Germany”s aims in the first world war pdf

Fischer Thesis” on the causes of the war. The title translates as “Grab for World Power”. Essentially Fischer attempts to link together a continuum germany’s aims in the first world war pdf German belligerence in their “grab for power” weaving it all together into a cohesive theme of German Weltpolitik. Griff nach der Weltmacht was published in October 1961.

It was published in Britain under the title Germany’s Aims in the First World War in 1967, translated by C. Macartney with an introduction by James Joll. The book included a memorandum by the then German Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg dated 9 September 1914 which set out a plan for Germany to dominate Europe.

Fischer argued that Germany had a policy of deliberately provoking war during July 1914 and that during the war Germany developed a set of annexationist war aims similar to those of Adolf Hitler during the Second World War. On publication, the book caused controversy in West Germany as it challenged the view that Hitler was an aberration by emphasising the continuity in German foreign policy in 1914 and 1939. The book was also controversial for challenging the established view that Germany did not bear the primary responsibility for outbreak of the war, the so-called “war guilt lie”. Fischer also claimed that German elites had wanted war since as early as 1902.

The historian John Moses stated in his 1975 work The Politics of Illusion that “No serious German historian today can venture to pit himself against the evidence compiled by the Fischer school. Fischer inspired several disciples, including the historian Imanuel Geiss. However, Fischer was ridiculed by conservative German historians who created a backlash against his ideas. The most notable critic was conservative historian and patriot Gerhard Ritter, who is said to have broken down in tears when lecturing on Fischer’s line of argument in Griff nach der Weltmacht.

Fritz Klein considered Fischer’s views to be uncontroversial. Mombauer argues that Fischer’s work led to greater discussion of the Holocaust by German history professors.

scroll to top