Peace is the universal goal with non universal means of achieving it. During the 20th century in Germany, civil peace was to be achieved by briefly burying pre war conflicts in order to unite against the enemy. Civil peace was a controversial concept because civilians would either resolve small conflicts before moving onto a larger conflict or set aside current conflicts to end World War I. During World War I, Germans struggled to fight a two-front war against Russia and France. By 1918, Germany was devastated and surrendered to the Allies.
The concept of civil peace was strong and virtually unbreakable when it first spread during 1914. Many politicians and civilians advocated this concept of civil peace in the name of their homeland, Germany. However, there were some groups that had conditional or unfavorable policies towards civil peace. By the end of the war, several civilians and soldiers were against civil peace because it failed to lead Germany to victory in World Warl. Many Germans believed that civil peace was the most effective method of uniting Germany with nationalism in order to win World War I.
For example, German Emperor Wilhelm II expresses his gratitude of civil peace at his royal palace in Berlin by saying“I see no more political parties, only Germans… All that matters now is that we Germans stand together like brothers,”(Doc 1). Emperor Wilhelm II emphasizes the importance of German unity to combat the Allies, which means that he supports civil peace; after all, civil peace requires unity in order to defend Germany. Though the concept of civil peace, Emperor Wilhelm II believes that foreign conflicts are far more crucial to the safety of his Germans than domestic issues.
However, Emperor Wilhelm II is only semi-credible because he may be insensitive and only view the German soldiers or farmers as pawns on a chessboard rather than valuable human life; this is because he is the person who gives orders, but is not the person who receives the orders. To the German emperor, peace was the most essential element in the preparation of war; without unity, “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” as said by Abraham Lincoln over half a century earlier.
Additionally, numerous German citizens were supporters of civil peace because of the strong presence of nationalism, as shown in a photograph taken by the German Government News Service in August 1914(Doc 2). In Germany, the effects of nationalism from the Franco-Prussian War in 1870-1871 had carried over and prospered by the early 20th century, which meant that unity was perceived to be easily achieved. Unity in Germany meant no discrimination to ensure Germany was fortified against its does, so German unity not only included men of all social classes, it also included women and children.
Civil peace is clearly illustrated because all the Germans in this photo are standing side by side, proving that there are no chinks in Germany’s armor. This photograph is credible because the information is not distorted; the photograph was simply taken. Also, it is critical to bring attention to the year this photograph was taken: 1914. This is the beginning of World War I, so the inspiring words spoken by Emperor Wilhelm II instilled a sense of optimism and motivation in civil peace to win World War I.
Moreover, civil peace’s inclusion of women allowed women to contribute to Germany’s war efforts, even the military; women’s rights advocate Helen Simon praises women by saying, “We too stand in the rank and file, fighting with our entire will and ability… victory against the enemy at our doors, and victory over the economic and moral danger within”(Doc 4). Germany’s civil peace permitted women as soldiers, which was highly unusual in the early 1900s due to existing gender stereotypes. The concept of civil peace allowed women to take advantage of it in order to close gender gaps, so women grew more active in Germany through war.
It is also crucial to note the second half of the quote; Simon is referring to the crumbling economy due to the effects of war and moral danger because Germans must kill other soldiers in order to defend themselves. This supports the civil peace’s concept because Simon is inferring that once obstacles are overcome, then domestic issues will also be settled. Furthermore, another example of a civil peace advocate is General Wilhelm Groener, who asserts, “the future of the Fatherland demands from us all: work and more work until the victorious end of the war”(Doc 11).
The most active promoters of civil peace are either from the government or military; this is because they possess knowledge of specific data or plans, so they are able to judge whether or not civil peace will lead Germany to victory. General Wilhelm Groener does believe that civil peace will unite Germany, but with more unity comes more work. The increased unity will make an increased workload more feasible, so this is another reason why civil peace was highly favored by government and military officials.
