Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

War IndexGlossaryEducational ResourcesAbout the Show
The Great War
Prologue Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Timeline Maps & Battles The Shaping of the 21st Century Historians
Historians OverviewBernd Huppauf

Germany Before the War
Bernd Huppauf
"It might be very difficult to understand that the large majority of the German population had the feeling that they were engaged in a war that had been forced upon them.

"— That they were a part of a war in which they defended their very existence. And that this was a war that was fought not for material possessions, that was not fought for the annexation of territory, for colonies, but that it was a war in which Germany, herself, defended her bare existence. Indeed, it might be difficult to understand that that was the common feeling in Germany.

"In order to be able to understand this, I think one has to look back to the previous years, the last four decades.

"Germany had been united in 1871, considered herself to be a young nation — a latecomer.

Battle Scene
Berlin, contemporary
"The world had been carved up before they had arrived. The world in terms of the colonies, the world in terms of power politics had been finalized, and the Germans came late. Yet, they felt they deserved a position within this world, according to their self-esteem, according to their size, according to their grandiose history leading back into the Middle Ages. For quite some time, there was a discussion of the inevitability of war common amongst all European societies.

"There was the fear that with German unification, the power structure had changed to a degree, that now war had to be waged. That war had become inevitable.

"The only question remaining — when was it a good time to start the war?

"In England, and in France, in particular, the imaginary war was waged in novels. In science fiction, in pseudo scientific discourse, so it was no grand surprise that in 1914 the majority of the German population felt that what had happened was a logical consequence of a development that had happened over many years."

Back to Top     

Home Prologue Explosion/Stalemate Total War/Slaughter Mutiny/Collapse Hatred & Hunger/War Without End

Timeline Maps & Battles Shaping of the 21st Century Historians War Index Resources About the Show
Copyright © 1996 - 2004 Community Television of Southern California. All rights reserved.