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Posts Tagged ‘village of Flessingue

“The Inevitable War”: WWI effectively started 2 decades earlier External Market competition between England and Germany

After Germany armies defeated France in 1870 and entered Paris, Bismarck realized that until Germany becomes a modern industrialized nation, like England and the USA, it will remain a second ranked nation.

The US, England and France were already industrialized nations and had amassed plenty of capitals. Germany was short on capitals to sustain any protracted war and decided to invest in modernizing its industry and to focus on its navy and merchant ship. Bismarck said: Only the sea can open up serious trade with the external market.

England was known as “A block of iron on a block of coal” and had developed special tools, machines and equipment for its heavy industry and products. England was master of the sea, had the vastest of colonies and exporting all over the world.

And Germany invested heavily on new ports and shipyards with the latest modern equipment, tools and machines and became almost at a par with England navy in number and firepower.

On the Rhine River, Westphalia, Saxe and Silesia… new modern furnaces for producing steel, new chemical plants, clothing industries… mushroomed within a decade.

Since 1895, England got the message loud and clear from the various consulate around the world. Its consul in Damascus wrote: “My chair, my table, and even my pen are from Germany. These countries imported everything from us and German products and competition have dislodged us from these markets…”

What irked England most, and was the last straw to definitely advance its preemptive war preparation, was the railway concession that Germany obtained from Turkey in 1903: The train will link Istanbul, Baghdad, Medina and Mecca…  Germany would then be capable to amass troops very quickly anywhere close to Egypt and India and cut the communication lines in the event of a war.

Consequently, England obtained from Turkey that Basra, Bahrain and Qatar be under her mandated power, though still nominally under Othman protectorate. Germany was effectively encircled in the Persian/Arabic Gulf

The war was between Liverpool versus Hamburg, Glasgow versus Essen.

The peaceful alternative was to propose a protectionist high tariff on imported German products, but the workers in Birmingham refused and protested this policy that would ruin their current life-style.  The big capitalist families in England decided to focus on the only remaining alternative: War.

England had to plan ways to bloc the German ports and other non-German ports from where Germany import/export all it needs for survival and for mass production.

Germany had two ports: Hamburg and Bremen. The other two major ports were Rotterdam in the Netherlands and Anvers in Belgium.

Anvers is situated 70 km deep on the Escaut River. The problem is that the small village of Flessingue at the entrance of the estuary belong to the Netherlands.

Germany asked the Netherlands to militarily fortify this village, and we a few German navy ships around the entrance will force the British ships to station far away and thus allow merchant ships to enter to Anvers.

The daily The Times, the official organ of the Foreign Office, wrote: “A fortified Flessingue is a gun pointed to the heart of London...”. The Netherlands parliament decided to postpone the fortification in order to cool down the political tension.

British General Kitchener declared: “The borders of England with Europe is not the Pas de Calais (France) but the river Meuse

Germany needed 10 bn in reserve in order to sustain an estimated 2 years of war with England, and only France had enough capital to secure this amount. Thus England signed all kinds of treaties with France to deny Germany any kind of financial credits.  England conceded to France the annexation of Morocco, a country it didn’t even have.

For example, in 1902, Emperor Guillaume II visited Paris and managed to secure the finance for the railway concession in Turkey. In 1903, England King Edward 7 visited Paris and the next day all the French capitalists reneged on their venture to finance the railway.

The navy construction programs both both countries were to end in 1914. England was to have 30 Dreadnoughts to 26 for Germany. A Dreadnought is a war ship weighting over 20,000 tons and equiped with high caliber canons (34 cm) that reach 9 km and torpedoes. Any delay in the war and Germany was to overtake England in number of Dreadnoughts and firepower.

England ordered all its battleship home from around the world

How England managed to immerse France in this unwanted war, a war that Germany didn’t see any interest in alienating France is of the utmost interest. France had the second largest and professional army in Europe, while England land army was mostly constituted of volunteers.

And the French military had no illusions: Any incursion toward river Meuse to cut off Germany occupation of Anvers will unleash instant and violent Germany military reaction.

France was badly broken after WWI and remains weakened forever, and barely considered a second class nation.

Note 1: “The Inevitable War” by Francis Delaisi (1911)

Note 2: “Palestine, Money and Oil. History of Zionism” by Lina Murr Nehme

Note 3: The US under Wilson was not hot for joining this European war: It was doing great business with Germany that needed all kinds of raw materials, meat, wheat, cotton, and new machinery… The US was the first industrial country but was contended with its internal market, Canada, Mexico and central America.

It is not correct that the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 prompted the US to declare war on Germany. It did so in 1917 under flimsy excuse when it realized that Germany is short on liquidity to sustain another year of all-out war and that England had incurred a lot of debt.  England must not lose the war in order to repay its huge debt.

And what was this excuse? German foreign minister Zimmerman had instructed his ambassador in Mexico to destabilize Mexico in the advent that US declared war on Germany.

The US wanted a seat at the table after the war: Europe was about to become its major export destination since it would be needing almost everything.




June 2023

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