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Even Blackadder can cause a political rift


Nick
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Hello Chris.

Thank you for drawing our attention to this article. It is worth reading and mulling around in one's mind. But are we learning ???

Bernhard H. Holst

I honestly think Western Europe has. A certain Portion of PEOPLE in Western Europe have not, but as a whole they have.

I think WW1 was a warning, but then they dropped the Ball... then WW2 was the kicking to punish them for ignoring the warning... Unfortunately I dont think a nation can learn until an enemy has steamrollered through their country smahing everything.

Lets Take Great Britain...

Prior to WW1, in Victoria's reign they were at constant war... and they were OK with that... Professional army, paid to fight, so no complaining if someone gets hurt!! and its all outside of the borders anyway... no Youtube to show thousands of people dying in India, or burning villages in Jickystan... out of site, out of mind...

Then comes WW1... heavy losses, a few bombs by Zeppelins.... a hard lesson. I for one do NOT condemn Chamberlin. He did what he could to try and prevent a war... it failed, but noone had anything else/better to offer.

Then comes WW2... and the Luftwaffe pounds London ... a big difference between having the neighbours son serving on the Somme and having the Germans bombing your house... would certainly make me think a bit more???

Then comes the cold war... and you just KNOW people are wondering what the escalation would be.....

Lets take Germany

All nice and dandy to kill Herero and other barely armed tribes...

Then comes WW1.... heavy losses indeed... but the COUNTRY has not been destroyed. I remember reading here on the forum, a members father was horrified when French occupation troops arriving in Baden-Baden dug latrines on a Hotel lawn... I found that hysterical... maybe i am just mena, but if i had arrived in 1918 after a few years of war... i would have forced the local to bury my doodah... with a spoon! Obviously if that was the biggest complaint, the country had not suffered enough

Then comes WW2 ... huge losses... and the Country is flattened. Terrible destruction.... and up until today the country is not keen on war...

So... I see some escalation stages...

1- A country does not know war when it sends a professional army to go screw up other countries. No matter what happens, they are behind it and do not suffer themselves. This is a very dangerous situation... being able to fight wars with more or less impunity makes them crazy... Like Great Britain and Germany, and Belgium in their colonial empires pre WW1

2- When a country looses conscripts... a very harsh lesson... the more losses, the harsher it is...

3- When a country has war right there in the front garden, .... thats when a Country REALLY learns... Kill my neighbours son, but dont drop a bomb on my garage! Kill my sisters son, but please dont ###### with my prosperity!!

I bet you Belgium had already learned in 1914... in 1939 they were going "Hmmm... Just say no!"

I wonder if WW1 had destroyed large parts of Germany, if there would have been a WW2 ? or if the germans would also have said "Just say no!"

In retrospect, maybe the cold war with "Mutually assured destruction" was the best thing that could have happened... there everyone "Just said no"...

Of course... my example only works when folks have something to loose. In some places the people really dont have anything to loose "Suffer another 50 years... or get killed now? Who cares!" or "You want to destroy my abode, destroy my village! Go ahead... I will get new tents at discount prices!!" ... even Western European countries are falling back into the old pattern of getting back into form by fighting where only a few soldiers may die... but it wont take place in their front garden... so maybe we have moved back to escalation stage 1- again ;-)

From what I read in some newspapers... there are quite a few saber rattlers who would welcome escalation stage 2 -.... maybe things always come in a full circle....

OK... now I duck and run....

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OK... now I duck and run....

No reason. I think you are pretty logical in your argument.

And applied to the subject of "who" is to "blame" for WWI, I think your theme pretty much sums it up... Every ruling elite in Europe, because they didn't know what war really meant... It was easy. It was peasy. It was a mistake, but they had no yardstick with which to measure. War was a useful policy tool...damn the poor sods...they'll die for King and Country, or the Tricolor, or the Fatherland...and be damn glad of it...because its "normal." If the Great Powers had the power of foresight, they wouldn't have been so eager to run off to war. But they didn't, so ... The Guns of August shall be unleashed.

Edited by IrishGunner
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Yeah, I agree with Chris, mostly. but commentary upon NATO and its short comings, financial, logistical and moral dependence upon the USA is well within the ambit of contemporary politics.

Bottom line, large wars are almost unthinkable today, except maybe in Asia (including the Ukraine) and that's the legacy of the World Wars....so maybe a price worth paying......and the legacy of the Brito-American elites who created the modern international political, technological and economic system, that's created a more peaceful world.

