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Otto von Pickelhaube

Rethinking WWI

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Posted (edited)

I thought this was quite interesting. Mr. Michael Gove, who is a person in the current British government, has been voicing opinions about the First World War, as related here.

"Left-wing myths about the First World War peddled by Blackadder belittle Britain and clear Germany of blame, Michael Gove says today."

http://www.dailymail...-academics.html

This is not a unique viewpoint; I've seen several books and articles from reputable historians that have argued much the same thing. In fact, I've got a couple of books about Douglas Haig that try to consider him in a more objective light. But it appears that Labour very much took exception to it:

"Labour condemns Michael Gove's 'crass' comments on first world war

Tristram Hunt says education secretary's attack on 'unpatriotic' views is a shocking attempt at political point-scoring"

http://www.theguardi... news:Position1

Is it mind-bogglingly crass and insensitive to question the received wisdom? Is it just political point scoring? If it is, who is in fact doing this, Mr. Gove or Labour, I wonder?

Edited by Colonel Rhubarb
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.... the “treaty alliance system” that was prevalent in Europe with numerous treaties interconnecting the various states was really at the heart of why what would have been a small conflict, not noteworthy in any way in history, escalated into one of the bloodiest wars in human history with over 15 million people dead. Somewhat ironically, the spark that set it all off was the assassination that nobody really cared about.

So why go to war over an assassination, if nobody cared? Because, while nobody seemed to much care about the assassination itself, Austria-Hungary had been looking for an excuse to wage a “preventative war” against Serbia as a state in order to weaken or destroy them so as to take back territory in the Balkans, which had been taken during the Balkan Wars. They had not taken it back up to this point because they lacked Germany’s support; without that support, they feared Russia too much, because of the treaty Russia had with Serbia.

  • today I found out link

Old time tested treaties in the hands of misguided fools ... I thought Blackadder got it all spot on ...

... Although Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the nephew of Austria's emperor and heir-apparent to the throne, was not very well liked by most, his assassination by a Serb nationalist was viewed as a great excuse to attack Austria-Hungary's troublesome neighbor, Serbia.

However, instead of reacting quickly to the incident, Austria-Hungary made sure they had the backing of Germany, with whom they had a treaty, before they proceeded. This gave Serbia time to get the backing of Russia, with whom they had a treaty.

The calls for back-up didn't end there. Russia also had a treaty with France and Britain.

This meant that by the time Austria-Hungary officially declared war on Serbia on July 28, 1914, an entire month after the assassination, much of Europe had already become entangled in the dispute.

At the start of the war, these were the major players (more countries joined the war later):

  • Allied Forces (a.k.a. the Allies): France, the United Kingdom, Russia
  • Central Powers: Germany and Austria-Hungary

Heigh HO heigh HO ... its off to WAR we go ....

not to mention the Versailles Treaty practically made the stage for little Adolf to shine and gave Europe the bigger production capabilities to start a bigger better war in WW2

"Labour condemns Michael Gove's 'crass' comments on first world war

The lady doth protest too much methinks - Willy Shakes

Eh ? Mon Colonel ?

~

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Oh yes, i think it was a lot more complex than simply the Hun wanting to stamp all over Europe in pickelhaube and jackboots, it was all pretty much inevitable because A had a treaty with B which guaranteed that they'd help them out if C intervened, which of course they would do if E was threatened by A, and meanwhile F had arranged a completely independent treaty with B that guaranteed that they'd intervene if F felt threatened by G. Nevertheless, I think that Mr, G does make some pertinent points, and for Labour to jump and shout "Crass and insensitive! The man should be fired and charged with Hate Crimes!!" seems, well, rather crass on their part, does it not? What's that bit about anyone being free to express their opinion, which I'm sure they'd be in support of if anyone asked them..?

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That is the trouble with historians, they are every bit as much ideologically unbalanced as the worst modern news reporters, but they bury it in a swarm of footnotes.

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Gove is a d********.

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Gove is a d********.

care to elaborate further?

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The man's an educational philistine.

Actually, that's insulting to the philistines. The man's just pig ignorant.

His ideas about education would be regressive in the Victorian era. His idea of "improving behave" was to give out Bibles toschools because the kids lacked "moral character".

His grasp of history is appealing.

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The man's an educational philistine.

Actually, that's insulting to the philistines. The man's just pig ignorant.

His ideas about education would be regressive in the Victorian era. His idea of "improving behave" was to give out Bibles toschools because the kids lacked "moral character".

His grasp of history is appealing.

