Germany’s Grandeur – Analyzing the War Effort I THE GREAT WAR Week 106

Two years. Last week it was two years since the Austro-Hungarian
Empire declared war on Serbia and all of this started. But it was 100 years ago this week that the waring nations analyzed the war effort. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to the Great War. Last week at the Somme, the British managed
to take Longueval and Delville Wood, though they began the week with disastrous uncoordinated
attacks there. The Russians lost big in the north, but continued
winning big in the south and in Anatolia. Two years and one day since the war began,
on July 29th, British Commander in Chief Sir Douglas Haig received a letter from Sir William
Robertson, Chief of the Imperial General Staff. It was about the Battle of the Somme and warned
him that (Gilbert), “the powers-that-be are beginning to get a little uneasy in regard
to the situation… (They wonder) whether a loss of say 300,000
men will lead to really great results, because, if not, we ought to be content with something
less than we are doing now.” They also pointed out that the primary objective
– the relief of pressure on the French at Verdun – had to a certain extent already been
achieved. But Haig was adamant that the Somme would
continue, figuring that within six weeks the Germans would run out of men under steady
offensive pressure. Still, on the 30th, the British at Guillemot
repeated their mistake of last week – that of not recognizing the new German tactic of
having machine gunners in shell holes clear of the trenches. As before, they advanced into the village,
as before they were driven out at huge cost by flanking machine guns. An example of the cost was the 2nd Royal Scots
Fusiliers. Of 770 men who went in, 120 returned. As August began, it seems clear with hindsight
that the British command did not grasp that the situation was very different now than
it was in early or mid July. Small, bludgeoning attacks that were successful
at the beginning of the battle would no longer gain ground; the Germans were well organized,
with a coherent, cohesive defense. Also, much of their defense points, unlike
earlier, were out of sight of direct artillery observation. Generally bad weather prevented the British
from using their air superiority, and – certainly according to the gunners themselves – the
wear on the big guns prevented the accuracy required for wide scale creeping barrages. And, as I’ve said, the British still didn’t
understand the change in machine gun tactics around Guillemot. This all added up. British prospects in August at the Somme looked
pretty grim when you think about. And things still looked grim for Austria-Hungary
to the east. On the 28th, the Russian offensive renewed
itself along most of the line. It smashed through the Austro-German defenses
all along the line. On just that day, the Austrian 4th army lost
15,000 men – 60% of its force – and 90 machine guns. Timothy Dowling, in “The Brusilov Offensive”,
writes, “In truth it was quite simply a general lack of fighting spirit on the part
of the Habsburg troops that had caused the catastrophe… nearly two thirds of the fourth
army’s losses… had been taken prisoner, often with minimal fighting.” But that attack, against the 4th army, was
actually only a diversion. The Russian Third Army and Guards Army were
driving toward Kovel straight from the east. But the July rains had made the Central Powers’
line at the Stockhod River formidable and the Russians, despite early successes, could
not cross that line and took enormous casualties. Although you can kind of understand it in
the face of heavy losses and tough terrain, the failure of Russian General Alexei Brusilov’s
commanders to coordinate and follow up successes was as costly as it had been in mid June. Alexei Kaledin, after smashing the 4th army
the 28th ,didn’t do much at all the 29th, which allowed the enemy time to bring up German
reserves and organize defenses. When the attack was renewed the 30th, those
reserves made the difference and the lines held. Further south, General Platon Lechitski did
not attack with his 9th Army, even under pressure from Brusilov and the Stavka, and the Central
Powers had time to re organize there as well. Once the Carpathian Corps had arrived in Bukovina
August 1st, the Central Powers thought that they could not only hold the mountain passes,
but even successfully counter attack. Much as the British successfully counterattacked
this week. After being attacked by the Ottoman forces
at Romani in North Sinai. In fact, the British counter attack drove
the Ottomans back 30 km. So that was the main action this week – the
carnage at the Somme continuing, everybody regrouping on the Eastern Front, the Turkish
