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Even Blackadder can cause a political rift


Nick
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Robinson is an unpleasant little left winger - and I agree with the comments that the BBC will take any opportunity

to belittle their own Country and the Armed Forces. Perhaps it's time the Govt. stated to take back some of these

treacherous organisations and educate the youngsters to know how 'Great' Britain was - and still is............ Mervyn

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If you read Robinsons quotes in the article.... he is not totally wrong?

When I read Gove's statement

"The conflict has, for many, been seen through the fictional prism of dramas ..... a series of catastrophic mistakes perpetrated by an out-of-touch elite. Even to this day there are left-wing academics all too happy to feed those myths."

I wonder who does NOT see WW1 as "a series of catastrophic mistakes perpetrated by an out-of-touch elite." ... starting by how the out of touch elite pushed the world into a war in the first place, then continued for 4 years without any idea of what they wanted to achieve... ?

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Mervyn,

I agree with you and Canada is a good example where we almost always take the negative attitude about our past. Few, and there are some let’s be honest here, glorify war, but a number of years ago the World War One Ace, Billy Bishop VC, came under “fire” when a fellow (with a German name, it’s been pointed out) wrote a book stating that Mr. Bishop faked most of his “kills” and subsequent documents that led to his receiving the Victoria Cross. Thank the Gods that there is a Royal Canadian Legion as they came out in defence of his record. The general public seemed to accept the author’s accusation which is no surprise as it seems that Canadians are not allowed heroes, especially those connected to the military.

Two years ago Linda and I visited the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa and, to the shame of this country, attached to the display featuring Billy Bishop VC was a plaque that said that “In recent years the war record of Billy Bishop has come under question” (not a direct quote). I am not given to spontaneous utterances but I did blurt out a resounding “What the hell? Those bastards!”

A national hero and in a national museum and he has been treated like this? The book questioning his record was short on provable facts and still we, no not “we” but rather “they”, elected to take the coward’s path and rather than defending a national hero have run to hide from possible confrontation. Thank God our service men and women have taken the stand for our nations and not chosen the easy out.

Respectfully

Brian

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Well, having gone to school with a great many f the BBC elite, there is certainly a culture of "Europeanism" and of " coolness" that belittles or degrades Britains' past. I always got the feeling that what these people really wanted was to be American East Coast Democrats and indeed many try desperately to then come to the USA. New York City and the Jon Stewart show seems to be the career goal of every aspiring BBC maven. It reminds me of Tom Sharps' remarks that, "they as a generation, lost their confidence". The UK Education Secretary's remarks are also a useful weapon to a political group in the UK that truly hate his educational reforms.

But I gotta say, the German, esp. Prussian social elites were the cause and perpetuators of the war to my mind. Fritz Fisher was dead right. It's a fascinating and very complicated historical discussion, but as a class of people with shared social and political attitudes, iit was the pseudo-aristocratic Germans who kept the bloodshed going, ignored the strategic and social implications of total war (which European pacifists and Communists had accurately foretold decades before 1914) and sponsored things like the Luxury Fleet. Then, 20 years later these were the people who cheerfully gave power to Hitler and cheerfully helped him send kids to death camps and start another war.

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I have no idea how many Planes Billy Bishop shot down, but do feel that questions are allowed to be asked about any heroes, military, sporting or otherwise.

Some time ago people questioned Alwin Yorks exploits with some valid questions, and right away it gravitated into 2 camps with no middle ground, no discussion possible.

I have reread the article by the BBC and really dont see what the problem is with Robinson's statement? He is not in any way attacking the average soldier?

" When imaginative teachers bring it in, it's simply another teaching tool; they probably take them over to Flanders to have a look at the sights out there, have them marching around the playground, read the poems of Wilfred Owen to them. And one of the things that they'll do is show them Blackadder.

And I think to make this mistake, to categorise teachers who would introduce something like Blackadder as left-wing and introducing left-wing propaganda is very, very unhelpful. And I think it's particularly unhelpful and irresponsible for a minister in charge of education."

I dont think anyone has to be a left or right winger to come to the conclusion that the Rulers of Europe in 1914 have a lot to answer for ... just MHO. :-)

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I have no idea how many Planes Billy Bishop shot down, but do feel that questions are allowed to be asked about any heroes, military, sporting or otherwise.

Some time ago people questioned Alwin Yorks exploits with some valid questions, and right away it gravitated into 2 camps with no middle ground, no discussion possible.

