Anthropoid
Lieutenant
Posts: 128
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 7:11 pm

Was World War One Inevitable?

Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:32 am

As a counterpart to the "Could CP have won" thread, here is a thread to address the question of whether or not WWI was inevitable.

To be more precise, the question starting that earlier thread was:

"Under what hypothetical situation would the Central Powers have won the war?"

So we might match that question with one with a similar structure

"Under what hypothetical situation would World War 1 have NOT happened after all?"

Phrasing it this way also raises the question (from an alternative history kind of abstract perspective) of "what was WWI." If you started 'taking pieces of WWI out of history, meaning if certain events had not happened the way they actually did (e.g., lets say hypothetically that a separate piece was achieved with France and Britain very early on, would that still be "WWI" or would it more accurately be called something else "The Great Eastern War" or something?).

So in effect, asking if WWI was inevitable is a way of asking "What defines WWI as it is, and what would define it as being categorically different than it was?"

Just in case this is not enough to get the juices flowing, I'll throw in some additional info that is kinda related, and might spark some thinking and posting by you buffs and experts! :w00t:

I quote myself from the other thread

Was World War One invevitable?

My wife bought me a couple-years-old VHS set (Time Life published it I think) on WWII (one tape on Land, one on Sea, one on Air, etc. . . . not exactly high-brow history, but interesting to watch . . .). Anyway, they had some interview footage of this one famous WWII historian in there, and I recall him saying something along the lines of:

"World War II is really 'World War One Act II'" meaning that, viewed from farther in the future where the broad social-structural patterns may become more evident, future historians may well redefine WWI and WWII as being part of one big war, broken momentarily by peace, much the way the Hundred Years War was seen as a string of smaller and separate wars at the time.

Whether or not that supposition is true is in and of itself an interesting one on which I bet a lot of guys on here might offer some interesting commentary. But to link this tangent more directly to the topic of this thread, what this model of thinking makes me wonder is: if we entertain the hypothesis that WWII was a more-or-less inevitable continuation of events that started in WWI, then it definitely raises the question of whether WWI was inevitable.

I myself am certainly not well-read enough to have a reasonable opinion on big questions like this, but I'd love to hear any of you guys who are better versed in it.

Well whattaya think guys?

User avatar
Franciscus
Posts: 4564
Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2007 8:31 pm
Location: Portugal

Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:50 am

Interesting. :thumbsup:

But you are talking about 2 different things:

- Was WW1 inevitable
- Was WW2 inevitable.

Although we can argue of course that WW1 was evitable - but hardly, because Germany's inferiority complex coupled with her might would inevitably lead to at least another European confrontation, I believe that in fact WW2 was almost an inevitable consequence of WW1 - specifically of the Versailles treaty (one of the greatest blunders of the History of humanity, IMHO). Even without an Hitler, a confrontation would most certainly occur.

Just my 2 cents

06 Maestro
General
Posts: 573
Joined: Fri Nov 14, 2008 1:14 am
Location: Las Vegas, NV, USA
Contact: WLM

Thu Feb 19, 2009 3:12 am

WW1 was guaranteed to occur-it was just a matter of time. Due to the national pride of the various nations, coupled to a myriad of alliances and a lack of understanding of just how horrific such a war could be; Europe was doomed to fight that war.

WW2 could have been avoided easily if the victors of WW1 were somewhat more fair in their treatment of Germany. The Treaty of Versailles guaranteed that someone like Hitler (at least in the sense of wanting to correct the historic injustice of the treaty) would come along-and not in the too distant future.

The 2 wars started for vastly different reasons. One could point to Hitler's demands regarding the colonies in '39, but that was just a show. He was not interested in buying time-he had an advantage, and wanted to use it while it lasted.

WW1 could have started over any trivial thing and could have ended in a negotiated peace. WW2 would take a major event to get started, and there was no real option for a negotiated peace under the circumstances (not that it was impossible-far from it, but not a very smart move for the Democracies).

Anthropoid
Lieutenant
Posts: 128
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 7:11 pm

Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:26 pm

Interesting. I had of course heard the idea that WWII was an inevitable consequence of the unfair Versailles Treaty before. That seems to be a widespread and largely uncontested idea?

