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  #101  
Old 05-27-2008, 06:29 AM
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Originally Posted by LadyCat View Post
Finally I get to talk about the war! I have been biting my tongue (fingers) for weeks about the lead up to WWI.

If Austria hadn't needed backup, and Germany hadn't been so quick to offer it, there would have been no war. .. That Willy was so quick to declare war on Russia did come as a surprise though. I can understand him wanting to grab more of France but Russia?


Cat
Hello LadyCat,

I agree with you to some extent although the author states elsewhere that Willy really didn't want war at all and got himself into an impossible situation because he was so tied up with the military. They seemed to be much more warlike than him.

It was very strange the way that he told everyone that he wanted peace but his actions implied the opposite. I think that he probably was rather unstable by this time and unsure what he was doing.

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  #102  
Old 05-27-2008, 06:34 AM
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I am still a bit behind in my reading so I haven't reached the part where George doesn't save the Imperial Russian family. There are many conflicting opinions about this so it will be interesting to see what Clay thinks.

I am also interested in reading 'Victoria's Daughters'.

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  #103  
Old 05-27-2008, 08:46 AM
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I enjoyed "Victoria's Daughters" and I really must read that biography of Vicky, which I've got sitting on my "to read" pile. I hadn't realised quite what a hard life she had after she married and how many of her problems were really her own fault.
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  #104  
Old 05-27-2008, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by attaininggrace View Post
Hello LadyCat,

I agree with you to some extent although the author states elsewhere that Willy really didn't want war at all and got himself into an impossible situation because he was so tied up with the military. They seemed to be much more warlike than him.

It was very strange the way that he told everyone that he wanted peace but his actions implied the opposite. I think that he probably was rather unstable by this time and unsure what he was doing.

Regards,
Attaining Grace
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Willy definitely wanted a navy to rival the British Royal Navy and he was most passionate about seeing it come to fruition given the ever expanding budget he gave the navy. The only reason to have a large navy would be if you planned to use it. I think Clay was mistaken that Willy didn't want a war, however, I don't think he bargained for the war he got. It was a case of "You and me against the world" for Germany and Austria, not a good place to be, especially once the US got involved toward the end when Willy unleashed his subs.

Cat
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  #105  
Old 05-28-2008, 06:27 AM
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I began reading this book, got half way throughbut never finished it. The ending of this particular saga depresses me. I would be interested to know if the author has any comments about the repercussions of WWI on what happened later re WWII. I
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  #106  
Old 05-30-2008, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by fearghas View Post
I began reading this book, got half way throughbut never finished it. The ending of this particular saga depresses me. I would be interested to know if the author has any comments about the repercussions of WWI on what happened later re WWII. I
Fearghas, I wouldn't give much to the autor's comments concerning political developments. Clay is clearly biased plus she hasn't made her homework.

Examples: German-Danish war and the "iron" chancellor Bismarck.

Let's get started with Bismarck. Clay uses the term "iron" all so often to describe his politics - I'd even say she is obsessed with it. Early on Clay assumes that the speach, in which it was used, was "almost designed to offend Vicky" (P.12). Come on! The term was mentioned in his very first speach as Ministerpräsident. Somehow everyone only recalls this term "iron and blood". What is overseen is that within the very same speach he made an offer of peace towards the liberals. Back then there was a liberal-national movement in Prussia aiming at a German national state. In an interview held in 1890 Bismarck said: "The stateman is like a wanderer in the forest, who knows the direction of his walk, but not the point where he will leave the forest ... I would have preferred any solution with pleasure, which would have lead to an enlargement of Prussia without war towards the unity of Germany. Many roads let to my goal. I had to try one after the other , the most dangerous last, uniformity was not my affair."

Yes, there were the three wars of 1864, 1866 and 1870. Let's look closer at them. 1864: only seldom Clay notes that it was in fact a jointly managed war by Prussia and Austria. Generally she always notes that it was a German-Danish war. Now Germany and Prussia are not the same at this time! The origin of this war was an improvisation, it was hardly to be foreseen. When Friedrich VII of Denmark died November 15, 1863 he had no male heirs. Thus Christian of Glücksburg (maternal line) took over. Early in the fifties it was said in international treaties that the next denish king Christian should take the crown under the same postulations as his predecessor (1850 + 1852 London Protocols). However, the denish national movement demanded that Denmark adamently defends his claim to Schleswig-Holstein when in 1863 Prince Friedrich of Augustenburg claimed it for himself/his family. Thus leading to a breach of the London Protocol by Christian IX when he intended to annex Schleswig-Holstein by signing the November-constitution ... a clear provocation towards German nationalist! All in all it was an unfortunate event , a war of succession like the war of spanish succession, caused by an clearly inexperienced king of Denmark.

Those interested in the 1864 war should look in Christopher Clarks book on Prussian history. Very detailed analyses. Unfortunatly it was published only recently, Clay seems to have missed it.

