tv Business Interests and U.S. Neutrality in World War I CSPAN January 22, 2017 12:55pm-2:01pm EST
tv, as american history the centennial of america's entry into world war i approaches, a historian discusses economics and the role of big is this in the u.s. response to the great war. the professor examines relationships between british, u.s. and german business communities. bigt is in a talk titled " business and questions of american neutrality." part of antation was two-day symposium hosted by the national world war i museum and memorial in kansas city, missouri. a professor of history at columbia university, where he specializes in modern german german and european and relations.
his global background includes professorships at around from they, and awards world historical society and an order of merit from the federal republic of germany. he is the celebrated author of many publications including his newest work, "american big germany,in written and a comparative history of two special relationships in the 20th century." i know that many of you are flying back home and i would encourage you to buy this as an e-book online and download it. that is really great reading that might get you through a flight and some layovers. would highly suggest it. it explores the complex transnational history of the world war and business. conference we have explored the events of 1916 and their impact on land, naval and air warfare to the homefront and hospitals, to the writings of some of the well-recognized
authors of the 20th century. and the writings of others whose names history seems to have seem to forgotten. our concluding presentation is andg to examine a business the question of the fragility of america's neutrality in 1916. complex ande misunderstood economic and political relationship between the united states and global business communities in 1916. -- s my honor to introduce [laughter[applause] thank you for this introduction, and for the imitation. all of these
presentations, especially yours yesterday, illuminating. is all what we have had genre of historical writing. military, naval, political, social, gender -- and i have certainly learned a lot and since this is the last lecture, and hope you will actually join me in thanking matthew and lauren and their staff for great hospitality that i have certainly enjoyed at this conference. sigh i would like to express my thanks and i hope you agree with me. [applause] >> now, the economic dimension is of course the cinderella genre of all of the genres we have covered here. it is much less popular. it is less fascinating. my students are usually interested in social history and
cultural history and the history of memory and if you want to do cutting edge history today, you study the history of emotions. course,lecture, of presumably involves statistics and quantification, and of course, it is a rather neglected field for the first world war. and there is a lot of research to be done on business and during the first world war. this, you are 15th at the end of this conference. and i have to persuade you now that, first of all, what i'm talking about is important and secondly, that the people i mention are also relevant, some of them have are even mentioned yesterday. jpmorgan, for example. and we had a picture of henry posing thely american entry into the first world war, which he also did at
the time in the 1930's when he was a friend of hibbler and was very favorable to the german cause at the beginning of the second world war. my approach is very much a top-down approach. it is not the kind of fascinating grassroots lecture that you had this morning. i would agree, of course, that this is very important for us to study, but i think we should not overlook elite groups and their involvement in history. it leads us more directly into the power structures of the particular country or particular region. that is of course what i am concerned about because it raises all sorts of questions of balance of power within different groups within a society.
yesterday, we learned a lot about the stupidities of these german generals, but i think it's important to emphasize that in any society, in any point of time, there are always alternative positions that are taken up. in 1917, it was a german chancellor who opposed the introduction of unlimited summary and warfare. -- submarine warfare. which he lost against the generals. it shows how precarious historical writing often is and how difficult it is to balance one against the other. finally, i would like to make a promise, there are no statistics or graphs in this lecture. i'm concerned with perceptions
of elite groups and also come as you can see, there are no pictures because i think i could only present you with rather stern looking bankers with a waistcoat and a little ponch. overall, this is a rather sober lecture. there are no anecdotes, but i was born in berlin some years ago and with my background, you expect a very serious and sober lecture, don't you? so, what is my agenda? i would like to take this topic in four steps. first of all, i would like to take a brief look at the historiography on the role of big business before the first world war. secondly, i would like to look at the mood of partners and bankers -- entrepreneurs and bankers during the war. i would like to look at business reactions in your early phases of the war including american business reactions and finally,
i would like to talk about anglo american business relations in subsequent years up to the american entry into the war on the allied side. as to my first point, i would like to take you back into the 1960's and 1970's when neo-marxist arguments occur among historians in the west. in the so-called revisionist state in the face of the vigorous criticism of american foreign-policy during the vietnam war world war i was widely seen as a contra -- conflagration between capitalist states in europe and imperialist rivalries in africa,
asia and latin america that had boomeranged back into the metropolis and was now fought out on the european continent. thus, i hope you can see that there was a vigorous debate about the origins of the war. the german socialist route -- perhaps it should be republished now -- was rediscovered by these historians, highlighting the role of banks. there was also luxembourg, this other socialist who wrote about the link between the armament industries and the push for war and militarism and the rise of capitalists. death" hypothesis. -- some of you may remember the older, popular merchants of death hypothesis.