Edited by Ulsterman
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"The war was “plainly a just war”, says Gove, because of the German attitude towards expansionism. And we certainly couldn’t stand by while another country fancied a bit of expansionism. Luckily, the one thing that you can say about the British in the century before 1914, is that at no time did it consider expanding or taking over anywhere or swiping anything from abroad."

Hmmm. I didn't know Gove was a "nom de Guerre" for Fritz Fischer...

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Quite interesting, I and a few other members will remember the 50th Anniversary of the Great War in 1964. At that time most of the survivors were still around and in their late 60s or 70s. I was 9 at the time and remember the Armistice day service at our local church with many sporting their Great War Trios (one or two in their late 80's wearing their QSA's as well). Everybody agreed that the War was utter hell but it was the general view that those who had took part war all hero's who had gone through what most could not imagine in their worst nightmare, Germany was very much still considered the villain and any one who remembers the 1966 world cup will remember comments like it's the third time we've beaten them, 1918, 1945 and 1966. One veteran I got to know very well was Arthur Atkinson in the Liverpool Regt. Previous to 1 July 1916 he was a very irreligious man. Luckily for him he had a contracted a badly infected foot and therefore was in the sick bay, he was to discover that many of his friends and colleagues had been slaughtered, he felt God must have spared him and he became deeply religious serving as a Lay Reader for many years. At the time there was very little revisionist views and we still sang the Supreme Sacrifice on Remembrance Sunday until a few years later when a rather evangelical minister banned it because he believed it blasphemous.

Most people over the age of 50 would have lost a father, uncle, cousin or even and older brother virtually no family in Britain was totally untouched by bereavement during the war.

That's my threefarthings worth (if it's even worth that).

Paul

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Another interesting article; "The first casualty: truth" (please, note the domain)

From the conclusion of the article: "The centenary of the First World War must not be a chauvinistic cavalcade but nor should it be a pacifist’s parade. We should hope for an open, honest debate about the multifaceted meanings of this war, the diversity of the experiences of those who fought in it, and what lessons we can draw from it today."

I found this in the "posted comments" section at the bottom of the article Chris posted above; I encourage everyone to scroll down on the suggested articles and see what others are saying outside of GMIC.

Edited by IrishGunner
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Interesting. Not sure I'm convinced, but interesting. I wonder what percentage of French soldiers, for example, came home. Not 80% I'll bet! And of those 80%, what percentage were missing limbs, or health, or some of their sanity? I'm sure there were many vets who were satisfied that their sacrifice was both necessary and effective. But I doubt that means that very many thought the actual process of war was anything but awful. how many strolls through picturesque French villages would it take to make up watching a mate drown in his own fluids after a gas attack?

Nevertheless, very much food for thought. I must confess to feeling some real guilt, as I read it, for the simplistic way I've taught the 'causes of WWI' to classes in the past, all neatly wrapped in one 75 minute session! Thanks for posting this, Irish!

Peter

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What were the root causes of the war? Personally, I believe that France and Germany were on a continual collision course that began with Napoleon's destruction of Prussia. 1808, 1870, 1914, 1940 were all continuations of the same struggle. France was worn out by 1940, and Germany finally was worn out in 1945. Until those times, both countries seemed to have continuous scores to settle with each other. I think Alistair Horne eludes to this so well in his book, To Lose a Battle, France 1940.

I wrote out a very long reason why I think the war started, but it boils down to this: no one knew what was coming. Much like the American Civil War, no country could visualize the trenches of 1918 in 1914. In the American Civil War, people marched off expecting a few shots, a parade, and the war to be over by sundown. Shelby Foote notes that Europe was sickened by news of the Battle of Shiloh in the West caused 24,000 casualties....and didn't have any real strategic value. Battle like this were horrible and didn't really decide the war, or even the war in one theater. Europe in 1914 was just like Virginia before first Manassas in 1861. After the Marne, no one had any idea what to really do. Attack, counter attack, gas, machine guns, bombs, indirect fire, counter battery fire, were all blind punches thrown in a blind fight to try to find some strategy.

Taking the conversation to another realm. I believe the war was the United States' first major political blunder. If the US had stayed neutral, and threated embargo on the belligerents, the war would have ended after Verdun, The great failure of the US was not to take advantage of the above situation, and pressure each country to come to the negation table. Due to British propaganda, we took sides well before 1917. If the United States had used its influence, I think millions of lives would have been saved.

