The Civil-Military Fabric of Weimar Foreign Policy

The Civil-Military Fabric of Weimar Foreign Policy

Copyright Date: 1973
DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt13x0s79
Pages: 408
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  • Book Info
    The Civil-Military Fabric of Weimar Foreign Policy
    Book Description:

    In the historiographic debate over Germany's responsibility for the outbreak of the two world wars, little attention has been paid to German politico- military activity in the Weimar Republic. Although Weimar diplomats and military leaders emphasized the interconnection and developed ideas and procedures for joint planning, historians have usually treated the foreign and military affairs of the republic separately. Gaines Post, Jr., however, examines the relationship between foreign policy and military planning, and charts its directions and changes to develop a model of German civil-military relations which sheds light on the general problem of modern civil-military relations.

    He shows that diplomats and military leaders shared assumptions about the role of force in foreign policy and the subordination of the military arm to the political leadership, and that they collaborated in assessing Germany's strategic situation, in rearmament, and in operational exercises. In the 1920's, interdepartmental cooperation between the foreign office and the Defense Ministry became the foundation of a stable system of civil-military relations. The system broke down during the crisis period of 1930-1933 because of mounting institutional pressures.

    The author demonstrates how, in both periods, civilian and military leaders viewed military force not simply as an instrument of national self-defense, but as an acceptable means of attaining national goals, above all the revision of the German-Polish borders.

    Originally published in 1973.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7074-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt13x0s79.1
  2. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt13x0s79.2
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt13x0s79.3
    (pp. x-2)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt13x0s79.4
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-10)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt13x0s79.5

    In the historiographic debate over Germany’s responsibility for the outbreak of the two world wars, scant attention has been given to German politico-military activity in the Weimar Republic. This lacuna should be filled; in foreign policy and military planning, the Weimar Republic was not simply an interregnum between Wilhelmian Germany and the Third Reich. The following analysis has two purposes. In the first place it will attempt to integrate German foreign policy and military planning, for, whereas Weimar diplomats and military leaders emphasized the interconnection and developed ideas and procedures for joint planning, historians have usually treated the foreign and...

    • CHAPTER I Eastern Europe
      (pp. 13-58)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt13x0s79.6

      The thirteenth of President Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points called for the erection of “an independent Polish state . . . which should be assured free and secure access to the sea. . . .” To achieve this, the terms of the Treaty of Versailles required Germany to cede to the new Poland a “Corridor” through West Prussia along the valley of the lower Vistula River up to the Baltic Sea, and the province of Posen. Germany also gave up Danzig, which became a self-governing free city under the supervision of a League of Nations commissioner, and there Poland was granted...

    • CHAPTER II The West: Force and Foreign Policy
      (pp. 59-84)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt13x0s79.7

      With German-Soviet relations slipping into a “marriage of convenience,” perhaps a more productive relationship lay to the west. Stresemann’s policy of establishing an understanding with Britain and France had a number of immediate objectives: thwarting a bilateral Anglo-French defensive alliance, which Chamberlain was rumored to favor in the winter of 1924-25; early evacuation of Allied troops from the Rhineland; and a more conciliatory atmosphere for settling Allied-German disputes over other questions, such as military surveillance, disarmament, and reparations. But Stresemann’s long-range goal was revision in the east. In pre-Locarno instructions and private correspondence, in speeches before his own party, the...

    • CHAPTER III Eastern Europe
      (pp. 87-132)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt13x0s79.8

      The Treaty of Versailles was also anathema to the Army.¹ To win freedom from the provisions of theDiktatand from the European “system” which it established was a national duty, for without this freedom no German could be secure against foreign attack or proud that his nation was denied the sovereignty and international status which it merited. The treaty imposed by the victors was unjust, and thus the vanquished felt a “moral responsibility” to circumvent it in the interests of national security.²

      The terms of the Treaty of Versailles, which the remon strances of General Hans von Seeckt and...

