Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Probabilities of a Franco-German War

The Chicksands Collection has had quite a few French and German books mixed in, and since there is quite a bit of older material - by North American standards anyway - we come across a lot of material published in France and Germany during both World Wars. They give you a bit of a window into the issues of the day and the attitudes towards fighting another war. I've also seen quite a few books from just before the wars broke out speculating on the coming war. While there will always be voices that predict the next war - some will be right, some will be wrong - we've come across some surprisingly accurate predictions! For example...

"Les Probabilit├ęs d'une Guerre Franco-Allemande" translates as The Probability of a Franco-German War and notice it was published in 1913, about a year before the start of World War One. It could just be some wild speculation, but some of the conclusions are shockingly close to what would happen. The first chapter does a short survey of past Franco-German wars. The second chapter discusses how the next European war must include Germany, how England's "splendid isolation" will be broken and England will enter the war against Germany, and then goes on to look at the role of Austro-Hungary, the Balkans, and Russia with the chapter concluding that "An Austro-Russian war is a probable eventuality, perhaps very soon." The next chapter concludes that, "A Franco-German war will most likely result from a war between Austria and Russia."

While it is staggering how exact the future seems to be predicted, the most unsettling part of reading this work is that it doesn't talk about if a war between France and Germany will happen but when it will happen. It continually uses phrases like "the coming war" and "when war does finally happen." You get the sense from reading it that war was a foregone conclusion, everyone was instead focused on how to win it.

I'll try to find out more about the author and post about who he was at a later date!

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