Germany's war contingency plans...drawn up in 1905...were a creative strategy to achieve a rapid victory in a two front war. The goal of rapid engagement was seen as a way to win and also save lives and minimize economic damage to all belligerents. So the plan, dubbed the "Schlieffen Plan" after its designer Count Alfred… Continue reading The Schlieffen Plan was put into action in 1914, but trouble in East Prussia changed the course of history.
The question of who should lead a future united Germany, Prussia or Austria, was answered in 1866. In this first image, Prussian King Wilhelm is congratulating his son, Crown Prince Friedrich III, on the battlefield after their victory over the Austrian Empire. Prussia’s leadership was now assured but would mean the hoped for “Greater Germany”… Continue reading Should Austria or Prussia be the leader of Germany?
The inauguration of the Berlin Siegessäule (Victory Column) is depicted here in an 1873 artist's rendering of the ceremony conducted by Kaiser Wilhelm I...the image in gold is a close up of the Victoria statue atop the column, as it appears today. Originally, the Victory Column was designed by Heinrich Strack in 1864 to commemorate… Continue reading Inauguration of the 1873 Berlin Siegessäule (Victory Column)
In Germany the year 1888 is remembered as the year of 3 Kaisers. Friedrich Wilhelm succeeded his father as Emperor in 1888, but ruled for only 98 days, before succumbing to throat cancer. Although still young at age 57, he was Emperor of Germany for only 3 months. Upon Friedrich's death, his son Wilhelm II… Continue reading If Friedrich had lived longer, he might have been able to change European alliances, preventing the outbreak of WWI and thus WWII
"Dinner at the Ball" captures a moment in time during the high point of peace and prosperity in the German Empire. It was 7 years after the German unification of 1871 and was the era of Kaiser Wilhelm I and his Chancellor Bismarck, who created a booming economy and a foreign policy that produced 43… Continue reading Most of Menzel’s paintings were quickly gathered up by museums and patrons in Germany
Herzlichen Weihnachstgruss (heartfelt Christmas greeting) ...an older German style wording for Frohe Weihnachten (Merry Christmas). This image is from a vintage 1917 WWI German Christmas card, depicting a lady joyfully reading a Weihnachstgruss from her soldier away at war. It also reflects the tradition that a Christmas tree always had to be there and when… Continue reading When circumstances were difficult, as in 1917, then even a tiny tree would make Christmas special
On Christmas Eve one hundred four years ago, in 1914, the first Christmas during WWI, something unusual happened…and it happened spontaneously... triggered by the men themselves who were in the front line trenches. The Illustrated London News described the event in its headline: "British and German Soldiers Arm-in-Arm Exchanging Headgear: A Christmas Truce between Opposing… Continue reading On Christmas Eve in 1914, something unusual happened
In February 1906, the Silver Wedding Anniversary of the German Emperor and Empress was turned into a double wedding celebration when they gave their second son, Prince Eitel, permission to be married on the same day. Their son’s bride, the Duchess Sophie-Charlotte, was the daughter of the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Oldenburg. Only… Continue reading A cavalry of trumpeters led the royal carriage thru Berlin where a 72 gun salute started the dual wedding ceremony
In July 1917...after 3 years at war... Germany was winning the war. On the Western Front, German territorial gains were being held and the French and British home fronts were weakening. The French also had to deal with a demoralized army with large numbers of soldiers going so far as to mutiny. The possibility of… Continue reading In July 1917…after 3 years at war… Germany was winning
An excerpt from "Departure of King Wilhelm I. of Prussia to join the Army on July 13, 1870" at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, by Adolph von Menzel. The King would return to Berlin 11 months later, in June 1871, not only victorious but also as the new Kaiser of the German Empire, already… Continue reading Departure of King Wilhelm I. of Prussia to join the Army on July 13, 1870