Back to Bismarck: Clay reduces him always to his "iron" side whereas he was far more complex. His politics can be summarised by 5 points:
1. Renouncement of any territorial enlargement in Europe
2. Suppressing of expansionist movement, in particular all great-German attempts
3. Permanent disillusionment of "unsaved" Germans which were not included in the 1870-German Reich, in particular austrian and baltic Germans
4. Strict Renouncement of participation in the hunt for colonies
5. If necessary, active participation to avoid further wars in Europe

(Please review the Bismarck's Bad Kissinger Diktat of 1877 for further information)

Of all these points the first 3 were stubbornly kept by Bismarck throughout his Chancellorship. 4 he abandoned in the years 1884/1885 - an episode meant to challenge the German-English relationship. Obviously Bismarck felt the need to strengthen his position when the then-Crown-Prince with his English wife would take over. As soon as it was clear that Wilhelm I was living longer than expected he abanded the hunt for colonies. Bismarcks most famous words in 1888 show this change: his map of Africa was within Europe. "Here is Russia and hier is France, and we are in the middle. This is my map of Africa".

And the active participation to avoid further war let to the Berlin Kongress of 1878. Nowhere Clay writes about Bismarck's Peace efforts though! Also nowhere she writes about his social reforms, e.g. the implementation of social security for all classes. No, Clay is determined that poor Vicky was living in a hostile environment. Poor Vicky!! The lady certainly got the wrong preparation for her life in Prussia. Frankly I have troubles reading this book, if only for the wrong picture Clay presents of life in Prussia and of Bismarck. I keep wondering where else she is trying to deceive.
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  #107  
Old 05-30-2008, 07:08 PM
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Now that we're at the end...what two men do you know privately celebrate the anniversary of their first meeting? Maybe it was never proven that Willy was homosexual but was it really ever investigated? The writing was on the wall!
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  #108  
Old 05-31-2008, 07:16 AM
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Originally Posted by HRH Kerry View Post
Now that we're at the end...what two men do you know privately celebrate the anniversary of their first meeting? Maybe it was never proven that Willy was homosexual but was it really ever investigated? The writing was on the wall!
Kerry, if you are interested in this topic you might like to read “Kaiser Wilhelm II and the ‘Liebenberg Circle’ ” by Isabel Hull or some of the books on Wilhelm by John C. G. Röhl, in particular "Kaiser Wilhelm II. New Interpretations. The Corfu Papers" Amazon.de: Kaiser Wilhelm II: New Interpretations: The Corfu Papers: J. Rohl: English Books
... though these books deal with the topic in the larger context only.

However, I believe it is a shame that Clay does not stick to facts but implies a lover's affair between Eulenburg and Wilhelm. After all she is not writing fiction, but a factual report which should include no innuendo.

Considering the fact that she namens above mentioned Röhl in her Acknowledgement might explain this lapse. This English Historican was first known in his contribution to the firt German historian's dispute in the 60ies.

Back then the work of the historian Fritz Fischer about the German politics before and during WW1 was discussed, in particular concerning their share in the beginning of the conflict and the military objectives of the empire. Röhl's contribution attacked mainly the group around Wilhelm II. It is through today doubtful, if his thesis that this cirlce of men decided the war 1 1/2 years prior the beginning of war in 1912 is right. The main adversaries of Röhl being members of the national conservative German historians.

Due to this opposition Röhl realigned his focus on the position and influence of Philipp Eulenburg leading to new insight concerning the informal kind of leadership Wilhelm practiced as well as his potential homosexuality and other peculiarities. All in all Röhls work was certainly important and lead to a new perception. Still, Clay should have broadened her horizon by using other sources, too.
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  #109  
Old 05-26-2009, 07:56 PM
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I'd like to thank everyone who contributed to this most interesting thread! The insightful comments posted here inpired me to read KKT for myself. (Quite a good read, I thought.) I regret that I was not on these forums at the time of this discussion, and look forward to participating with you all in future Book Club threads.
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  #110  
Old 10-02-2009, 11:18 PM
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Originally Posted by GlitteringTiaras View Post
True, but I cannot help to add my 21st mentality into the fray. I still think he had some disorder. Under his tutors he was, well, somewhat "normal", but once he was out of their sight he began to act out.