You comment about "another" European conflict makes me wonder . . . now I'm no expert on 19th Century European history, but when I look at this wiki-list of 19th Century European conflicts arrayed in chronological order I think to myself . . . Holy Minie Bullet Batman! There were a lot of 'little' wars going on in the Balkan/Dardanelles region that I wasn't even aware of!

Given the "spark" that supposedly set off WWI was Austrian Ferdinand's assassination by a Serb, I would think that this general trend of short 'smallish' wars in that region in the decades preceding La Grande Geurre MUST reflect some kind of historical continuity, eh?

Which, if it is so, would make me think more toward 'inevitability' of WWI than not.

User avatar
Cavalryman
Corporal
Posts: 54
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2008 3:44 pm
Location: London

Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:36 pm

I am not certain about its inevitability...although all the great powers appeared to expect it....and you only have to look at the popular fiction of the time to see that the population almost saw it as inevitable ...... Erskine Childers et al.....while nobody truly looked forward to it...least of all the Hun Generals who knew it would be a devastating event and little more than the roll of the dice for Germany, I think a more interesting question might be was it a futile enterprise as so much of the post war commentators of note seem to have made almost received wisdom?

My own view is that far from it being a futile war without purpose...the people fighting it at the time believed in it and felt that the sacrifice was worth it...it was only after the war that views were changed....take for example the massive monuments to the fallen.....these were in the early years after the war the focus of celebrations and of trophy piles as tall and revered as any ancient civilisations war trophies ..... guns... helmets..... equipment were piled up for all to see and to glory in the victory as of old ......it was only later on...as a result of wives and mothers of the fallen lobbying that the trophies were removed. Remembrance Sunday in the UK for several years, and in many other countries in the immediate aftermath of the war was an excuse to get as drunk as possible with old comrades, spend a few days on a bender avoiding work and then whoring and womanising to your hearts content (yes please!...sad that the old traditions go!)....just like the old days behind the front....it was only later that nations started to make it a more sombre affair...

Truth to tell you cannot look at the era of 1914-1918 with the eyes of 2009...we are a different set of people.....with a very different set of values....there is no equivalency of view....to someone leading the life of a factory worker in 1914 the war had a magical air of adventure to it.....we who live in such splendor... even those now perceived as "poor" have no idea really what their lives of near slavery were like for the worker of 1914.....imagine working men dying at this rate today? "The earliest systematic survey of workplace fatalities in the United States in this century covered Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, from July 1906 through June 1907; that year in the one county, 526 workers died in "work accidents"; 195 of these were steelworkers. In contrast, in 1997, 17 steelworker fatalities occurred nationwide in the entire U.S.A."

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm4822a1.htm

TOODLE PIP OLD BOY's!

User avatar
Aphrodite Mae
Posts: 764
Joined: Fri Sep 05, 2008 3:13 pm
Location: With Dixicrat

Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:49 pm

Hey... why did it become a "World War" in the first place? I'm kinda wonderin', 'cause all of those empires and stuff were already in place, and had been for years... right? And hadn't there been a bunch of itty-bitty wars in the Balkans and so on? Why did it become so huge and catastrophic, instead of another proxy war?

Thanks in advance, to anybody that answers!

Anthropoid
Lieutenant
Posts: 128
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 7:11 pm

Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:54 pm

Excellent points Cavalryman; particularly about the issue of relative-deprivation. It IS necessary to keep those relative-comparisons of the 'value of human life' as well as the 'merit of different castes' to really put the period into perspective.

. . . spend a few days on a bender avoiding work and then whoring and womanising to your hearts content . . .


Phouugh . . . and without latext condoms to boot. It was a harder time wasn't it :neener:

Andriko
Corporal
Posts: 50
Joined: Thu Nov 27, 2008 1:11 am

Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:55 pm

06 Maestro wrote:WW1 was guaranteed to occur-it was just a matter of time. Due to the national pride of the various nations, coupled to a myriad of alliances and a lack of understanding of just how horrific such a war could be; Europe was doomed to fight that war.


This is a far too general statement to make. After all nations have formed their alliances (1902 roughly), one could say THEN it became inevitable simply because any small thing could set off a big thing. But this did not happen in 1878 because Europe was lucky enough the Have Disraeli and Bismark the talk everyone out of it. That continuing crises in the Balkans was inevitable yes, but your statment is basicly 'It had to happen because wars are an inevitable part of Human expirience'.

