The Burden of Guilt: How Germany Shattered the Last Days of Peace, Summer 1914

Open Road Media
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The conflagration that consumed Europe in August 1914 had been a long time in coming—and yet it need never have happened at all. For though all the European powers were prepared to accept a war as a resolution to the tensions which were fermenting across the Continent, only one nation wanted war to come: Imperial Germany. Of all the countries caught up in the tangle of alliances, promises, and pledges of support during the crisis that followed the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Germany alone possessed the opportunity and the power to determine that a war in eastern Europe would become the Great War, which swept across the Continent and nearly destroyed a thousand years of European civilization. For nearly nine decades it has been argued that the responsibility for the First World War was a shared one, spread among all the Great Powers. Now, in The Burden of Guilt, historian Daniel Allen Butler substantively challenges that point of view, establishing that the Treaty of Versailles was actually a correct and fair judgment: Germany did indeed bear the true responsibility for the Great War. Working from government archives and records, as well as personal papers and memoirs of the men who made the decisions that carried Europe to war, Butler interweaves the events of summer 1914 with portraits of the monarchs, diplomats, prime ministers, and other national leaders involved in the crisis. He explores the national policies and goals these men were pursuing, and shows conclusively how on three distinct occasions the Imperial German government was presented with opportunities to contain the spreading crisis—opportunities unlike those of any other nation involved—yet each time, the German government consciously and deliberately chose the path which virtually assured that the Continent would go up in flames. The Burden of Guilt is a work destined to become an essential part of the library of the First World War, vital to understanding not only the “how” but also the “why” behind the pivotal event of modern world history.
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About the author

Daniel Allen Butler is a maritime and military historian, the author (through September 2011) of nine books. Some of his previous works include Unsinkable: the Full Story of RMS Titanic (1998); Distant Victory: The Battle of Jutland and the Allied Triumph in the First World War (2006); The Age of Cunard (2003); The Other Side of the Night: The Carpathia, the Californian, and the Night the Titanic was Lost (2009); The Burden of Guilt: How Germany Shattered the Last Days of Peace, Summer 1914 (2010); and Shadow of the Sultan’s Realm: the Destruction of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East (2011). Educated at Hope College, Grand Valley State University, and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Butler served in the United States Army before becoming a full-time author. He is an internationally recognized authority on maritime subjects and a popular guest speaker, having given presentations at the National Archives in Washington, DC, the Mariners’ Museum, and in the United Kingdom. He has also been frequently included in the on-board enrichment series of Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth 2 and Queen Mary 2, as well as the ships of the Royal Caribbean and Norwegian cruise lines. Butler is currently at work on three new projects: The Field Marshal, a biography of Erwin Rommel; The Last Field of Glory: Waterloo, 1815, a history of the Hundred Days; and But for Freedom Alone, the story of the Declaration of Arbroath.  A self-proclaimed “semi-professional beach bum,” Butler divides what little time he spends away from his writing between wandering long stretches of warm, sandy beaches, his love of woodworking, his passion for British sports cars, and his fascination with building model ships. After living and working in Los Angeles, California, for several years, Butler has recently relocated—permanently, he hopes!—to Atlantic Beach, Florida, where the beaches are better. 
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Additional Information

