First World War Political Divisions

Topics: World War I, Socialism, Political party Pages: 2 (1091 words) Published: April 16, 2015

‘The First World War increased rather than narrowed Germany’s political division’ To what extent do you agree?

I agree to a certain extent with the statement as although it initially seems that the First World War narrowed the existing political divisions within Germany in this period, as the war proceeded, the resentment greatened, in part due to huge losses and the economic crisis that prevailed over the country. Therefore because of this the political divisions increased, and by the end of the war the polarisation (division) of German politics was clear. This widen polarisation was also strengthened as left wing and right wing became more extreme- causing a wider gap within the political system.

Firstly the narrowing of the division of political parties is apparent, as although there was opposition it was minute. In 1914, 14 socialists (out of 110) in the Reichstag disputed against the war, before eventually voting in favour of war credits, whilst at the end of 1914 only 1 socialist (the extremist Karl Liebknecht) voted against war credits- though this number increased to 20 in the following year. Nonetheless, despite this opposition the political parties continued to be narrowed, as these individuals were solitary opinions. This was like all the individuals who argued against the war during the initial 2 years, whilst radical socialists (such as Liebknect and Rosa Luxemburg) who argued for a revolution in hopes to gain peace were not too influential and had a limited impact- this is because they spent the majority of the war in prison. Furthermore, anti-war organisations, such as the German Peace League, were highly marginal, as they had press, police, public opinion and trade union leadership in opposition to them; an aspect significant as this demonstrates the range of people who were in favour of the war, especially those who had previously shown opposition. An explanation for this, which can also reveal the narrowing political divisions, is the...
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