* Lew’s review of EUROPE’S LAST SUMMER by David Fromkin

Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 10, 2014

Europe's Last Summer


Q: Who Started World War I? … A: Germany!

One of the main props of Hitler’s vitriolic propaganda was to condemn the Allies’ position at Versailles that Germany should be the only nation to pay reparations since it was solely responsible for starting the First World War. Putting aside the problems caused by the reparations, which were substantial and in hindsight bad policy, there remains the issue of who started the war.

Fromkin puts that responsibility squarely on Germany, which encouraged and manipulated the Austrian declaration of war against Serbia into its own war against Russia and France.

*** the internationl conflict in the summer of 1914 consisted of two wars, not one … both were started deliberately, one by the Hapsburg Empire and the other by the German Empire … the decision to launch war – in both cases – was made by a few individuals at the top … both wars were about power, about the relative ranking among the great European powers … both Germany and Austria believed themselves on the way down … each started a war in order to stay where it was

*** it was (Chief of the German General Staff) Helmuth Moltke who wanted war against Russia and France … he artfully substituted his war for support of the Austrian-Serbian war … Moltke represented the Prussian Junker officer caste whose militarization of German life led to the war.


Untitled Novel - cover

in my new novel-in-progress … 

I plan to incorporate Fromkin’s controversial but well-documented conclusion (published in 2004) into a discussion one of my fictional characters will have with Marshal Josef Pilsudski of Poland. Pilsudski was involved in the WWI fighting, would probably have known the German generals and staff personnel, and was a brilliant strategist who could well have perceived events as Fromkin later reconstructed. Such is the opportunity offered to the writer of historical fiction to fill in the blanks of history – as long as the known (???) truth allows that it could have happened that way.



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