Politics of Frustration: The United States in German Naval Planning, 1889-1941

In 1889, ships from two ebullient newcomers to the world’s colonial scene encountered each other in Samoa. The meeting signaled the beginning of Imperial Germany’s astonishing state and naval policies toward the United States–a volatile relationship shaken from the first by misunderstanding, later poisoned by jealousy, and twice culminating in total war.Indeed, almost from its outset in the Pacific, German-American rivalry generated such antagonism that the Kaiser’s strategists had prepared detailed contingency plans for the invasion of the United States as early as the turn of the century.In Politics of Frustration, Holger H, Herwig, whose recent discovery of the invasion plan made front-page headlines in the New York Times and around the world, reveals the formation of this plan–and others like it–as part of his searching examination of three periods in German-American naval relations: the er of colonial competition from 1889 to 1905; the German-American conflict during World War I, 1917-1918; and the National Socialist period to 1941, ending in Hitler’s declaration of war against the United States. Throughout his fully documented narrative, Herwig shows how German naval strategy was based on exaggerated notions of American incompetence, compounded by an alarming lack of information concerning U.S. industrial and military potential, and distorted further under the Third Reich by crude racial and economic arguments. From the rise of the “Father” of the Imperial German Navy, Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, through the career of the commander in chief of Hitler’s Kriegsmarine, Admiral Ernst Raeder, the image of the United States that prevailed was a Germany’s ultimate world rival and chief co-conspirator with England in preventing German expansion outside Europe.How this image affected German strategy and objectives through the years is brilliantly explored in Politics of Frustration. Judiciously balancing economic and sociopolitical factors, historical circumstances, and incisive characterizations of the participants, Herwig’s account addresses itself to a succession of important questions. Why did Germany and the United States enter the naval race at almost identical moments in 1890? What were Germany’s intentions in the Western hemisphere? Why did the Reich opt for unrestricted submarine warfare in January 1917, knowing full well that such a policy would put her squarely on a collision course with America? Why did U.S. naval officers–led by Admiral George Dewey–regard Germany as their most probable enemy? And finally, what prompted Hitler in December 1941 to repeat what he considered had been one of the cardinal errors of the First World War: conflict with the United States?In the author’s answers to these questions, and in his dramatic treatment of his subject–from the German admiralty’s barely thwarted “Armageddon” at sea in late 1918 that would have pitted the Kaiser’s fleet against the British and U.S. navies to Hitler’s dreamed destruction of America through long-range bomber attacks from the Azores–Politics of Frustration combines exciting reading with a fine achievement in historical writing.
In 1889, ships from two ebullient newcomers to the world’s colonial scene encountered each other in Samoa. The meeting signaled the beginning of Imperial Germany’s astonishing state and naval policies toward the United States–a volatile relationship shaken from the first by misunderstanding, later poisoned by jealousy, and twice culminating in total war.

Indeed, almost from its outset in the Pacific, German-American rivalry generated such antagonism that the Kaiser’s strategists had prepared detailed contingency plans for the invasion of the United States as early as the turn of the century.

In Politics of Frustration, Holger H, Herwig, whose recent discovery of the invasion plan made front-page headlines in the New York Times and around the world, reveals the formation of this plan–and others like it–as part of his searching examination of three periods in German-American naval relations: the er of colonial competition from 1889 to 1905; the German-American conflict during World War I, 1917-1918; and the National Socialist period to 1941, ending in Hitler’s declaration of war against the United States. Throughout his fully documented narrative, Herwig shows how German naval strategy was based on exaggerated notions of American incompetence, compounded by an alarming lack of information concerning U.S. industrial and military potential, and distorted further under the Third Reich by crude racial and economic arguments. From the rise of the “Father” of the Imperial German Navy, Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, through the career of the commander in chief of Hitler’s Kriegsmarine, Admiral Ernst Raeder, the image of the United States that prevailed was a Germany’s ultimate world rival and chief co-conspirator with England in preventing German expansion outside Europe.

How this image affected German strategy and objectives through the years is brilliantly explored in Politics of Frustration. Judiciously balancing economic and sociopolitical factors, historical circumstances, and incisive characterizations of the participants, Herwig’s account addresses itself to a succession of important questions. Why did Germany and the United States enter the naval race at almost identical moments in 1890? What were Germany’s intentions in the Western hemisphere? Why did the Reich opt for unrestricted submarine warfare in January 1917, knowing full well that such a policy would put her squarely on a collision course with America? Why did U.S. naval officers–led by Admiral George Dewey–regard Germany as their most probable enemy? And finally, what prompted Hitler in December 1941 to repeat what he considered had been one of the cardinal errors of the First World War: conflict with the United States?

In the author’s answers to these questions, and in his dramatic treatment of his subject–from the German admiralty’s barely thwarted “Armageddon” at sea in late 1918 that would have pitted the Kaiser’s fleet against the British and U.S. navies to Hitler’s dreamed destruction of America through long-range bomber attacks from the Azores–Politics of Frustration combines exciting reading with a fine achievement in historical writing.

Title: Politics of Frustration: The United States in German Naval Planning, 1889-1941
Author:
ISBN: 0316358908
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
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Date Published:
Pages: 323
Alternate description: Amazon

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