was very popular in the 1960's and 1970's ver. since then, the balance has shifted in favor of a considerably more differentiated interpretation. that has been driven in part by the discovery of new empirical material and as a result, as a historian, i will give you a good number of quotations because there are new material. put in a nutshell, european industry and finance did not clamor for a major war between the great powers before 1914. on the contrary, they were greatly worried about the possible outbreak, estimating correctly that it would mean for the international economy that had become so much more intertwined in the second half of the 19th century. there's a good deal of talk about the first globalization of the world economy that took place then, and then we have almost 100 years of hiatus with
nationalism, fascism, and two world wars and it's only in the 1990's that many people assume the second phase of globalization has set in. vickers armstrong and others were not rooting for war at the time. they were quite happy to have -- coming in during the escalating arms race. there were four men of considerable prestige who must be mentioned in this context. first of all, there is the chief of the prussian general staff who defeated napoleon in the war of 1870. afterwards, he warned that wars among great powers were no longer thinkable. they would be peoples wars with
millions of soldiers that would devastate participant nations and would even turn the military victor's into losers. the polish french banker who wrote in 1899 three volumes on the war, who prescribed in great detail in these books the mass slaughter that would occur in the age of warfare between industrial nations with guns and machine guns. here in this museum, you can see a lot of evidence, material evidence of this industrialized warfare. thirdly, there was a british businessman who published a bestseller in 1911, the great illusion: a study of the relations of military power in nations to their economic and social advantage.
originally published in 1909 -- it was translated into several european language is. norman thought that modern wars were no longer winnable. he thought not only of the carnage on the battlefield, but also the drain on mattel or military and financial resources. the fourth, herbert spencer, who was less concerned with warfare but with a transition from agrarian to industrial societies. he identified two historic types of societies. the first and older one was called the militant society. which was based on centralization and regimentation. i suppose he was thinking of 18th-century prussia or french absolutism.
finally, perhaps even of george the second and the rebellion he experienced against his autocratic rule in the colonies of north america. being a british liberal who believed in the notion of cold -- this earlier type was being replaced by an industrial type based on freedom and economic and political market place. such a transition began to circulate more widely at the end of the 19th century, if not before. additional evidence has been found in the diaries and correspondence is a businessman on both sides of the atlantic. moreover, scholars have begun to evaluate the economic status of the time. this is reflected in a striking quote from the wall street
journal at the end of 1914 that i shall come back to in a moment. the major war already circulated in these pre-1914 years -- the wall street journal stated that a big war would be "a calamity." a few months later in march of 1913, the journal ran a number of articles in which it was pointed out that armament expenditures were unproductive, a surprising statement, and that their reduction would mean lowering taxes in this country. beyond the press, there was also growing concern in the business community of the pre-1914 arms race running out of control and as a result of this american and european business experience
developed into a roller coaster. during the balkan wars, there were great fears of a major war being just around the corner. the french banks began to hold gold. since bankers and entrepreneurs did not of the future, they rushed at any sign of detente in hopes of rationality prevailing in europe. still, money became tighter in these years. banks began to reduce their exposure, loans were given more and more on short call, long-term commitments were no longer deemed safe. the correspondence between a very influential and unfortunately, also neglected banker who was the cao of the second-most powerful bank after
j.p. morgan in york, the national city bank and his french colleague in paris is a case in point. the letter reflecting the pessimistic mood in the french capital in these final years before the first one war. he thought that "few americans have begun to grasp the awful significance of the whole world of general european war." however, as i moved to my next point: the july crisis, it must be stressed that with a few exceptions when none of these -- few exceptions, none of these businessmen were pacifists. they would be in favor of repression and unrestrained military violence -- this
applies not only to the major imperial powers such as britain, france, and germany, but also to belgian rule in the huge territory of the congo. it is estimated that some 11 million men, women and children died there before 1914 as a result of military violence, starvation and deprivation. nor was business as a whole opposed to respond to domestic labor with a massive reliance on police forces and even the army. there are many examples in the pre-1914 period of large socialist movements and trade unions that you have time.