On top of that, Britain was never actually commited to any European war by the terms of the treaties, the casus belli only came when Germany violated Belgium Neutrality (Britwain being a guarentor). Of course, once the war has started the truth is the British will have to get involved one way or another.

WW2 could have been avoided easily if the victors of WW1 were somewhat more fair in their treatment of Germany. The Treaty of Versailles guaranteed that someone like Hitler (at least in the sense of wanting to correct the historic injustice of the treaty) would come along-and not in the too distant future.


The treaty iof Versailles was absolutley a fair treaty packaged atrociously. All the Land Germany lost wasn't even theirs (it was mostly polish), they spent the whole of the '20's succesfully evading demiliterisation one way or another (for example, posting troops in Russia), and people seem to forget that the amount of money Hitler spent on rearmement in the 30's would have paid the reperations bill off several times over. Secondly, post WW2 West Germany, which is even less they Germany c. 1919, grew into one of the most economically powerfull nations in the world.
Versailles's failing was that Woodrow Wilson (mainly) was too much of an idealist and didn't understand the European rules of the Game, nor why they fought the war. You had a middle ground treaty, it wasn't tough enough to ruin germany completley, but it was done in such a way they could bear a grudge. That aside, by 1933 the German public were no longer really concerned about it, and the 'stab in the back' myth etc was resurected much later if i remember. I suggest you read the 'Road to WW2' by AJP Taylor, he explains this in a far more entertaing way :)


The 2 wars started for vastly different reasons. One could point to Hitler's demands regarding the colonies in '39, but that was just a show. He was not interested in buying time-he had an advantage, and wanted to use it while it lasted.


Actually they were both fought for the same reasons - Germany wanted to alter the European balance of power, France and Britain wanted to prevent this. An as a side note, WW1 was and incredibley idealistic war also (fighting for democracy etc).

WW1 could have started over any trivial thing and could have ended in a negotiated peace. WW2 would take a major event to get started, and there was no real option for a negotiated peace under the circumstances (not that it was impossible-far from it, but not a very smart move for the Democracies).


There were infact many attempts at a negotiated peace all throughout WW1, but they were prevented by a massive German Nationalistic movement demanding rediculous amounts of annexations (see e.g., the Vaterlandspartei) and Ludendorf's increasing 'megolomania' for want of a better word. Once again, this is not too disimilar from what happened to German leadership in WW2. Though of course, germany 1914 definatley did not set out with the same agenda as in 1939.

User avatar
Cavalryman
Corporal
Posts: 54
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2008 3:44 pm
Location: London

Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:04 pm

Phouugh . . . and without latext condoms to boot. It was a harder time wasn't it :neener: [/QUOTE]

I'm sure being sterling chaps they muddled through somehow!!!!...

User avatar
Cavalryman
Corporal
Posts: 54
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2008 3:44 pm
Location: London

Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:05 pm

Anthropoid wrote:Phouugh . . . and without latext condoms to boot. It was a harder time wasn't it :neener:


Great comment...I had a good chuckle at that.......I'm sure being sterling chaps they muddled through somehow!!!!...

tagwyn
AGEod Guard of Honor
Posts: 1220
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 4:09 pm

Inevitablilty of 20th Century Wars?

Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:49 pm

Since mankind has free will: ergo, nothing is set in stone. t

User avatar
Cavalryman
Corporal
Posts: 54
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2008 3:44 pm
Location: London

Maybe we should start a new Condom use thread????

Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:36 pm

The German military was the first to promote condom use among its soldiers, beginning in the later 1800s. Early twentieth century experiments by the American military concluded that providing condoms to soldiers significantly lowered rates of sexually transmitted diseases but I believe that social conservatism prevented their distribution to troops in France. Britain did not provide condoms at the start of the war but promoted their use later....all other countries were dishing them out from day one.

Tom_B1
Civilian
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:30 am

Fri Feb 20, 2009 8:44 pm

WWI was probable but not inevitable. Some factors that could've worked against it erupting:

1] The strong Socialist majority in Reichstag which would agitate both for the right to select the Chancellor and an end to the Prussian 3 tier voting system plus some specific laws. Absent the war Germany should be moving Left.

