If Ireland north and south can commemorate the First World War together, so should the Germans alongside the wartime Allies

A piece in the Indy by Matthew Norman on the UK’s plans to commemorate World War 1 has to be read quite carefully to register the satire against the (English) Culture secretary’s smiley  moral equivalence approach to the vexed issue of war guilt. Were the Germans the clear aggressors or “were we all to blame?” The subject will never die.

In his magisterial “The Sleepwalkers,” written last year the Cambridge historian Christopher Clarke  makes the case for shared guilt after an exhaustive study of the diplomatic record. The title gives the clue to the thesis,  as the Times Higher Educational Supplement review states:

“The consensus since the 1960s has been to see Germany as the culprit. While Clark accepts the dominance of a diluted version of the thesis in which the German Empire deliberately chose war as a means of escaping isolation and making a bid for world power, he comments that “the Germans were not the only imperialists and not the only ones to succumb to paranoia”.

The Germans were no worse than anybody else.  This Spectator review written at the time of publication, while properly respectful of Clarke’s authority, accuses him of neglecting evidence of Germany ‘s long laid plans to launch a two pronged war against Russia and France. But this factor was far from  neglected, as  we can read  for ourselves. Indeed it’s integral to the thesis. Germany had the well advertised Schlieffen plan to knock out a revengeful France while holding the line against Russia in the east.  An increasingly aggressive Russia was the other enemy which the German military elite feared would soon outstrip Germany’s military industrial complex within a few years. If there had to be a war, the time to pre-empt the rise of Russia was now.

The issue is not whether the Germans had a war plan; it is that all the others had one too. There is no doubt of imperial Russia’s ambition to challenge German leadership in central Europe as the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires declined and no doubt too of France’s determination  with the support of Allies to win back Alsace Lorraine, the provinces  ceded to Germany against Bismarck’s advice after France’s swift and devastating defeat in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870.

And the Brits? Affronted that the Germans should dare to tweak the lion’s tail with gibes when they were making heavy weather of the war against the Boers and waging a naval arms race which the Germans nevertheless comprehensively lost, they conducted secret military conversations with the French to bar German access to the English channel in the event of war.  They also chose understandings with the Russians as the better way to contain potential Russian threats to the Indian empire and British interests in the Middle East.  War when it suddenly came, eclipsed the threat of civil war in Ireland and took the British and other establishments by surprise in a way that still boggles the mind. Only six weeks before the outbreak did it become clear to all the parties that if you factor war into complicated diplomatic games, real actual war can be the result. This does not mean that they were unswervingly committed to war  on a pan-European  scale,- the British most of all. On the whole the  Powers of Europe  fatalistically accepted that war was the logic of the clash of alliances that had boxed them in.  War as an instrument of policy was acceptable.  Their vision of war  fell far short of the terrible reality that transpired.

The best way to commemorate 1914 will be attempted only on the fringe, to integrate our Germans allies into the whole thing. Sad to think that a century on, we cling so lovingly to the theory of  German war guilt – influenced no doubt  by WW2  in which Hitler makes the Kaiser seem like a Nelson Mandela by comparison.

And what of our own dear decade of  commemorations?   They will an intriguing exercise, as we strain for unity by rightly stressing the side by side fighting of the Ulster Division and the Royal Dublin Fusiliers but divide politely but firmly on the other  subject of 1916.  Otherwise we need no lessons from mainland Europe on the subject of whitewashing our own war guilt of the past fifty years.

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  • GavBelfast

    The First World War, in general, is difficult to regard as anything other than a monumental waste of life for all concerned.

    So, the Germans and their allies at the time lost, but their opponents were hardly “winners”.

    It cannot really be seen as a necessary war resulting in triumph over evil, as World War Two was, but whether that makes commemorating it any easier in practice is hard to say.

    I know that, when I wear a poppy every autumn, the First World War is at the forefront of my mind, and I tend to think more of the unimaginable awfulness of the whole thing overall, not the uniforms concerned.

  • Dec

    ‘Sad to think that a century on, we cling so lovingly to the theory of German war guilt’

    Eh, speak for yourself Brian. A rudimentary study of the causes indicates they were pretty much as bad (or at least as ambitious) as each other.

  • jh25769

    I don’t think the English Sun readers would allow it.

  • The review by Harold Evans (New York Times, 9 May, 2013) counterposed Sleepwalkers with Sean McMeekin’s July 1914.

    That suggests a difference of perspective: Cantabrian Clarke versus (arguably, more cosmopolitan) American ex-pat McMeekin. And I still have to read either. McMeekin’s earlier outing, The Berlin-Baghdad Express, was well and truly shellacked by the reviewers, which was off-putting, to say the least. This one seems to be better treated.

    Evans specifically notes:

    Clark declines to join McMeekin in what he calls “the blame game,” because there were so many participants. He argues that trying to fix guilt on one leader or nation assumes that there must be a guilty party and this, he maintains, distorts the history into a prosecutorial narrative that misses the essentially multilateral nature of the exchanges, while underplaying the ethnic and nationalistic ferment of a region. “The outbreak of war in 1914,” he writes, “is not an Agatha Christie drama at the end of which we will discover the culprit standing over a corpse in the conservatory with a smoking pistol.” Not having a villain to boo is emotionally less satisfying, but Clark makes a cogent case for the war as a tragedy, not a crime: in his telling there is a smoking pistol in the hands of every major character.

  • USA

    “The consensus since the 1960s has been to see Germany as the culprit”

    I went to high school the late 70’s and was never taught that the Germans were the culprits. Blame was very evenly spread.

  • “The First World War, in general, is difficult to regard as anything other than a monumental waste of life for all concerned.”

    While this might look to be the perspective of the relatives of those who were killed, it does not mean that the war was pointless. WWI accomplished what all the revolutions of the 19th century–the 1848 “springtime of nations,” the Polish insurrection of 1863, the Fenian revolt of 1867, etc. failed to accomplish. By leading to the collapse of four empires (the Russian Empire, the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire) and the severe weakening of two others (the British Empire, the French Empire) it gave independence to the nations of Central Europe, whether or not they were ready for this, and the Irish Free State. Unfortunately the Russian Empire arose again in an even worse form–the totalitarian Soviet Union, but at least Poland and Finland were free of its grasp as were the Baltic States temporarily. The First World War did for Europe what the Second World War did for Asia and Africa starting a process of decolonization that was very bloody and frought with consequences.

    From the island of Ireland to the countries of the former Soviet Union and the lands in between and for the former German and Ottoman colonies in Africa, the war had huge consequences.

  • Seamuscamp

    “The consensus since the 1960s has been to see Germany as the culprit”

    I’m surprised to discover there was ever a consensus – though there may have been a majority view. USA says the blame was very evenly spread in his school system in the 70’s. In my own day (the 50’s), the long term causes were laid at the doors of all of the European powers and alliances; but particular ordure was attributed to Serbia and its ally Russia (incidentally the Pig War was seen to have parallels with the British economic war against the Free State in the 30’s) in attempts to undermine the Austro Hungarians, forcing the hand of the Germans who had been vying with Britain and France in grabbing Africa, and with Britain for control of the sea. But never mind, when Mr Gove’s simplistic view of History is current everyone will know it was the Germans what done it.