in short, capitalism had become nonviolent, not only in regards to major european war. the july crisis of 1914, as you will remember, in 2013, just really in -- the australian british historian published "sleepwalkers." with the benefit of hindsight, it seems to me that his book was a flash in the pan. most historians are again quite critical of the notion that europe's leaders sleepwalked into the abyss. rather, it was a relatively small group of decision-makers, elite groups that i'm interested in, berlin and vienna who pushed europe over the brink into catastrophic four. and vienna, the main concern was
to punish serbia after the assassination is to establish and stabilize the empire in the balkans. this was encouraged by the german kaiser, initially hoping to localize the conflict. however, when this did not prove possible, plans had already been discussed to launch a preventive war against france and russia in the expectation that britain would stay out of the conflict. there was no sort of despot of the unite states at that point, even though many german businessman -- there was no thought of the unite states at that point, even the many german businessmen were aware of the enormous industrial power that had been accumulated in this country before 1914.
in march 1914, the nephew of the one who warned against the war. after he had met his austrian counterpart a few weeks later, he had a pessimistic conversation with this diplomat. he left this meeting in a very gloomy mood. here is what he recorded after his meeting with -- in march of 1914. "the prospects of the future seriously worried him. they will have our moments in two or three years.
the chief of the general staff left it at his discretion to gear policy towards an early unleashing of the war. when the localization strategy of early july failed because russia opposed the punishment of the serbs, it escalated the balkan crisis into a major war, pulling bno along bishop vienna along to invade -- pulling vienna along to invade serbia. it is often forgotten that there were peace demonstrations in
german cities towards the end, warning the austrian hungarians to start war against serbia. molto planned to launch a preventive war from confirmed in a conversation that the banker had with him at a banquet in hamburg on the 20th of july, 1914, at which he found the monarch in a very agitated state. that was still before sorry -- about that he pointed toward armament and strategic railroad building in the empire and talked about war breaking out in 1916.
once russia and france had completed their program. in light of their impending security, it would be better to start the war before it was too late, the kaiser said. warburg tried to dissuade william the second, who under the right constitution had the exclusive rights to declare war without having to ask a national parliament not relying solely on his military entourage. who has the power to make these crucial decisions. wilson in april 1917 had to go to congress to get his policies supported. the banker countered williams arguments that germany was growing stronger with every year of peace while our enemies are
getting weaker. in short, military action, he argued, was unnecessary. it was just a matter of waiting patiently. neither warburg nor his colleagues in europe had any interest decision to unleash world war i. and the americans, and the american bankers i will mention in a moment, or even farther away. the decision was made by two emperors and the military around them on august 1, 1914. they were unable to accept the advice of his uncle, the younger insisted that the european war was still winnable as long as it was conducted as a lightning war. we often forget this was the underlying strategy also on the german side that war would be over by christmas 1914.
businessman and the economic press kept warning against a major war. the most freeing a statement appeared in the wall street journal as i mentioned before, the 28th of july, because it go to the position of not only of walberg but also generally of those of herbert spencer who mentioned earlier, and that was three days before the outbreak of the first world war. i quote the wall street journal. the whole world is engaged in business as never before. industrial germany in 30 years of power for outright is military germany. throughout the civilized world, towns have become cities, and empires succeeded the states, and the empire the modern world is commercial and not marshall. the empire of a modern world is commercial and not martial.
wall street journal 28 july. so this was above all germans businessman who tried to stop the armageddon in july and august. the best and most tragic case of business impotence is albert from the shipping magnate -- as early as 1908, he had warned his friend to the kaiser, and also he was jewish, on very good terms, not to escalate the anglo german naval are a series that had reached -- our history -- armissary. they could not quote a race in [indiscernible] against the shrewd british.