2] The succession of Karl as Kaiser of A-H. He would either immediately sack or at least defang Conrad which would reduce the prickly nature of the Dual Monarchy. He would also try to solve the internal political mess.

3] Russia was getting stronger (her economy was surging. She was improving her railroads, etc.) As early as mid 1915 the military of the Central Powers would be seriously afraid of tangling with Russia. However as a counterbalance I would see the Duma just like the Reichstag causing internal political concerns to predominate inside Russia with some classic rising expectations problems.

User avatar
Le Ricain
Posts: 3281
Joined: Sun Apr 09, 2006 12:21 am
Location: Aberdeen, Scotland

Fri Feb 20, 2009 9:44 pm

Tom_B1 wrote:WWI was probable but not inevitable. Some factors that could've worked against it erupting:

1] The strong Socialist majority in Reichstag which would agitate both for the right to select the Chancellor and an end to the Prussian 3 tier voting system plus some specific laws. Absent the war Germany should be moving Left.

2] The succession of Karl as Kaiser of A-H. He would either immediately sack or at least defang Conrad which would reduce the prickly nature of the Dual Monarchy. He would also try to solve the internal political mess.

3] Russia was getting stronger (her economy was surging. She was improving her railroads, etc.) As early as mid 1915 the military of the Central Powers would be seriously afraid of tangling with Russia. However as a counterbalance I would see the Duma just like the Reichstag causing internal political concerns to predominate inside Russia with some classic rising expectations problems.


Another factor that could have worked against WWI erupting as it did was the behaviour of the British government. The King, George V, and the Foreign Minister, Lord Grey, each told Germany and France what they wanted to hear. The King, after confirming with the PM that no alliance existed between France and Britain, informed his cousin the Kaiser that Britiain would not enter into a war on France's behalf.

The Foreign Minister at the same time was assuring the French Foreign Minister that Britain would support France against Germany. Germany and France both believing that they had British support played hardball with each other. One of them would be disappointed and would believe that they had been betrayed by 'perfidious Albion'.
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

'Nous voilà, Lafayette'

Colonel C.E. Stanton, aide to A.E.F. commander John 'Black Jack' Pershing, upon the landing of the first US troops in France 1917

06 Maestro
General
Posts: 573
Joined: Fri Nov 14, 2008 1:14 am
Location: Las Vegas, NV, USA
Contact: WLM

Sat Feb 21, 2009 6:44 am

Andriko wrote:This is a far too general statement to make.

Yes, it is a general statement, and I had no doubt that someone would point that out :) . However, General statements can be true also.


Andriko wrote:'It had to happen because wars are an inevitable part of Human expirience'.


I did not say that. The circumstances and results of such a war were not fully understood-certainly not by the various civilian populations who were jubilant at the opening of hostilities. This is in stark contrast to the start of WW2. I read that you could here a pin drop in Berlin on Sept 1 1939. Likewise, I don't recall reading about celebrations in France either in "39. WW3 has not occurred, even though there were much greater "red button" events than one power wishing to conduct an investigation of an assassination in some small country-and being refused that ability (the real cause-not the actual assassination). After WW2, the ramifications of total war were enough to cool the heels of the most psychotic dictators that ever lived.

Andriko wrote: Of course, once the war has started the truth is the British will have to get involved one way or another.


Quite true-and the Germans knew this.


Andriko wrote:The treaty iof Versailles was absolutley a fair treaty packaged atrociously. All the Land Germany lost wasn't even theirs (it was mostly polish), they spent the whole of the '20's succesfully evading demiliterisation one way or another (for example, posting troops in Russia), and people seem to forget that the amount of money Hitler spent on rearmement in the 30's would have paid the reperations bill off several times over.


There were large tracts of land that were populated solely by Germans which were removed from Germany. France had no problem in even suggesting that the Saar should be annexed by France-some could justify this somehow. I view that treaty as one of the most despicable documents of modern times. It is possible that Germany could have accepted the loss of land and the financial rape, but not being forced to admit guilt for starting WW1-this was "over the top".

Andriko wrote:Secondly, post WW2 West Germany, which is even less they Germany c. 1919, grew into one of the most economically powerfull nations in the world.


