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Even Blackadder can cause a political rift


Nick
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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.

No. Our failures as the world's greatest power will have to wait until after WW2...and even then until the 1960s.

But Britain was the world's greatest power in 1914. Either you are saying "Great" Britain was incapable of doing anything, or unwilling to do anything, or tried and failed; any way you look at it ... Britain failed and thus shares in the blame for the war even starting in the first place.

And even then, the German General Staff never ordered thousand of British "subjects" to go over the top in waves...waves...to be gunned down by machine guns. I guess Downton Abbey never heard the best offense is a good defense. Or to paraphrase Patton; it's not a soldier's job to die for his country, but to make the other SOB die. Pip pip, over the top lads.

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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?

Yes, I am. Stupid is as stupid does. Chamberlain was a boot licker. He may not have worn an SS uniform, but his lack of backbone shouldn't be condoned as mere "naivete". Hope is not a plan. It's all speculation...isn't this entire thread? ... but why not draw a "line in the sand"? Nope. We'll give Hitler Czechoslovakia to send to the KZ's and maybe he'll be satisfied. Chamberlain was elected by the British "elite" and he sold out. Own up.

Edited by IrishGunner
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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. "

Why exactly did Britain "need" to maintain its vast empire? Ego? Greed? Survival? Isn't that "need" enough to earn some "blame"?

And again, look at the numbers. Germany's naval "build up" was no real threat to Britain. That is just a red herring.

Edited by IrishGunner
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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.

On this, we come close to agreement. Britain was under no obligation to support France or Russia in a war with Germany. Belgian neutrality, however, and Britain's guarantee go back to the 1839 Treaty of London. Of course, Britain could have ignored that "scrap of paper" like the Kaiser suggested. But to Britain's credit...it did not. But in reality, the real German threat to Britain was not the Kaiser's fleet, but German control of the Low Countries (even France) and thus, threaten the English Channel. So, in reality, Britain went to war out of its own interests. And using your argument that the German "empire" was a sham...perhaps British fears were "paranoid" and London could have stayed out of the fray. If London stays out of the fray, does the war last as long? So, British interests also prolonged the war, didn't they?

Of course, that's not a fair question. Once things started, Britain had to get involved. But Britain's role is not without scrutiny...that is my point.

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Yes, I am. Stupid is as stupid does. Chamberlain was a boot licker. He may not have worn an SS uniform, but his lack of backbone shouldn't be condoned as mere "naivete". Hope is not a plan. It's all speculation...isn't this entire thread? ... but why not draw a "line in the sand"? Nope. We'll give Hitler Czechoslovakia to send to the KZ's and maybe he'll be satisfied. Chamberlain was elected by the British "elite" and he sold out. Own up.

Hope isn't a plan? hmmmmmmm....but that's the American way......but I wade into contemporary politics...sorry.

To be historical, of course Chaimberlain was a fool and a coward and he lived long enough to see himself derided as such by pretty much everyone. But he was trying to avert a war and many people over the world thought the Sudetens were actually German. There was of course a bit of a parallel with The Balkans a couple of decades ago.

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Why exactly did Britain "need" to maintain its vast empire? Ego? Greed? Survival? Isn't that "need" enough to earn some "blame"?

no, it's the situation as it existed in August, 1914. One can not blame the UK for defending Belgium and its empire, even if one considers that empire immoral. Germany, bottom line , did not have to "defend itself" by invading Belgium or building the worlds' second largest navy, unless it really did believe itself morally,culturally and economically superior ...ueber in Der Welt........a perversion perhaps of Nietschian philosophy perhaps. The Proud Tower by Tuchman has a brilliant description of a Germany at this time..."Neroism was in the Air".

.

And again, look at the numbers. Germany's naval "build up" was no real threat to Britain. That is just a red herring.

Much like the Warsaw Pact wasn't really a threat in the Cold War? So the fleet was only there to protect Germanys' vital trade with Togo and Samoa? They were smart and backed down in Manilla in 1898 though. I reckon Dewey would've destroyed their ships in an afternoon had the Admiral been fool enough to take Tirpitzs'' advice.

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Much like the Warsaw Pact wasn't really a threat in the Cold War? So the fleet was only there to protect Germanys' vital trade with Togo and Samoa? They were smart and backed down in Manilla in 1898 though. I reckon Dewey would've destroyed their ships in an afternoon had the Admiral been fool enough to take Tirpitzs'' advice.

