By Isabel V. Hull
In a booklet that's right now an enormous contribution to fashionable ecu background and a cautionary story for at the present time, Isabel V. Hull argues that the workouts and practices of the Imperial German military, unchecked by way of powerful civilian associations, more and more sought absolutely the destruction of its enemies because the merely warrantly of the nation's protection. So deeply embedded have been the assumptions and strategies of this distinctively German army tradition that the military, in its force to annihilate the enemy army, didn't decrease from the utter destruction of civilian estate and lives. Carried to its severe, the good judgment of "military necessity" came across genuine protection purely in extremities of destruction, within the "silence of the graveyard."
Hull starts with a dramatic account, according to clean archival paintings, of the German Army's slide from administrative homicide to genocide in German Southwest Africa (1904–7). the writer then strikes again to 1870 and the conflict that inaugurated the Imperial period in German historical past, and analyzes the genesis and nature of this particularly German army tradition and its operations in colonial battle. within the First global conflict the workouts perfected within the colonies have been visited upon eu populations. Hull specializes in one set of situations (Belgium and northerly France) within which the transition to overall destruction was once checked (if slightly) and on one other (Armenia) during which "military necessity" brought on Germany to simply accept its ally's genocidal regulations even after those turned militarily counterproductive. She then turns to the Endkampf (1918), the German basic Staff's plan to accomplish victory within the nice warfare whether the place of origin have been destroyed within the process―a doubtless insane crusade that completes the common sense of this deeply institutionalized set of army exercises and practices. Hull concludes through speculating at the function of this targeted army tradition in nationwide Socialism's army and racial policies.
Absolute Destruction has critical implications for the character of warmaking in any sleek strength. At its middle is a caution concerning the blindness of bureaucratic workouts, specifically while these bureaucracies command the tools of mass death.
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Additional info for Absolute Destruction: Military Culture and the Practices of War in Imperial Germany
12, 22, 70. Also, Kirsten Zirkel, “Military Power in German Colonial Policy,” in Guardians of Empire, ed. David Killingray and David Omissi (New York, 1999), 91–113, here 101. 83. Deutsches Biographisches Archiv, Neue Folge, ﬁche 375. pa rt i . 84 Trotha described his methods: The punishment [of villages that had greeted the expedition with poisoned arrows] consisted of sending small units . . to the villages, which after a short ﬁght are then taken and burnt down. We cannot determine enemy losses, because most [of the dead and wounded] will have been taken with the people as they retreat, and many will probably have died in the ﬂames.
147, Windhuk, arr. in Berlin 25 June 1904, BA-Berlin, R 1001, Nr. 2115, p. 79. Drechsler cites this telegram but concludes nothing from it: “Let Us Die Fighting,” 172n90. 116. Leutwein, Elf Jahre. 117. Special correspondent [Dannhauer], “Zum Aufstand in Südwestafrika,” Berliner Lokalanzeiger 289 (23 June 1904), 1. 118. Leutwein, Afrikanerschicksal, 156. Gov. Col. Theodor Leutwein (middle) and Lt. Gen. Lothar von Trotha (far right) at Command Headquarters, Windhuk, July 1904. Helmut Bley, South-West Africa under German Rule, 1894–1914 (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1971), ﬁg.
1905, BA-Berlin, R 1001, Nr. 2089, pp. 138–39, emphasis in original. 105. Lothar v. Trotha, “Die Erwiderung des Staatssekretärs Dernburg am 2. März” (letter dated 9 Mar. 1909) (Berliner Neueste Nachrichten), in BA-MA Freiburg, Militärgeschichtliche Sammlung (hereafter MSg. 2), Nr. 3039 (Baron v. Welck). Trotha’s ﬁrst letter to Schlieffen explaining his new policy and threatening resignation if the Kaiser did not approve was 3 Oct. 1904: cf. Trotha diary entries for August and September, and Anhang 1, containing his letters to Schlieffen, Trotha Papers.