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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a post-war German classi, 28 May 2011
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This review is from: Germany's Aims in the First World War (Paperback)
Fischer's work is considered by many to be the finest in German historiography since 1945. Fischer provides a clear description of the evolution of German war aims in the period 1914-1918 and should disabuse anyone of the notion that Imperial Germany would have treated the Allies with any leniency should the Kaiser have emerged victorious in 1918.

Fischer should, ideally, be read in conjunction with another post-1945 German clasic - Sebastian Haffner's 'Von Bismarck zu Hitler' which has yet to be translated into English. Haffner gives also a clear depiction of the lack of proportion in German strategic and geopolitical planning in the same era.

An historical milestone.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mea culpa teutonica, 12 Aug. 2013
This review is from: Germany's Aims in the First World War (Paperback)
This is a controversial book from the 1960s that described Germany's war aims in World War 1 as expansive and imperialist in nature. The stress is on territorial aims, which included relations with the ports of the Low countries in the West, expansion into territories that were until recently under Soviet influence in the East and the idea of Mittelafrika (middle Africa) under which German colonies in East and West Africa (Tanzania, Cameroon, Namibia) would be united by takeover of the Belgian Congo and neighboring countries. The result is to present Germany's foreign policy as outside international norms in its expansionism.

This gave rise to a controversy that should probably be studied by anyone wanting a balanced view of the subject. It was the spirit of the times that the book itself made it into English and its views were widely accepted, prior to scholarly attention moving to World War 2. German domestic politics are also not addressed in the book save as they impinge on foreign policy. It gives an insight into German war aims, but possibly confuses speculative plans when victory was hoped for with actual negotiations. On the whole I found it readable and absorbing. The very scope of the thinking sometimes seems to belong to a bygone age of European ambitions.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Germany's Aims in the First World War, 29 May 2013
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Edgar Wagner (UK) - See all my reviews
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No-body just stumbled into The Great War and Fritz Fischer's book explains as clearly as anybody can why not. Highly recommended for historians, amateur and professional alike.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anyone in Australia, or anywhere else for that matter who thinks this war had nothing to do with them should read this book, ., 7 Mar. 2014
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Not an easy book to read but, nevertheless, a veritable mine of information. The world would have been a vastly different place had the Central poweers won the war. Mr.Paul Keeting please note.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fischer's work is very controversial, but was instrumental [my ..., 19 Nov. 2014
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Fischer's work is very controversial, but was instrumental [my opinion] in making historiography a less "dusty" academic sphere of study. Along with Taylor's writings it has enabled historians to become less blinkered and enabled them to see the point of view of an argument from all sides and not accept the fashionable view of a subject.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A classic of modern history, 14 Aug. 2014
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This is a classic about Germany's war aims. Fischer's book is a much discussed work but the author wrote a seminal analysis about the motivations of the leaders of Imperial Germany. Their decisons caused the death of seventeen millions persons and contributed to the decline of the European influence in the world.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Vital reading on the First World Wara, 19 July 2014
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Vital reading for anyone studying the First World War because of the impact Fischer's work has had on our understanding of events that led to the First World War.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 24 Dec. 2014
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A brilliant commentary and surprisingly readable for such a subject. A must for serious WW1 students.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 1 Feb. 2015
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A book we all should read . A vast amount of information and absorbing.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The more things change, the more they stay the same, 8 Oct. 2014
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Lance Grundy (Great Britain) - See all my reviews
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Fritz Fischer's 1961 masterpiece is widely acknowledged to be one of the most important history books of the twentieth century. Fischer was the first historian to examine the Imperial German government archives in their entirety and from the documents he found there he concluded that Germany had deliberately instigated the First World War in an attempt to become both the dominant continental power in Europe and a global power to rival Great Britain and the United States. His theory that Germany was responsible for the First World War became known as "The Fischer Thesis". More controversially, Fischer's findings clearly showed that there was a definite continuity in German foreign policy from 1871-1945 and thus implied that Germany was responsible for *both* world wars. Fischer's discovery of Imperial German government documents advocating as a war aim the ethnic cleansing of Russian Poland and subsequent German colonization of the east led many to argue that similar schemes pursued by the Nazis in World War II were not due solely to Adolf Hitler's crack-pot ideas but rather reflected widely held German aspirations that long pre-dated the Fuhrer.

This brick of a book, an English translation of the German original, Griff nach der Weltmacht: Die Kriegszielpolitik des kaiserlichen Deutschland 1914/18, certainly isn't an easy read and it took me a few weeks to plough through it. However, the knowledge it contains is crucial in understanding not just the causes of WW1 and WW2 but also how 100-year-old German foreign policy objectives still shape the world we live in today and are fuelling bang-up-to-date European Union expansionism. Fischer's detailed analysis of both Bethmann-Hollweg's Septemberprogramm of 1914 and Friedrich Naumann's 1916 plans for Mitteleuropa prove the old adage that 'the more things change, the more they stay the same'. While under the Septemberprogramm most of Europe was to be annexed and put under direct German rule, the plans for Mitteleuropa envisaged more subtle, but no less effective, control over the continent. Mitteleuropa would be ostensibly egalitarian but in reality Germany would use economic association [including a customs & currency union] to secure German supremacy over Central and Eastern Europe "for all time". Europe was to become a politically and economically integrated EU-style bloc under German domination. The Berlin-Baghdad Railway would also extend German power and influence into the oil rich Middle East via Germany's ally Turkey.

As Fischer's research makes clear, the real threat to German hegemony on the continent though was Russia, a country too big and economically powerful to be absorbed into the German-dominated customs union and single currency area envisaged in the Mitteleuropa plan. The Russian Empire would have to be "disintegrated" and its borders rolled back as far eastward as possible. State after state, including the Baltics, Finland and Poland, would be peeled away from Russian control and then bound permanently into the German-dominated core by political and economic ties. While the right of self-determination for these countries would be exercised in appearance, German authority would, in fact, be total. Russia itself was to be defeated militarily on the battlefield and weakened politically by using "revolution as a means of warfare" - hence why Germany facilitated Lenin's return to Russia and thus birthed the Bolshevik revolution.

It is this German-Russian rivalry which has special relevance today as the most significant country in Germany's plans for eastwards expansion was Ukraine. Establishing German supremacy over Russia meant detaching resource-rich Ukraine and its Black Sea ports in Crimea, from the Russian Empire. In an almost carbon copy of what has just taken place 100 years later, Germany planned to "exploit the separatist movement in the Ukraine" and "encourage revolution there" to remove pro-Russian forces from the government and install a pro-German regime. Once Russian influence had been severed, Germany would impose peace and stability on the country on its own terms and make Ukraine economically dependent on German capital. German heavy industry would then have access to the massive natural resources of Ukraine at preferential, exploitative rates. A win-win then for Germany and its industrialists and so it's little wonder that the German-dominated EU has just tried to pull off almost exactly the same trick a century later [and once more brought Europe to the brink of war]. Only two days ago Berlin announced that it was planning to send German troops into western Ukraine. Why? After reading this superb history book, it seems worryingly clear that Germany's 100-year-old plan to dominate continental Europe is still in the process of being realised, making an understanding of "The Fischer Thesis" more important today than at any other time since its conception.
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Germany's Aims in the First World War
Germany's Aims in the First World War by Fritz Fischer (Paperback - 12 Nov. 2007)
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