So, the war was to protect the British Empire. Okay, that I'll agree with... At least that puts some perspective on Britain's share of the blame.

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

Hi IrishGunner,

I believe that all men in Britian got the vote (sorry ladies) in 1884 due to the Third Reform Act,

On another note, please remember that this is a section dealing with WWI and not the aftermath. Yes a lot in the post WWI era led to WWII and even to where we are today in the world but the discussion should really not exceed 1919.

We can do that in the section for the 100th anniversary of WWII in 2039. ;)

Regards

Brian

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Brian, your points regarding WW2 are well taken. Nonetheless, in the interest of parliamentary procedure, I think it should be noted that the Right Honourable Gentlemen first brought the Second World War into the discussion in Post #17. I, of course, countered and accept my part of the blame. However, I do not believe I am solely responsible for the diversion (sort of like Germany in WWI).

Of course, we've been across the time continuum starting with Sir Tony and the Secretary of State for Education Mr. Gove and the PRC's Navy to the Third Reform Act of 1884, which you have raised. And since you have; from my reading (and the BBC's) of the Third Reform Act of 1884, it only gave the vote to 60% of the male population in Britain, because of continuing property requirements. It wasn't until the Fourth Reform Act of 1918 - partly the result of so many men dying in Flanders that didn't even have the right to vote - that eliminated all property requirements and instituted the vote for all males over 21 (and even some women).

Which brings us back to the beginning...that is the role of the European elites (from all countries) starting and executing the First World War.

And I respectfully submit that the First World War was the defining event of history - without it, there is no Russian Revolution, no Second World War, no Cold War, etc. To blindly stop the discussion at 1919 is to ignore the reason for the discussion about the First World War in the first place. It should not be a rhetorical discussion or simple remembrance solely because it's the Centenary. This is a real opportunity for objective reflection, discussion, sharing of differing opinions and even interpretations of the event ... and it's meaning to today. We'll "bleed" all over the historical timeline in future discussions I'm sure. To do otherwise will not do the core discussion justice.

Edited by IrishGunner
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they knew they'd lost and they had ample opportunities to make peace in 1916, 1917 and even in 1918...... and rejected them all.

The Germans did issue a peace proposal in 1916 in response to Wilson's memorandum to each of the warring powers. From what I can find out about it it was on the arrogant side, but it was a starting point from which the other powers may have tried to hammer out something. Whatever it contained, it was certainly a better chance of peace than Lloyd George's reply, ''We shall put our trust rather in an unbroken army than in broken faith."

Edited by redeagleorder
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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?

I am going to go out on a limb here and say... maybe they were foolish to fight?

Maybe people back then were patriotic to the point of stupidity? Ready to fight although they had no idea what for?

The Quote by an Embarking British soldier along the lines of "we are off to fight the belgians".... Or Koen Britz Statement to Louis Botha (South Africa) in 1914 "My men are ready to ride... who are we fighting, the Germans or the british?"....

I have read a lot, less than some, more than others... but I still dont see any real objectives in the war? If the best excuse they could find was an assasination in sarajevo, you know they were trying really hard... but why?

It all seems to be nationalistic posturing, and IMHO the people were rather silly to follow it. HOWEVER... "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there." ..... it is not fair to judge people back then but what one believes today...

See below.......

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A commiseration card, including pomp, glory and medals, condolences for the sons death, and at the same time the thought that "What can be more beautiful than dying for the fatherland"... I can think of plenty of things...

Now, if it had been my sons death... I would have knocked on the senders door, and made him eat this. But this is more or less a standard card....

And many of the death cards ordered by the families show PRIDE in having lost a son.... and did the average man in the street undestand anything more than "We are fighting the bloody Tommies!" or "We are fighting the bloody hun!"

But it is 2014... maybe in 1914 "Fatherland" was something different.

Another point, back then people did not travel, or few of them did. It has always been a theory of mine that the less people see of the world, the more they live in their own little sorner of the globe, and anything further than their next village is marked "Here be dragons!" on the map.

I wont be alone in saying I have friends in South Africa, Canada, France, UK, Germany... could not really see myself involved in a war against any of them.... but I also remember as a kid in South africa, a kind of circled Wagon mentality where there was Anti South Africa stuff on the news all the time and even as a kid you thought of those countries where a boycott of South african peaches was taking place as "the enemy"....