attack in the Sinai – but something else happened this week. This week 102 years ago, Germany, France,
Russia, Belgium, and Great Britain joined the war. For the second anniversary of the war, Collier’s
weekly – a major American magazine at the time – got statements from the British, French,
and German foreign offices about the state of the war. The British simply said they have no change
in policy from the beginning of the war, the French said a day of justice is coming, but
they also say the following, which I find very interesting, “the war… was declared
on (France) by the Germans on the 3rd of August, 1914 for such frivolous motives as shelling
by her aeros of places as distant as Nuremberg: an imaginary deed of which she never dreamt,
which she has never been able to duplicate, and which an inspection of the local newspapers
has proved to have passed unmentioned by them…” Now, that is something I’d never heard before;
that Germany claimed it went to war with France because France bombed Nuremberg? If anybody has heard this before and has any
more info, send it to us. The Germans had much more to say to Collier’s,
and here’s their piece, written by Baron Mumm von Schwarzenstein from the Foreign office
in Berlin: “In order to appreciate what Germany has
accomplished during two years of war, one has to recall to mind the great expectations
which her enemies had attached to this war, into which their powerful coalition, after
years of political scheming and thorough military preparations, had enmeshed the prosperous
empire. At the outset, the avowed purpose of Germany’s
enemies was to annihilate her – her army, her fleet, her commerce, and her industry. France hoped to regain Alsace-Lorraine… Russia expected to… conquer the provinces
of East and West Prussia and Posen, which probably were to receive the blessings of
Russian culture. Austria-Hungary was to be dismembered; the
Balkan states were to be rendered tributary to the tsar; Constantinople and the Dardanelles
were to be added to the Romanoff’s dominions. As for England, she deliberately entered this
war because she thought she would run small risk… The world will remember the vainglorious way
in which Germany’s enemies foretold that before long their armies would meet in the
heart of Germany, where Cossacks would parade the streets of Berlin and Indian lancers and
Gurkhas would stroll through the parks of Potsdam… Germany would soon be paralyzed, nay, would
soon be passing away. Such were the expectations of the enemies,
attacking us from all sides. Germany was drawn into a war of self-defense… And today how do matters stand? Excepting one small corner of the Empire,
the only enemies on German soil are vast numbers of prisoners of war. The war is fought on enemy soil. Germany and her allies occupy three independent
kingdoms. They hold vast areas of enemy territory in
east and west. They hold these territories firmly and without
fear of losing them by force of arms. Consider the efforts our enemies have made
on the west front. In their unsuccessful attempts at Loos and
in Champagne last autumn they suffered terrible losses and made no headway. In the spring Germany took up the offensive
against Verdun. Step by step… we are steadily gaining ground,
the French positions… are crumbling away one by one. Thanks to the genius of Hindenburg, East Germany
is no longer threatened by Russia. Last year in cooperation with our valiant
ally Austria-Hungary, we drove back the Russians, overwhelming their armies… for the last
two months, it is true, the Russians have resumed the offensive, but… they have not
succeeded in breaking through our lines. Our enemies… attain nothing but terrible
losses. They achieve but little substantial gain. They have in no material way damaged our position
on the western front. Our enemies will probably realize in time
that they are biting on granite… Germany awaits the outcome of the present
combined offensive with calmness and confidence. Then her turn may come once more… The allies have been rejoicing over the collapse
of Germany… repeatedly it has been postponed… Germany enters the third year of the war with
unaltered confidence in her final triumph… Germany is fighting against the greatest odds
known in history. She is not only fighting against the most
powerful combination of enemies, but… with a world of prejudice, skillfully created against
her.” Happy birthday. This war is not even close to over. If you are actually curious about the team
behind our show and want to know more about how we produce this show, check out our behind-the-scenes-episode
right here. Our Patreon supporter of the week is Haran
Muntanyola – help us out on Patreon to make us more independent from add revenue. Like us on Facebook to learn even more about
World War 1. See you next week.