I have reread the article by the BBC and really dont see what the problem is with Robinson's statement? He is not in any way attacking the average soldier?

" When imaginative teachers bring it in, it's simply another teaching tool; they probably take them over to Flanders to have a look at the sights out there, have them marching around the playground, read the poems of Wilfred Owen to them. And one of the things that they'll do is show them Blackadder.

And I think to make this mistake, to categorise teachers who would introduce something like Blackadder as left-wing and introducing left-wing propaganda is very, very unhelpful. And I think it's particularly unhelpful and irresponsible for a minister in charge of education."

I dont think anyone has to be a left or right winger to come to the conclusion that the Rulers of Europe in 1914 have a lot to answer for ... just MHO. :-)

Agree with all you say... Especially the first and last sentences. But particularly the last sentence... Rulers (elites) all ACROSS Europe and on BOTH sides of the Channel are at fault. Objective "reading" of history will show there's plenty of fault to spread around.

What bothers me about the "respectful debate" as it builds, is that it is too much about "what happened" and not enough about "what does it mean for today." We've discussed this already on GMIC (and it might be worthwhile to refresh those threads), but the "facts" are only useful if they inform discussion today about how to avoid calamity. My fear is that the world is not better off today than it was in January 1914; we still have a lot of lessons to learn. And we better learn them soon and stop the "rose colored glass" look at how brave, courageous, etc etc etc were those men. Yes, they were ... and are... But that's not the relevant point. The relevant point is what did our leadership (elites) screw up and how do we avoid future mistakes. We still have a lot of lessons to learn. Blackadder et al are great tools. They just need to be focused in the right direction. There is no "debate" on the valor and sacrifice. That deserves respectful remembrance. But debate is still needed. Critical debate on leadership, diplomatic, military failures. That's what studying history...or remembering history...is about. It's about learning from the past and applying it to today.

Edited by IrishGunner
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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/10548303/Michael-Gove-criticises-Blackadder-myths-about-First-World-War.html

"As Britain prepares to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the war, Mr Gove claims only undergraduate cynics would say the soldiers were foolish to fight."

As far as I can see... they don't say the soldiers were foolish to fight... rather their leaders were foolish to start it in the first place?

We have had a long drawn out thread on this way back when... I blame the Austrians ;-).... but in the end IMHO, I think it sad that there was no leader who said "don't be a bunch of wdnkers... we is not mobilizing mon!"...

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I agree Chris... Another thing that bothers me in this new "debate" is that it's too easy to put all the blame on Germany. In reality, laying blame shouldn't be the point at all. War was not inevitable. If Britain wanted to avoid the war, it's elites could have done more in the years leading up to August 1914; but they didn't. Shouldn't that be their part of blame in the ultimate folly? And what if Germany was to blame for "starting" the whole thing? Shouldn't British elites be "blamed" for the incompetent way the war was fought? Come on now...Germany isn't to blame for Passchendaele; that has Eaton, Cambridge, and Oxford written all over it.

I say again, the correct debate isn't about who was to blame, who was right or wrong; let's accept that it takes more than one person to make a party - and more than one reason a continent descends into hell. Looks to me that the "elites" are even screwing up the "respectful debate." Objective historians will write that we all screwed up...for differing reasons...that's not the point; what is relevant now is what are we going to do to fix it? Seems to me, we haven't done enough. I look forward to the first objective newspaper article that discusses that aspect...

Edited by IrishGunner
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Mervyn,

I agree with you and Canada is a good example where we almost always take the negative attitude about our past. Few, and there are some let’s be honest here, glorify war, but a number of years ago the World War One Ace, Billy Bishop VC, came under “fire” when a fellow (with a German name, it’s been pointed out) wrote a book stating that Mr. Bishop faked most of his “kills” and subsequent documents that led to his receiving the Victoria Cross. Thank the Gods that there is a Royal Canadian Legion as they came out in defence of his record. The general public seemed to accept the author’s accusation which is no surprise as it seems that Canadians are not allowed heroes, especially those connected to the military.

Two years ago Linda and I visited the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa and, to the shame of this country, attached to the display featuring Billy Bishop VC was a plaque that said that “In recent years the war record of Billy Bishop has come under question” (not a direct quote). I am not given to spontaneous utterances but I did blurt out a resounding “What the hell? Those bastards!”