  • I have to concur with USA @ 4:57pm & Seamuscamp @ 7:54pm (among others).

    As a callow youth I got the causes of WW1 thrice over: the “British history” view (for GCE), then the non-British view (for Leaving Cert and TCD — though 1914-18 was dangerously “recent” for Trinity at that time).

    In each case the “causes” were rehearsed in increasing and forensic detail. I’m not aware, in retrospect, that there was a subjective “blame” element appended.

    May I refer you to Captain Edmund Blackadder’s summary? It’s as concise as any, and casts no nasturtiums. (The “official” version on YouTube is blocked for domestic readers, but there’s always an alternative). “And the poor old ostrich died for nothing”. Precisely.

  • Greenflag

    ‘From the island of Ireland to the countries of the former Soviet Union and the lands in between and for the former German and Ottoman colonies in Africa, the war had huge consequences.’

    True not least of all it prepared the ground for part 2 i.e World War 2 .

    So who are the ‘grabbers ‘ in today’s world ? 100 years later ?

    Quite a few are having a tete a tete in Co Fermanagh shortly while the newly emergent powers watch carefully for any crumbs that may drop (they’ll be lucky ) from the table. 🙁

  • And Syria is still part of the outworkings of the collapse of the Ottoman empire.

  • mr x

    The university bookshop near me has shelves on Germany and Nazism . Suspect it’s an easy subject where the English are good and the Germans evil. The Germans are by and large not interested – after all they won the war that begun in 1973.

  • Harry Flashman

    I am by no means anti-German, in fact I hugely admire that nation and have only ever met Germans I personally liked but why is there this persistence in trying to exculpate Germany for her extraordinarily aggressive posture toward her neighbours for the best part of a century prior to 1945?

    Germany under Bismarck used war as an effective tool to first unite the country and then to grab the territory of its neighbours, against Denmark, Austria and against France by 1871. It then set about creating a massive navy (useful in a largely landlocked nation) to challenge the British at sea.

    Okay so let’s skip ahead a few decades to the 1930’s and we see Germany again using force to seize the territories of its neighbours including Austria (again), Czechoslovakia, Poland and then Denmark (again), Norway, Belgium, Luxembourg, France (again) and ultimately Russia.

    Does anyone else see a bit of a pattern emerging here about German territorial and militaristic strategy in the century between 1850 and 1945?

    So in the midst of this litany of invading one’s neighbours and seizing their territory and imposing punitive peace treaties on them, why are we supposed to believe that Germany was not the aggressor in 1914? Particularly given that it proceeded to invade France (again) and Belgium and when it had seized Russian territory it imposed a peace on the defeated Russians much, much worse than anything she was to endure at Versailles.

    Germany was an aggressive nation which used war to further its political, economic and territorial ambitions, the First World War was not an aberration it was part of long term German policy. It failed in 1914, but with the usual German determination it was tried again with more (temporary) success twenty years later.

    Germany today is a model society (much like Japan) it is pacific, hardworking and thrifty (much like Japan) but it only got that way by being utterly defeated in war, its armies routed, its cities ruined and its territory occupied for decades by its erstwhile enemies (much like Japan).

  • Greenflag

    I am by no means anti-English in fact I hugely admire that nation and have only ever met English peopel I personally liked but why is there this persistence in trying to exculpate England for her extraordinarily aggressive posture toward her neighbours Scotland Wales and Ireland for the best part of five centuries prior to 1700 (Scotland ) , Wales five centuries prior to 1400 and Ireland -* centuries on and off since the 12th century ? Not to mention the rest of the world the Americas , Africa and Asia etc for the better part of 400 years to the 1960’s ?

    England under various KIngs and Parliaments used war , bribery and corruption , divide and conquer etc as effective tools to first unite Britian and Ireland and then to grab the territory of indigenous peoples all over the world wherever profit could be made . It then set about creating a massive navy to retain control of trade routes and impose British rule on the high seas .

    I am by no means anti-German, in fact I hugely admire that nation and have only ever met Germans I personally liked but why is there this persistence in trying to exculpate Germany for her extraordinarily aggressive posture toward her neighbours for the best part of a century prior to 1945?

    Germany under Bismarck used war as an effective tool to first unite the country and then to grab the territory of its neighbours, against Denmark, Austria and against France by 1871. It then set about creating a massive navy (useful in a largely landlocked nation) to challenge the British at sea.

    Does anyone else see a bit of a pattern emerging here about English /British territorial and militaristic strategy in the centuries between 1600 and 1900?

    So in the midst of this litany of invading one’s neighbours and seizing their territory and imposing punitive peace treaties on them, why are we supposed to believe that Great Britain was not the aggressor in 1914?

    Great Britain was an aggressive nation which used war to further its political, economic and territorial ambitions, the First World War was not an aberration it was part of long term British policy which did not want to see any ‘United Europe ‘ whether it be under Spanish ,French , German or Russian hegemony . And it’s no different in 2013 .

    Okay so let’s skip ahead more than a few decades to 2008 and we see the 21st century UK a.k.a the City of London still trying to make profit out of the misery of peoples all over the world including their own ‘British ‘people 🙁

    The UK today is a relatively democratic society (much like Germany or Japan (except poorer in terms of GDP per capita) ) . It still sends it’s military to parts of the world that neither Japanese nor Germans will deign to .is pacific,
    The UK got this way (poorer than competitors) by destroying it’s manufacturing and engineering sectors and by hyping the City of London and it’s financial services sector as the foundation for a New Prosperous UK !

    And now that all those Crown Colony tax havens are to be made transparent ? Well if you believe that one from Mr Cameron then you’ll believe the moon is made of cheese >

  • Greenflag

    Corrected version hereunder -apologies for above slightly botched -out of practice 🙁

    I am by no means anti-English in fact I hugely admire that nation and have only ever met English peopel I personally liked but why is there this persistence in trying to exculpate England for her extraordinarily aggressive posture toward her neighbours Scotland Wales and Ireland for the best part of five centuries prior to 1700 (Scotland ) , Wales five centuries prior to 1400 and Ireland -* centuries on and off since the 12th century ? Not to mention the rest of the world the Americas , Africa and Asia etc for the better part of 400 years to the 1960′s ?

    England under various KIngs and Parliaments used war , bribery and corruption , divide and conquer etc as effective tools to first unite Britian and Ireland and then to grab the territory of indigenous peoples all over the world wherever profit could be made . It then set about creating a massive navy to retain control of trade routes and impose British rule on the high seas .

    Does anyone else see a bit of a pattern emerging here about English /British territorial and militaristic strategy in the centuries between 1600 and 1900?

    So in the midst of this litany of invading one’s neighbours and seizing their territory and imposing punitive peace treaties on them, why are we supposed to believe that Great Britain was not the aggressor in 1914?

    Great Britain was an aggressive nation which used war to further its political, economic and territorial ambitions, the First World War was not an aberration it was part of long term British policy which did not want to see any ‘United Europe ‘ whether it be under Spanish ,French , German or Russian hegemony . And it’s no different in 2013 .

