From Bismarck to the World War: A History of German Foreign Policy 1870-1914

From Bismarck to the World War: A History of German Foreign Policy 1870-1914

From Bismarck to the World War: A History of German Foreign Policy 1870-1914

From Bismarck to the World War: A History of German Foreign Policy 1870-1914

Excerpt

The disastrous consequences of the World War and of the Treaty of Versailles affect the whole world, but Germany most of all. Hence it is natural for us to keep on asking how did this war come about, could it have been avoided, and who is responsible for having started it? At Versailles, Germany was compelled to sign an admission of guilt because the victors required such justification for their exorbitant demands. It was necessary to convince the world that these heavy burdens were being laid upon us in the interests of public morality, not as conquered foes but as the deliberate disturbers of the peace of the world. Since then public opinion everywhere has generally believed in our guilt; only isolated voices in the enemy countries have ventured to dispute the verdict. From the historical point of view an official admission of guilt, extorted under pressure, has very little significance. In order to understand the origin of the World War, the facts must be examined from the real sources, free from all considerations of party politics. It is only when these facts lie before us, clear and significant, that it is possible to proceed to estimate their real weight and worth.

The accompanying volume is the first attempt to give a description of this kind, based on documents in the German Foreign Office, for free access to which I am deeply indebted. I need scarcely add that this is a mere beginning of the examination of this difficult problem. I have only examined those portions of the huge mass of materials which seemed to me significant for the vital points. Many matters will require -- and will receive, once the publication of the Foreign Office records is completed -- more exhaustive treatment in details. But even then one indispensable condition will be lacking for a . . .

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