that was the business was in germany and britain at the time. by 1914, it was also clear to him that in the event of war, his entire shipping order with several huge ocean liners and numerous others would collapse once the british fleet quarantined him. when his nightmare came true in 1914, the rest of his ships were anchored and left west of hamburg. the fleet of his main cap editor -- competitor north joran lloyd, had that same fate. encouraged by your cap, he now traveled in early august to london in the hope of preventing war. he was received by the foreign
secretary edward ray as well as lord wally and winston churchill . while he thought he could stop the outbreak of war altogether, it was only later that i became clear to him that -- it began clear to him that he would succeed in keeping the british out of the war. at the 21st of july, the german government had discounted britain as a serious threat, knowing without a standing army, it would take the country to mobilize a long time. that was a miscalculation, and multiple was very -- molto was very scathing of the british forces. underestimating the british treaty obligations to belgian independence and eight floundering yargo similarly
discounted london. i think it is very interesting how the german government lived in a world of illusions, that is why i fear for the vicious well-known book of many years ago entitled war of illusions. i think it is a very asked title -- apt title to understand the peculiarities of decision-makers in berlin and vienna. balon returned from london empty-handed and suspecting that he had been misled, he unleashed his wrath on yargo and the great chancellor in subsequent years. he told the former that, i quote, he must be a terrible responsibility for the stage managing of this war which is
costing germany generations of splendid people and throwing it back by the hundred years. as to holvig, he rejected the chancellor's protestations about the origins of the war as fairytales, that he should be ashamed of to tell. he continued, i have spent my entire life building up something which has been of immense value to the german reich, and that you come along with a couple of others and destroy it all. to balon, this was the most stupid war that the world had ever seen, and he was in 1918 so distraught that he committed suicide on the ninth of november 1918, where the monarchy had lapsed and the revolution swept through germany. other businessmen were active in more covert ways than balon, who took the initiative to go to
england. seeing the london city was in such a terrible fate with interest rates going up and up in late july, the british backer lord rothschild tried to persuade the london times to tone down its defiant rhetoric, anti-german rhetoric. he also got in touch with the french rothschild and lord shopper in berlin. his hope was that his parents and thousands good persuade the french president to task the sorriest government to go easy on resistance to the central powers -- czarist government to go easy on the central powers. there was indeed now a panic in the business community in europe. the american business and finance showed also growing
nervousness during this. period. as the late as julie -- july, this man was still hopeful the result would not be a general consecration, even if the situation was, i quote him again, very critical. a day later, the powerful jpmorgan expressed his alarm at the news from europe, but was still hoping, i quote him, that there would not be the general war. he did not wish to underestimate the gravity of the present situation but believed that there were opportunities for sobering second thoughts of the people of europe to prevail over their first impulses, and he expected, i quote, the writing tide of people who are to pay for the war with their blood and with their property.
he was clearly also thinking of his own clientele, the upper classes and not just the ordinary workers who were sitting in the trenches. a few days later, when the war began, van der lick deserted -- observed that the americans had no idea what was happening to the world. civilization has broken down. there is absolute derangement of our affairs, and of quote. and the wall street journal reported already german mercantile marine is tying itself up in the ports while the swifty british vessels are doing good business and of quote. and the wall street journal has it, raising their glasses to the day on the hopeful battle, all-out battle, against the royal navy in the north sea.
the journal continued, it is by no means improbable that germany, with everything to lose and little to gain from this war, will be desperate for the night. on august 12, van der lick wrote to his friend, it is difficult to predict with any degree of certainty the outcome of affairs in europe, but it looks as though paris will have starved, far from artistic atmosphere for a long time to come.