    Okay so let’s skip ahead more than a few decades to 2008 and we see the 21st century UK a.k.a the City of London still trying to make profit out of the misery of peoples all over the world including their own ‘British ‘people

    The UK today is a relatively democratic society (much like Germany or Japan (except poorer in terms of GDP per capita) ) . It still sends it’s military to parts of the world that neither Japanese nor Germans will deign to .is pacific,
    The UK got this way (poorer than competitors) by destroying it’s manufacturing and engineering sectors and by hyping the City of London and it’s financial services sector as the foundation for a New Prosperous UK !

    And now that all those Crown Colony tax havens are to be made transparent ? Well if you believe that one from Mr Cameron then you’ll believe the moon is made of cheese >

  • Greenflag

    @malcolm redfellow ,

    Just started reading McMeekin’s tome July 1914 . Will comment later on it’s contribution .

  • Leaving aside the Treaty of Paris and the War of 1812, the first decretion of the recent British Empire was brought about by the Irish Free State (Agreement) Act of 31 March 1922.

    Niall Ferguson helpfully subtitles himself How Britain Made the Modern World, and elsewhere The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power). He has it that the minute before the King and Emperor put his hand to the Act, that British Empire encompassed, give or take, 13,010,000 square miles. Going on a quarter of the entire solid surface of this “pale blue dot” [thanks for that one, Mr Butt-headed Astronomer]. One in every five human beings.

    Then there was Article 119 of the Treaty of Versailles, which swept up as “protectorates” much of the German colonies in Africa.

    Between 1945 and 1952, the depopulated islands of Heligoland became a Navy gunnery target and a practice zone for RAF bombing.

    What I find amazing is all these territorial additions were achieved by Britain being merely “aggressive”, but not any “extraordinarily aggressive posture”.

    That quibble apart, there is a lot of realism in Harry Flashman‘s account.

    So, does anyone think the British State will ever get to master, occupy and control the unbridled license and aggression of that nest of arch-manipulators, traitors, freebooters, pirates and buccaneers, the City of London?

  • Harry Flashman

    Greenflag if you wish to discuss the iniquities of the British Empire I am more than happy to join in.

    However what the Brits got up to in Africa or India in the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries has got precisely diddly squat to do with who was to blame for Germany invading France and Belgium in August 1914.

    Try to remain on topic just once in your life.

  • Harry Flashman

    “but not any “extraordinarily aggressive posture”.”

    Let me help you out Malcolm, if in the space of seventy years you invade your northern neighbour twice, your southern neighbour twice, your eastern neighbour twice and your western neighbour three times as well as invading half a dozen other neighbours once, the phrase “extraordinarily aggressive posture” toward your neighbours is probably justified.

    What Germany suffered at Versailles pales into insignificance to what she imposed on France in 1871, Russia in 1917, would have imposed on Belgium and France had she been successful in 1914 and eventually did impose on France, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Norway, Denmark, Yugoslavia, Greece and Russia from 1938 onwards.

    Germany was the aggressor in the two world wars, the facts speak for themselves.

  • @Seamuscamp,

    In 1966 or 1967 German historian Fritz Fischer published his book on German policy in Mitteleuropa (Central Europe), and this changed the debate. By research in the archives he found that Germany encouraged Austria to be very aggressive towards Serbia in effect giving it a blank check. This has led subsequent historians to blame the Central Powers for the outbreak of the war.

    I believe one of the recent historians has discovered fabrications in the Russian documents concerning the dates for the mobilization orders for the Russian army. This will undoubtedly shift the blame back somewhat towards Russia as well as Germany and Austria, but it will remain in Central-East Europe instead of with the Western powers.

  • Greenflag

    ‘he found that Germany encouraged Austria to be very aggressive towards Serbia in effect giving it a blank check.’

    The Austrians ‘farted ‘around for a couple of months before attacking Serbia as a response to the assassination of the ‘Ostrich ‘ by Serb nationalists . Had the Austrians attacked early a quick in and out punitive mission it’s unlikely the Tsar or the other major European powers would have shed a tear .After all it was one of their own ‘aristocratic ‘ class that had been assassinated and they were all related to each other in one way or another including the soon to be Windsors formerly known as the House of Saxe Coburg Gotha .

    The Austro Hungarians were facing the increasing national awareness of their minority Bosnians , Croats , Czechs ,Slovaks ,Ruthenians etc and thus in retrospect can be accused of being too late to act and thus enabled the Serbs to drum up Russian luke warm support for their fellow ‘slavs’

    Bismarck had predicted that if there was ever another major war between the European powers it would start in the Balkans -He got that much right .

    And if there is ever another World War ? Syria /Jordan/Israel /Hezbullah / Iran /together with the USA/Russia will no doubt be in competition for the who started it ‘prize ‘ 🙁

    Not that there’ll be anything left thereafter mind you . President Obama is being leant on to adopt a more aggressive stance by forces that make the Bismarckian Prussians look like ‘wets’ to recoin a now never uttered epithet formerly popular with right wing zealots of the British variety .

  • Greenflag

    Harry Flash

    ‘What Germany suffered at Versailles pales into insignificance to what she imposed on France in 1871,

    Utter bollocks Harry . The Franco Prussian war was started by the French . In response to what was considered a verbal insult to the Emperor Napoleon the French took umbrage and the crowds exiting Paris Theatres rushed to the Quai D’orsay demanding that the Army attck and take Berlin in a week .
    Ironically the French Emperor himself was not at all keen on this attack as he knew that the Army was not prepared and moreover was outnumbered and out armed by the Germans ,
    Within a couple of months Paris was surrounded and besieged for two months and eventually a peace treaty was signed . The Germans were ‘allowed ‘ to march down the Champs Elysee to rubber stamp their victory and a couple of days later withdrew from France apart from the Alsace which had a German speaking population . For thise interested in that period there were 25,000 German citizens living and working in Paris at the time .

    Anyway the East Franks (Germans ) and the West Franks (French ) have moved on .Meanwhile back at the ranch Prods and Papes still need their walls to stop some of locals from unleashing a new ‘troubles ‘

  • Harry Flashman

    “President Obama is being leant on to adopt a more aggressive stance by forces that make the Bismarckian Prussians look like ‘wets’”

    Is he indeed? Poor diddums.

    This is the man who jokes about using drones and has slaughtered countless men, women and children in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen in his drone strikes (more moral than locking the men up in Guantanamo apparently).

    This is the president who has created the most oppressive and secret surveillance regime in human history.

    He is being leaned on by dark and sinister forces is he?

    Bullshit, he knows what he’s doing and has no qualms about it.

    Your whiter-than-white wunderkind is a seriously dangerous individual, he makes Bush and Rumsfeld look like pikers Greenie.

  • Harry Flashman

    I didn’t argue about who started the 1871 war GF, I pointed out that Wilhelmine and Hitlerite Germany (two sides of the same coin) imposed much harsher terms on their defeated opponents than the Allies imposed on Germany in 1918.

    That’s a fact.

  • Greenflag

    There is no argument about who started the Franco Prussian war . The fact is it was the French . Not that it did’nt suit Bismarck’s political objective of uniting Germany at the time.

    Your ‘fact’ re the terms of the 1919 Versailles Treaty is NOT a fact -it’s a myth- probably hyped up by the imperialist jingoists of the WW1 era – The 1871 Versailles Treaty left the French Empire ‘intact ‘ and the loss of territory to the Germans was later reduced . Bismarck was not interested in making France a permanent enemy . The Versailles Treaty of 1919 helped lay the foundation for World War 2 , weaken the emergent German social democracy and along with the 1929 Wall St crash enabled Hitler’s rise to power .