Civil peace is viewed as a way to make Germany’s workforce more efficient, therefore closer to possible victory. Overall, the majority of Germans favored civil peace and believed it would guide Germany in both foreign and domestic affairs. Some groups in Germany had either conditional or passive against policies towards civil peace. Namely, the Social Democratic Party newspaper wrote “Our organizations would have been destroyed, crushed, had we not voted to finance the war… A strong democratic spirit will come,”(Doc 3).
Given the fact that the Social Democratic Party contributed in votes in the decision to finance the war, the Social Democratic Party believes that the government must treat it with privileges or favor the party in a future decision; as stated in the quote, the reward that the Social Democratic Party desires is a fortified democratic presence in Germany. Civil peace is a method of increasing the German democratic spirit because when civil peace unites Germans, a strong democratic spirit will ensure that the Germans remain united.
The Social Democratic Party has a conditional policy towards civil peace because it voted for financing the war because it was advantageous for Germany’s military. However, the party expects a democratic spirit to be instilled in the citizens. The Social Democratic Party did have its wish come true because in the following years of World War I, the Weimar Republic developed. However, the Weimar Republic was a weak democratic state, and this allowed Hitler and the Nazis to gain power. Moreover, an example of a passive-against stance towards civil peace is reported in 1924 by S.
Jobs, a liberal columnist; he recalls, “… walking the very crowded streets, found a quiet, serious, even shaken group of people… youthful voices sang the ideas of the Pan-German League along the streets, but the quiet pedestrians on the sidewalk were unmoved by this spectacle”(Doc 5). The columnist reporting this observation is a liberalist, so he is most likely more open minded and recalls vents in an unbiased manner. Also, another point to consider is that this observation was written in 1924, which is after World War I ended and Germany needed to pay $33 billion in reparations.
The pedestrians are against civil peace and war because they have witnessed the effects of total war on Germany, unlike the youth singing the ideas of the Pan-German League; the losses of human lives, money, and an economy are drastic effects that damaged the survivors of World Warl. Also, although the pedestrians are silent, silence speaks louder than words; silence is generally a signal of disagreement. The pedestrians’ opposition to civil peace is shown through their body language because while supporters of the Pan-German league are singing on the street, the pedestrians are on the sidewalk.
The relationship between the youth supporters and pedestrians can be compared to cars and pedestrians. Cars are more modern, progressive, and reckless than pedestrians, wheras walking to places is safer than driving because the longer period of time allows the pedestrian to ponder about life. Lastly, another example of a passive-against approach to civil peace is a police report sent to Berlinian police in 1917, which includes conditions such as lifting ban on free assembly, granting political freedom in activities, and ending World War I with the exemption of damage costs (Doc 10).
Radical labor leaders desire for their demands to be met because they have analyzed the negative effects of total war on Germany, and believe that the most effective way for Germany to return to greatness is to end the war. This is against civil peace because civil peace includes the unity of citizens to fight a war, and the radical labor leaders contrarily want to end the war. This is passive-against because these demands are not guaranteed to be met; they can be proposed in a peaceful political manner at a meeting, but these demands may or may not be carried out.
To conclude, a small number of groups were either conditional or passive-against for the plans of civil peace. Towards the middle of World War I, civil peace was not supported by numerous Germans because of the immense consequences of war. For instance, a German soldier reports to the Daily Observer in 1915 that he was enraged because of high prices and food shortages in Germany. The German soldier expresses his strong displeasure over high class citizens who take the soldiers’ inhuman sacrifices for granted and mistreated the women and children(Doc 7).
The German soldier is very reliable because he first hand experiences total war, especially because he loses his morality in killing opposing soldiers. Fighting for a country with national pride is one thing, but knowing that civilians who are not “doing the dirty work” and exploiting a community at home is very frustrating, especially for a soldier. Also, German soldiers were unable to return home to protect or check up on their families in the middle of war