European History

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In response to Russian Empire’s and Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war against each other after the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, Germany declared war on Russia on August 1, 1914. Three days later, the German Reichstag declared Burgfrieden or “civil peace” which declared for people to set aside their conflicts aside and unite to defend the country. Most Germans expecting a rapid victory, enthusiastically supported the war. Their views, however, shifted from ebullience to one of detest. Opinions toward war all varied to each person. Some supported the war through the end, while some changed their view and wanted the war to end. In another perspective, some saw the war as an economic opportunity. Wars were series of repetitious events that occurred throughout the history of mankind. No matter how horrid they were, however, they brought a sense of unity among the people who were forced to unite to defend their home. When the declaration of war had been made on August 1, 1914, the German Emperor Wilhelm II used words of eloquence to appeal to the citizens’ emotions to unite them together “like brothers” (Doc 1) in order to gain their support for the war. Much enthusiasm followed after his speech as depicted in the photograph (Doc. 2). Most people waved their hats, shouting words of praise to the emperor. Women felt gratefulness during the war in the beginning. They found it as an opportunity to expand the rights of a woman. They thought that with the victory of the war, they would become more equal to men. This idea was voiced in the editorial of the women’s rights advocate. (Doc. 4) Oskar Schmitz, and author, indirectly approved of the war by asserting that since Germany was united and strong, other countries such as England could not hope to defeat them (Doc. ). Although some supported for the war with no question, some grudgingly supported in fear of retribution and in hopes of gaining recognition. According to a Social Democratic Party newspaper, the democratic parties would have been “destroyed and crushed,” had they not voted to finance the war. Their agreement to finance the war was a gamble to secure their position in the government.

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