Clearly, all of the mothers -- Minny, Alexandra, and Vicky (though the latter not so much) -- were not a big help when it came to the development of their sons. All of them seem seriously screwed up in one way or another. I would also blame their surroundings as well, social and political. Things were on the verge of change at that time...
Agreed. Minny and Alix especially, I think, knew in a way that they weren't preparing the boys very well for their particular roles; Alix, I suppose, didn't have to in Georgie's case because he was the 'second son', but either way, she smothered all of her children, the boys in particular and was quite selfish with her daughters...just like QV tried to be. With Nicky, his immaturity and lack of education as the heir was not just Minny's doing, but her husband's as well. He prefered his youngest son, Misha, to Nicky, and so intentionally deprived him of a good education as heir to the dynasty; for example, Nicky was not allowed to become involved with anything political until his early twenties, a bit late for the heir. Also, no one expected Alexander III to die when he did, so time was not on Nicky's side either.
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  #111  
Old 10-07-2009, 01:18 PM
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Albert Victor though, Alexandra's eldest son was even less suited to be king than George V. For someone not raised in the role of heir, George V did a fine job. Also, since monarchy was constituentional in England, there was less to prepare George or Albert Victor for than was the case with Vicky and Minnie, both of whose sons had more political power when they attained the throne. I think George V's mother Alexandra believed that she did her best- not sure about Minnie. Vicky tried as hard as she could, but circumstances were against her.
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  #112  
Old 06-24-2010, 12:42 AM
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Grace Angel - I totally agree with you about Vicky - she did her best and tried to make the best out of a bad situation. The issue there was Willy's Prussian grandparents, Kaiser Wilhelm I and Kaiserin Augusta. They hated Vicky and completely detested the liberal views their son Frederick shared with his wife, so they went out of their way to turn Willy against Vicky and it worked. In England, Alexandra wanted to keep her sons as little boys - she was incredibly selfish that way - not only for her own personal reasons, but as a way of protecting them from the dangers of adulthood, if you will. Minnie in Russia was the same way with her children. In Minnie's case, there was more of a reason - in the Russian Imperial Family, assassinations were not uncommon; Nicky's grandfather Alexander II was murdered in 1881 by terrorists, his uncle Sergei died the same way in 1905 and there were several similar assassination attempts on his father, Alexander III, during his reign, therfore, Minnie probably saw keeping her offspring, and especially Nicky as the heir, as young children as a kind of protection. Alexandra, I think, was simply being selfish and hypocritical, much like her mother-in-law Queen Victoria was.
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  #113  
Old 10-23-2010, 11:59 PM
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But I agree with the earlier thread that Alexandra's "mothering" did not have an adverse effect on George because of the constitutional monarchy. Furthermore, although Alexandra was selfish, she also taught all of her children to be humble. There was not an arrogant one in the bunch.

Vicky's liberal leanings could have helped the Kaiser but her in-laws made sure she did not have a direct influence on her son's upbringing. Look at the appalling way he treated her and she had to smuggle her papers out of the country or Wilhelm would have destroyed the lot.

Minny is a different situation. I don't think she babied her children as much as Alexandra but she certainly did not see that being friends with her daughter-in-law might have given her more access to the throne. I believe Nicholas, by his very nature as well as his upbringing, was totally unsuited for the role of autocrat. But perhaps Minny could have been more of an influence when things turned bad if she and Alix had been on better terms.
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  #114  
Old 10-24-2010, 03:23 AM
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I am not sure if Minty might have been able to do anything. Alix didn't even listen to her sister, Ella in regards to Rapustin. And she was certainly closer to Alix than Minty.

Vicky certainly wasn't an ideal mother but she certainly didn't deserve to be treated by her son the way she was. But he was even dismissive to his siblings (with the exception of Henry it appears). Definitely she and her husband were viewed as a threat by the inlaws and the powers that be. In an Uncommon Woman, the author mentions that Bismarck after assisting in the alienation of Frederick and Vicky from their son, loses his job as PM, and comes to Vicky for help...declares that she has no influence with her son (or something like that) but doesn't use the moment to crow that Bismarck has in fact, created a monster with Wilhelm.

In regards to Alexandra the Queen, I am sorry. She was certainly selfish as was Victoria in deciding to keep one daughter at home. But that was certainly the norm for the time. At least Beatrice managed to get marry and have children. Its a shame about Toria.
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  #115  
Old 10-24-2010, 07:56 AM
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No woman was without her flaws but we were discussing these three unique women and the effect they may, or may not, have had on their sons who became rulers. I agree Alexandra was selfish when it came to Toria but I stand by opinion that she at least had children who were not arrogant.

Alix was crippled by shyness and while she did alienate her sister, I have never read that they were especially close and it is true that when it came to Rasputin, Alix listened to no one. But one cannot help but think that perhaps a change in the frosty relationship between Minny and Alix may have helped in other ways. I thought I read somewhere that Minny's mother implored her not to make the same mistake that the mother had made with her own daughter-in-law, Minny's sister-in-law, and to try and be friends with Alix. This never happened, maybe it never could happen.
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  #116  
Old 10-24-2010, 08:07 AM
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I certainly respect your opinions but I believe that Alix and Ella were very close. Especially since their mother and sister passed, and all they had were each other (with Victoria and the brother whose name escapes me).
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