outlets until the end of 2017 to prepare for the enforcement of the new laws.
Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube were the main targets of the law, but any social media outlet with more than 2 million users will also be affected, potentially targeting sites like Reddit. If the reported material is not removed within 24 hours, the site with the “obviously illegal” content could face a fine of up to 50 million Euros.
In the situation of a more complex case, outlets could have a week to remove the content. Regardless, this is a scary step towards censorship by the German government. Because it is subjective to say that something is hateful, the German government can cherry pick on what they like and don’t like, stating it is hateful. The same logic applies to say that something is fake, although there can be more of an objective truth behind calling something fake. With news, however, it can be noted that some news is labeled as fake merely because a group of individuals disagree with it.
Free speech is not guaranteed on social media, due to the fact that it is a private corporation and there is a set of terms you must agree to. However, with the German government intervening with the way the corporations deal with content, it no longer matters what the site’s terms state about the now illegal content. Is this the beginning of censorship of unpopular opinions, or merely the government doing something to protect the people?
By Vaughn Hoisington | GERMANY
Migrants seeking asylum in Germany are being offered money in exchange for leaving the country. The program, starthlifePlus, offers a payment to those that have been rejected their request for asylum, and anyone whose asylum procedure hasn’t been completed.
The payments range from €1,200 for those who choose to return and withdraw their asylum application before their asylum procedure is completed, €800 if you have been denied asylum, and an extra €500 for families of more than four that voluntarily leave Germany.
Under the “Reintegration assistance for housing” section of the program, an additional €1,000 for individuals, and €3,000 for families is offered on the basis of “support for rental, construction or renovation works or the basic facilities for a kitchen or bathroom.”
The program is a result of Germany’s failed attempts at deporting immigrants that are staying in the country illegally, which is believed to be “over a million,” since 2015.
The starthlifePlus application process is set to expire for those who haven’t left Germany by the end of February in 2018.