‘The First World War increased rather than narrowed Germany’s political division’ How far do you agree with this judgement?
Although initially it seems apparent that the First World War narrowed the existing political divisions in Germany during this period, as the war progressed, the resentment grew, in part because of the huge losses and the economic crisis that hung over the country. Therefore because of this the political divisions increased, and by the end of the war the polarisation of German politics was explicit. To begin with, despite the demonstrations against war held on the 28th and 29th of July in Berlin, with crowds of 100,000 strong, once the war had broken out there was a general consensus on the side of national duty and what was considered to be morally right, largely because the government presented it as a defensive campaign against Slav aggression. This is shown by the crowds that gathered at Under Den Linden, and Odeonsplatz in Munich on August 2nd; explicitly showing how individuals who had previously held contrasting opinions, united for the purpose of the war. Moreover, the Kaiser’s address on the 4th August reinforces the view that political divisions were narrowed by the outbreak of the war, as he stated that he knew ‘no political parties anymore, only Germans’, a view largely formed because of the actions of the Socialists. This is because, despite their opposing views to the majority of political parties prior to the war, as war began they joined with the rest of the political parties in voting for war credits (money for war); thus ending the mistrust and party’s isolation that had been apparent in the years before the war, which simultaneously narrowed the political divisions. The narrowing of the division of political parties is also apparent, as although there was opposition it was minimal. This is shown, as in August 1914, 14 out of the 110 socialists in the Reichstag argued against the war,...
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