    I agree that Hitler’s ‘terms ‘ such that there were any for defeated nations and indeed his own countrymen were much harsher than those of either 1871 or 1919 and were in a different league altogether .

  • Harry Flashman

    The loss of two French provinces to German control and massive eye-watering reparations in 1871 can not be dismissed lightly.

    You conveniently choose to ignore the punitive terms proposed for Belgium and France by Germany had she been victorious in 1914 and the dreadful treaty of Brest Litovsk that Germany inflicted on defeated Russia.

    It suits Germany’s apologists to ignore these facts and concentrate on Versailles which left Germany largely intact (with the exception of the Polich corridor), free to form a democratic regime and with little foreign occupation. The myth of the reparations damage to the German economy has long since been dispelled by economists.

    Versailles did not cause WWII, the German electorate caused WWII by electing Herr Hitler as Chancellor and wholeheartedly supporting his Nazi thugs in their goal of having a rerun of WWI.

  • Harry Flashman @ 12:28 pm:

    You’re on safe ground there, Harry. Up to a point.

    The “guilty” parties of the Alsace-Lorraine land grab were von Moltke (senior) and Wilhelm I — Bismarck opposed it, recognising the grief it would cause with the French. I’ve always been a bit dubious about the subsequent “explanations” of Alsace-Lorraine. Most of the populace were German-dialect speakers — the main exception was around Belfort.

    It was the French, and Clemenceau in particular who dictated the punitive terms at Versailles. Then, in 1923, Poincaré occupied the Ruhr — which poisoned all kinds of waters (and which Clemenceau, in a moment of vision, condemned). The French, at that period were clearly not a forgiving people (and were given too much leeway by the political uncertainties of the other allies — but that’s a different topic).

    Alsace-Lorraine apart, the “price” of the two wars needs to be taken into account. July 1870 to May 1871 seems to have taken around 150,000 French lives (against around 88,000 Germans). That was considered “horrific” at the time; but it pales into insignificance against the 73% rate of casualties (more than twice that %age of of Britain) among the French mobilised in 1914-18.

  • …the German electorate caused WWII by electing Herr Hitler as Chancellor…

    Not quite right Harry. In the 1932 election for President</b), Hitler got 36.8% of the vote. Hindenburg got 53% in the run off and, being a bit out of it and aged 84 and not in good health, appointed Hitler as Chancellor. When Hindenburg died two years later, Hitler became top dog and soon made himself dictator.

  • Greenflag

    @ malcolm redfellow ,

    ‘Most of the populace were German-dialect speakers — the main exception was around Belfort.’

    True and Belfort was returned to France . Otherwise your post is factual .

  • Greenflag

    @ Mister Joe ,

    The Nazis actually were on the wane in 1928 when their vote had actually reduced from 6% in the previous election to just over 2 % . In retrospect once could blame the Wall St Crash of 1929 for helping the Nazis to get just 30% in the 1930 election .

    While the USA suffered from 25% unemployment following the Wall St crash the German economy had been on the rebound from the mid 1920’s when it too collapsed in 1929 throwing some 10 million out of work and destroying the German middle and in particular the lower middle classes. In the 1930 election the electorate roughly divided 30% for the Nazis , 30% for the Communists and 40% for the old established Socialist and Conservative parties . Not surprisingly those voters who had supported Hindenburg in 1932 turned to Hitler in 1934 as being a safer bet than the Communists . The established parties had lost all credibility given their demonstrated failures to deal with the massive unemployment and economic problems .

    For comparison look at the USA today where the established parties in Congress command 10% of the electorates confidence -the lowest in the USA’s history as a democracy .

  • Greenflag

    @ Harry Flash ,

    ‘You conveniently choose to ignore the punitive terms proposed for Belgium and France by Germany had she been victorious in 1914?

    Harry , how can I ignore something that never happened ?

    BTW I’m not a German apologist and don’t believe anybody else commenting is either . Just the facts Harry you can leave the jingoistic bits where you found them ,

  • Harry Flashman

    Point me to the jingoistic statements, as opposed to historical analysis, I made and I’ll reconsider.

    The proposed draconian peace terms that Germany would have inflicted on France, and for some reason Belgium too, are entirely relevant to the discussion of whether Germany was badly treated at Versailles. care to examine Brest-Litovsk?

    Versailles had nothing to do with the Wall Street Crash, hyper-inflation was created by Germany’s own central bank and had nothing to do with reparations.

    So ho-hum we’re back to square one, the wars of German unification in the late 19th Century and the First and Second World Wars were all part of an ongoing policy of German expansionism and aggression towards its neighbours.

    That was brought to an end when it was defeated, invaded, occupied and its cities laid waste by 1945.

  • Seamuscamp

    The headline of course is a piece of tosh – no parallels at all between a civil war and an international war.

    That said, it is obviously beyond some people to view WW1 holistically. You can pick out facts to support almost any thesis – like David Icke suggesting the Queen is a shape-shifting lizard (“Diana said so”) or that St Malachy foretold this is the last Pope and he is Antichrist. In truth WW1 had many causes and many nations played their parts. Colonialism had a role and Britain was the greatest colonialist of its time. Trade had a major role. Germany, France, Russia, Britain, and their client nations, were all aggressive, all expansionist; all treated the lesser breeds as disposable assets. All were in effect oligarchies uncontrollable by the ordinary people of these lands. Democracy was unknown – or defined in terms which excluded most citizens.

    The allocation of blame is futile; and unconscionable unless you believe the sins of the fathers should be paid for by the sons and daughters. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

  • Harry Flashman

    “Colonialism had a role and Britain was the greatest colonialist of its time.”

    I do appreciate that whataboutery is a national past-time in Northern Ireland and Irish chips on each shoulder regarding the perfidious Brits will never be entirely eradicated but as I pointed out to Greenflag above the colonial empire of Britain, established over the previous two centuries in Asia, Africa, North America and the antipodes had absolutely, precisely and unequivocally nothing to do with the war that broke out in Europe between the Central Powers and the Triple Entente in August 1914.

    Nothing.

    Zip.

    Nada.

    Zero.

    Zilch.

    Have I made myself clear?

  • Very true, Harry. But all of the colonial powers were a sleazy lot usually picking a minority group to do their dirty work for them and leaving them in control when they eventually skedalled. That’s a major cause of the middle east troubles right now. It’s what they did to the provinces of the Ottoman empire after the end of WW1. Iraq and Syria are prime examples.

  • Harry Flashman

    Couldn’t agree more Joe, and as I said to Greenie I would be more than happy to discuss the iniquities of European colonialism, having lived for years now in a former Asian colony of a European empire.

    However Britain’s overseas colonies had no role whatsoever in the decision-making process in the chancelleries of Europe in the long hot summer of 1914.

    The First World War was first and foremost a war between continental European powers and would have started even if Britain hadn’t carved out chunks of Asia and Africa over the past century or so.

    It’s really so simple I fail to see why I need to repeat this basic fact twice in the same thread.

  • Greenflag

    Harry Flashman’,

    Have I made myself clear?.

    Not as clear as Seamuscamp above .Colonialism did play a role . Just look at the number of Africans and Indians that were ‘recruited’ into the colonial /imperialist powers armies . Your whole point seems to have been just an anti German rant which would have been fair enough if you had limited it to World War 2 .