Maurice Vega

100 Responses

  1. Indie, the German claim of French instigation appears in a number of sources. Here is one: "The German government claimed that it had been driven to this measure [go to war with France] by French advances across the border into Alsace and by viscous attacks by French aviators. One, it said, had even thrown a bomb on a German railway line." The War That Ended the Peace: the Road to 1914 by Margaret MacMillan. I have read other accounts as well and will try to locate them. Also documented is the fact that during mobilization leading up to hostilities, the French kept their troops five or ten kilometers behind the border. More to come.

  2. why doesn't Indie have a tv show in europe or America? I'm sure some channel would pick up him and his studio (forget the name)

  3. Ouch! "Two years since the Austro-Hungarian empire declared war on Serbia and all of this started." One might equally argue its "Two years and a month since Bosnian-Serb irredentists murdered the heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire and all of this started".

  4. That's an amazing uber- rant delivered by that German for the benefit of the American readers. More was to follow a couple of decades later. This man was priming the pump, it seems.

  5. The thing is the german diplomat was right. It all happened.

    Sure, its propaganda but he had a reason to fear for the survival of the germany he knew.

  6. question for out of the trenches, Germany's ability to fight of two massive land powers (france and russia) simultaneously leaves me to think that one for one germany was the most powerful military in the war, (maybe not including navies) would you agree?

  7. As others have said, the German press claimed as the July Crisis got hotter French aircraft came to Nuremberg and bombed the city. (This was mentioned in Barbara Tuchman's Guns of August) Thus, the idea was popularized in Germany, and among the various reasons for declaring war in the treaty presented to the French government, this was included.

    Quote: "The German administrative and military authorities have established a certain number of flagrantly hostile acts committed on German territory by French military aviators.

    Several of these have openly violated the neutrality of Belgium by flying over the territory of that country; one has attempted to destroy buildings near Wesel; others have been seen in the district of the Eifel; one has thrown bombs on the railway near Carlsruhe and Nuremberg."

    (Source and full treaty:

  8. As far as the alleged bombing of Nuremberg is concerned.

    At 18h.45 on 3 August 1914, the German Ambassador Von Schoen was at the French Foreign Office on the Quai d’Orsay where he met Viviani, the French Foreign Minister.

    The minutes of the conversation, in which a number of accusations were made including an alleged attack on Nuremberg, are as follows :

    Les autorités administratives et militaires allemandes ont constaté un certain nombre d’actes d’hostilité caractérisés commis sur le territoire allemand par des aviateurs militaires français. Plusieurs de ces derniers ont manifestement violé la neutralité de la Belgique en survolant le territoire de ce pays.

    L’un a essayé de détruire des constructions près de Wesel, d’autres ont été aperçus sur la région de l’Eiffel, un autre a jeté des bombes sur le chemin de fer près de Karlsruhe et Nuremberg.

    Je suis chargé et j’ai l’honneur de faire connaître à Votre Excellence qu’en présence de ces agressions, l’Empire allemand se considère en état de guerre avec la France du fait de cette dernière Puissance.

    J’ai en même temps l’honneur de porter à la connaissance de Votre Excellence que les autorités allemandes retiendront les navires marchands français dans les ports allemands, mais qu’elles les relâcheront si dans les 48 (quarante-huit) heures la réciprocité complète est assurée.

    Ma mission diplomatique ayant pris fin, il ne me reste plus qu’à prier Votre Excellence de vouloir bien me munir de mes passeports et de prendre les mesures qu’Elle jugerait utiles pour assurer mon retour en Allemagne avec le personnel de l’ambassade ainsi qu’avec le personnel de la légation de Bavière et du consulat général d’Allemagne à Paris.

  9. The claim of an air attack on Nuremberg is indeed -among claims of other hostalities – part of the German declaration of war against France from 3d of August 1914.

    "… Gestern warfen französische Flieger Bomben auf Bahnen bei Karlsruhe und Nürnberg. Frankreich hat uns somit in Kriegszustand versetzt."

    (… Yesterday, French airplanes dropped bombs on railway lines near Karlsruhe and Nuremberg. Doing so, France put us into state of war.)

    The French had no zeppelin at this time and its it's quite clear that in 1914 French airplanes would not have been able to attack a target at a distance of over 300 km from the French border (remember: west of Metz and Straßburg in those days) and to return to France.

  10. 2:18 Can anyone tell me what that German is holding? I believe it's for artillery spotting. I've seen one like it maybe even the same model but it was Soviet. I'm not sure if the one in the picture is a captured Soviet one or German. Could it possibly be Austrian or Hungarian?

  11. All in all, Austro – Hungarian soldiers had the coolest caps. Brits and Germans were fighting over who had the most idiotic caps…

  12. Re: France bombing Nuremberg. There always needs to be a Pretext to go to war. It allows those in charge, who have already decided on a war policy for whatever reasons, to sell War to the population.

    A Pretext for War can be some convenient event that occurred that be used as justification for invading, a fake event that didn't occur, or even a false flag.

    Examples: Austria-Hungry used assassination as pretext to declare war on Serbia, Britain used violation of Belgium neutrality as pretext to declare war on Germany, Gulf of Tonkin used as pretext for Viet Nam War, WTC used as pretext to invade Iraq, etc. I recall that Hitler used a false flag as pretext to invade Poland.

  13. Ok Germany won and that is all !! End the war and that is all !!
    If that would have happened the war would have been short of 2 years… What stoped it !?
    To much STUPID pride.

