Germany and the Revolution in Russia, 1915-1918: Documents from the Archives of the German Foreign Ministry

Germany and the Revolution in Russia, 1915-1918: Documents from the Archives of the German Foreign Ministry

Germany and the Revolution in Russia, 1915-1918: Documents from the Archives of the German Foreign Ministry

Germany and the Revolution in Russia, 1915-1918: Documents from the Archives of the German Foreign Ministry

Excerpt

In November 1914 it became clear to Germany's leaders that they had failed to achieve a decisive victory in the first phase of the war. The transformation of the war in the West and in the East into a one-front engagement was, according to Falkenhayn, the Chief of the General Staff, the shortest way to victory. It could be effected only if Germany concluded peace with one of the principal partners of the Entente.

Zimmermann, the Under State Secretary in the Foreign Ministry, concurred with this opinion in a memorandum dated 27 November. He wrote: 'The aim of our policy in this war, conducted with such uncommon sacrifice, must be not only an honourable, but also a lasting peace. In order to achieve this aim I regard it as desirable that a wedge should be driven between our enemies, so that we may conclude an early separate peace with one or the other.' In the subsequent years of the war, to isolate one of the enemy powers and conclude a peace with it was the principal aim of the German foreign policy.

Behind this policy there was a tremendous profusion of activity and confusion of thought. The Foreign Ministry, having lost its peace-time functions, took over its management. The German missions in the neutral countries were the Ministry's busiest outposts. Politicians, journalists, members of noble families, university professors, directors of banking houses, industrialists, cranks, and crooks were involved. Large amounts of money were spent by the government in order to achieve this aim.

France and Russia were the most likely targets for the policy of separate peace. But in Russia, apart from the possibility of concluding peace with the established régime, there was another way open to Germany. This was to give support to the revolutionary movement, to weaken the existing régime not only by military defeats but also by disruptive revolutionary agitation, both nationalist and socialist, and finally to conclude peace with a government dependent upon German good-will.

The Imperial government never made a clear-cut choice . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.