    But as Seamuscamp states above and it’s worth quoting again

    ‘Colonialism had a role and Britain was the greatest colonialist of its time. Trade had a major role. Germany, France, Russia, Britain, and their client nations, were all aggressive, all expansionist; all treated the lesser breeds as disposable assets. All were in effect oligarchies uncontrollable by the ordinary people of these lands. Democracy was unknown – or defined in terms which excluded most citizens.’

    What is also omitted from the above is the 42 year peace in Europe between 1871 and 1914 and that was a period when there was widespread cooperation , scientific and political, between many of the major powers of the time .It was the the first age of globalisation .

  • Greenflag

    @ mister joe ,

    ‘But all of the colonial powers were a sleazy lot usually picking a minority group to do their dirty work for them and leaving them in control when they eventually skedalled. ‘

    True but this was not too dissimilar from how they ‘ruled ‘ in own home countries .

    Re Iraq I believe the diagonal border which bisects the Kurdish nation was drawn up one night in the desert by two supposedly inebriated junior British diplomats . Syria has been ruled by a religious minority the Alawites who make up about 10% of the population.

  • Greenflag

    @ Harry Flashman ,

    ‘The First World War was first and foremost a war between continental European powers ‘

    True .

    ‘”and would have started even if Britain hadn’t carved out chunks of Asia and Africa over the past century or so.’

    Might rather than would . So many factors contributed to the outbreak of WW1 from the Archduke’s assassination to diplomatic miscommunications to harvest weather and aristocratic bumbling that perhaps the last word on the subject could be left to Captain Blackadder’s ‘It was just too much trouble not to have a war ‘
    I’ll see what McMeekin comes up with and pass it on if it reveals anything ‘new’.

  • Harry Flashman

    “Just look at the number of Africans and Indians that were ‘recruited’ into the colonial /imperialist powers armies .”

    Oferfuxake!

    Let me spell it out again for the congenitally slow on the uptake.

    The colonial troops later brought in from the overseas empires after the war started played no hand, act nor part in determining the start of the war in the summer of 1914 by the continental European powers.

    Britain’s overseas empire is an utterly irrelevant red herring in the cause of the First World War and is only ever brought up by Irish Nationalists rushing to defend their “gallant allies” the Germans.

    Sheesh, this is getting tiresome.

  • Harry Flashman @ 1:51pm:

    Not relevant to this topic but that prompts two passing thoughts:

    1. The German connection with Ulster was, of course, Bernie Spiro of Hamburg and his 216 tons of assorted arms and ammo. Another triumph for private enterprise!

    2. Among those 409,000 names on the Menin Gate,I find the smaller plaques on the Menin Gate particularly emotive emotive: the sepoys and the West Indians transported around the globe. One particular cohort of the missing seems shamefully not represented: the missing from the 140,000 Chinese Labour force.

    By the way, I am grateful to Greenflag @ 3:53 pm for improving the sense of my poorly expressed comment on Belfort. I have a faint memory of reading that the Prussians offered the French two choices: a victory march down the Champs-Élysées or the ceding of Belfort. The French took the former option.

  • Greenflag

    @ harry flashman ,

    ‘is only ever brought up by Irish Nationalists rushing to defend their “gallant allies” the Germans.’

    Not at all Harry . The vast majority of Irish nationalists of the time rushed to defend the British Empire just like Unionists . I believe some 150,000 Irish (North & South ) plus uncounted Irish resident in Britain at the time volunteered or were conscripted . Some 50,000 plus were killed and more maimed for life.

    It was only a minority of Irish Republicans some 3,000 or so who spoke of the ‘gallant allies in Europe ‘ and who originated the “We serve neither King nor Kaiser”

    Sir Roger Casement tried to persuade Irish prisoners of war in camps in Germany .Despite having 2,000 or so Irish POWs brought to listen to his ‘recruitment speech ‘for a German Irish Brigade he could only get 20 volunteers . After the war one of those volunteers remained in Germany and as a Bavarian policeman had an opportunity with a colleague to look aside while a Communist mob attempted to kick a then little known Hitler to death . Alas like all good ‘policemen ‘ everywhere he did his duty and saved the bastard’s life . Such is life .

  • Greenflag

    @ malcolm redfellow

    ‘The French took the former option.’

    True but they later got Belfort back anyway .

    From Wiki

    Despite Bismarck’s objections, Moltke and his generals insisted that the territory was necessary as a defensive barrier. Bismarck opposed the annexation because he did not wish to make Germany a permanent enemy of France. The portion annexed of Alsace-Lorraine was later reduced at the Treaty of Frankfurt, allowing France to retain the Territory of Belfort.

  • Greenflag

    @ Harry Flashman

    ‘The colonial troops later brought in from the overseas empires after the war started played no hand, act nor part in determining the start of the war in the summer of 1914 by the continental European powers.’

    I did’nt say they did . I said colonialism was a factor in World War 1 and not just British colonialism .

    And back to the thread topic

    ‘If Ireland north and south can commemorate the First World War together, so should the Germans alongside the wartime Allies’

    I don’t see why not . Those who died in WW1 were all the victims of European imperialism , aristocratic degeneracy , lack of democracy and human rights and malgovernance from the Tsar to the Hapsburgs etc .

  • Greenflag @ 3:40 pm:

    I’d suggest that the Treaty of Frankfurt was significant for another reason.

    It required the population of the acquired lands of Alsace-Lorraine to declare their allegiances. Anyone who wanted to retain French citizenship had to leave before October 1873. That uprooted something like half-a-million.

    Without looking it up, I’d reckon that was a major cause of French resentment. With some reason. It also set a precedent for what happened to the ethnic Germans in Poland and the Sudetenland after 1945. Then, again, quite a bunch of the displaced French were resettled in Algeria. A fine example of “what goes around, comes around”.

  • Seamuscamp

    Green Flag

    Your problem is that you are just looking at facts; unlike the Flashman who looks at facts through binoculars. Any simple narrative on the origin of the 1st WW is merely simplistic. Just look at the variety of opinions expressed by historians and politicians.

    Niall Ferguson in effect blames Britain for there being a World War, contending that without Britain, Germany , as in 1870, would have rolled over France in a few months. John Rohl maintained it was mainly the fault of Wilhelm II and his military advisers Christopher Clark sees a stumbling series of mistaken interpretations as convincing everyone of the inevitibility of war. LLoyd George said: “We muddled into war.”. Ramsay MacDonald initially blamed both sides. Most Marxist historians in the inter-war years blamed competition of capitalist businessmen, and of course, Imperialism. AJP Taylor, as usual, knew that it was all Germany’s militaristic fault. Samuel Williamson pointed to the decadent Austro-Hungarians. Winston Churchill put it down to a general restlessness throughout Europe, in which everybody was turning to violence as a way of sorting out their dissatisfactions – a view endorsed by Ruth Henig. Franz Fischer (as pointed out by TMitch57 above) thought it was mainly Germany’s rulers at fault.

    I keep remembering my history teacher, Dan Cashman, saying that the winners draw the history of wars in their own interests. He was probably pointing to the page in the textbook quoting Dublin newspapers in 1916 saying that nobody supported the rebels.

