Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals by Niall Ferguson

Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals by Niall Ferguson

Author:Niall Ferguson
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Basic Books


To these points - in effect, the September Programme without annexations from France and Belgium - should be added the detailed plans subsequently drawn up to ‘thrust [Russia] back as far as possible from Germany’s eastern frontier and [break] her domination over the non-Russian vassal peoples’. These envisaged the creation of a new Polish state (joined to Habsburg Galicia) and the cession of the Baltic provinces (which would either be independent, incorporated in the new Poland or annexed by Germany itself).150 Even this edited version of the September Programme probably exaggerates the pre-war aims of the German leadership. Bülow, of course, was no longer Chancellor; but his comments to the Crown Prince in 1908 were not so different from Bethmann Hollweg’s view that war would strengthen the political left and weaken the Reich internally:No war in Europe can bring us much. There would be nothing for us to gain in the conquest of fresh Slav or French territory. If we annex small countries to the Empire we shall only strengthen those centrifugal elements which, alas, are never wanting in Germany.... A war, lightly provoked, even if it were fought successfully, would have a bad effect on the country.... Every great war is followed by a period of liberalism.151



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