  14. An excellent speech from that German dude! I don't know how much of Germany is in me, but it's intense enough to feel great when the country succeeds, even in so little as being heard. I sort of wish Germany as a whole was as proud as it was in the past. A proud Deutschland is a beautiful Deutschland.

  15. Listening to the German speech you can hear the beginnings of the post war era and the rise of National Socialism,….

  16. Hi guys at the TGW channel. This video has an ad at 4:23 that interrupts Indy in the middle of a sentence. If you guys want to have ads in the middle that's cool, but maybe synchronize them so that they start when Indy makes a pause? Anyway, keep up the fantastic work! Cheers!

  17. I get it was a lot harder to gather information back then, but how did the reporter not laugh in the German diplomat's face? I'm pretty sure it's well known that Germany declared war on France, and invaded Belgium which brought in the British. God, they sound like SJWs.

  18. That Speech that Germany give at the end there…force shadows WW2 pretty much to the point….. Expect of that it was American, British, and France Army in the Heart land of Germany…..

  19. The propaganda speech has effect on people 102 years later, sad, as it';s nothing but propaganda, and Germany wasn't better than any other country in the war in terms of innocence, and they are forgetting that it was indeed an offensive war (against Serbia) initially

  20. "Germany is fighting against the greatest odds in history." Nigga please, never heard of Louis XIV's and Napoleon's wars?

  21. The Central Powers, and let's be honest Germany is propping up the whole alliance at this point, should have won the Great War. Austria's heir was assassinated by the pirate state of Serbia, and for that all the world conspired to dismember the Hohenzollern and Habsburg Houses, trampling their people and any who came to their aid.

  22. The failures of the Russians to exploit victories during the Brusilov offensive reminds me of similar failures during the American civil war: McClellan didn't exploit his success at Antietam in 1862 and Meade didn't exploit his success in Gettysburg in 1863. Two missed opportunities to end a bloody, interminable war. Such missed opportunities drove President Lincoln almost to tears.

  23. Oh. If only Germany had won the war. What a better world that would've been. Now i'm under no illusion that it would have been perfect… But better. No WW2, No Cold War and no goddamn mess that the west can't stop putting their dirty little fingers even if it makes it worse the Middle-eastern wars. Would've been better.

  24. Propaganda this propaganda that…. All the "enlightened rhetoricians" boastfully proclaiming their immunity to propaganda even though we are all affected by it even today. I still yearn for the day that humans can sit down and enjoy a speech for its craftsmanship instead of putting it down simply because it promotes a philosophy that is different from theirs. The speech is a linguistic masterpiece because of how it is able to inspire people on a moral and patriotic level, myself included. Set aside your paranoia, if you are truly concerned with another war against Germany, than you have bigger issues to worry about.

  25. I don't know why but I just like to binge watch this channel and it doesn't make me board. It may be because of my fascination of human history especially wars

  26. Listing to the German response which only described the reality back then one can only realize how the "stab in the back" thought came! the thought was real and that the contemporary people were aware of the actual motives off their enemies that the later brought back during the WWII.

  27. Britain: meh, it's all fine
    Germany: We're badasses explained in an extremely inspiring speech

  28. It's interesting to note that of the (mostly) fantastic war aims the German essay claims the Allies supposedly had been dreaming of at the start of the war, many would actually wind up coming true… at the end of World War II. France would take final, permanent control of Alsace-Lorraine, the Russians/USSR would establish a firm grip over all of Eastern Europe, and Germany itself would become an occupied, disarmed land. (If only for a few years in West Germany.) Indeed, even the image of Allied forces happily joining hands in the middle of Germany would literally happen. (Though involving U.S. and Soviet armies.)

    Almost all the disasters the Germans supposedly feared eventually happened. But rather than preventing them, German militarism would wind up causing them.

  29. That German statement is a bit boastful. Germany was actually quite worried by mid-1916. The confidence of August 1914 was no longer evident in August 1916. On top of that, when Romania first declared war, Wilhelm II actually panicked a little, proclaiming the war "definitely lost."

  30. The germans never thought that Alsace was german then, because the french were occupying part of it technically 🙂

  31. I think that the moral standing of both sides in TGW (WW1) were roughly comparable; yes Germany behaved badly in Belgium but weren’t the French, Russian and British empires built on violent overthrow of countless nations or civilizations? Both sides committed atrocities but apart from the Armenian slaughter nothing happened that was out of line with norms of behavior in that era. I think it’s true that Germany wasn’t an instigator of the war more than any other participant and if you think about it they had more to lose than gain. The problem for the allies was the growing economic power of the still young German empire that inadvertently was upsetting the balance of power in Europe.

