The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month -- any Great War "fans"?

Discussion in 'Chez Ziggy' started by kitchener, Nov 10, 2018.

  1. kitchener

    kitchener Still At Large Skier

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    Tomorrow is Armistice Day. The First World War and its origins never ceases to captivate my interest. Years ago, I spotted a then-girlfriend's well-illustrated college textbook on Western European Civilization history from the Renaissance to present, and I read that whole thing over the course of a few days (it was a 101 class). With that perspective in mind, it seemed obvious that the First World War was the culmination, the butcher's bill, if you will, of 500 years of one-upsmanship and the great game of balanced power, et al, not to mention the pent up, hard-wired frustrations over long-term occupied lands, religious furor, etc.

    If you think of the resulting vacuum called the Dark Ages after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, it isn't a surprise that the 20th century, after the balloon went up in August 1914, has been so bloody and full of macro changes after the vacuum of the fall of so many empires that had been around for 500 years or more. The Hapsburg monarchy that sent Columbus to the New World and sponsored Mozart? Gone. The Hohenzollern monarchy (Frederich the Great) that sent Baron Von Steuben to General Washington, gone. The Romanovs (Peter the Great, Catherine the Great), gone. The Ottoman Empire ("the Turks are at the Gate!"), gone (the repercussions of THAT are massive and all around us). The British Empire? It's back broken forever. The repercussions of that brinksmanship getting away from them in the summer of 1914 haven't ended.



    I grabbed this from an article today on realclearhistory today. Just a snippet of a great article about misconceptions about the First World War.


    The killing of Franz Ferdinand was merely the straw that broke the camel’s back

    Wrong, says Christopher Clark

    The assassination of Franz Ferdinand was a kind of 9/11 moment for the Austrian leadership. It altered their politics and produced a completely unbroken consensus in favour of war. Prior to the killing, records show that the Austrians were focusing on diplomatic solutions to the Balkans crisis, but after the assassination everything changed.

    The archduke was not a popular man in Austria but nonetheless the fact that he was killed upset people hugely. This, after all, was also an attack on the monarchy and the Habsburg state, so it caused an immense shock. At the same time, his dying words to his wife about the couple’s children generated a lot of sympathy for him.

    Ironically, Franz Ferdinand was one of the most outspoken exponents of peace in the Balkans and he was planning to fire Conrad von Hötzendorf, the hawkish chief of the general staff. By killing the archduke, the murderers removed one of the best opportunities for peace, and kept in power the most influential exponent of war.

    Some people argue that war was on the cards anyway but this is based on an overly deterministic view of the alliance system that operated in Europe at the time. It was far more wobbly and open-ended than we tend to think today. Levels of distrust within the alliances were very high and we know that, for example, in the summer of 1914 the British were toying with the idea of dropping Russia and seeking an understanding with Berlin. So, had Europe managed to survive those months, the Entente may well have drifted apart and the outcome could have been very different.
     
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  2. noncrazycanuck

    noncrazycanuck Getting on the lift Skier

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    not a "fan" can't imagine anyone being one of that bloodbath . (Know you didn't mean it that way)
    but have an interest in and a fair bit of knowledge of both World Wars.

    just back from Ipers, Arras, Vimy and Amiens in advance of the 100th, sobering experience.
    our time there was more pleasant than our grandfather's.

    Very impressed by how the memory of all the soldiers of the first world war is preserved and honoured by all nations involved.
    From the trenches, subways, monuments. cemeteries to current citizens. Also impressive is how many still visit to pay their respects.
    EVERY night since 1919 the Menin Gate Memorial in Ipers has a Last Post, I estimate 800-1200 attended each night we were there. And then some cemeteries sit in the middle of a farmer's field in the middle of nowhere, hardly anyone visits but they are just as immaculately maintained.

    causes of the War are too complex for an online ski forum, but your right the outcome certainly shaped the world today.
     