Only after several years of horrible treatment of their population. It came to a point of either assisting Germany to rebuild, or to see it rapidly fall under the sway of communism.


Andriko wrote:Versailles's failing was that Woodrow Wilson (mainly) was too much of an idealist and didn't understand the European rules of the Game, nor why they fought the war.


I don't call that a "failing", I call that an attribute. I am personally proud of the fact that the U.S. turned its back on such a rag document. That treaty (along with the absurd Allied propaganda which was exposed after the war) was the primary reason the Americans were deeply apposed to getting involved in another European war 20 years later.


Andriko wrote: You had a middle ground treaty, it wasn't tough enough to ruin germany cremember. I suggest you read the 'Road to WW2' by AJP Taylor, he explains this in a far more entertaing way :)


Maybe when I have some free time. If he feels that the Treaty of Versailles was fair, then I doubt I will agree with much he has to say. I'm sure it is interesting anyway.



Andriko wrote:Actually they were both fought for the same reasons - Germany wanted to alter the European balance of power, France and Britain wanted to prevent this. An as a side note, WW1 was and incredibley idealistic war also (fighting for democracy etc).


The T.E. wanted what Germany had-"the proof is in the pudding" and they got it. Of course, Germany had big overseas ambitions also. Jealousy over jungles and deserts-must have left a few folks scratching their heads when it was all over. Only silly nationalistic pride along with a lack of understanding of the future conflict can explain it. The military and naval buildups which were caused by the jealousy factors became an issue unto itself-adding even more kindling to the situation.


Andriko wrote:There were infact many attempts at a negotiated peace all throughout WW1, but they were prevented by a massive German Nationalistic movement demanding rediculous amounts of annexations (see e.g., the Vaterlandspartei) and Ludendorf's increasing 'megolomania' for want of a better word. Once again, this is not too disimilar from what happened to German leadership in WW2. Though of course, germany 1914 definatley did not set out with the same agenda as in 1939.


I'm aware of some of the outlandish offers of peace by Germany during the war. Mistakes for sure. We can only speculate as to how unjust a German dictated peace would have been-we know what the French and British did-and it is sad.

Anthropoid
Lieutenant
Posts: 128
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 7:11 pm

Sat Feb 21, 2009 1:15 pm

It is interesting to me as a social scientst, and not someone who is very well read in history in general, nor in that period in particular, that: (a) there seems to have been a great deal of ill-will between various 'nations' in that period; (b) all the more interesting given that ~100 years later, here we are with an economically unified Europe in which France and Germany are the two biggest sisters in the sorority.

User avatar
Cavalryman
Corporal
Posts: 54
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2008 3:44 pm
Location: London

Sat Feb 21, 2009 5:34 pm

[quote="06 Maestro"]certainly not by the various civilian populations who were jubilant at the opening of hostilities. [quote]

User avatar
Cavalryman
Corporal
Posts: 54
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2008 3:44 pm
Location: London

Sat Feb 21, 2009 5:45 pm

06 Maestro wrote: The circumstances and results of such a war were not fully understood-certainly not by the various civilian populations who were jubilant at the opening of hostilities.


I think it might repay a little reading around the subject on this issue of joy at the outbreak of war. The evidence of a few propoganda photos and film clips for the benefit of news reels is not the entire picture...most commentators now agree that in all belligerent nations the populace only too well understood that war meant death, destruction, and the unsettling of the status quo....German Generals felt that Germany had a tough job on its hands and that victory was far from certain.....and Moltke warned the Kaiser it would be a long war. The working poor had no enthusiam for the fight across Europe...especially in France and Russia, and despite some patriotic stirrings amongst the bellicose middle classes, the myth of celebrations in the street at the outbreak of war is just that....a myth.

06 Maestro
General
Posts: 573
Joined: Fri Nov 14, 2008 1:14 am
Location: Las Vegas, NV, USA
Contact: WLM

Sat Feb 21, 2009 6:21 pm

Cavalryman

I had never seen any polls of peoples attitudes upon the initial outbreak of the war. What I have seen are many photo's from major cities showing many thousands of citizens reveling at the outbreak of war and cheering the passing soldiers.