    What cannot be gainsaid is that @Harry Flashman has swallowed wholesale Article 231 of the Treaty of Versailles : “The Allied and Associated Governments affirm and Germany accepts the responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage to which the Allied and Associated Governments have been subjected as a consequence of the war imposed upon them by the aggression of Germany and her allies.” It’s a viewpoint; but not the whole story.

    I’m not an apologist for Germany; I simply say the blame isn’t Germany’s alone.

  • Harry Flashman

    “the sepoys and the West Indians transported around the globe.”

    Like the Irish Malcolm the Indian troops were all volunteers. I believe I am correct in saying that the biggest volunteer army in history was the Indian army of the British Empire which fought in the Second World War.

    The Indian army was generally recruited from the great martial races of the Indian sub-continent, Sikhs, Pathans, Gurkhas and the like. Men who were extremely proud (justifiably) of their military prowess and who signed up to fight for King and Empire because they valued their manhood and warlike traditions and didn’t want to miss out on the greatest war ever fought.

    Much like the Irish in fact (and Scots too in fairness) and very unlike the malnourished and undersized conscripts dragged reluctantly from the coalfields and industrial slums of England.

  • Harry Flashman

    “unlike the Flashman who looks at facts through binoculars.”

    Nice long post Seamus in which you utterly fail to contradict my point that Britain’s overseas empire was quite simply not a factor in the outbreak of the First World War.

    Would you like to borrow my binoculars to see if you can find what it is you’re looking for?

  • Greenflag

    Malcolm Redfellow ‘

    ‘A fine example of “what goes around, comes around”.’
    Or as that sagacious observer of humanity Shakespeare put it
    “that which being but taught returns to plague the teacher ‘

    For some Alsatians both French and German speaking the Franco Prussian and to a lesser extent WW1 were personal ‘catch 22’s ‘ Enlisted or conscripted as French soldiers -german speaking soldiers found themselves being accused of treason when captured unless they immediately joined the German Army and there was I believe one notorious case where one individual found himself as a result of being taken as a POW twice having to do the ‘switchover ‘ twice or face a firing squad :

    Fortuna can be a bitch re the matter of ‘location ‘ and particularly so in the tangled borderlands that is/was Europe .At least in the EU these kind of issues have been much ameliorated -mind you the Germans and the Austrians are much less ‘tolerant ‘ of their citizens adopting more than one nationality . Much more black and white than Britain or Ireland and much more thorough at ferreting out those who may aspire to more than one passport:(

  • Greenflag

    @ Seamuscamp ,

    ‘Your problem is that you are just looking at facts;’

    Guilty as charged Seamus -a personal failing in which I take a little pride but am not averse to being corrected when my facts are found to be erroneous 😉 If It’s a problem for some I assure you it’s not a problem for me . Good post btw above at 5:36 pm.

    ‘I’m not an apologist for Germany; I simply say the blame isn’t Germany’s alone.’

    Quite so . This is the point that our esteemed Harry for whatever reason finds difficult to accept .

  • Seamuscamp

    @Flashman
    It’s like arguing with a child. You may be unaware that the Empire was only one element in your arguments – for some reason you also push the notion of German unique culpability for WW1as if it was uncontestable. I’m suggesting the real world was something more complex and still the subject of debate.

    Your “facts” also present Germany as the aggressor in the 1870 War. Actually Napoleon III (provoked by Bismarck) declared war on Prussia, some say ill-advised that Denmark and Austria would side with him. France attempted to blockade Germany’s ports (one of the reasons why Germany subsequently made naval expansion a priority). So both sides were at fault – Prussia for laying the trap; France for declaring war for insubstantial reasons.

    “What Germany suffered at Versailles pales into insignificance to what she imposed on France in 1871.” This is a figment of an overwrought imagination. France lost part of Alsace-Lorraine; 1 billion francs in 1871; another 4 billion by 1874 (actually paid by 1873 so as to remove occupying forces from French soil). Reparations to be paid by Germany were set by the Inter-Allied Reparations Commission in 1921 at 132 billion German gold marks – but in practice Schedule A and B reduced the sum to 50 billion. Now tell me, do you really maintain that 50 billion German Gold Marks is insignificant compared to 5 billion French francs?

    Incidentally, one reason for the big difference in French and German deaths was that the German armies were more efficient killers with better weapons; another was that the French killed quite a lot of French – an estimated 20000 executions post-Commune.

    Events in Ireland in the past have often induced psychological absolutism. For someone to be right everyone on the other side must be diametrically wrong. An inability to recognise that there is fault on both sides is endemic.

  • @Greenflag,

    I have to agree with Flashman, although his approach is overly simplistic as there were many villains. But when assessing British responsibility one has to look at the facts: Britain was the last major power to declare war–it was the last step in the sequence that began in the Balkans. I agree with Niall Ferguson that without the British Empire the war would have been much less destructive and no doubt would have ended in a victory for the Central Powers, but I think this probably would have come in 1915 or 1916 and it still would have been a world war.

    Greenflag, you remind me of a Iranian Zoroastrian exile who told me quite seriously that Britain was responsible for Iran being a Shi’ite country. For her it being Shi’te was a bad thing, and because the British were responsible for all the bad things that happened in Iran ergo they were responsible for it being Shi’ite. The fact that Britain had very little interest or influence in the early modern period when Iran became Shi’ite was beside the point. I think your argument over British responsibility is very similar.

    @Seamuscamp,

    “Colonialism had a role and Britain was the greatest colonialist of its time.”

    Britain had the largest OVERSEAS empire followed by France. But in Europe the largest empires were the Russian Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire with these two powers using far more imperial troops than any other power. Britain used mainly troops from the Indian subcontinent and white settlers from the overseas empire–Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians and South Africans. On the Allied side it was mainly the French who used native troops from Africa.

  • Greenflag

    @ tmitch57,

    I have to agree with Seamuscamp . As to assessing British responsibilty ? I don’t believe anyone commenting here not even GF or Seamuscamp claimed that Britain was responsible for starting WW1 . The late British historian John Keegan did suggest in one of his books that while Britain was not directly responsible for starting WW1 it was preparing for an eventual ‘inevitable ‘ war with the emerging German power over ‘naval ‘supremacy and the ominous fact that German steel , coal and chemical production had surpassed Britains and was continuing to expand at a faster rate .. Keegan’s take was that while Britain did not start the war -it came at a ‘convenient ‘ time for Britain in terms of continuing and maintaining it’s naval supremacy .

    The claim was that ‘colonialism ‘ was a factor and yes there were many villians on all sides. I also largely agree with NIall Ferguson’s take on the fact that British engagement prolonged the war and American engagement shortened it.

    Britain’s role in Iran had nothing to do with that countries’s religious orientation .Oil was the issue . If you are unaware here are some facts .

    n 1951, Iran’s oil industry was nationalized with near-unanimous support of Iran’s parliament in a bill introduced by Mossadegh who led the nationalist parliamentarian faction. Iran’s oil had been controlled by the British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC), now known as BP.[7] Popular discontent with the AIOC began in the late 1940s: a large segment of Iran’s public and a number of politicians saw the company as exploitative and a vestige of British imperialism.[8] Despite Mosaddegh’s popular support, Britain was unwilling to negotiate its single most valuable foreign asset, and instigated a worldwide boycott of Iranian oil to pressure Iran economically..( 2013 and the great game continues ?)

