Cover Osteuropa 2-4/2014

In Osteuropa 2-4/2014

Playing with Fire
The “Policy of Revolutionary Infection” in the First World War

Herfried Münkler

Deutsche Fassung


The Central Powers were militarily inferior to the Entente in the First World War. Because this was definitive once Great Britain entered the war in August 1914, the German Reich tried to weaken its opponents by means of a policy of revolutionary infection. The multi-ethnic Tsarist and British Empires were targets of this policy. This, however, was a dangerous game. After all, the pursuit of such struggles of national liberation ran the risk of weakening Berlin’s most important ally, the multi-ethnic Austro-Hungarian state. Despite varying degrees of vulnerability, all of the warring parties tried to undermine their opponents by systematically fomenting nationalist, Islamist, or socialist unrest. Even if these attempts did not decide the war’s outcome, they greatly influenced the post-war order.

(Osteuropa 2-4/2014, pp. 109–126)