Septemberprogramm - History of World War I - WW1 - The Great War

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Septemberprogramm Information


The Septemberprogramm (German for September program) was a plan drafted by Mattias Erzberger by 2 September and published by the German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg on 9 September 1914, five weeks into the First World War. It detailed Germany's specific war aims, and the conditions that Germany sought to force upon the Allied Powers.

On 4 September the Allies had signed and published the "Pact of London", in which they engaged "not to conclude peace separately during the present war". The Septemberprogramm was in part a reply to this, as it seemed that the Pact "forced Germany to fight to the limit of endurance", with no possibility for a negotiated peace.

At the time, the Allies were being pushed back on all fronts, having been defeated in the Battle of the Frontiers on the Western Front and the Battle of Tannenberg in the East. Consequently, the German leadership expected imminent victory, and the territorial and economic demands made in the Septemberprogramm indicate this. However, as he was making his announcement, the First Battle of the Marne was hanging in the balance; ultimately, France and the United Kingdom would halt the German advance at the Marne, and turn the tide of the war, preventing Bethmann-Hollweg's plans from coming to fruition.

War goals

The proposed war aims included:

The annexation of Luxembourg.
Disabling of France. A crippling war indemnity of 10 billion Reichsmarks for France, with further payments to cover veterans' funds and to pay off all Germany's existing national debt. The ceding of some northern territory such as steel producing Briey, and a coastal strip running from Dunkirk to Boulogne-sur-Mer. The French economy will be dependent on Germany and all trade with the British Empire will cease. France will partially disarm by demolishing its northern forts.
Turning Belgium and the Netherlands into satellite states, if not annexing Belgium altogether. Parts of Belgium will be annexed to Prussia and Luxembourg. Germany would retain military and naval bases in Belgium and possibly the Netherlands, and they would be ruled under Germany's "guidance". Abolition of neutral states on Germany's borders.
Creation of a Mitteleuropa economic association dominated by Germany but ostensibly egalitarian. Members will include newly created buffer states carved out of the Russian Empire's west such as Poland, that would remain under German sovereignty "for all time".
The German colonial empire will be expanded. Most importantly, the creation of a contiguous German colony across central Africa at the expense of the French and Belgian colonies. Presumably leaving the option open for future negotiations with Britain, no British colonies were to be taken, but Britain's "intolerable hegemony" in world affairs was to end.

Never in effect

The "September plan" was drafted by Kurt Riezler, a staffer in the Chancellor's office. It was a proposal that was under discussion but was strongly opposed by powerful political elements in Germany. It was never adopted and no movement of people was ever ordered. As historian Raffael Scheck concluded, "The government, finally, never committed itself to anything. It had ordered the September Program as an informal hearing in order to learn about the opinion of the economic and military elites."

Fritz Fischer, author of Germany's Aims in the First World War

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Source: WikiPedia

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