The First World War: From the Russian Revolution to the Armistice
News of the declaration of war was received in Germany with enthusiasm and demonstrations of national solidarity. The Kaiser’s speech of 4 August proclaiming a party truce helped the closing of ranks. In Berlin throngs of smiling youths cheered the mobilisation order and flocked to the colours. Girls threw flowers at marching soldiers on their way to the front. Troop trains, decked with foliage and inscribed with slogans (Straight to Paris! The Tsar to the Gallows!) chalked on the carriages were hailed by farmers in the fields as they trundled through a countryside where harvest was in full swing. Crowds in the cities sang Deutschland über Alles and the Wacht am Rhein. Such scenes had their counterpart in other countries, though the jubilation was probably less. Everywhere men embarked light-heartedly on a war which they expected to be costly but short. Germans knew that they faced a more formidable struggle than that of 1870, which the older ones could remember: this time they were pitted against three great powers with only one ally (and of uncertain strength). Yet confidence in Germany’s military superiority ran high, and few spared a thought for the economic consequences of the blockade or the moral implications of the invasion of Belgium. Nationalists were delighted that Germany was at last striking against the hostile coalition that blocked her justified expansion: the war would cut insoluble problems with the sword. To idealists and romantics the war was an escape from the sordid everyday world to a higher realm of courage and selfless patriotism.
KeywordsParty Leader Majority Socialist RUSSIAN Revolution German People Chestnut Flour
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