The Cradle of the War: The Near East and Pan-Germanism


The Cradle of the War: The Near East and Pan-Germanism is a study of the origins of World War I. The author, Henry Charles Woods (1881−1939), argues that the main cause of the conflict was “the Pan-German desire for domination from Hamburg to the Persian Gulf.” The book offers an overview of political and military developments in the Near East (defined as the Balkan Peninsula and Asia Minor), with chapters on Serbia and Montenegro, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, and Albania. Later chapters cover military highways in the Balkans, the Dardanelles campaign, the port of Salonica (present-day Thessaloniki, Greece) and its hinterland, and the attempt by the German Empire to build a Berlin-to-Baghdad railroad in the period before World War I. The final chapter, entitled “Mittel-Europa” (Central Europe), deals with German policy toward the region, based in part on writings by Prince Karl Max von Lichnowsky (1860−1928), the former German ambassador to Great Britain. In a privately circulated pamphlet of 1916, Lichnowsky claimed that his efforts from London to prevent war had not been supported by the German government. Lichnowsky’s pamphlet was published in January 1918 under the title Revelations of Prince Lichnowsky and widely circulated by the allies as proof of Germany’s responsibility for the war. Woods’s book, which is based on a series of lectures at the Lowell Institute in Boston in 1916−17, reflects British and American thinking of the time. Historians have since concluded that many countries besides Germany played a role in Europe’s slide toward war.

Last updated: September 30, 2016