So does that mean that you criticise his views on the subject of WWI, or is this just a personal animosity you have towards him?

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Any European 1900s power (aka Austria-Hungary, Britain, France, Germany or Russia) that claims being innocent of WWI lies. They had all been arming themselves for the better part of 30years to gain European supremacy putting pressure into the pot until it had to burst. The myth that Germany was the alone causant had to be created after the war to justify the death of millions and nothing to show for it.

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Some participants in arms races are leaders, others are responders. Once one gets going it's hard but not impossible to tell which are which.

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That is the trouble with historians, they are every bit as much ideologically unbalanced as the worst modern news reporters, but they bury it in a swarm of footnotes.

Thanks for that, Frank.....Love you too! Have a cigar.....s11936.gif

I think the Colonel had it about right in #3.

Edited by ealdwita

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So does that mean that you criticise his views on the subject of WWI, or is this just a personal animosity you have towards him?

One segues nicely into the other.

His views on WW1 are monstrously ill-informed.

That said, Blackadder is a SATIRE and exaggerated some things to the point of ridicule (Brigadier General Sir Douglas Butcher of the Somme Hague for example was not insane or dedicated to "moving his drinks cabinet closer to Berlin one inch at a time").

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Oh yes, i think it was a lot more complex than simply the Hun wanting to stamp all over Europe in pickelhaube and jackboots, it was all pretty much inevitable because A had a treaty with B which guaranteed that they'd help them out if C intervened, which of course they would do if E was threatened by A, and meanwhile F had arranged a completely independent treaty with B that guaranteed that they'd intervene if F felt threatened by G. Nevertheless, I think that Mr, G does make some pertinent points, and for Labour to jump and shout "Crass and insensitive! The man should be fired and charged with Hate Crimes!!" seems, well, rather crass on their part, does it not? What's that bit about anyone being free to express their opinion, which I'm sure they'd be in support of if anyone asked them..?

Labour will jump on any bandwagon to score points,and as for free speech,well that has me speechless, you can only do that in this country if you're Not British,by birth. Edited by spud the mackem
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Dan Carlin's last Hardcore History covers the beginning of WWI.

It is VERY, VERY good and riveting. If you like history at all, I think you will find yourself listening to this every time you are in the car, at work, etc..

http://www.dancarlin.com/disp.php/hh

"Blueprint for Armageddon" is the latest one, about WWI. I cannot recommend it enough.

He pretty much agrees with this:

the “treaty alliance system” that was prevalent in Europe with numerous treaties interconnecting the various states was really at the heart of why what would have been a small conflict, not noteworthy in any way in history, escalated into one of the bloodiest wars in human history with over 15 million people dead.

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Basically, everyone was looking for a chance to knock heads, the empires were all rubbing each other the wrong way (particularly in Africa and the Middle East) and bucking for new territory.

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Basically, everyone was looking for a chance to knock heads, the empires were all rubbing each other the wrong way (particularly in Africa and the Middle East) and bucking for new territory.

Yeah, the Triple Alliance vs. the Triple Entente. That's the way that it was described to me 36 years ago. What are they 're-thinking' again? Did history change while I wasn't paying attention?

Edited by Likely Guy
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Yeah, the Triple Alliance vs. the Triple Entente. That's the way that it was described to me 36 years ago. What are they 're-thinking' again? Did history change while I wasn't paying attention?

History's well known liberal bias is offending Gove and the parade of idiots around him.

basically, they want everyone to say it was the nasty Hun's fault no blame could be laid at the feet of the vaunted heroes of Empire.

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History's well known liberal bias is offending Gove and the parade of idiots around him.

basically, they want everyone to say it was the nasty Hun's fault no blame could be laid at the feet of the vaunted heroes of Empire.

Well then. You're right, this is revisionist history. This guy's an ass. He's not fit to lead a bad Salvation Army band.