it is time therefore for me to move to the last part of my presentation, the anglo american relationship up to 1916, 1917. the key point is that american business saw no reason to enter the war at this stage. after all, the country's agriculture, industry and factories were doing well. to begin with many countries from around the world were sending their gold reserves to fort knox now. it was all clear the american foodstuffs, credit, but be very much needed in europe. -- would be very much needed in europe. some neutrality had a business side to it, but the white house and congress, it was even more important that the american public was in no mood to join the fight. the supplied not only to pacifist -- applied not only to pacifist movements that sympathy for britain and france along the east coast, also to the rest of the country. there were the american-german
communities in the midwest totaling 20% of the west, many of the members who were pro-german at this point. be neutral also have the advantage american deliveries could be made as long as they were sent to both sides of the european war. but the blockades britain imposed on germany, these deliveries quickly became under the observation of international law. i would like to expand on what was said until yesterday about the naval warfare, because there is an international law i mentioned, and there is a good book which i would like to mention. this precisely looks at the changes in the laws of warfare and international law in this
time that was very dramatic. as you may know, the blockade of britain meant trade with neutrals was to continue in theory because american ships could not be searched under international law for contraband. the 1909 london naval conference had called a court to adjudicate this, but london had insisted all cases of dispute had to be submitted to its own national court. so after the german transatlantic cars have been taught, it did not take long for shipping and to neutral holland to be disrupted by the navy, or more so because many goods were being suspected as being supplies for germany. the british were violating
international law, it did not take long for the germans to resort to countermeasures that ultimately turned to further violations of international law. with the germans at this point, a small addition to john teens'-- keyenes' fascinating lecture from yesterday, the marines were sublimed -- obliged to surface. the passengers in the lifeboats before mr. did torpedoeing them. but the surface submarines abiding by these rules, having no armor itself was vulnerable to being shot and buy guns that
had been -- at by guns that had been mounted on the merchant vessels. the only way out was another violation of law, namely distaste of merged -- two stay submerged without any chance of passengers to go to the lifeboats. so if a freighter or passenger liner that was british that could be guarded as an enemy target, what about neutral ships or british ocean liners with passengers from neutral companies, especially from the united states? you know the story of how this ultimately brought the united states into the war. my point is it did not take long for a spiral of violence also at sea to be set in motion. we have already heard how the adoption of unlimited submarine warfare as the totalization of
warfare as a result of this at sea, not only a costly growing number of american lives but in february 1917, the germans resumed. altogether the result, the united states entered the second world war. with american business and banking during this escalation of the conflict in 1916, what about also britain? after a very early time of uncertainty, the british economy returned to eight calmer taste. that was reported. soon it was reported the wit -- the war would not end by christmas. the germans got stuck and could
not advance to paris, and you have the war of attrition starting. the factories were being converted in britain to production of military hardware. in the museum you have wonderful photos of this also, with men being drafted and trained for combat in belgium and france. women were recorded for the shells, small arms, and other equipment. it became quickly clear the country's agricultural base was too small to feed the population, so grass mills were plowed up and prepared for grain and other stable diets. and then there was united states. officially supporting neutrality, many east coast bankers by now sympathize not
only with the poor belgians, the british and french were also seen as victims of german aggression with a treasury copper filled -- coffer filled, credit was really available. it was not underwritten by congress and the american taxpayers, so there was risk involved in offering these loans to the british and the french, but still the trust in the british bank was enough to extend this credit to them with which they now purchased american raw materials, manufactured goods, and foodstuffs. while hundreds of thousands of tonnage were sent to the bottom of the ocean by german submarine warfare, enough got through to prevent shortages of the card you had in germany has a result
of the blockade. whether or not the loans would be repaid, trade shifted radically away from germany, now fueled in part by rising phobia. as predicted on the sixth of august 1914, there is every reason to see beyond the short time of suspense a great boom in business in this country created through no effort of our own, and that was the advantage of american neutrality. there was the problem of rising public debt in britain. at the end of 1914, lord jones, chancellor of the extra --exchequer, announced they would spend an additional $15 billion, a huge amount in 1914, and hearing about this, observed
that we are getting into figures that are astronomical and no longer financial. indeed, he like many others began to have difficulties to grasp what the ultimate significance of obligations is going to mean to the world. nor would he dare to predict just what all of this is going to mean economically, but orders from france and britain kept coming in. the prices of grain were high in spite of a great crop in 1916, and farmers were also in favor of this kind of trade under the banner of neutrality. the british in 1915 were handling the situation masterfully. pro-british like many of his colleagues from the start, and
with the prevailing sentiment in this country being pro-allies, no one heard of any doubt about the final outcome. this made him hopeful that soon it would be a biter -- brighter look nand hue to the outlook of peace. as observed in 1915, the united states will be found firmly and courageously on the side of civilization no matter what you stand, what such stand you involved us in, and of quote. so this had to wait until 1918, and might not have been achieved even then if the united states had not tipped the scales in 1917 by joining the war. support for britain and france continued to grow.
