SunBird American/German Club

Frank Nechvatal

The Fasching Party in January was a great success. The club began at 6:00 p.m. with the introduction of the SunBird Fasching King and Queen (Frank Nechvatal and Ingrid Billinger). The meeting was called to order by Larry Schoenborn. The committees made their reports; we had three new members, Jeanne Lewis, Betty and Don Nobling. Under New Business two motions were passed; one was to increase dues from $5 to $10 per year beginning in the fall of 2016; the second dealt with lifting the club’s requirement of needing a familial German background in order to join. Following the meeting we had presentations by the Gordon and Ginger Nixon and Treva Christenson on family roots and DNA tracing of one’s background.

On with our German History. The killing of the Archduke Ferdinand of Austria when he visited Serbia ignited WWII. The Kaiser of Germany moved to mobilize the German Army to invade Serbia to punish the Serbs on behalf of Austria, its ally. Serbia was under the protection of Russia, allied with France, to declare war on Germany. France entered the war due to its alliance with Russia. Britain entered the war against Germany because it wanted to insure that Germany’s economy remain weaker than Britain’s. Germany was hard tasked to fight a two front war – one against Russia and the second against France and Britain. The western front in France became a very bloody battleground of trench warfare. This front proved to be a stalemate from 1914 until early 1918. In 1918 the US entered the war and fought with France and Britain. The Russian front, however, was a different matter. German and Austrian forces had decisive victories against the Russian army where they defeated large parts of the Russian army at the battle of Tannenberg. Additionally, the Russian army was further decimated by the Russian Revolution which overthrew the Tsar. On March 3, 1918 Russia withdrew from the war. Even though Germany defeated Russia and was able to send the eastern front troops to the western front, the tide had turned in favor of the allies – Britain, France and United States. As German troops regrouped on the western front they were faced with American troops arriving at a rate of 10,000 soldiers per day. It was only a matter of time before Germany capitulated. On November 11, 1918 at 11:00 a.m., Germany signed an armistice, ending the war. Prior to the armistice the German generals had lost confidence in the Kaiser and his government. They forced the Kaiser and all ruling Germany princes to abdicate. On November 9, 1918 a German Republic was declared. The Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. This accord stripped Germany of a number of its provinces. Most noteworthy was the restoration of Poland which had been a part of Prussia. Also the area along the Rhine River was to be occupied by allied troops for five to 15 years. The German army was limited to no more than 100,000 officers and soldiers. The navy was greatly reduced and military aircraft prohibited. The League of Nations confiscated all of Germany’s colonies. The coup de grace was the mandate that Germany was required to pay reparations for all civilian damage caused by the war.

Next month, the Weimar Republic and the rise of Adolf Hitler.

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