Publisher
Open Road Media
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Published on
May 7, 2013
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Pages
336
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ISBN
9781480406643
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Europe / Germany
History / Military / World War I
History / Modern / 20th Century
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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How can we understand what caused World War I? What role did Germany play? This book encourages us to re-think the events that led to global conflict in 1914.Historians in recent years have argued that German leaders acted defensively or pre-emptively in 1914, conscious of the Reich's deteriorating military and diplomatic position. Germany and the Causes of the First World War challenges such interpretations, placing new emphasis on the idea that the Reich Chancellor, the German Foreign Office and the Great General Staff were confident that they could win a continental war. This belief in Germany's superiority derived primarily from an assumption of French decline and Russian weakness throughout the period between the turn of the century and the eve of the First World War. Accordingly, Wilhelmine policy-makers pursued offensive policies - at the risk of war at important junctures during the 1900s and 1910s. The author analyses the stereotyping of enemy states, representations of war in peacetime, and conceptualizations of international relations. He uncovers the complex role of ruling elites, political parties, big business and the press, and contends that the decade before the First World War witnessed some critical changes in German foreign policy. By the time of the July crisis of 1914, for example, the perception of enemies had altered, with Russia - the traditional bugbear of the German centre and left - becoming the principal opponent of the Reich. Under these changed conditions, German leaders could now pursue their strategy of brinkmanship, using war as an instrument of policy, to its logical conclusion.
In a book that is at once a major contribution to modern European history and a cautionary tale for today, Isabel V. Hull argues that the routines and practices of the Imperial German Army, unchecked by effective civilian institutions, increasingly sought the absolute destruction of its enemies as the only guarantee of the nation's security. So deeply embedded were the assumptions and procedures of this distinctively German military culture that the Army, in its drive to annihilate the enemy military, did not shrink from the utter destruction of civilian property and lives. Carried to its extreme, the logic of "military necessity" found real security only in extremities of destruction, in the "silence of the graveyard."Hull begins with a dramatic account, based on fresh archival work, of the German Army's slide from administrative murder to genocide in German Southwest Africa (1904–7). The author then moves back to 1870 and the war that inaugurated the Imperial era in German history, and analyzes the genesis and nature of this specifically German military culture and its operations in colonial warfare. In the First World War the routines perfected in the colonies were visited upon European populations. Hull focuses on one set of cases (Belgium and northern France) in which the transition to total destruction was checked (if barely) and on another (Armenia) in which "military necessity" caused Germany to accept its ally's genocidal policies even after these became militarily counterproductive. She then turns to the Endkampf (1918), the German General Staff's plan to achieve victory in the Great War even if the homeland were destroyed in the process—a seemingly insane campaign that completes the logic of this deeply institutionalized set of military routines and practices. Hull concludes by speculating on the role of this distinctive military culture in National Socialism's military and racial policies.Absolute Destruction has serious implications for the nature of warmaking in any modern power. At its heart is a warning about the blindness of bureaucratic routines, especially when those bureaucracies command the instruments of mass death.
Wilhelm II (1859-1941), King of Prussia and German Emperor from 1888 to 1918, reigned during a period of unprecedented economic, cultural, and intellectual achievement in Germany. Unlike most European sovereigns of his generation, Wilhelm was no mere figurehead, and his imprint on imperial Germany was profound. In this book and a second volume, historian Lamar Cecil provides the first comprehensive biography of one of modern history's most powerful--and most misunderstood--rulers.

Wilhelm II: Prince and Emperor, 1859-1900 concentrates on Wilhelm's youth. As Cecil shows, the future ruler's Anglo-German genealogy, his education, and his subsequent service as an officer in the Prussian army proved to be unfortunate legacies in shaping Wilhelm's behavior and ideas.

Throughout his thirty-year reign, Wilhelm's connection with his subjects was tenuous. He surrounded himself with a small coterie of persons drawn from the government, the military, and elite society, most of whom were valued not for their ability but for their loyalty to the crown. They, in turn, contrived to keep Wilhelm isolated from outside influences, learned to be accomplished in catering to his prejudices, and strengthened his conviction that the government should be composed only of those who agreed with him. The day-to-day conduct of Germany's affairs was left in the hands of these loyal followers, for the Kaiser himself did not at all enjoy work. Rejoicing instead in pageantry and the superficial trappings of authority, he was particular about what he did and what he read, eliminating anything that was unpleasant, difficult, or tedious. He never learned to listen, to reason, or to make decisions in a sound, informed manner; he was customarily inclined to act solely on the basis of his personal feelings.

Many people believed him to be mad. Even courtiers who admired Wilhelm recognized that he was responsible for the diplomatic embarrassment in which Germany found itself by 1914 and that the Kaiser's maladroit behavior endangered the prestige of the Hohenzollern crown. His is the story of a bizarre and incapable sovereign who never doubted that he possessed both genius and divine inspiration.

Originally published in 1989.

A UNC Press Enduring Edition -- UNC Press Enduring Editions use the latest in digital technology to make available again books from our distinguished backlist that were previously out of print. These editions are published unaltered from the original, and are presented in affordable paperback formats, bringing readers both historical and cultural value.

The history of the Ottoman Empire spanned more than seven centuries. At the height of its power, it stretched over three continents and produced marvels of architecture, literature, science, and warfare. When it fell, its collapse redrew the map of the world and changed the course of history. Shadow of the Sultan’s Realm is the story of the empire’s dissolution during a tumultuous period that climaxed in the First World War. In its telling are battles and campaigns that have become the stuff of legend—Gallipoli, Kut, Beersheeba—waged by men who have become larger than life: Enver Bey, the would-be patriot who was driven more by ambition than by wisdom; T. E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”), the enigmatic leader of an irregular war against the Turks; Aaron Aaronsohn, the Jewish botanist-turned-spy who deceived his Turkish and British allies with equal facility; David Lloyd George, the prime minister for whom power meant everything, integrity nothing; Mehmet Talaat, who gave the orders that began the Armenian massacres; Winston Churchill, who created a detailed plan for the Gallipoli campaign, which should have been the masterstroke of the Great War; Mustafa Kemal, a gifted soldier who would become a revolutionary politician and earn the name Atatürk; Arthur Balfour, the British foreign secretary who would promise anything to anyone; and Edmund Allenby, the general who failed in the trench warfare of the western front but fought brilliantly in Palestine. Daniel Allen Butler weaves the stories of the men and the events that propelled them into a compelling narrative of the death of an empire. Its legacy is the cauldron of the modern Middle East.
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