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Erich von Falkenhayn on the Military Situation in Early 1916

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7) The navy (Admiral von Holtzendorff) assures us that with submarine warfare we will be able to hurt England so badly that within four months, or perhaps a few more, she will give in.

8) America will break with us diplomatically, but it will not declare war on us. Even if it did declare war on us, the military damage it could do to us is not very substantial. Financially and otherwise America already treats us like an enemy.

9) Holland and the Scandinavian countries will not even think about declaring war on us. Should they do it after all, we have enough troops to defend ourselves against Holland and Denmark. Sweden will never march against us. Furthermore, our forces are sufficient to prevent England from attempting to land in Holland or Denmark.

10) The moral impact and the consequences of our even greater seclusion may prove to be regrettable. We have, however, no other choice. We have to use every possible means that offers the chance of overcoming our enemies. We will fight for our existence under all circumstances.

Bethmann Hollweg 7/1/16

Source: Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg, Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amtes [Political Archive of the Foreign Office], Weltkrieg 18 Geheim adh. Ubootkrieg, Bd. 1.

Original German source reprinted in Karl-Heinz Janssen, Der Kanzler und der General: Die Führungskrise um Bethmann Hollweg und Falkenhayn 1914-1916 [The Chancellor and the General: The Leadership Crisis surrounding Bethmann Hollweg and Falkenhayn 1914-1916]. Göttingen, 1967, pp. 288-89.

Translation: Jeffrey Verhey

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