"Hymn of Hate" -- Why did the Germans (in 1914) hate England so much?

Ernst Lissauer wrote the following at the outbreak of WWI. It got him a medal from the Kaiser.

Why was that? Why did German patriots/nationalists of the time hate England so particularly?

Because they could beat the French and the Russians. :wink:

Because the great German race was inferior to Britain when it came to wealth, navy and empire. They had only recently caught up in industry and the Kaiser wanted a free hand in Europe as the obvious dominant nation on the continent. England said no.


It’s just a song and there are probably anti Russian and French songs too.

Family arguments are the worst.

Also, England was interfering in a continental dispute, where they had no legitimate interest.

Lissauer was kind of carried away by the whole declaration of war thing. He sort of apologized for it a year later when it became controversial. But basically, he blamed England for getting involved.

Bwuh? Britain is 40 miles from the continent. Anyway, given how interconnected the great powers of Europe have always been, it’s hard to imagine how they could not have had an interest.

Yeah, the Kaiser, the Tsar and the King of England were all first cousins (through their grandmother Queen Victoria). What happened to the idea that dynastic marriages are supposed to prevent wars?

With that War? The same thing that happened with all the other ideas to prevent wars, such as Alliances, Arms races, and neutral buffer states.

Funny thing is you can use all those things to be a catalyst of war too especially when you mix in ubernationalism, grudges, and good old fashioned hatred.

Except for that “scrap of paper” . . .

There was considerable anti-German feeling in Britain well before the outbreak of WWI, for reasons including increasing German economic might, military buildup and the suggestion that Germany supported the Boers in South Africa (i.e. the Kruger Letter).

" The Saturday Review (London) suggested “be ready to fight Germany, as Germania est delenda” (Germany needs to be destroyed)…"

There were (not all that unjustified) war scares in England in the years leading up to WWI.

“In 1894 Alfred Harmsworth had commissioned author William Le Queux to write the serial novel The Great War in England in 1897, which featured Germany, France and Russia combining forces to crush Britain. Twelve years later Harmsworth asked him to repeat this, promising the full support of his formidable advertising capabilities. The result was the bestselling The Invasion of 1910 which originally appeared in serial form in the Daily Mail in 1906 and has been referred to by historians as inducing an atmosphere of paranoia, mass hysteria and Germanophobia that would climax in the Naval Scare of 1908-09.”

And of course caricatures of “the Hun” as a murderous beast became popular in England after the war started (again, not entirely unjustified considering atrocities committed by the Germans in Belgium).

So hate of an almost cartoonish quality was not unique to Germany.

Historically England sure avoided Continental entanglements when it suited her.

Or him, as it were. Yes, a gentleman always knows how to slip out of an entanglement . . . :wink:

Britain’s strategy had always been to avoid a Continental commitment and fight European war by proxy by financing coalitions. If one coalition was defeated it was always possible to assemble another. The Navy was, rightly, seen as the first defence of the home islands and the means of imposing Britain’s will on anyone else, and a large conscript army on the European model was neither necessary nor desirable. As late as July Asquith was still expecting that Britain would be able to stand aside from the coming European war.

And these books were latecomers in the genre. “huns attack England” had been a theme in British popular literature of the time. Invasion was a common theme. War of the Worlds was actually an offshoot of that branch of books.

Even before these ‘invasion’ themes you could see the change in England. Prior to the Franco-Prussian war the foreign antagonists in popular books were almost always French (even though the two nations were allies in the Crimean War). Afterwards they trended quickly to become Germans.

England is also the nation that worked so hard diplomatically to isolate Germany from any potential allies in the hopes that the thought of facing almost all of the rest of Europe would keep them at bay. That didn’t work out so well.

George V was Tsar Nicholas’s first cousin, but it was through the Danish connexion, not Queen Victoria. The Tsar’s mother, Dagmar of Denmark, was the sister of Alexandra of Denmark, who married King Edward VII.

The Tsarina Alexandra was also first cousin to George V, but that was via Victoria. Alexandra’s mother, Princess Alice, was a daughter of Queen Victoria.

Nicholas and the Kaiser were not first cousins, but second cousins, once removed, via descent from Frederick William III, King of Prussia.

Prior to the start of the war I believe the Germans generally liked and respected England (especially the Kaiser). War can turn that around in a hurry, however.

Ignorance fought. Boy, are there any two royals in Europe who aren’t at least cousins to some degree?! It’s like there’s this one big extended Royal Family of Christendom. Even extends, or did, to Orthodox Christendom.

The rumor is generally considered false that in 1914 Wilhelm said, “This never would have happened if Grandmother were alive!”
He did, apparently, shove everyone out of his way to embrace her at her deathbed. :slight_smile:

No. Germans wanted to be be respected by England. But that’s definitely not the same as fellow-feeling. There was a powerful current of resentment (interestingly, in Japan, too) against England. The English, for their part, looked upon Germany merely as a threat, and did so pretty much from the first moment of unification. That stung Germany, badly. But it’s only one small moment in a history of absurd and costly miscalculations of European diplomacy.

It must have been pretty muted. Japan was one of England’s closest allies in 1914.