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Prussian-German Militarism 1914-18 in Australian Perspective

The Thought of George Arnold Wood


John Moses

Australia declared war on the German Empire in August 1914 not only because as a Dominion within the British Empire it was considered a matter of course. In fact the Australian Government had made up its own mind about the nature of the German threat to national security. There were a number of influential writers at the time who contributed to the formation of a distinct Australian image of German militarism. Foremost among these was Professor George Arnold Wood, the first Challis Professor of History in Sydney, 1891-1928. He had analysed the nature of Prussian-German political culture from the stand point of a radical English-trained liberal and projected an accurate image of the enemy. Basic to this was Wood's carefully drawn distinction between the Germany of true culture and humanity on the one hand and the «barbarous feudal aristocracy» of Prussia on the other which had determined German political culture since Bismarck had founded the Reich under Prussia in 1871.
Contents: Wood's formation as an historian - Seven of Wood's major statements about political culture and the Great War - Wood's Thesis of «the two Germanies» - Anti-Prussianism and Australian internment policy during the Great War.