(honestly I still don't understand why the US didn't attack the Royal Navy in 1915/16)

Edited by Chris Liontas
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Hi Chris,

Interesting comments. Any embargo by the United States would have had to come before August 1914 and therefore prior to the war; I doubt anyone would have taken it very seriously. After the war had started to escalate, but before America’s entry into the conflict in April 1917, an early cease fire would have resulted in the loss of a great deal of revenue the Americans were making from the war. Even if the USA had attempted to bring the parties to the negotiation table prior to the actual outbreak of hostilities I don’t believe European countries took the Americans very seriously. Not that there was anything negative about America but Europe of the time was all about themselves.

It was clear that the Germans feared the entry of the Americans into the war later on as is evident by the Zimmerman telegram intercepted in January 1917. Mexico, who had been offered territories and other encouragements by Germany to invade the USA, however, they declined the “kind” offer. Even so, this enraged the Americans, as well it should have; one country enticing another to invade yet another is indeed a serious threat. America entered into the war later that year in April.

As to America attacking the Royal Navy in 1915, I believe that would have been quite a cowardly act, something America is not (in my opinion) prone to undertake. It would have given the USA a place in history presently held by the actions of Japan on 7 December 1941. The American Navy also might have gotten a surprise had they indeed attacked the Royal Navy in 1915/16. It could have very well have been 1812 all over again. America would have soon found they were fighting on two fronts. A classic tactical error made far too often in military history; though that never stopped Germany from undertaking a two front conflict...twice. The results of this also being a disaster...twice.

I would suggest that the tactics used by the American Army was suited to the allied military of the time and basically based on tactics formulated in the previous century. In fact the Americans used the same tactics in their first battles even though the military forces of both the allies and Germany had changed. I applaud the USA for insisting that they fight under their own flag, so-to-speak, rather than being absorbed into the different counties needs. However, this also led to the sacrifice of far too many young Americans discovering what the allies had discovered in the first three years of the war.

On a lighter note, look at all of us being armchair generals. I must admit that had I been in charge of the allies or even the Germans, victory would have been easily assured for the opposing side by Christmas 1914.

It’s been a long time since I have enjoyed a post as much as this one.

Regards

Brian

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Hi Brian!!

I worded that last sentence poorly. Was trying to do three things at once. :) From what I have read, 1915 was slipping into 1812 all over again between the United States and Britain, The British definition of "contraband" to Germany from American manufactures including almost everything by 1916 (including cotton--America's large export). The British Government was telling the United States what it could, and could not export to Germany; and what would be seized if it was shipped. American companies were forced to sign trade partnerships where they would sell nothing to Germany if they exported anything to Britain. Even Wilson was positively irritated by this in 1916, only the Commerce Secretary was able to convince Wilson not to do anything since the allies (the general feeling) were going to win anyway. The US by 1916 was exporting millions of pounds Sterling wroth of good to the Allies while ignoring Germany (I have read up to 40% of all war material for France and Britain plus millions in loans from J.P. Morgan. However I have never seen actual documents, so I am skeptical of the numbers). The efforts of the British Wellington House secured America's financial backing very quickly, while effectively isolating a near inept (comparatively) German foreign department.

If America has stayed neutral, and threatened to stop supplying all belligerents, I think it would have effected the tone of the war effort. You cant fight without credit, and if the US had stopped supplying it, the war would have been over. It would have been economically dumb, but it would have had the effect Wilson originally wanted in promoting peace. The United States talked peace, while attempting to buy off and secure the winner. Germany knew this, and knew there was no way to win while we supplied the allies with everything we could sell.

****ok quick change of pace. Would it not have been better for Ludendorff to seize Ukraine in 1918 rather than attacking the Western Front? The Ukraine could have supplied all the grain Germany needed to continue the war and feed its people. The Russians/Whites/Reds could not have offered serious resistance the way the British and French armies could on the Western Front.. ****

My comment on the attack was just to say, it seemed, all things considered, that America would militarily see the Royal Navy and the enforced restrictions on our trade as more of a threat in 1916 than Germany. (how's that for a run on sentence :) However after a glass of brandy (or two) last night, it didn't quite come out as well as I thought :)

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Hi Chris,

No problems from this end on what was said and I would have to agree with you about the relationship between the British and the US was getting to be too much like it was in 1812. I also would not be surprised if your figures were not pretty close.

