Vortrag, gehalten in der "Deutschen Gesellschaft 1914" am 20. Dezember 1915
Stenogramm H. Geitner
mit Genehmigung des preussischen Kriegsministeriums
Dr. Walter Rathenau was the one who took the lead of organising the German strategic materials disposition. In contrast to what most people think, Germany entered rather unprepared in what became known as 'The Great War'.
Their stocks at hand were so limited, that without immediate action Germany would have ran out strategic materials before the end of 1914.
We know that this did not happen, Walther Rathenau was just the right person to mobilise all resources possible of the German Empire.
He was engaged as a director of AEG; his father Emil Rathenau was the founder of this great company. Which had strong relation to GE in the US; both regarded being 'Jewish'.
Having the background of his competence, and his well respected father Emil, he got authority where others would fail.
Walther Rathenau was a high calibre personality and also a philosopher.
His very critical comments on human behaviour are striking! I know of no other person with such universal characterizing of human beings; but also institutions. Much does have, even in our days, validity.
However, the subject of this publication, is not reflecting this judgement.
I am not yet convinced, whether we should make more of Walther Rathenau's work accessible on the web. The quintessence of his judgements are all in German language, and I feel myself unable to make translations, without loosing most of its value.
Making this cotemporary document accessible is a spin-off of a projected about: Fatal Communications during World War One, together with Phil Judkins.
Which is, Deo volente, to be held at the DEHS Autumn Symposium (AS14), on 7 October 2014.
That the Germans entered war without comprehensive preparations, should also be considered being subject to 'Fatal Communications'.
Walther Rathenau was assassinated not long after the 'Treaty of Rapallo' with Russia was signed in 1922; because he was Jewish although, for some time, he felt himself being a German citizen in the first place.
Quoting [25, p. 39] Martin Gilbert's First World War, A Complete History:
In Germany Walther Rathenau, the industrialist who had been so despondent in the week before war was declared, went on August 8 to see the Head of the General War Department in Berlin, Colonel Scheüch, to offer his support to the war effort. Pointing out that Germany only had 'limited number of months' supply of indispensable war materials, Rathenau proposed 'to save Germany from strangulation', and within a few days was put in charge of a special-created War Raw Materials Department. Metals, chemicals, jute, wool, rubber and cotton were among the raw materials that the Department could commandeer inside Germany, requisition in occupied territory, purchase abroad, or manufacture itself by new and if necessary synthetic methods. Rathenau's task was to help keep Germany at war, yet as a civilian and a Jew he met continual hostility from the army commanders whose fighting abilities was engaged in helping. Rathenau realised that the raw materials needs of the German army might not be capable of endless fulfilment in a long war. The prospect of a long war was alarming even to the Kaiser, who on August 10 summoned the American Ambassador, Gerhard, who later recalled: 'The Kaiser talked rather despondently about war. I tried to cheer him up by saying the German troops would soon enter Paris, but he answered, "The British change the whole situation - an obstinate nation. They will keep up the was It cannot en soon".
By Arthur O. Bauer
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