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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.

I would challenge this statement... I would say they could not longer win by taking Paris... but they were still doing OK... There were times after 1915 when a victory may have been possible... like after the Failed French offensives in 1917... apparently the germans did not realise the near state of collapse of the French army, but if they had made the most of the situation, things could have been very different.

The Somme, Nivelle Offensive, Various defensive efforts in Flanders... the Germans were not realy on the ropes.... Some folks can do a lot with the little they have left...

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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.

Now, I have argued that the Germans killed civilians in Belgium in the past, but would stop short of saying the Germans or even the kaiser advocated Mass executions, IMHO they did happen, but for the most part at a local level.

Once again, that is not to say it did not happen.

But on the other hand, a lot of the period Writings need to be regarded with healthy scepticism (once again MHO)

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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.

But is building a fleet a naughty thing to do? Would the Germans have suddenly decided to shell Cape Town ?

It would make me think less of Great Britain if a major reason for going to war was hurt pride because the Germans were building nicer ships.

It is a bit presumptuous to say "We have lots of little boats, but you can't build anymore as our pride will be hurt!" ;-)

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If this is to be a fair discussion, then it needs a larger contribution from many others of our Members.

The BBC in the last thirty years have shown a very biased opinion about our overseas Colonial period

and seem to take every opportunity to run the Country down and blame us for everything from slavery

and trade, onwards. They need to be brought under control - they are paid for by Taxpayers money

through the License system.

I don't think anyone with an historical background could fully support our officer class in the 1st WW.

The senior ones just had no experience of this type of warfare - despite having had the training of the

Boer War. Despite this we did have many excellent General Rank officers - and as the war went-on

they had more opportunities to show their abilities - Allenby comes immediately to my mind.

I would submit to you, that the War had it's origins much further back then you are allowing for. When

Bismarck took control of the German Principalities to set up the Empire, he put Saxons - who were allied

to many European Nations, under the control of the Huns - who even the Romans feared. This was

the German expansionist period that led to seized Colonies in Africa and other areas. However, the British

and the French had already made the good selections and I think the race for supremecy and "National

Honour" really started at that point in time.

The business of the fleets was undoubtedly one of the 'flashpoints' , that over a number of years led to

increased rivalry. Germany wanted a fleet to safeguard it's new colonies - however, it is important to

remember that Britain had been protected for over four hundred years by it's Navy. The Fleet allowed

protection for the overseas countries in the Empire and safeguarded imports and exports. Therefore,

the start of a major fleet building programme by Germany was of serious concern. Lord Fisher was the

main person in Britain who pushed for a reform with our ships - and the result was at the turn of the 20th

Century we developed and started building a new type of Battleship - the Dreadnought class. Every country

in the World - of any importance - had to immediately copy them.

Just a comment on the early heroes - perhaps some did exaggerate - however, one of the statements of

recommendation for a VC has to be from a Commissioned Officer. Once granted by the King how rude

that someone trying to sell a book , or an article, should attack that Award. Brian is right to be angry about

the Canadian Museum putting the sign on display. Now would be a good time to write a few letters to the

papers - what the Museum staff has done , is the same as the BBC is doing in denigrating the heroes of the

past. Perhaps Chris - with his different background doesn't realise the offence given by these nonentities ?

Just my comments - and I've enjoyed the multiple posts. Mervyn

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I don't think anyone with an historical background could fully support our officer class in the 1st WW.

The senior ones just had no experience of this type of warfare - despite having had the training of the

Boer War. Despite this we did have many excellent General Rank officers - and as the war went-on

they had more opportunities to show their abilities - Allenby comes immediately to my mind.

When I started reading this paragraph my mind immediately jumped to Allenby as well.

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I would submit to you, that the War had it's origins much further back then you are allowing for.

I completely agree... National interests were in competition long before 1914 and on a collision course. If the Continental Powers had been ready, my argument is that they would have in fact gone to war in 1912. Europe didn't rush headlong into war in August 1914, they had been preparing since 1912 - or even before, only waiting for the right moment.

This was discussed in some detail about a year ago in this very Forum. See here. We unfortunately, did not carry through in extending the discussion through the year. I am sure there were many details from the year 1913 that would have been interesting to discuss over the past year.

I'm sure we'll cover some of the same ground in the next six months, but your point is excellent, Mervyn, the issue demands deeper analysis and a further look back in time.

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