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Militarism and Humiliation Cast Shadow on Germany

 
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BerichtGeplaatst: 06 Jul 2014 14:10    Onderwerp: Militarism and Humiliation Cast Shadow on Germany Reageer met quote

Militarism and Humiliation Cast Shadow on Germany

KIEL, Germany ó On June 28, 1914, Kaiser Wilhelm II was preparing to indulge in a favorite pastime: racing his yacht Meteor at a regatta that is still held each year in this seafaring stronghold. When he learned of the assassination in Sarajevo of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Hapsburg Empire, he hastened to Berlin. But he quickly returned to this Baltic Sea port, on which he lavished so much money and time in his frantic race to match or outdo British naval superiority.

In many ways, Kiel epitomized Germanyís rapid industrialization and militarization from 1870 to 1914, under Otto von Bismarck and then the kaiser. Numbers alone tell a story: In 1870, as Bismarck unified Germany, Kiel had around 30,000 inhabitants. By 1914, when Europeís leaders stumbled into World War I, its population exceeded 227,000.

Four years later, Kiel bore witness to the depths of German defeat. A sailorsí rebellion that started here spread nationwide and helped force the abdication of the kaiser in November 1918. The next year, rather than let the Imperial Fleet fall to the enemy, German commanders on Scapa Flow, off Scotland, scuttled 52 of the fleetís 74 vessels. Under the Treaty of Versailles, signed five years to the day after the archdukeís assassination, the proud navy was limited to just a few ships and 15,000 men ó far fewer than the 35,000 German sailors who had perished in World War I.

Might, militarism and humiliation: These are the memories that make Germans today reluctant to project their clout as, once again, Europeís economic powerhouse. One hundred years on from World War I, German leadership in Europe is both desired and resented, a historically rooted ambivalence that is keenly felt by the Germans and by their wary neighbors.

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Militarism and Humiliation Cast Shadow on Germany
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