    I think though that it was a fair fight and the allies won because while Germany was the strongest individual nation with the best army it was out smarted by weaker France diplomatically. my grandfather, used to tell me that Germany was actually guilty in the Second World War of what they were falsely accused of in the First World War.

  32. Curious note about Nuremberg for sure. Part of me always wondered why Germany declared war on France. However small the chance was, it seems from my view looking back that there was at least some chance of France saying, "Well this is a mess and not a defensive war so we are not obligated to join Russia." Germany declaring war of course wipes out whatever tiny chance there was.

    Of course, I say this realizing we are talking about the same high commands who all thought they would win easily and take the things they wanted without much trouble.

  33. You get some idea from the German's apologia why they fell for "stab in the back". By conventional standards, they seemed to be winning until they suddenly lost the war.

  34. @8:28 – that pic is badass, mostly due to the two fellows lying on the ground. I am surprised that was allowed! The kommandant looks so serious, and those two look SO casual. The guy on our right has an almost… cheeky look to him.

  35. The Germans should’ve won, our world would have been different, but looking at Europe now, I would have probably signed up with the Central Powers. 1. The Middle East wouldn’t be as fucked up as it is now. 2. I don’t think the Kaiser would have allowed the massive cultural, demographic, and intellectual replacement of Europe that is currently unfolding now.

  36. One of the reasons why Entente miscalculated their war effort was based on false estimations of German military losses. In fact German military losses in Western Front were about half of those losses of France, Belgium and British Commonwealth. While Austria-Hungary losses were staggering in 1914-16, those of Russia were even more. Russia's losses during Brusilov offensive were about 2 million. In Germany vs Russia combats Russians took 3-4 times bigger losses.

  37. Romani….. another action where Dominion forces triumph, but their success is rolled into one overall comment favouring in this case, the British. And Romani is seen as the turning point in the Middle East theatre. Chauvel, leading elements of the Australian Light Horse, turned back the Turks on Egypt,s doorstep. He, Chauvel, regarded his win here to be greater than Beersheba. Chauvel and Monash, two generals that evolved into Great Generals during the course of WWI.

  38. I don't even live anywhere near Europe but I had this strange sudden urge to wave a flag of Germany like a maniac. Wow, words are powerful

  39. 9:17 "Germany enters the third year of the war with unaltered confidence in her final triumph. Germany is fighting against the greatest odds known in history."

    So he's first saying Germany is confident in her victory but then says that the probability of victory is low? Lol!

  40. I know I’m a little late to the game here, like most Americans, I didn’t show up until 1917 (2017.) so I’ve been working my way through all that I’ve missed.

    The letter from the Germans, while a lot of propaganda, certainly makes one look at the war a little differently. Combine that with French desire to right the wrongs of previous defeats, and British racism (is that the right word? Indy uses hubris, but maybe it’s a combination of the two) and you can certainly see where a lot of Germans where coming from. Kinda makes the way it all ended make a little more sense at least. I suppose a quote from that great American and WWI veteran Ernest Hemingway seams most appropriate “We probably would have gone on and discussed the war and agreed that it was in reality a calamity for civilization, and perhaps would have been better avoided. I was bored enough."

  41. Looks like the Germans didn't start WW1? I knew it the Allies needed a reason to punish Germany after the War

  42. Gad! The Germans. Simultaneously whining about their 'victimization' and smugly triumphalist out of the other side of their mouth. The same tune they sang through all the years of re-armament up until 1939.

  43. Such a pathetic speech. Nothing but lies and projection, the most egregious of all being the claim that Germany, the architect of the war, was the innocent victim fighting in self defense. And yet a hundred years later people were gushing about how "inspiring" it was and how much they wished Germany would win. Two years worth of knowledge of the unimaginable horror of the war Germany that had begun was washed away by a bit of inane bluster. Would that these people cheering for what they know to be lies could have been in those trenches instead of the poor young men that actually inhabited them.

  44. "Our valiant ally, Austria-Hungary"…have to wonder how they said that with a straight face. Then again, they said 'valiant', not 'intelligent'.

  45. I’m watching these and realizing just how late the US joined the war. How can any country sustain hundreds of thousands of losses each quarter and keep fighting? Insane

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