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  3. Jerez

    Jerez Out on the slopes Skier

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    Check out Dan Carlin's Hardcore History Podcasts. The multi-hour-long Blueprint for Armageddon does an amazing job of taking you up to and through that war with a visceral delivery and amazing detail.
     
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  4. Bad Bob

    Bad Bob old n' slow Skier

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    The brutality of WWI absolutely bends the mind. So many died contesting so small of an area within the European theater.
    This and the Sino-Soviet war were the first major conflicts where the new and improved technology of war were loosed on the world. What is unfathomable is how most of these same players,except the Ottomans, in new wrappers would launch int WWII less than 20 years later.
    Kudos to Wilson for keeping the US out of the butcher shop as long as he did. This nation would have been a very different place had we gotten involved in the earlier phases.

    On a modern note; Pray for Peace.
     
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  5. Tricia

    Tricia The Velvet Hammer Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    My dad and grandpa were great about sharing their love of history.
    It has instilled a huge amount of respect for it, but also I wish I'd paid more attention to their discussions.
     
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  6. Thread Starter
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    kitchener

    kitchener Still At Large Skier

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    I’ve been to Ypres, as well. It blew my mind to see such a pastoral setting today, juxtaposing it in my mind’s eye with the iconic “moonscape” it was by November 1918, when it was part of the vast, deadly, lifeless No Man’s Land.
     
  7. graham418

    graham418 Out on the slopes Skier

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    'The War That Ended Peace: The Road To 1914' by Margaret MacMillan is an excellent account of the events that led to the Great War.
     
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    kitchener

    kitchener Still At Large Skier

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    Too bad the diplomats of the summer of 1914 hadn’t learned the lesson the W.H.O.P.P.E.R. super-computer would learn in the film Wargames. It’s best the game isn’t played at all.

    Anyway, Wilson shoulders a lot of blame for a flawed Treaty of Versailles in 1919 (when for six months the world came closest to a “world government”), and I’m not a big fan of his ego run amok in that period, but revisionist history, led by Margaret MacMillan’s book Paris 1919, posits perhaps correctly the problems they faced were insurmountable. Look around us now, and how complicated the Middle East remains.. When the 600 year old Ottoman Empire fell, all those sects throughout the Middle East stood rudderless. All the Big Three could do was send emissary teams to the regions where empires had ruled for centuries for recommendations on how best to give them self-determination, how best to draw new borders for countries that didn’t exist prior to 1919 (Iraq, Jordan, etc), juxtaposing that with the grasping interests of the powers that remained in the region and sat at that very table (Britain, France), and juxtapose that with the self-interests of rising regional powers like Ibn Saud’s Arabia.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2018
  9. Thread Starter
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    kitchener

    kitchener Still At Large Skier

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    I’d add Massie’s Dreadnaught (the study of how two allies that defeated Napoleon shoulder-to-shoulder would fall out over a naval arms race and how that would lead to a conflict that should have been regional and was instead the world-changing global conflict it became). Of course, Barbara Tuchman’s Guns Of August, a very quick read, remains the seminal study of the summer of 1914 — JFK made his cabinet read it and no doubt it informed his decision-making during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
     
  10. Jim McDonald

    Jim McDonald My Sunset View Skier

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  11. cantunamunch

    cantunamunch Meh Skier

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    Of course, the anniversary is actually today.
     
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    kitchener

    kitchener Still At Large Skier

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    Sure is. The 11th day of the 11th month.
     
  13. Thread Starter
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    kitchener

    kitchener Still At Large Skier

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  14. Bad Bob

    Bad Bob old n' slow Skier

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    Versaille was a major step in the road to WWII and our world of today. The subjugation of Germany was pretty brutal and in today's light can be looked at as having cut the trail that led to the rise of the Nazi party and WWII

    The treatment of the Japanese delegation was also a turning point in the Japanese imperial rise.

    "The road to empire is a bloody stupid way."
     
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