Wilhelm’s Great Fleet – III

Lead: Having set out to build a large battle fleet, in the early 1900s Kaiser Wilhelm II and his German advisors sparked a naval construction race that helped bring the world to war.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the late 1800s the still unchallenged dominant world power was Great Britain. Its empire covered a quarter of the globe, but this empire was a sea empire made possible by the greatest navy the world had known to that time. This navy provided security for international commerce, protected the imperial lifeline to the Far East and shielded the home islands from invasion. When in the 1890s the German Emperor and his ministers set out to build a Navy to rival his British cousins, without realizing it, they threatened the very survival of Britain.

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Wilhelm’s Great Fleet – II

Lead: Already wielding dominant military power in late 19th century continental Europe, German leaders, especially Kaiser Wilhelm II, began to plan for global power projected by a great battle fleet.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In 1890 the President of the U.S. Naval War College, Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, published The Influence of Sea Power in History, 1660-1783. In this volume and its sequel he made two arguments. First, he implied that dominant seapower from the Romans to the British made for strategic economic, political and military supremacy. Secondly, he claimed such power only could be achieved with a heavily armed battle fleet. One of Mahan’s most enthusiastic students was the young emperor of Germany, Wilhelm II. His fascination with naval power, especially British naval power, was fired when he spent many youthful summers visiting his grandmother, Queen Victoria, at her summer home, Osborne, on the Solent near the great Portsmouth Naval Base in the south of England. Wilhelm’s began to dream of a German Navy to rival that of his British cousins.

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Wilhelm’s Great Fleet – I

Lead: Of the many complex causes of the Great War, none was more catalytic than the enigmatic, insecure, brilliant yet erratic Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: As the nineteenth century drew to a close the great powers of continental Europe were coming to grips with growing popular political aspirations. Mass democracy taking its inspiration from the French Revolution, from the writings of liberals and socialists and from the experience of the North American colossus was forcing the ruling dynasties and their attending aristocrats to surrender an ever-growing  portion of their power. Some leaders, such as German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, understood how to manipulate this new force. Others, such as the young Kaiser were soon captured by it.

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Mexico: Mexican-American War 1846-1848

Lead: Beginning in April 1846, the United States, the clear aggressor, and Mexico fought a war over territory. The result was the largest U.S. expansion since the Louisiana Purchase.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: By the 1840s the United States and Mexico had achieved their independence, both by colonial wars from their European founders. Mexico, however, was in debt, had deep class-based social divisions, and suffered acute political instability. Thus, it was difficult for Mexican leaders to govern and populate the huge territory recently won from the Spanish in present day California and the southwestern United States. On the other side of the border, ambitious Americans, hungry for land and trade in the Pacific rim, were migrating westward in increasing numbers. 

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Building of Berlin Wall II

Lead: Surrounded by East Germany and its citizens sometimes subjected to hostile restrictions on travel, West Berlin proved itself a shining example of the virtues of political and economic freedom. It had to be stopped.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts. 

Content: By 1960 East Germany was in trouble. Its population was restless under communist repression, its economy was dependent on Soviet aid, and suffered under the usual inefficiencies of a Marxist command structure. Its population was declining. Thousands were exercising the opportunity of free access to West Berlin to escape to the West. 200,000 in the first seven months of 1961 alone walked across the various allied checkpoints in West Berlin and never looked back. East Germany could not survive this continued exodus.

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Building of Berlin Wall I

Lead: At the height of the Cold War, with tensions at a fever pitch, the Soviet Union and its East German client state, in an act of self-preservation, built a wall around West Berlin.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The Cold War lasted from 1946 until the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. For much of that time, the city of West Berlin was the cockpit of low-grade super power rivalry. In the summer of 1961, events in Berlin threatened to spark a much wider conflict.

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Molotov-Ribbentrop Treaty (1939)

Lead: On the 23rd of August 1939, the Soviet Union and Germany signed a non-aggression treaty defining their mutual spheres of operation in Eastern Europe. Not surprisingly, within 10 days the world was at war.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The pact, which obviously had been in preparation for months, was signed within days of being proposed by German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop. To say that it shocked the diplomatic world would be an understatement, but, in retrospect, it made perfect sense. From Hitler’s point of view, not having to worry about an eastern front war with his bitter ideological antagonist in the east meant that his armies would face only England and France should they finally call his hand in the game of bluster and bluff he had been playing. Germany had absorbed Austria and parts of Czechoslovakia in previous months and the Treaty meant easy pickings should the two giant signatories turn their attention to Poland.

 

Battle of Flodden Field II

Lead:  When King James IV of Scotland invaded England in 1513, the campaign became one of the great military disasters in Scottish history. James lost more than his Kingdom.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In 1512 English King Henry VIII, took up an alliance with Spain and launched a military campaign against France’s Louis XII. Scotland had an ancient alliance with France and Louis called it in. Scotland’s James IV, although married to Henry VIII’s sister, Margaret Tudor, agreed to invade northern England, thereby hopefully drawing English forces away from the main arena of conflict in the south near France.

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