chapter  3
6 Pages

“Blood and Iron”: The Military-Industrial Complex

ByConstance L. Benson

In Frankfurt, a constitutional assembly drafted a democratic plan for German unification and offered William the crown, which he contemptuously rejected to their dismay. Willian then ordered the military to disband the assembly forcibly. Bismarck and Emperor William I united the highly disciplined Prussian military with the latest organizational and technological developments to produce a fighting machine of unprecedented power. To the time-honored, feudal tradition of the officer corps was added the institution of the general staff, which made possible modern military planning, strategizing, and mobilization. Science and industry were also put to work designing new weaponry. The great powers were soon mass producing chemical weapons, mines, submarines, torpedos, more destructive and heavily armored warships, and artillery and ordnance with unprecedented destructive power. The dominance of military-industrial interests and authoritarian rule in Imperial Germany limited the power of democratic institutions. It was clear that the Empire was created by the royal houses of Germany.