There is, alas, a very popular (almost universal, actually) misconception that Imperial Germany started the Great War. Or at least was somehow responsible for it. It was not (on both counts).
In the next chapter of my book (“Forces the Created the Nazi Germany”), I will prove beyond the reasonable doubt that Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire were forced into the Great War.
Forced by the genuine warmongers, the genuine aggressors, by countries genuinely responsible for this war (and thus for 18 million dead, 23 million wounded and for the enormous devastations caused by the war). By Serbia, Russia, France and Great Britain (roughly in that order).
Although at that time leaders of nations (and other politicians) still considered war an acceptable political tool and there were more than a few trigger-happy hotheads in every European nation, the Great War was by no means inevitable.
Four events made this war inevitable – assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo, Serbian refusal to accept Austrian ultimatum, Russian partial and then general mobilization and full mobilization of France.
The first two events left Austria with no other choice but to declare war on Serbia (no responsible politician will tolerate a terrorist state in his backyard) and the last two forced Germany to declare war first on Russia and then on France.
These German declarations, however, did not matter much because it was the declaration of war de-jure. General mobilization is declaration of war de-facto, so de-facto it was Russia and France who declared war on Germany and Austro-Hungarian Empire, not the other way around.
Great Britain could have stopped the war by declaring a strict neutrality (it can be argued that His Majesty Secret Intelligence Service was fully aware of the assassination plot long before the actual assassination).
Stopped because without the full naval blockade of Germany (which only the Great Britain had the power to enforce) it would have been very difficult to win the war against the latter.
In the next chapter, I will demonstrate that neither Germany nor the Dual Monarchy wanted (let alone needed) the war and had every incentive to maintain the status quo. Their adversaries, however, had a directly opposite motivation.
France desperately wanted to get back the provinces of Alsace-Lorraine that it had been forced in 1871 to cede to a victorious unified Germany after the defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. It did get it back in 1919 – according to the terms of the infamous Treaty of Versailles.
Serbia wanted to create a Greater Serbia by taking the Balkan provinces from the Dual Monarchy. Which it did in 1918 – as the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later renamed Yugoslavia).
Russia wanted to take Bosporus/Dardanelles strait from Turkey (it needed it to secure its grain exports to Europe) and ideally to occupy Constantinople (for religious reasons). The Gallipoli disaster prevented Russia from achieving the first objective and made the second one a “mission impossible”.
In addition, Russia wanted to get Galicia province from Austro-Hungarian Empire (who took it from Poland in 1772) and to become the dominant power on the Balkans (by establishing a complete control over Serbia) and in the whole Eastern Europe. Thus making the centuries old dream come true – making the Russian Emperor de-facto ruler of all Slavic nations.
And Great Britain wanted the war in continental Europe for a very pragmatic reason – this war would have significantly weaken all continental power and thus will “tilt the scales” in favor of Britain.
The actual assassination was carried out by Bosnian terrorist (let’s call a spade a spade) Gavrilo Princip – member of the Bosnian terrorist organization Mlada Bosna (“Young Bosnia”).
Mlada Bosna was essentially an instrument, a puppet used by the Black Hand – the Serbian terrorist organization – formed by officers in the Army of the Kingdom of Serbia and led by colonel Dragutin Dimitrijevic (“Apis”).
Dimitrijevic who in 1903 organized another assassination – of the Serbian King Alexander and his wife Queen Draga – was essentially a “grey cardinal” (a shadow ruler) of Serbia as neither the new king, nor his government had any desire to meet a similar end.
However, Dimitrijevic was well aware of a cold hard fact that by itself, Serbia had a chance of a snowball in hell to win the war against Austro-Hungary (that the assassination of Archduke was to provoke). It needed the support of the mighty Russian empire.
Which he received – from no other than Baron Nicholas Hartwig – a Russian ambassador to the Kingdom of Serbia. Who for all practical purposes controlled both Apis and the whole Serbian government. So it is completely inconceivable that the event of such colossal consequences as the assassination of the Archduke could have been carried out without his explicit consent.
Most likely, it was more than consent, because Baron Hartwig was representing the “unofficial Russia” – a group of very powerful individuals in Russian government and in the Army, It was exactly this group that almost openly promoted of the idea of a new European war to achieve the abovementioned objectives.
So it is very likely that the assassination in Sarajevo was not even Apis’ idea – he was simply following orders from his Russian handlers (it is rumored that he met Baron Hartwig in Belgrade right before the assassination).
The Great War was a monstrous crime against humanity – no doubt about that. But neither Germany, nor the Dual Monarchy were the perpetrators – they were victims of the conspiracy engineered by Serbia, Russia and France (the latter was also well aware of the assassination plans).
Consequently, it was the solemn duty of every German patriot (including Adolf Hitler) to defend his Fatherland from this dastardly aggression on a battlefield.
He just had to decide which one.