A national hero and in a national museum and he has been treated like this? The book questioning his record was short on provable facts and still we, no not “we” but rather “they”, elected to take the coward’s path and rather than defending a national hero have run to hide from possible confrontation. Thank God our service men and women have taken the stand for our nations and not chosen the easy out.

Respectfully

Brian

To be fair, most aces have come under severe scrutiny for their claimed amount of kills, Richthofen and Hartmann being two premier examples. Although the museum is taking it too far if they have no evidence

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I would agree that there was a lot of room to exagerate "kills" early in the war as pilots were not only allowed but encouraged to go on lone hunts for enemy targets. Later on, especially after the Amreican entry into the war they were formed into squadrons and the lone wolf style was not allowed. It is almost impossible to exagerate your exploits when you are surrounded by your fellow pilots. I am all for any proven facts, however, since none exists I think the most we should do it take the claims as "possible" and let it go at that until solid proof can be offered. I often wonder if the "need" for aces by the military machine and those at home was so great that high scores, if you will, exceeded the required facts of the day.

Regards

Brian

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I once had the award documents of a WW2 German ace, he was an NCO with 49 kills.

He flew with some really famous German pilots, and was once in really hot water for questioning some "kills" of a swords winner.

Decades later, when I met him, he was still furious about getting into trouble for pointing out that there was no wreckage in the sector that the kills supposedly took place. He also moaned about the top aces claiming kills when the plane shot down had been totally crippeled by other pilots and was seconds away from going down anyway.

I think until Gun Cameras were introduced there was still a lot of fiddling the numbers...

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Very true Chris. It is a known fact that "both sides" had a need for heroes including aces and no doubt the figures were never questioned because the higher the count the more valuable the man was to the war effort both on the front and back home. Ah, propaganda.

The other point I would make is that we as a society seem to need others to look up to.

After all without the encouragement of a hero or two we might lapse into a state of peace. And that would never do. ;)

Regards

Brian

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There is a difference between perpetrators and sole perpetrators, and I sincerely hope you mean the former.

There is LOTs of blame for the outbreak of the war, train timetables, the Russians, French exuberance........but after the end of 1915 I think that the German Army Command bears the vast brunt of the blame for the perpetuation of the war. They knew they couldn't win, but knew if they "lost" it was the end of Junkerdom and the Bismarckian empire. They even discussed it in secret strategic sessions. To my mind men like Hindenburg, Tirpitz, Luddendorf , Mackensen, the Hohenzollerns et al.on the army staff at the war conferences in the winter of 1915/16 should have gone to the wall. I know that sounds a bit Boonzaierish, but like I said, they knew they'd lost and they had ample opportunities to make peace in 1916, 1917 and even in 1918...... and rejected them all. Thirty years later they all followed Hitler, cravenly once they discovered he was not kidding and perfectly capable of executing them and their families.....and World War Two was the result.

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sponsored things like the Luxury Fleet.

Go look at my post of 6 January 1914 from the Telegraph (pg 12) in the Great War forum and tell me who was building a "Luxury Fleet"... I don't see it as Germany. I'd say, Britain was the leader of the naval arms race in 1914.

Edited by IrishGunner
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There is LOTs of blame for the outbreak of the war, train timetables, the Russians, French exuberance........

In post #6, you wrote: "But I gotta say, the German, esp. Prussian social elites were the cause and perpetuators of the war to my mind."

By post #17, there's lots of blame to go around. Which is it?

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but after the end of 1915 I think that the German Army Command bears the vast brunt of the blame for the perpetuation of the war. They knew they couldn't win, but knew if they "lost" it was the end of Junkerdom and the Bismarckian empire.

At what point did the British General Staff really think they could "win" the thing?

And let's not forget, the average citizen - even in Britain - didn't get a vote. It was still the elites making the call..

From the BBC website (yea, I know how you might feel about the BBC...but I am pretty sure this is fact): "Although increasing affluence meant that the boundaries of this suffrage were porous, in 1914 Britain had the most restrictive franchise of any power in Europe, with the exception of Hungary. Many of those killed in action in 1914-1918 were fighting for a state that denied them the vote."

Maybe my Irish roots are showing.

Edited by IrishGunner
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Thirty years later they all followed Hitler, cravenly once they discovered he was not kidding and perfectly capable of executing them and their families.....and World War Two was the result.

Prime Minister Chamberlain, your flight to Munich leaves in 38 minutes.

