The Iron Curtain

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The Iron Curtain

Postby von Salza » Wed Mar 12, 2008 3:30 pm

I've just finished reading "Confrontation, the Strategic Geography of NATO and the Warsaw Pact" by Hugh Faringdon.

Whilst writing about the frontier between East & West Germany (the book was written in 1986) he states

"The border has no inherent military significance, and it originates from a British diplomatic paper of 15th January 1944, which proposed that after Nazi Germany was finally conquered the delineation between the temporary Western and Soviet zones of occupation ought to correspond with the old boundaries of Mecklenburg, Saxony, Anhalt and Thuringia - states or provinces which existed in Germany before the Prussians formed the united Empire in 1871. The British hoped that ancient regional spirits might once more spring to life:

Any such movements will...almost certainly be based on the revival of old loyalties to States and Provinces with certain natural internal boundaries dictated by geography, history and economic considerations....An anti-Prussian bias may well be developed in certain areas, and there are strong grounds for weakening the present preponderence of Prussia. (Quoted in Bailey, 1983, 20)

The proposed boundaries were adopted in the London protocol of 14th September 1944 and in July 1945 the Americans nobly agreed to evacuate the gains they had made to the east of this line in the final days of the war."

My question is why did they seek to inhibit the power of what was perceived to be the dominant regional power in Germany, Prussia, when the war was started by a National Socialist Germany, who if Hitlers views are to be beleived, despised all things Prussian. Surely the perfect antidote to National Socialism post war would be the Prussian state. Was it deemed to be still too militaristic? After all the bloodshed and the catastrophic end for Germany surely even a dominant Prussia would have had its fill of war, no?

Maybe someone of our German friends here could also tell me if they think this idea could have worked. Is there a strong regional 'spirit' as Faringdon puts it? Is there much rivalry between different parts of Germany?

Anyway, looks like it was us Brits that were to blame for everything......... again. :oops:

Sorry 'bout that.

Regards

David

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"Whoever wishes to master the art of war must study it continuously. I....am of the opinion that one lifetime is not enough to attain this goal." - Frederick II
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Militarism

Postby John W. Howard » Thu Mar 13, 2008 11:20 pm

Hi David:
I think there was the feeling that Prussia was too militaristic, which is typical of Foreign Policy theorists in many countries not just in Great Britain; focus on one part of a large and multifaceted problem and hope by "solving" that, to make all the other features of the problem seem to go away too. There is a new history of Prussia on the market, which is supposed to deal with some of these questions. I managed to read about three-hundred pages or so and found it very interesting, but had to give it up due to other things. I want to get back to it. I will look for a title and author for you; I think he was an Aussie. Best wishes.
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Postby von Salza » Fri Mar 14, 2008 2:38 pm

Hi John,

Thanks for the reply. Ah yes, the Tunnel Vision approach to problem solving, not confined to the British FO I'm afraid.

Did Prussia ultimately pay the price for her dominance in Germany coupled with her Militaristic tradition, by being removed from the face of Europe?

I understand why the Soviets pushed Poland westwards, annexing regions of pre-War Germany, setting up puppet regimes in the eastern bloc and removing Prussia as a toehold in the vicinity of European USSR. However could the Soviets have ever contemplated keeping Prussia as part of the Soviet zone of occupation eventually becoming part of the German Democratic Republic?

Regards

David

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Prussia Book

Postby John W. Howard » Sat Mar 15, 2008 1:36 pm

Hi David:
Here is a link to the book I was telling you about and a brief synopsis of the author's thesis:http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Iron-Kingdom/Christopher-Clark/e/9780674023857/ I really enjoyed reading what I read of the book. It is a big book with lots of writing, but the coverage of early German history was very good. I can only assume the later chapters are equally as good. You might take a look at it for a more thorough answer to your question. I assume the Allies were taking into account both WWI and WWII, when deciding Prussia's "culpability". Best wishes.
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Link

Postby John W. Howard » Sat Mar 15, 2008 2:01 pm

Another Link:http://www.amazon.com/Iron-Kingdom-Downfall-Prussia-1600-1947/dp/0674023854/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1205614723&sr=1-2
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Postby von Salza » Sat Mar 15, 2008 2:14 pm

Hi John,

Many thanks for the links. I'll do some poking around and see if I can get an answer.

Best regards from a wet night in Ireland. :down:

David

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Links

Postby John W. Howard » Sun Mar 16, 2008 1:59 pm

Hello David:
Well the links were supposed to take you directly to the sites in question, but for some reason they did not work like the usually do. So, here is the book title and author: IRON KINGDOM:THE RISE AND DOWNFALL OF PRUSSIA 1600-1947 by Christopher Clark. It is highly regarded and well-written, at least the part I read of it was. Best wishes.
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Re: The Iron Curtain

Postby Stephan H. » Sat Jul 05, 2008 8:54 am

von Salza wrote:My question is why did they seek to inhibit the power of what was perceived to be the dominant regional power in Germany, Prussia, when the war was started by a National Socialist Germany, who if Hitlers views are to be believed, despised all things Prussian. Surely the perfect antidote to National Socialism post war would be the Prussian state. Was it deemed to be still too militaristic? After all the bloodshed and the catastrophic end for Germany surely even a dominant Prussia would have had its fill of war, no?


