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The Troubled Alliance

The Troubled Alliance: German-Austrian Relations, 1914--1917

Gerard E. Silberstein
Copyright Date: 1970
Pages: 396
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  • Book Info
    The Troubled Alliance
    Book Description:

    On August 1, 1914, the German and Austro-Hungarian empires stood on the brink of the greatest war history had known. Their great need was for alliances that would provide manpower and defense of their borders. In only one direction could these be sought -- the Balkan Peninsula. Yet disagreements between foreign officers and high commands increased the difficulty of establishing such alliances. Austrian caution continually clashed with German persistence, for the expansionist drives of the Balkan powers threatened the monarchy's own ambitions.

    The differences between the two allies were smoothed over in the case of Turkey and Bulgaria, but the ultimate diplomatic failure in Rumania produced much rancor.The author's examination of little known documents in the German and Austrian archives brings to light details of an often tortured relationship. The personalities of those who shaped the course of the war and the playing off of power against power are here clearly revealed.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6461-8
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Part I The Background

    • Chapter 1 The Future Allies
      (pp. 3-30)

      When the holocaust began in the hot summer days of 1914 Europe exuded excitement and confidence. In highest German and AustroHungarian governmental circles the optimism stemmed from a good deal more than the patriotic masses upon whom they could count, from more than an acute awareness of well-oiled military machines and carefully conceived military plans and strategems. The leaders of both empires had agreed upon a common diplomatic policy which they believed would substantially contribute to final victory. Their diplomatic goal on the European continent was to establish a powerful Balkan coalition comprising Turkey, Bulgaria, and Rumania, which would actively...

    • Chapter 2 Diplomatic Disappointments
      (pp. 31-58)

      The refusal of Turkey and Bulgaria to commit themselves immediately may have proved frustrating to Germany and Austria, but the declaration of neutrality by Rumania on August 4 constituted a real diplomatic setback. Rumania had, after all, been an ally of both Central Powers since 1883. King Carol was a Hohenzollern and had remained loyal to the Triplice, while both Berlin and Vienna had used great caution with respect to Rumania so as not to destroy the diplomatic tie. Yet, on August 4 Bukarest refused to honor its alliance obligations.

      It was more than just a diplomatic defeat for Germany...

    • Chapter 3 Military Preparedness
      (pp. 59-70)

      An examination of military strength, plans, and preparations might at first glance seem an unnecessary digression from the main diplomatic theme. But it was on the basis of the preparedness of the Central Powers that the first crucial battles were decided. The outcome of those battles produced attitudes on the part of the two chiefs of staff which not only colored their individual views on mutual strategy, but also affected their stance on German and Austrian diplomatic policy.

      If the Central Powers faced an uncertain diplomatic scene, matters on the military side of the ledger were more reassuring, though both...

  5. Part II Balkan Diplomacy of the Central Powers

    • Chapter 4 Turkey’s Declaration of War
      (pp. 73-98)

      The ink on the German-Turkish Alliance signed August 2, 1914, had barely dried when it became apparent that the Turks were not ready to honor their obligations. A cabinet sitting the day before had ordered a general mobilization, but actual participation was, for the moment, rejected, and rejected for various reasons. The alliance with Germany had been the work of only three men: Said Halim, Enver Pasha, and Talaat Bey. In the first days of August, Djemal Pasha, the minister of marine, and Djavid Bey, the finance minister, were told of its existence, but the rest of the government remained...

    • Chapter 5 The Turkish Ally
      (pp. 99-128)

      It must now have seemed to Berlin and Vienna that they could transfer attention to the less well defined positions of Bulgaria and Rumania. In truth, there was still much work ahead in Constantinople.

      One of the ways in which Turkey could aid the Central Powers was by declaring a Holy War—a war which would unite all Muslims against their Christian enemies. The Germans had considered using the religious weapon and certainly it was a fond idea of the Young Turks, who fostered the growth of a Pan-Islamic movement, closely bound to their program of Pan-Turanism. Enver had broached...

    • Chapter 6 Bulgaria Pursued
      (pp. 129-149)

      By the end of July, r9r4, diplomatic circles in Berlin and Vienna were rather sure of one thing—that the negotiations which had been in progress for a formal accord with Bulgaria were about to reach a successful conclusion. Their confidence seemed justified when on August 2, the same day that Turkey aligned itself against the Entente, the Bulgarians submitted to the German and Austrian ministers in Sofia two basic principles which they sought to have incorporated in any alliance they might sign with the Central Powers. These principles involved the following demands: first, that the Triple Alliance guarantee Bulgarian...