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That all sides have responsibility for the "Great Imperialist War" is not in doubt, though I think it revisionist not to lay more blame on Germany. While all countries plan for wars, not to do so would be gross negligence, not all countries plan wars of aggression. Great Britain had no plan to invade Germany, only to aid Belgium and France if they were attacked. Belgium obviously had no agressive war plan and simply hoped to sit tight behind their fortresses and hope that the Germans would not march over them. France had plan XVII, a plan that was designed, not for aggressive war to invade the German homeland, but to recover Alsace Lorraine that it lost to Prussian aggression in 1870. Plan XVII was also designed to hold the German Army at the frontiers long enough for Russia to mobilise. So we see that the three Allied powers on the western front had no plans of waging aggressive war against Germany. Italy, which was intially in a treaty with Germany and Austria-Hungary, was too weak to have any thought of waging war against anybody, though eventually joined in on the side of the allies. The Ottoman Empire, not as weak as many thought, was however rather on the back foot after setbacks in the Balkans in the years prior to the outbreak of the "Great Imperialist War", and had no plans other than to defend what they had. Their great error was to have allowed themselves to be sweet talked by Germany. Russia only had a plan to mobilise and get the armies to those border areas at most risk, there was no plan to invade anybody to aquire territory, recources etc, and the last thing Russia needed in 1914 was a general war, as reconstruction of the army after the Russo-Japanese war debacle was still taking place. Austria-Hungary however, had plans to invade Serbia, and as we know, was itching for any excuse to wage war against Serbia, which had only plans to defend it's borders from it's far bigger and aggressive neighbor. And now we come to Germany, so hard done by these days it seems. Did they have plans to wage aggressive war? surely not, impossible I would have thought. But wait, look here, I found the Schlieffen Plan, the only plan by any of the powers to wage deliberate aggressive war, and to the extent of invading countries that were themselves too weak and had no desire to wage any sort of war. But perhaps Belgium "deserved" being invaded, after all "We are all guilty" aren't we?. So, while war may have been inevitable, the blame for it actually happening must lay with those who fired the first shot. Had not Austria-Hungary invaded Serbia, and Germany not cynically and monstrously invaded Belgium, then it was possible, even after Sarajevo, to withdraw from the brink. That war did not have to happen, but Austria-Hungary and Germany certainly made sure it did. Any revisionism is to say that Germany and Austria-Hungary were not primarily responsible for the "Great Imperialist War". All may have some share of guilt, though how that could ever apply to "Plucky little Belgium" I do not know, but some are certainly far more guilty than others, ja....

Edited by Kaa-Tzik
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That all sides have responsibility for the "Great Imperialist War" is not in doubt, though I think it revisionist not to lay more blame on Germany. While all countries plan for wars, not to do so would be gross negligence, not all countries plan wars of aggression. Great Britain had no plan to invade Germany, only to aid Belgium and France if they were attacked. Belgium obviously had no agressive war plan and simply hoped to sit tight behind their fortresses and hope that the Germans would not march over them. France had plan XVII, a plan that was designed, not for aggressive war to invade the German homeland, but to recover Alsace Lorraine that it lost to Prussian aggression in 1870. Plan XVII was also designed to hold the German Army at the frontiers long enough for Russia to mobilise. So we see that the three Allied powers on the western front had no plans of waging aggressive war against Germany. Italy, which was intially in a treaty with Germany and Austria-Hungary, was too weak to have any thought of waging war against anybody, though eventually joined in on the side of the allies. The Ottoman Empire, not as weak as many thought, was however rather on the back foot after setbacks in the Balkans in the years prior to the outbreak of the "Great Imperialist War", and had no plans other than to defend what they had. Their great error was to have allowed themselves to be sweet talked by Germany. Russia only had a plan to mobilise and get the armies to those border areas at most risk, there was no plan to invade anybody to aquire territory, recources etc, and the last thing Russia needed in 1914 was a general war, as reconstruction of the army after the Russo-Japanese war debacle was still taking place. Austria-Hungary however, had plans to invade Serbia, and as we know, was itching for any excuse to wage war against Serbia, which had only plans to defend it's borders from it's far bigger and aggressive neighbor. And now we come to Germany, so hard done by these days it seems. Did they have plans to wage aggressive war? surely not, impossible I would have thought. But wait, look here, I found the Schlieffen Plan, the only plan by any of the powers to wage deliberate aggressive war, and to the extent of invading countries that were themselves too weak and had no desire to wage any sort of war. But perhaps Belgium "deserved" being invaded, after all "We are all guilty" aren't we?. So, while war may have been inevitable, the blame for it actually happening must lay with those who fired the first shot. Had not Austria-Hungary invaded Serbia, and Germany not cynically and monstrously invaded Belgium, then it was possible, even after Sarajevo, to withdraw from the brink. That war did not have to happen, but Austria-Hungary and Germany certainly made sure it did. Any revisionism is to say that Germany and Austria-Hungary were not primarily responsible for the "Great Imperialist War". All may have some share of guilt, though how that could ever apply to "Plucky little Belgium" I do not know, but some are certainly far more guilty than others, ja....