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I'm being an a** ... I know. But the point is this... It isn't red and white and bully beef. Britain had a huge part in the failures leading to WW1 and even more in the failures in the inter-war years before WW2. Let's be objective and admit our shortcomings. It becomes easier to listen to the rants that it's all Germany's fault, if we at least accept that we...yea, even the US... weren't perfect either...

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Oh? Sounds as if you are walking down the road of , ' it was all the fault of the United States that World War One' broke out.

Heh heh.

surely you are not equating Neville Chamberlains' naïveté and gross stupidity with the craven boot licking and Nazi adherence of so many of the old German army officer corps?

bottom line, the Kaiser made the decision to invade Belgium and was irate that the British. Had the audacity to oppose his übermenschen.. The German military Command had made the decision to strike hard west because that was their only option given the train schedules and the overwhelming size of the Russian army.

By 1915 they knew they couldn't win, but made the decision to fight on so as to consolidate internal political control, e.g. Bismarckian Junkerdom.

They also advocated the mass executions and "Shrecklickkeit" during their invasions of France and Belgium, where one can still see the graves of 9 month old babies shot by German soldiers in 1914. The French and British troops on the ground only did such things in places like their colonies and rarely even then.

The Germans built most of their fleet under Kaiser Bill, as a direct challenge to the power and prestige of the British Empire...for no other reason than ego..and employment at home of course. pity they didn't pay for it, but took out loans. the Luxury Fleet was a phrase used by Tirpitz, architect of the German navy's expansion and also Bethman Holweg and is the title of Holgar Herwigs' excellent book on the subject. For a parallel development.......watch the growth of the PRCs' fleet today. They are building a lot of aircraft carriers in China these days ....and maybe soon in Japan.

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I'm late to this one, so I'll shoot quickly and duck for cover.

1) Yes, lots of blame to go round. 100 years later, how much does it really matter which percentage goes to which leader/nation/general? The poor bastards in the trenches are still dead.

2) Yes, its fashionable to downplay heroism and damn all soldiers as dupes or villains. Most were neither and we do need heroes, always and everywhere. Give me a pukka hero with an inflated kill count over a guy who shoots a sports projectile - puck, basketball or cricket ball - any day!

3) Governments, especially in this case of Great Britain, are hardly going to announce a full court 4 year celebration of idiocy, slaughter and man's inhumanity to man, are they? So, in the face of lots and lots of evidence, it will be presented as 'a noble sacrifice'. And, having said that, I am currently working on a WWI programme to take into the schools in my area. just lettered all my webbing with the serial number of a great uncle who spent 11 months in 1917 in the trenches and never got over it. What I hope to convey to some of our young adults is: a) it was a slaughter; b) sensible people did it for four years; so c) just writing them and it off as 'stupid' is a good start to having it happen again!

Done.

Peter

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My point is , yes...lots of blame for the outbreak...but to my mind, 55% was the Germans, 45% the Russians and ultimately, 100% the Serbs ...initially.... But bottom line, the Kaiser didn't have to give the a Austro Hungarians a blank check. The Russians however, were stupid enough to back Serbia almost unconditionally. The Austrians got almost everything they asked for in their demands and invaded anyway.

But bottom line, the Germans didn't have to invade Belgium and bring in the British. they also didn't need the worlds' greatest navy. Their empire was pathetic, a financial loss leader and less than 30 years old...."comprising of backwater nowheres" to quote Teddy Roosevelt.

Consider events had the Schlieffen Plan not been undertaken....no British or Belgian involvement. Massive casualties and then stalemate in central France followed by HUGE hammer blows against a weak Russia and a Russian collapse probably by early 1916. Fritz Fischers' excellent books are well worth-reading on this topic.

The British had a naval world strategy in place for over 250+ years and needed it to maintain their vast empire (legitimate or not) .

The Germans built their fleet within a single generation as a confluence of three major factors...industrialists and workers wanting profits/ work, nationalists wanting prestige and status for their new empire and lastly many individuals eager to have the German officer corps social status. Tirpitz insisted that navy officers have the social status of cavalry and Guard officers...which is why engineer officers and Deck officers were considered Uber-NCOs for 35 years . One can see German political evolution in that 6 piece medal bar on ebay.de right now....where the officers' LS medal was only granted to Deck officers and Inginieur officers AFTER the Weimar Republic was established, despite the fact that they were probably THE most important people actually on the ships. " Scotty...I need more power"........."So wird es Mein Executive-Offizier. "

Edited by Ulsterman
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