Stupidity is very expensive, oops...I mean war. I just glad the two nations didn't come to blows as my wife likes her annual cross border shopping trip with the ladies too much... it's really the only peace I get. :whistle:

Regards

Brian

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****ok quick change of pace. Would it not have been better for Ludendorff to seize Ukraine in 1918 rather than attacking the Western Front? The Ukraine could have supplied all the grain Germany needed to continue the war and feed its people. The Russians/Whites/Reds could not have offered serious resistance the way the British and French armies could on the Western Front.. ****

The 1918 Spring Offensive is seen as a last throw of the dice by the Germans. With fresh American troops arriving in thousands per day, seizing Ukraine would have diverted troops from the Western front. The Spring Offensive was meant to break through the allied defences and accomplish the task they had failed in 1914 before enough American troops arrived to thwart them. Unfortunately for the Germans, it was a case of too little, too late. Initial successes got bogged down and they were overwhelmed by counterattacks with superior numbers. It is said that even before it was launched, the Kaiser's generals knew it would be the last great push of the war from their side, whatever the outcome.

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Posted this as requested from another thread but adds to the discussions on here I think

Posted 13 December 2013 - 22:24

Mervyn's post (in the Remembrance thread) got me thinking about parts of the Empire that served. T'tinternet gives the following figures:

Regulars in the British Army - 733,514

Recruited from

England - 4,006,158

Scotland - 557,618

Wales - 272,924

Ireland - 134,202

India - 1,524,187

Canada - 418,035

Australia - 330,000

New Zealand - 100,471

South Africa - 74,196

West Indies - 16,000

Newfoundland - 10,610

Dominions - 31,000

Giving an overall total of 8,689,467 serving for Britain and Empire (stand and look dreamily off into the distance at this point)

Having read on through these numbers I noticed that 956,703 were killed and 2,272,998 wounded. That's 11% and 26% respectively.

If, as a rough guess, about half were actually in the front lines (is this a reasonable guess?). Then the percentages would almost double for the fighting men (I assume some back room boys fell down the stairs or had large arty shells fall on them etc).

So, am I correct in saying that a soldier serving in a fighting line regiment meant that he had almost a 74% chance of a wound or death. I know a lot of other factors can skew the figures - depended how long the soldier had been serving, what theatres they were in, statistical things etc etc.

That's 3 out of every 4 front line troops !!!!!!!!! :speechless1: Is my maths way out? For a front line soldier to have joined in 1914 surviving through to 1918 must have almost been a miracle considering how the odds must stack up.

(P.S - Tachel says the figures sound close enough and I may have a bit of a root round, get into a few more details over years and maybe into other nations as well.)

Edited by Spasm
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Sounds good. The only thing is since soldiers could (and did) get wounded more than once, or even wounded, survive and die from other causes later on, the percentages would overlap a bit, so it would be less than 74% (though still not any odds I would fancy!).

When you say Dominions, you mean the smaller contingents that aren't listed separately? Thanks

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Yes, that's what I understand it to mean.

In 1914 roughly 400 million people were within the British Empire! According to the 1914 American Geographical Society the world's total population was 1669 millions so the British Empire held nearly a quarter of the people on the earth. Interesting to see how the Society estimated how the populations would grow from 1914 to 1920, I assume the actual growth was somewhat different.

Edited by Spasm
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With ref. to Post 47 and our short discussion on the ship building race that developed between Britain and Germany.

This is a picture of the first Dreadnought - the Battleship that changed the whole concept of Naval ships of the Line.

She was launched in 1906 - and the first German version in 1909.

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_01_2014/post-6209-0-09244900-1390039580.jpgclick

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The overall British troops involved in WW1 - as Spasm so rightly points out - were drawn from an Empire that had

roughly a quarter of the World's population.

We used three descriptive words to describe the different places : Dominions - Colonies and Territories.

A Dominion was a large - mainly self governing, Country. Australia ; New Zealand ; India ; Canada and South Africa.

Colonies - were Governed directly from Britain and would have a Governor.

Territories, were Islands and areas where we were in control and directed Foreign Policy - but often left Tribal Leadership.

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My view is us Brits should never have gone in meant the death of England we never recovered. The pollies and generals should have been hung drawn and quartered at the tower and dumped in the thames, their noggins on display dangling from tower bridge.

I'm of the view the War has already long begun 1914 only significant because the failure of the modified Schlieffen plan in the West.

Eric

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I am totally against your view. The Thames was polluted enough; surely there could have been some other alternative to the disposal of their remains. ;)

Seriously, now that you mention the Schlieffen plan the French Plan 17 also comes to mind. The original German plan was to encircle Paris and thereby ending the war quickly. The French Plan 17 basically involved a drive with full force to the East thereby stopping any attack in its tracks.

The point I am making here is that most countries had similar plans in that they involved a total commitment to one objective with no thought to alternative actions or even different options. Once committed all sides were doomed to an all out state of total warfare.

Regards

Brian

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