We could go a little further down the line and look at the origin of the territorial disputes in modern Europe... caused by a certain Mr.Bonaparte who dreamed Adolf's dream 150 years before him... and that ended in the Vienna Congress separating central Europe very much in the same fashion Africa was separated along lines that would make nobody "too"powerful"... could not last.

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The main blame, if it is to be focused, would fall on Kaiser Wilhelm, a combination of arrogance and incompetence with entirely too much power.

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We could go a little further down the line and look at the origin of the territorial disputes in modern Europe... caused by a certain Mr.Bonaparte who dreamed Adolf's dream 150 years before him... and that ended in the Vienna Congress separating central Europe very much in the same fashion Africa was separated along lines that would make nobody "too"powerful"... could not last.

Yes, I would agree with that, Bonaparte is a grandfather of that war, and without him this world would be radicaly different. Though he, and the carve up that occured after his defeat is so crucial to August 1914, I see him also as part of a progression that led to such a war, and to were we are today. This is simply my idle ideas and painted with a very broad brush, but I see the origins of 1914 beginning with religion in the Reformation, then morphing into political ideas with the likes of the Levellers and others during the English civil war. Then being given much more coherent form in the American Revolution, which leads to the explosion of the French Revolution combined with the "Enlightement". Then the whole thing being distorted by Bonaparte and leading, via failed revolutions in 1825 and 1848, to the birth of Germany in 1871, and then onto 1914. Simplified, and not quite the real or entire picture, but there is a thread, even if somewhat tenuous. So, 1914 really does have a German origin, with Martin Luther. I rather think not all will agree, but it's only idle thinking.

Edited by Kaa-Tzik
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The main blame, if it is to be focused, would fall on Kaiser Wilhelm, a combination of arrogance and incompetence with entirely too much power.

Frank Merton as hit the nail on the head, couple this Kaa -Tizk post above #19 and its two excellent posts.

not directly adding anything significant. but just to throw another piece of the jigsaw on the table on the point of Kaiser Wilhelm II Grandson of British Queen Victoria and cousin to King George V

Lets not forget one of the main reasons which put the writing on the wall in regard to Anglo-German relations was when Kaiser Wilhelm II decided to get Germany involved in a large expansion of its Naval force which was seen as a direct threat to the United Kingdom - this started a naval arms race between the United Kingdom and Germany, and much of europe, through Wilhelms' expansion Admiral Alfred Von Tirpitz created the high seas fleet including submarines. which was without doubt one of our major concerns - the United Kingdoms command of the seas which was vital for trade and empire was now in peril. it was one of the main reason why theTriple Entente agreement was entered into. after all Russia and France had always been our rivals. but when needs must, it was a classic case of our enemies enemy is my friend.

just to add for anyone interested how this panned out:

to combat this German expansion we built a new generation of battleship. the name of this Battleship is as synonymous today as it was then - Dreadnought.

Royal Navy Admiral John 'Jackie' Fisher knew what was on the Horizon and reformed the Navy in preparation for Germany - Germany built 6 ships we built 8 they built 12 we built 17 - and this continued until Germany had built 26 ships and we had 48. (not all Dreadnoughts') Germany simply couldn't keep up this naval arms race - so it looked like war at sea was averted, Germany unable to match the Royal Navy in number wanted a treaty with the United Kingdom with nothing to gain for the United Kingdom no neutrality treaty was signed.

six weeks prior to the outbreak war The German navy invited the Royal Navy to attend a Regatta in a German naval port, similar to our Regatta Cowes week. All was well the Royal Navy sent a warship and the officers and seamen of both navies exchanged gifts and pleasantries, on the surface the Royal Navy and Imperial German Navy enjoyed each others company. three days later the Royal Navy headed for home, and the Imperial German Navy flag signaled. 'safe journey Friends' to which the Royal Navy signaled back 'Friends today, Friends tomorrow, Friends forever. six weeks later we'd be at war. nearly two years would pass before we seen the first major naval engagement, this was the Battle of Jutland.

with the mine of information that is the posters on this forum we still have to remember even with this backdrop, who indeed fired the first shot, and who invaded who.

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with the mine of information that is the posters on this forum we still have to remember even with this backdrop, who indeed fired the first shot, and who invaded who.

That would be Gavrilo Princip.

After that: on July 28, 1914 Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia

On July 29th Russia attacked Germany and Austria without declaring war

On August 1st Germany declared war on Russia.

On August 2nd France declared war on Germany.

On August 3d Germany declared war on France.

{snip to make it shorter}

On 10 November 1918 Romania declared war on Germany.

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On 10 November 1918 Romania declared war on Germany.

the Mussolini approach, there.

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