It seems reasonable that these people which were so optimistic about the war were in fact a minority-maybe a very small minority. If you can point me in a direction for some data on that matter, I would appreciate it. For the data to be meaningful, it would have had to be taken at the start of the war-not 15 years after it ended. I'm sure many change their tune after the war had been on for a while.

Regardless whether there was 60% or twenty% in favor of the war at its inception, it stands in stark contrast to WW2. Their were no illusions by the general public or governments-it was a war of survival. The Wallies knew Germany was coming at them with a vengeance, and as H. Goering stated in September of '39; :if we loose this war, then God help us".

06 Maestro
General
Posts: 573
Joined: Fri Nov 14, 2008 1:14 am
Location: Las Vegas, NV, USA
Contact: WLM

Sat Feb 21, 2009 6:54 pm

Anthropoid wrote:Given the "spark" that supposedly set off WWI was Austrian Ferdinand's assassination by a Serb, I would think that this general trend of short 'smallish' wars in that region in the decades preceding La Grande Geurre MUST reflect some kind of historical continuity, eh?

Which, if it is so, would make me think more toward 'inevitability' of WWI than not.



This thread has got me thinking of O. Von Bismark. I googled some quotes of his, and sure enough, I found what I was looking for;

“If there is ever another war in Europe, it will come out of some damned silly thing in the Balkans” Otto Von Bismark
I do not know the date of this statement, but he died in 1898.

Not to change the subject (much), but Bismark had a sharp sense of humor. I was literally laughing out loud at some of his statements. I do not think he would fair well as a politician today (and that is a shame). The truth hurts, and he had a knack for putting the truth out in a polite, but funny way. I recall from my hazy memory banks that Bismark did have some major political failings in his day-he made many enemies-changing parties and the like. He was a far greater man than those nameless people that put him out to pasture.

User avatar
Cavalryman
Corporal
Posts: 54
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2008 3:44 pm
Location: London

Sat Feb 21, 2009 8:02 pm

06 Maestro wrote:Cavalryman

I had never seen any polls of peoples attitudes upon the initial outbreak of the war.

If you can point me in a direction for some data on that matter, I would appreciate it.


Polls?...Frightfully sorry old chap but neither have I...I do not think "polls" were commonplace in 1914 ....not sure anything we have now was particularly commonplace then....but it might enlighten you to read Hew Strachan's First World War as a starter...and then have a look at the superb "To Arms" ...by the same author.....splendid stuff.....truly splendid.....lots of detail ...and accurate detail obtained through a lifetime of study and contacts with the leading historians of all the major powers....to my mind he has written the best works ever on the history of WW1....just a view from a humble Donkey Walloper...but there you have it old boy...I can but offer my simple advice...if you buy them you are in for a treat....TOODLE PIP!

User avatar
Cavalryman
Corporal
Posts: 54
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2008 3:44 pm
Location: London

Sat Feb 21, 2009 8:05 pm

06 Maestro wrote:

I do not know the date of this statement, but he died in 1998.



Hell's teeth ...that is a bit of a revelation.....Bismarck died in 1998!!!!...why didn't old Hitler have him do the foreign policy stuff I wonder?....might have helped the old boy along a bit more successfully!

Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck, Count of Bismarck-Schönhausen, Duke of Lauenburg, Prince of Bismarck, (1 April 1815 – 30 July 1898)

06 Maestro
General
Posts: 573
Joined: Fri Nov 14, 2008 1:14 am
Location: Las Vegas, NV, USA
Contact: WLM

Sat Feb 21, 2009 9:01 pm

Cavalryman wrote:Hell's teeth ...that is a bit of a revelation.....Bismarck died in 1998!!!!...


Well, that was still in a previous century :) . I can blame that on my wireless keyboard, or something like that. I could say that I should learn a better way-like previewing my post's, but I thought I already learned that :bonk: .

Anyway, thanks for your attentiveness-I shall correct that error immediately.

User avatar
Le Ricain
Posts: 3281
Joined: Sun Apr 09, 2006 12:21 am
Location: Aberdeen, Scotland

Sat Feb 21, 2009 9:52 pm

06 Maestro wrote:This thread has got me thinking of O. Von Bismark. I googled some quotes of his, and sure enough, I found what I was looking for;

“If there is ever another war in Europe, it will come out of some damned silly thing in the Balkans” Otto Von Bismark
I do not know the date of this statement, but he died in 1898.

