German Imperial War Council of 8 December 1912

May 2015
987
The Netherlands
#11
I searched the site and did not see this topic covered. Some historians, such as Fritz Fischer, believe the decision for a European war was sealed a few years earlier than 1914. The only ingredient necessary to ignite the powder keg of war was a reason, which occurred when the Austrian Hungarian Archduke, Ferdinand, was assassinated in Sarajevo. The primary culprit in instigating an inevitable war was Imperial Germany. At an internal meeting in December of 1912, a group known as the German Imperial War Council encouraged Austria Hungary to attack Serbia that month. The expectation would be that Russia would come to the aid of Serbia, then Germany would be justified in joining in on the fighting and was already mobilized, in an attempt to strike before Russia could mobilize. Germany was trying to avoid a war of attrition, which Moltke thought to be a losing proposition. Some argue that it was a fait accompli in the mind of Germany that a war should begin.
German Imperial War Council of 8 December 1912 - Wikipedia
Beginning the Great War | FifteenEightyFour | Cambridge University Press
The Imperial War Council of 8 December 1912 should be viewed in the right context. It followed the outbreak of the First Balkan War, in which the entente powers recklessly supported the revisionist forces on the Balkans at the expense of the existing status quo. This brought Europe to the brink of war and in november 1912, a month before the Imperial War Council meeting, Russia partially mobilized against Austria-Hungary, which partially mobilized against Russia in response. Germany stayed mostly impartial in all this, but it became more and more apparent in Berlin that the entente powers were willing to prioritize political adventurism on the Balkans over peace.

The Imperial War Council meeting was not so much a premeditation for war as it was a sobering realization that given the state of European affairs a war had become pretty much inevitable and that Germany had to start preparing for it. Germany didn't need the assassination of Franz Ferdinand as a pretext for war, had it wanted to start one. There were plenty of opportunities during the Balkan Wars. If anything, it's largely thanks to Germany that a European war didn't occur prior to 1914 and Germany continued to restrain Austria-Hungary and commit to Great Power arbitration and peace after 8 December 1912.
 
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Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,249
US
#12
This is a very interesting subject that i didn't know. Thanks for bringing this up.
I am reading a book, Europe in the Era of Two World Wars: From Militarism and Genocide to Civil Society, 1900-1950 by Volker R. Berghahn and this council is mentioned. It was the first time I had heard of it too. During the First Balkan War , First Balkan War - Wikipedia, Austria- Hungary was concerned about Serbia's position in the Balkans. Germany seemed to be waiting for a reason to start a war: World War I Centennial: Austria-Hungary Punts the Balkan Issue
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,249
US
#13
The Imperial War Council of 8 December 1912 should be viewed in the right context. It followed the outbreak of the First Balkan War, in which the entente powers recklessly supported the revisionist forces on the Balkans at the expense of the existing status quo. This brought Europe to the brink of war and in november 1912, a month before the Imperial War Council meeting, Russia partially mobilized against Austria-Hungary, which partially mobilized against Russia in response. Germany stayed mostly impartial in all this, but it became more and more apparent in Berlin that the entente powers were willing to prioritize political adventurism on the Balkans over peace.

The Imperial War Council meeting was not so much a premeditation for war as it was a sobering realization that given the state of European affairs a war had become pretty much inevitable and that Germany had to start preparing for it. Germany didn't need the assassination of Franz Ferdinand as a pretext for war, had it wanted to start one. There were plenty of opportunities during the Balkan Wars. If anything, it's largely thanks to Germany that a European war didn't occur prior to 1914 and Germany continued to restrain Austria-Hungary and commit to Great Power arbitration and peace after 8 December 1912.
Wasn't Moltke strongly advocating to fight in December of 1912, in an effort for a lightning quick war against Russia or France, to avoid a two front war?
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,239
Dispargum
#14
Wasn't Moltke strongly advocating to fight in December of 1912, in an effort for a lightning quick war against Russia or France, to avoid a two front war?
That was certainly the reasoning behind the Schliefen Plan - finish off France before Russia could finish mobilizing thereby avoiding a two front war. Even earlier, the German-Russian Reassurance Treaty was intended to keep Russia neutral in the event of a war between Germany and France. The Germans were well aware that their position in Central Europe meant they could easily find themselves in an unwinnable two front war. German foreign policy usually prioritized the minimization of this risk. Wilhelm II was stupid to allow the probability of a two front war to arise.
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,249
US
#16
Are you talking to Roger, me, or someone else here?
If any European power attempted to intervene in the First Balkan War, to prevent the the Balkan League from changing the balance of power, do you think the members of the Balkan league would have ceased fighting without military intervention by one of those powers or some favorable concessions on the part of the Ottomans?
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
13,494
SoCal
#17
If any European power attempted to intervene in the First Balkan War, to prevent the the Balkan League from changing the balance of power, do you think the members of the Balkan league would have ceased fighting without military intervention by one of those powers or some favorable concessions on the part of the Ottomans?
I suspect that a lot would have depended on whether Russia would have been willing to militarily intervene on the side of the Balkan countries.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
13,494
SoCal
#18
The Imperial War Council of 8 December 1912 should be viewed in the right context. It followed the outbreak of the First Balkan War, in which the entente powers recklessly supported the revisionist forces on the Balkans at the expense of the existing status quo. This brought Europe to the brink of war and in november 1912, a month before the Imperial War Council meeting, Russia partially mobilized against Austria-Hungary, which partially mobilized against Russia in response. Germany stayed mostly impartial in all this, but it became more and more apparent in Berlin that the entente powers were willing to prioritize political adventurism on the Balkans over peace.

The Imperial War Council meeting was not so much a premeditation for war as it was a sobering realization that given the state of European affairs a war had become pretty much inevitable and that Germany had to start preparing for it. Germany didn't need the assassination of Franz Ferdinand as a pretext for war, had it wanted to start one. There were plenty of opportunities during the Balkan Wars. If anything, it's largely thanks to Germany that a European war didn't occur prior to 1914 and Germany continued to restrain Austria-Hungary and commit to Great Power arbitration and peace after 8 December 1912.
Interesting points.

Anyway, I was wondering--had the assassination of Franz Ferdinand occurred a couple of years later, do you think that war would have still broken out? I'm curious about this because Russia's Great Military Program was scheduled for completion by either 1916 or 1917 and thus I am wondering if Germany would have taken the same restrained posture in 1916-1917 as it did in 1912 if Franz Ferdinand's assassination would have come a couple of years later than it did in real life.
 

Kotromanic

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,264
Iowa USA
#19
Had war broken out in 1912, it's possible that Germany would have had more problems with munitions than it had in real life. After all, the Haber process for producing ammonia was produced only shortly before--with it being commercialized in 1913:

Haber process - Wikipedia

"Ammonia was first manufactured using the Haber process on an industrial scale in 1913 in BASF's Oppau plant in Germany, reaching 20 tonnes per day the following year.[11] During World War I, the production of munitions required large amounts of nitrate. The Allies had access to large sodium nitrate deposits in Chile (Chile saltpetre) controlled by British companies. Germany had no such resources, so the Haber process proved essential to the German war effort.[5][12] Synthetic ammonia from the Haber process was used for the production of nitric acid, a precursor to the nitrates used in explosives."
One of the best axioms is that necessity is the mother of invention.

With the famous salt mines of Poland it seems a bit dubious to say that Germany had no meaningful access to sodium nitrate?
 
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