John is 100% correct. Christopher Clark points this out in Iron Kingdom. Churchill and Roosevelt looked at the 1939-1945 conflict with Germany as something rooted in Prussian Militarism, thus making the conflict a German problem more than a Nazi one. By treaty, Prussia was to cease to exist from the European political and social landscape. In tacit agreement, the Soviets had a free hand to eliminate the Prussian State. This led directly to the expulsion of around 12 million ethnic Germans from east of the Oder River to be resettled in the west. Mcdonough's After the Reich pulls no punches in describing what happened in East Prussia as soon as the Soviets occupied it in the Spring of 1945.

Also note that the demarcation lines were drawn up as early as 1943 but not finalized until the fall of 1944 in the secret Allied plan known as "Eclipse." Germany would be divided and occupied, period.

Another way of looking at the problem is to ask why there was no concerted Allied effort to assassinate Hitler or at least work with the significant German anti-Nazi resistance in Germany. Until recently information on this topic simply wasn't available. The reality is that the Allies wanted no more future German threat and only complete occupation would secure this. Agostino von Hassell wrote in Alliance of Enemies: The Untold Story of the Secret American and German Collaboration to End World War II that "The OSS's Research and Analysis Branch, manned largely by anti-Nazi Germans, many of whom were Jewish, regarded the opposition to Hitler as a "tribute to human endurance and courage, and the revelation of a great hope." They argued that unconditional surrender played directly into the Nazi propogandists' hands and urged the Allies to make contact with the resistance and perhaps give some "substance to the hope." Their plees were ignored." (pg 300)

It appears that there would be no negotiation with any political elements in Germany, no matter how anti-Nazi they were. Unconditional surrender was the endgame and the elimination of the Prussian State a by-product.

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Re: The Iron Curtain

Postby phylo_roadking » Sat Jul 05, 2008 9:17 am

Don't forget this doesn't stand alone - Prussian militarism was very clearly held responsible for WWI also. That's TWO of the world's worst conflagrations rooted in the Prussian mindset in just one century - which is a hell of a steep and expensive learning curve :(

One of the reasons that British didn't work with the Anti-Hitler movement was - they were already "working" pre-war and during the war with Canaris' clique that had so nearly mounted a full putsch in 1938. Compared to Canaris' group and IT'S potential for action or at least profit for the UK by way of intelligence, the other anti-Hitler movements were VERY tenuous and small. As for action themselves - the assasination of Heydrich and it consequences for the civilian population is traditionally regarded as the point at which single-person targeting stopped for the British for it was far too costly - not just in real lives, but also for their degree of support in the affected civilian populations.
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Re: The Iron Curtain

Postby pzrmeyer2 » Wed Sep 17, 2008 2:16 pm

quote] Churchill and Roosevelt looked at the 1939-1945 conflict with Germany as something rooted in Prussian Militarism, thus making the conflict a German problem more than a Nazi one.[/quote]

certainly not the first or last idiotic mistake these 2 gems made, considering that the majority of the Nazi heirarchy was Bavarian, Austrian, or at least non-Prussian.

This led directly to the expulsion of around 12 million ethnic Germans from east of the Oder River to be resettled in the west.
...or allowed to die along the way....

the demarcation lines were drawn up as early as 1943 but not finalized until the fall of 1944 in the secret Allied plan known as "Eclipse." Germany would be divided and occupied, period.


which the Nazis learned and exploited as word of this strengthened resolve, ended hope of any negotiated peace, thereby leading to the vast majority of total deaths in east and west in 44-45 and the destruction of nearly all of Germany's cities.... ahh..the tyranny of good intentions and the laws of unintended consequences...

They argued that unconditional surrender played directly into the Nazi propogandists' hands
yup....


............................................
Last edited by pzrmeyer2 on Wed Sep 17, 2008 2:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Iron Curtain

Postby pzrmeyer2 » Wed Sep 17, 2008 2:16 pm

However could the Soviets have ever contemplated keeping Prussia as part of the Soviet zone of occupation eventually becoming part of the German Democratic Republic?



they did, but had to placate the Poles, who were not very willing particpants in the Soviets land games.

what is very interesting is the East German Communist's' opinions and attitudes towards the land confiscation. thyey lobbied several times unsuccessfully for Stalin to give it back....

see "A cold war in the soviet bloc" by Anderson and "The Soviets in Germany" by Naimark


Ive heard that in 1980, on condition of the DDR's particpation in any invasion of Poland by the USSR, the DDR govt tried to negotiate the return of Swinemunde and Stettin.
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Re: The Iron Curtain

Postby von Salza » Fri Sep 19, 2008 2:50 pm

Hi Stephan & P2, :D

Apologies for my tardiness, I'd forgotten about this thread. Thanks for the book recommendations to go along with Johns.

Regards

David

:D
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