observing these shifts in american public opinion, wilson continued to tread intimately -- gingerly when it became clear even the sinking of the lusitania in june 1914, vander lick said, no one wants war at this time. confidence was rising the united states had a wonderful opportunity to take a great place in world finance with this ability to expand our credits. there was really the notion that while britain was number one in the financial and international world before the united states 1914, would inherit that. if the country still had still remains neutral, this expansion was likely to be a time of
expanding for relationships. meanwhile the small minority of opinion available to the german courts was also shrinking. by the end of 1916, the germanic folk business -- germanophobe businessmen were compared to abandon their neutral stance. there were many german connections in new york and up to that point were very restrained in involvement in the war. now shift announced that the house will be willing to enter allied financing his they are wanted. however horrific the war in europe, both in the trenches on the western front and the eastern side, there was optimism in new york.
the american economy branded itself, would save the world financially. this was the only thing that would save europe from utter ruin when the war was over. to conclude, i would hope i have shown the economic and financial aspects of the first world war were no less significant than the political maneuvering as the military confrontation. without american business, the survival of britain and france up to 1916 cannot be understood. it is certain that neither europe's nor america's bankers wanted of major european war. they tried hard to prevent it, but their power and influence was too limited to pressure the
military decision-makers, especially in berlin and vienna to maintain peace. ultimately it is not just the power of the socialist movements of europe to prevent war. now i have to have just one minute if i may to mention a coda to my talk. yesterday wilson is mentioned in the peace conference was mentioned repeatedly, and that there was the strategy of american retreat from the international system at the end of that peace conference. bankers, interestingly enough, being very flush also with funds from the first world war were provided a loan for swiss banks to give to the europeans
for their reconstruction of the devastated economies. it was, i would have thought, a sort of european marshall plan idea that bankers look forward, but it failed of course because cautious bankers at that particular point wanted the underwriting of the american taxpayer and congress, and of course congress was not prepared to support and underwrite such a huge loan. as a result partly of this unwillingness of the united states to involve it in the united -- in the international community, europe continued to be an enormous mess. there was no solution they were able to find on their own in the 1920's. then you have depression in 1929. you have hitler's, and you have
world war ii. the american elite, that is my final point from that experience and mistake is that the next time, especially if you want to prevent world war iii after the second world war had happened, was that you needed to get public money involved for the reconstruction of europe, and that was the marshall plan. that was public underwriting by the american taxpayer for the reconstruction of western europe after the second world war, and that led to a very different outcome after the second world war in europe than you had in the first world war. that is the point on which i would like to end. thank you. [applause]
>> we would invite your questions. feel free to stand on either side. >> i have always thought that albert balon is an interesting figure. you can evaluate more on him. -- elaborate about him. would you say he was part of the fascist symbolic of the tragedy of the 20th century and german jews? what happened to him during the war? dr. berghahn: indeed, that is why i found him a tragic figure because i gave you a number of quotations of his anger, how he felt he was misled as a sort of feeling businessman to preserve peace, but he failed, and that is why we have these enormous accusations.
what is also interesting is, hamburg had a german jewish community that was tightly integrated into the business community in hamburg, and that increases the tragedy of what you mentioned also in your lecture later on being graphical -- biographical even at the beginning of your lecture. it is still, and i have studied this subject for quite a few years, still incomprehensible what ultimately happened in the 1930's and 1940's. we are still wrestling with a rational explanation of this, and some of these points were made yesterday and last night, actually also on the panel.
how can we first of all explain this catastrophe of the first world war but then also the sequence of it, because many historians now would argue partly because of the mess which was left behind after 1918 that the second world war was in a way a consequence of the inability of the europeans to settle their own problems after the first world war, and that is why the american role after the second world war was so important in reconstruction. it should be added that senator vandenberg and people that supported the resolution for the marshall plan in 1947 would have moved so quickly if there hadn't been the bloody russians in the far east in russia and the cold war hadn't broken out. i think the determination on the part of the business people not to adopt more punitive measures but to reintegrate them was a direct consequence of the lessons they learned.