    The 1953 Iranian coup d’état (known in Iran as the 28 Mordad coup[3]) was the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Iran, and its head of government Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh on 19 August 1953, orchestrated by the United Kingdom (under the name ‘Operation Boot’) and the United States (under the name TPAJAX Project).[4][5] The coup saw the formation of a military government under Mohammad-Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, who progressed from a constitutional monarch to an authoritarian one who relied heavily on United States support to hold on to power until his own overthrow in February 1979.[6]

    Not actual colonialism just a ‘loot ‘grab . The democratic wishes of the Iranian people of the time were not considered important enough by Britain .

    Your Zoroastrian exile friend was partly right .The destabilisation of Iran began with the coup d’etat that put the Shah in place .

    If the Iranian people ever get a true democracy and the end of religious theocracy thanks will not be due to the UK or the USA .

    Facts don’t you just love them ?

  • Harry Flashman @ 5:44 pm:

    I’m sure “volunteering” makes their colonial fate less sad. I fear that not all the recruitment methods were as honourable and decent (especially so in West Africa, we are told).

    Good, too, to be assured my great-uncle (DCM, Gallipoli) and grandfather (Doullens Communal Cemetery Extension No.2) were among the “malnourished and undersized conscripts dragged reluctantly from the coalfields and industrial slums of England.” I assume the Leiston, Suffolk, works of Richard Garrett & Sons counts as in that generalisation. Oh, and by the way, coal-mining was a “reserved occupation” in both Unpleasantnesses — the mines were nationalised in 1914, and working conditions greatly improved.

    But what about the Chinese labour battalions?

  • Harry Flashman

    People here seem to be conflating two separate issues; the causes of the First World War, which frankly could be traced back to Charlemagne if you really wanted to and the start of the First World War.

    The former is something that can be debated endlessly covering the Reformation, the Thirty Years War, the Industrial Revolution, Napoleon etc, etc, etc.

    The latter is much simpler; Germany started it.

    In hindsight there is one way in which Britain’s overseas empire was an element in the deliberations of the summer of 1914, but not in the way that suits Irish perceptions of British villainy.

    The Germans totally discounted Britain in their plans to invade France and Belgium because Britain was first and foremost a maritime empire whose “contemptible little army” was simply a colonial gendarmerie fit for little more than pig sticking and hunting down spear-chucking natives. The Boers had proven that to the world it seemed.

    This was a fatal error for Germany and one that was to cost the Kaiser’s mighty legions dear four Augusts later when when the last mass army standing (with the exception of the newly arrived Americans), the British, routed a thoroughly demoralised German army and won the First World War.

    Ooops! I said the British won the First World War and the Germans were beaten, I must be some sort of awful “jingoist” mustn’t I? Aren’t we all taught to believe now that no one won the First World War?

  • Seamuscamp

    HF
    Your literalism obviously only extends to facts of which you approve. And those who don’t agreed with your vision must fit your stereotype.

    I’m not anti-British (ask my wife an children who are British – and I served in the RAF); I’m suspicious of all ruling elites; I think colonial rivalries had a minor part in causing the Great War; I think the worst of colonisation was shameful, the best admirable. I don’t think Germany was the only author of the WW1 script.

    Militarily, the Allies won WW1. Economically, everyone lost (except, perhaps the US).

  • Greenflag

    Here are the official results of the World War 1 jury .

    Losers ,

    The British people ,
    The German people
    The Russian people
    The French people
    The Austrian people
    The Irish , Hungarians , Polish , Belgian , Czech, Slovak , Italian etc etc peoples .
    The Colonial troops from India , Africa ,Australia , Canada , New Zealand .and Americans .

    Some 20 million died in WW1

    The Hapsburg , Romanov and Hohenzollern dynasties .and the Ottoman Empire .

    Democratic evolution and development in Germany , Russia and Italy .was held back by the call to the flag .

    The Winners .

    The House of Windsor formerly the House of Saxe Coburg Gotha .

    Yugoslavia .

    The Irish Republic ( would not have existed most likely without WW1 ). Home Rule would have been implemented .

    Northern Ireland (would not have existed at least not in it’s present 6 county format ) Although whether this can be classed as a win may not be shared by all who read slugger.

    Czechoslovakia (another by product of WW1.)

    The USA edged forward towards world leadership as a result of WW1 although this did not become de facto until after WW2.

    The victory of Communism in Russia resulted from the defeat of the Russians on the Eastern front.

    Other losses consequent to and following on from WW1

    The failure of democracy 1917 through 1945 in Germany, Russia and Italy . The rise of totalitarian communism and nazism in Russia and Germany and the rise of Fascism in Italy and Spain .

    All told the world would have been better off without WW1 . We just got to hope that 100 years on the world will avoid WW3 .

  • @Greenflag,

    “Britain’s role in Iran had nothing to do with that countries’s religious orientation .Oil was the issue . If you are unaware here are some facts”

    Everything you cite is from the 20th century. Iran converted to Shi’ism in the 17th century at the latest. I gave the example to illustrate how the desire for cognitive consistency overpowers logic. In Iran and many other countries there is a strong tendency to blame ALL problems on foreigners and their traitorous internal allies. That foreigners may have caused some problems is the basis used to shore up that argument. .

  • @Greenflag,

    “Some 20 million died in WW1.”

    I was on the website of the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, MO yesterday. The museum has been in operation since 1920. They give the death toll as 9 million. Coinciding with the end of WWI was an outbreak of the so-called Spanish Flu, which probably began in the U.S. or the Far East and spread to the U.S. and then Europe via American troops. It was responsible for more deaths than World War I. For some reason the deaths from the Spanish Flu became attributed to the Great War.

  • Harry Flashman

    I too read somewhere that the Iranians still regard Britain as the “Old Fox”, the never-ending source of all their misfortunes since time immemorial and that even today the US is merely a puppet of cunning British duplicity.

    Who knows maybe they have a point?

    The Irish and the Iranians would get on well I think.

  • Harry Flashman

    Oh, one other thing, Greenie mentioned a book on this subject, he, like other posters here, is clearly as fascinated by the First World War as I am myself so I am sure he has already read a book I’d thoroughly recommend for anyone who hasn’t yet read it.

    We can discuss the weighty historical tomes churned out by egg-headed European academics all day but to get a spell-bindingly good read on the actual lead up and day-to-day events of the the start of the First World War we must turn to a work by a little Jewish lady from New York.

    Any historian about to write a book about any subject should take down a well-thumbed (if it’s still pristine it will very soon become well-thumbed) copy of Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August to discover how history should be written.

  • To get back to the subject – can we commemorate together? I have a problem with the word commemorate which, to me, has tones of celebrate. I remember in sadness each 11 Nov and, yes, I shed an inward tear for all of the young men who died so needlessly, no matter what their nationality.

  • Greenflag

    @ tmitch,

    ‘The museum has been in operation since 1920.’

    That could be why their figures are out of whack with most .
    Here’s a more up to date listing which includes the Spanish flu impact as well as other factors .

    Whether 9 million or 20 or 37 the slaughter was insane . Less insane than WW2 of course but insane for all that.

  • Greenflag

    Harry Flashman ,

    ‘The Irish and the Iranians would get on well I think.’