    • CHAPTER IV The West
      (pp. 133-158)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt13x0s79.9

      To Germany’s west lay the perpetrators of the VersaillesDiktat.Their occupation of part of Germany deprived it of sovereignty; their military restrictions and surveillance impaired Germany’s means of self-defense; and their territorial changes mutilated the organic Bismarckian Reich. This record was hardly one to engender a mood of reconciliation in the German Army, which viewed its mission as the preservation of a fully sovereign and militarily powerful state. On the other hand, persuasive arguments favored a general rapprochement with the West: there Germany might discover its best chance of gaining political support for revision of the economic, military, and...

    • CHAPTER V Force and Foreign Policy: Rearmament
      (pp. 159-202)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt13x0s79.10

      The German officer, like Stresemann, thought of national power in terms of armed forces, internal unity of purpose, and economic resources. To the officer, however,Machthad a more immediate professional relevance. Charged with maintaining the nation’s standing military force, he was on call either to defend the fatherland or to provide the necessary means for an aggressive policy by the political leadership. Whether he could execute either mission depended not simply upon the international situation, but also upon military planning: the size and organization of the armed force; and the operational employment of that force. Moreover, he performed this...

    • CHAPTER VI Force and Foreign Policy: Operations
      (pp. 203-238)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt13x0s79.11

      In addition to questions of organization, German military planning included the “dynamic issue” of operations, or the method by and circumstances under which armed force might be employed.¹ In this operational sphere, the German Army relied on war games and other devices to study both methods and contingencies. Of particular influence on the Army’s operational principles were the lessons of the First World War and the conditions of Germany’s current strategic situation.² German operations on the western front in August 1914 had religiously adhered to a preestablished and highly detailed plan of concentration, deployment, and attack, for the General Staff...

    • CHAPTER VII The Navy
      (pp. 239-262)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt13x0s79.12

      The naval component of the armed forces, theReichsmarine,was the junior partner in German military planning throughout the Weimar period.¹ In the era of Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, the Imperial Navy had expanded rapidly as an agent of William II’sWeltpolitikand as a sponsor of his belated attempt to establish a PaxGermanica.But the Weimar Republic promised little excitement to those naval officers and civilians who preferred world maps to continental ones. The diplomatic and military consequences of having lost a struggle for world power reduced Germany’s capacity to regain even its continental stature. Diplomats and generals...

    • CHAPTER VIII Policy in the Foreign Office
      (pp. 265-290)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt13x0s79.13

      Stresemann’s long tenure had created an atmosphere of foreign policy stability and expertise above party and had reduced the contrast between a party minister and his staff of career diplomats. After 1929, however, party ministers in the Foreign Office and other departments gradually succumbed to attacks from two sides: opposition in the Reichstag curtailed their ministerial longevity; the Chancellor, President, and bureaucracy questioned their political usefulness.

      The political turmoil of the early 1930s heightened the antipathy with which the Wilhelmstrasse contemplated parliamentary control over foreign policy.¹ The Foreign Office could not escape public criticism, most vocal during a period of...

    • CHAPTER IX The Military and Joint Planning
      (pp. 291-344)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt13x0s79.14

      The economic depression and political crisis of the early 1930s increased authoritarian politics in Germany and transformed the Weimar system of civil-military relations into a crisis system, in which the institutional elements of its predecessor were exaggerated, strained, and disrupted. Chancellors Briining, Papen, and Schleicher all subscribed to the theory of a presidential regime(Präsidialstaat), and based their governments on the power of the presidential decree (Art. 48), a procedural means of governing in the absence of a parliamentary majority.¹ They concentrated more power in the chancellorship, Defense Ministry, and central government than had been the case during the years...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 345-358)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt13x0s79.15

    During the years of stability, 1924-29, Gustav Stresemann served as both party leader and Foreign Minister; responsible to the Reichstag, expert in articulating national objectives and negotiating them, Stresemann combined the parliamentary and bureaucratic interests in his conduct of foreign policy. Under his guidance, the Foreign Office pursued interrelated goals—sovereignty, security, and territorial revision—in a peaceful and conciliatory fashion. The diplomats believed that Rapallo and Locarno would be instrumental in regaining the lost eastern territories without war, for such agreements improved Germany’s leverage over Poland in negotiations concerning international trade, the minority question, and revision of the Treaty...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 359-386)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt13x0s79.16
  11. Index
    (pp. 387-398)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt13x0s79.17