it is very interesting how john foster was a young man at the paris peace conference and of course was very unhappy about the failure of the american effort to bring about democracy for all and the league of nations. you have a very interesting tipping point also, and it is often forgotten that his brother who working for the cia at that point already actually wrote a book about the marshall plan which was never published because it was felt that was no longer necessary once the republicans had also begun to support the marshall plan.
nevertheless, there was this feeling even in 1947 after the speech that there might not be actually another rescue attempt, and that this might fail because america was partly still in a sort of send the boys home, not isolationist mood, but certainly let the europeans solve their own problems. i have answered your question perhaps, but i think it was a very good point about balon. >> [indiscernible] dr. berghahn: if you know, he got so distraught by the defeat of germany and by the collapse of what he had built -- after all he said it to his friend, building up what he thought was enormous prosperity to german people before 1914, and now they must ruin all fairytales about
the outbreak of the war, and that is why i felt i should also bring back this whole debate with christopher clark about the origins of the war. it seems to me that europe did not sleepwalk into the first world war. we should abandon this -- i know it was a bestseller, but it was one of these books that stimulated enormous debate. the balance has now gone back to the earlier positions about the origins of the first world war. the russians are also in the picture, but we don't have to go into a tour of the capitals of europe in 1914 and see whether any of these people have little bit to blame. you can't stop in berlin and vienna to understand the origins.
>> this sort of power-play between financial and military elements in the society, was there late and accusation of the financial groups being sufficiently nationalistic, that they were too driven by money, therefore their allegiance wasn't to the nation but to their holders, whatever you want to say? volker berghahn: thank you for that question. it is a very good one, and is it the stakeholders or the shareholders who are running? i would have thought first of all, that is why i emphasized they all knew each other so well. they are all partly related. the family -- the royal, often
family contacts between them. i think there was a self interest involved, but they always saw and try to explain the larger picture, world war among the industrialized major powers of europe, would mean for the rest of the western economies. that is why i mentioned colonialism. we should never forget that of course this prosperity you had before 1914 that i thought was being threatened was also gained very often on the backs of non-european peoples of the world.
lenin became so popular in the 1950's. the one who had pinpointed this as imperialist fore, which he -- imperialist war, which he then ended at the end of his pamphlet i think was something that should always be remembered, not by the communist manifesto of karl marx, all proletarians of all countries unite -- that was the call for the socialist revolution, but lenin ended his pamphlet with the entire -- the higher stage of capitalism, the peoples of the world, all people of the world unite, that was not just to western europe but also to the peasant masses which he realized would have to be the carriers of the revolution which he started in 1917 of course also in russia. so i think this is a very important sort of aspects.
lora vogt: we have time for one last question. >> given we are in kansas city and the food staff in mentioned, can you talk about where your research took you with the business interests and lobbies? wheat and beef cattle? volker berghahn: i am glad you raise it. i confess again since i avoided statistics, i cannot give you the details, but of course this is the time when agribusiness, it is not the large industrial corporations, it is growing. what is called arthur daniel midlands, these are being established. they are the main mediaries between britain and the grain.
there has been tension between the ordinary farming community and these big companies because they were seen if not as monopolies who were dictating prices, but also omniopolies that were competing against each other. that was against the sherman act, the banding together of companies. capitalism had to be preserved, but at the same time, oligopolies were encouraged, monopolies were banned. therefore come in agriculture, you had at that point it
developments which i think is crucial, even to this day monsanto, all of the debates we , have been having about the food producing companies in this country and abroad, genetic change of crops, etc., etc. you are right to involve american agriculture because they have also benefited enormously from the export, and raw materials, which was desperately needed in europe. that was a major export item. lora vogt: will you please join me in thanking dr. berghahn? [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> interested in american history tv? visit our website, where you can see the schedule or want to
reagan -- watch a recent program. c-span.org/history. monday night on the communicators, outgoing fcc chair tom wheeler talks about his three-year tenure as the head of the commission, its major decisions including neutrality and issues he faced the trump administration. idea that you should scale back the sec and give a lot of its responsibility to the ftc is something that the networks have been pushing for years. before i took this job, there was a headline an article at the inhington post that said essence, here's how the networks intend to get the fcc. it will be tragic if that happens.
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