    I should hope so . The Irish get on with most people from my experience . Your perception of the Irish is frankly skewed beyond recognition . I wish the Iranian people including the Zoroastrians (the world’s first monotheistic religion ) success in getting rid of their ‘theocracy ‘ and becoming a modern democracy .

  • Greenflag
  • Harry Flashman

    “The Irish get on with most people from my experience .”

    A common Irish conceit, usually propagated by smug Irish people convinced of their own moral superiority especially in regard to their nearest neighbour.

    In fact the Irish are no more or less affable than any other European race, and frequently can be boorish, maudlin and downright obnoxious with a drop taken.

    You want to meet genuinely friendly, warm, hospitable and easygoing people? Take a tour of SE Asia for a few weeks and then go back to an average Irish high street and see just how charming the Irish really are.

    I wouldn’t care if I never set foot in the miserable, grey, rain-sodden oul’ place ever again quite frankly.

  • @Greenflag,

    I checked out the link you provided–it gives a total of about 10.7 million dead, which is much closer to 9 million than to 20 million. Casualties means both dead AND wounded, not just dead.

  • Greenflag

    @tmitch57,

    Here’s the first paragraph from the link that you checked .

    The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I was over 37 million. There were over 16 million deaths and 20 million wounded ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history.

    The total number of deaths includes about 10 million military personnel and about 7 million civilians. The Entente Powers (also known as the Allies) lost about 6 million soldiers while the Central Powers lost about 4 million. At least 2 million died from diseases and 6 million went missing, presumed dead.

    About two-thirds of military deaths in World War I were in battle, unlike the conflicts that took place in the 19th century when the majority of deaths were due to disease. Improvements in medicine as well as the increased lethality of military weaponry were both factors in this development. Nevertheless disease, including the Spanish flu, still caused about one third of total military deaths for all belligerents..

    Civilians are human beings just like soldiers and they also die in war -it’s called nowadays ‘collateral damage ‘ -Look at present day Syria or the DRC for a continuation of same .

    The 9.7 (10 ) million you refer to are military deaths only and of those approx one third were due to disease and Spanish Flu.

    Stalin’s dictum that one death is a tragedy but 6 million deaths is a statistic seems to have been the modus operandi of WW1 Generals on both sides of the trenches 🙁

  • @Greenflag,

    I checked again and read the more detailed report. I still think that many of the civilian deaths due to disease were due to the Spanish Flu, and so were not directly war related. I imagine that Germany suffered the most indirect or excess civilian deaths because of the British blockade, which really began to bite in 1917 and 1918. I still didn’t find the paragraph that you quoted from. The one I saw gave a range of 9 to 16 million.

    The figure from the Nation World War I Museum was from a poppy memorial garden, which may well have been established when the museum was first built and reflected more conservative figures.

  • Greenflag

    @ harry flashman ,

    ‘In fact the Irish are no more or less affable than any other European race,’

    I did’nt say they were . BTW you omitted Asians and Africans from your stereotypical response ? Any particular reason ? Are they more or less friendly than Europeans in your experience ? How about Americans ? Canadians or Mexicans or Israelis or Arabs or Palestinians ?

    ‘Take a tour of SE Asia for a few weeks and then go back to an average Irish high street ‘

    High St ? We don’t use the term ‘High St ‘ . That would be British /English for ‘ Main St ‘ There is just the one High St -in Dublin which is just past Christchurch Cathedral heading towards Thomas Street . Are you sure you’re Irish Harry ? Not that I care but the self hating Irishman is a very rare phenomenon .

    ‘I wouldn’t care if I never set foot in the miserable, grey, rain-sodden oul’ place ever again quite frankly.’

    True the weather is nothing to write home about but always remember that no matter how far you ramble there’s no police like Holmes 😉

    As to ‘moral superiority ‘ ? It’s just ignorance wrapped up in horse manure and it’s as applicable in Dublin 4 or Belfast as in Whitehall or in Riyadh or in Washington DC .

  • Greenflag

    @tmitch57,

    The war to end all wars did’nt end war -it just prepared the ground for an even worse World War which in retro made WW1 look not so ‘bad ‘. A hundred years later 2014 and the world could be on the brink of WW3 . The Syrian crisis could well spill out of control and quickly engulf Israel and the Middle East and the Russians and Americans .

    Not that any of these powers want a world war but then thats what they said in 1914 . Human nature has’nt changed -though the human capacity for species self destruction has reached a point where there are enough nuclear weapons around to wipe out most biota bar -bacteria & microbes .

  • Harry Flashman

    Ah yes, anyone who dares to deflate the self-satisfied “Ah, shure aren’t we just the greatest people in all the world and doesn’t everyone love us?” nonsense must obviously be a “self-loather”.

    It couldn’t possibly be the case that the speaker has actually travelled the world a bit and seen just how nice other peoples are in comparison to the self-absorbed, whining, chippy, passive-aggressive, bibulous, morbid Irish, could it?

    Just for the record Asians, particularly SE Asians, are far more friendly, civilized, cultured and hospitable than pretty much any people in Europe.

  • Greenflag

    Probably been in more places around the world than yourself and lived and worked in Asia , Africa , Europe and the USA and Canada . Frankly your anti Irish ranting and whining is despicable and more than a little pathetic . If it’s not self loathing then you need some form of therapy . I’m sure the SE Asians are friendly and hospitable people . It obviously has’nt rubbed off on your self . BTW nothing wrong with ‘deflation ‘ . Perhaps you should try to balance your ‘deflation ‘ of the Irish with some counter deflationary remarks on say loud mouthed ignorant Americans , pompous marble mouthed English , arrogant Germans or corrupt Greeks not to mention racist warmongering Israelis , caste ridden Indians and lets see cuckoo clock worshipping Swiss and don’t omit the mad religious mullah maniacs of Afghanistan , Iran , Saudi Arabia and Pakistan while you are at it .

    Perhaps the sunshine has fried your thinking parts . Now go and read a few more books on WW! . Tuchman’s was pretty good but it’s also been updated in case you are unaware . As for those egg headed intellectuals . Dear oh dear shure they know nuttin eh :(!

  • Harry Flashman

    Aw wind your neck in Greenie, I’m not ranting, just pointing out that the Irish are a chippy lot and far from the delightful whimsical people that they try to pretend they are.

    Your whiney, snivelly, self-righteous post confirms my opinion.

  • Seamuscamp

    @GF

    Let’s have at least a moritorium on comment related to the swivel-eyed Harry. I think he has been hiding in somewhere like Bushmills with a restricted library.

    At the height of the Troubles, my Chief Exec said to me “I can’t understand what is happening in Ireland. All the Irish I know are always smiling and dancing”. So I smiled and I danced

  • Greenflag

    @ Seamuscamp,

    And look where it got you 😉

    That comment re swivel eyed loons sounds like something you borrowed from Lord Feldman -the Tory Peer who was less than praiseworthy of his Conservative grassroots members . Perhaps our Harry is one of ‘them ‘ now defected to UKIP ?

    Right so moratorium it is for now 😉

  • Seamuscamp

    @GF

    Alas I made a joke about the English football team and my carreer never progressed. Now I would probably make some facetious comment about how well the English cricketers had integrated with the SA and Irish imports. My timing is immaculate.