    • Chapter 7 The Second Link
      (pp. 150-178)

      By the beginning of the new year it was obvious to both Germany and Austria that for the moment they could not obtain Bulgarian participation. Their diplomats had proved unsuccessful and their use of finance as a lever had failed. In addition, the Germans in particular had expended large sums for purposes of influencing public opinion. Through control of various Bulgarian newspapers and illustrated magazines they had attempted to propagandize the Bulgarian people to win popular support. In terms of obtaining Bulgarian military action these efforts met only with frustration.¹

      In spite of its disappointment over the turn of events,...

    • Chapter 8 Rumania, Uncertain Neutral
      (pp. 179-197)

      In the hectic first days of the war, when sides were chosen almost automatically on the basis of previous agreements, the Central Powers faced a Rumania which refused to honor its alliance obligations. In contrast to the situation in Turkey and Bulgaria, the obstacles to Rumanian intervention on the side of Germany and Austria were to prove insurmountable. If the inclinations of Turkish and Bulgarian officialdom were essentially hostile to the Entente—feelings which made easier the job of German and Austrian diplomats seeking to involve these two states in the war—the attitudes of most Rumanian statesmen were quite...

    • Chapter 9 Rumania, Point and Counterpoint
      (pp. 198-225)

      By December, 1914, both Germany and Austria were convinced that they could count on Rumanian neutrality at least until February, because of Rumania’s military situation. In late November, Gunther Bronsart von Schellendorff, the German military attache in Bukarest, had written a long report to the War Ministry in Berlin discussing current opinion in Rumanian military circles. Army men were not in favor of war at this time, for there was no eagerness to take on a difficult winter campaign with forces still not entirely prepared. If there was to be participation at all, they wanted it in the spring. Then,...

    • Chapter 10 The Rumanian Link Unforged
      (pp. 226-248)

      As the new year of 1916 opened the Central Powers were enjoying their best military position since the start of the war. This was particularly the case on the eastern front where they had forced the Russian armies into a major retreat. The threat to the Dardanelles and to Turkey had been stopped and Bulgaria felt the full flush of victory, having aided in the prostration of Serbia. Yet, diplomatically speaking, Berlin and Vienna had been frustrated in obtaining the Balkan coalition as it had been conceived in August, 1914, for the third link, Rumania, remained unforged.

      In January, 1916,...

    • Illustrations
      (pp. None)
  6. Part III The High Commands—Unity and Disunity

    • Chapter 11 Initial Operations
      (pp. 251-274)

      It remains to treat of the relationship between the German and Austrian high commands. That relationship involved a series of problems concerned with strategy and specific combat situations and needs, but it went beyond the requisites of the battlefields, bringing the military chiefs into close contact with their respective foreign offices. On the one hand, the diplomatic corps were used to help settle military disputes or to help implement the strategems of the general staffs. On the other, military leaders at times attempted to influence diplomacy in order to meet their own obligations more easily or were pressed into service...

    • Chapter 12 A Year of Success, 1915
      (pp. 275-301)

      Nineteen fourteen closed with Germany and Austria doing little more than holding their own in the east. In Serbia successive Austrian offensives had been destroyed by the determined and clever counterthrusts of the Serb commander, Putnik. In contradistinction to the preceding five months, 1915 was to be the best year of the war for the Central Powers. By August the entire Russian line was shattered and the Czar’s armies sent reeling in a great retreat. By December, Serbian resistance was destroyed and the country conquered. These victories were not easily achieved.

      In early January, 1915, several meetings took place in...

    • Chapter 13 The Setbacks of 1916
      (pp. 302-333)

      The victories of 1915 were to be followed by a year of uncertainty, animosity, and disagreement. When it became apparent that the campaign against Serbia was succeeding, the Wilhelmstrasse concerned itself with Austria’s war aims in the Balkans. As early as October, 1915, von Jagow asked Tschirschky in Vienna to find out just how far Austria intended to occupy Serbia and what the Monarchy’s intentions were there. Burian’s answer was that his government would demand unconditional surrender by the Serbian army and the immediate cession of all lands requested. The foreign minister also spoke of the possibilities of establishing an...

  7. Chapter 14 Conclusions
    (pp. 334-344)

    The relations between Germany and Austria-Hungary from 1914 to 1917 do not allow for easy characterization. These relations were neither consistently disparate nor consistently cooperative and demonstrate no continuous domination by one partner or the other. The alliance between the two was a troubled and sometimes tortured one. At its best it was held together by agreement on general goals; at its worst, by the recognition that the war was one of survival for the two empires. It worked because of the necessities of wartime. Cooperation was often achieved because of expediency, not because of genuine and carefully reasoned conviction...

  8. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 345-354)
  9. Index
    (pp. 355-366)