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Germany’s Industrial Leaders on War Aims (1915)

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During further discussion, Dr. Roesicke, Baron von Twickel, and Corporation Lawyer Hirsch spoke out. Dr. Roesicke noted in particular that it would be desirable to adapt or subordinate military operations to the goals in question, because the military could operate in a different way if it knew which areas were being targeted for occupation.

Corporation Lawyer Hirsch drew attention to a meeting between the National Liberal Party’s board of directors and its executive committee. Despite the difficult diplomatic situation, complete unanimity emerged in the National Liberal Party on the question war aims, specifically on the same aims that were expressed in the petition from the economic associations. He thus welcomed the Chancellor’s statement that it was deplorable and wretched for someone to think that a German victory should not be thoroughly exploited. He asked for permission to share the Chancellor’s statement with the organizations that are represented here. There is unfortunately a great deal of mistrust in this respect, and not just among an insignificant sector of the people, but instead among the broadest and most able circles. He wishes especially to emphasize that the overwhelming majority of the German people stands behind the goals put forward here – with the exception of groups that are completely isolated.

During the remaining discussion, it was again pointed out that if Italy enters the war, a declaration is planned that would express the unity of the economic sectors that are represented here. The associations represented here are planning in particular to discuss all future questions of German politics with one another.

Source: Aufzeichnung des Mitglieds des Präsidiums des Bundes der Industriellen Gustav Stresemann über die Audienz einer Delegation der großen Wirtschaftsverbände bei Reichskanzler Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg am 17. Mai 1915 zur Kriegszielfrage [Notes by Industrial League Presidium Member Gustav Stresemann on the Audience of a Delegation of Large Economic Associations with Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg on May 17, 1915, on the Question of War Aims]. Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amtes [Political Archive of the Foreign Office], Nachlaß Gustav Stresemann, Vol. 146.

Reprinted in Willibald Gutsche, Herrschaftsmethoden des deutschen Imperialismus 1897/8 bis 1917 [The Ruling Methods of German Imperialism, 1897/8 to 1917]. East Berlin, 1977, pp. 222-25.

Translation: Jeffrey Verhey and Roger Chickering

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