Not to change the subject (much), but Bismark had a sharp sense of humor. I was literally laughing out loud at some of his statements. I do not think he would fair well as a politician today (and that is a shame). The truth hurts, and he had a knack for putting the truth out in a polite, but funny way. I recall from my hazy memory banks that Bismark did have some major political failings in his day-he made many enemies-changing parties and the like. He was a far greater man than those nameless people that put him out to pasture.


A quote by Bismarck that I have always thought was particularly prescient was:

'The key factor to the coming 20th century will be that the North American continent speaks english'.

It is worth repeating that he died in 1898.
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]



'Nous voilà, Lafayette'



Colonel C.E. Stanton, aide to A.E.F. commander John 'Black Jack' Pershing, upon the landing of the first US troops in France 1917

User avatar
Cavalryman
Corporal
Posts: 54
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2008 3:44 pm
Location: London

Sun Feb 22, 2009 2:29 am

“It is the fate of every great achievement to be pounced upon by pedants and imitators who drain it of life and turn it into an orthodoxy which stifles all stirrings of originality”

Eric Hoffer (American Writer, 1902-1983)

Anthropoid
Lieutenant
Posts: 128
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 7:11 pm

Thu Feb 26, 2009 1:04 am

I've just picked up Keegan's (1998) The First World War and got about 10 pages into it so far. He makes a very big and clear deal of WWII being a 'continuation' of WWI. Obviously he is just one historian, but that seems to be a widespread idea now isn't it?

The other thing that struck me (and I'm only reading it now, so have not finished) is what he says at the end of page nine. He contrasts the state of high apprehension of war in 1939 with "In 1914, by contrast, war came, out of a clear blue sky, to populations which, knew almost nothing of it and had been raised to doubt that it could ever against trouble their continent."

At the beginning of the next section "EUROPEAN HARMONY" he says
"Europe in the summer of 1914 enjoyed a peaceful productivity so dependent on international exchange and co-operation that a belief in the impossiblity of general war seemed the most conventional of wisdoms." He goes on to mention a 1910 book "The Great Illusion" which evidently focused on international economic interdependence, and postulated that "disruption of international credit inevitably to be caused by war would either deter its outbreak, or bring it speedily to an end."

Not sure if he is off-base here or not but if he is right, that is very interesting that it was, at least to some, so unexpected. He makes a similar point earlier in the book that the train of events that led to the war "might have been broken at any point during the five weeks of crisis that preceded the first clash of arms, had prudence or common goodwill fond a voice."

So I'd say Keegan thinks it was NOT inevitable!

06 Maestro
General
Posts: 573
Joined: Fri Nov 14, 2008 1:14 am
Location: Las Vegas, NV, USA
Contact: WLM

Thu Feb 26, 2009 4:01 am

Anthropoid wrote:I've just picked up Keegan's (1998) The First World War and got about 10 pages into it so far. He makes a very big and clear deal of WWII being a 'continuation' of WWI. Obviously he is just one historian, but that seems to be a widespread idea now isn't it?


It seems to be wide spread, but that should carry very little weight with regards to it being true-or even rational. The two wars started under vastly different circumstances for vastly different reasons, with vastly different aims. While it is very clear that the type of war WW2 was would not have occurred if there had not been a WW1, that does not mean those were the same war with a just a little break in between. I was hearing that line of "just a continuation" or a war of the "have's and have nots" decades ago. I still do not agree with that line of thought. There are just too many factors that make a clear separation of the two conflicts.

Anthropoid wrote:The other thing that struck me (and I'm only reading it now, so have not finished) is what he says at the end of page nine. He contrasts the state of high apprehension of war in 1939 with "In 1914, by contrast, war came, out of a clear blue sky, to populations which, knew almost nothing of it and had been raised to doubt that it could ever against trouble their continent."


To wit: the war came as a complete surprise because living with mass conscript armies and intertwined treaties seemed normal. The fact there was no long term build up of seemingly serious political friction before the outbreak of the war makes a case for war to be able to start for any reason-big or small. By today's standards, their reason would be difficult to understand.


Anthropoid wrote:At the beginning of the next section "EUROPEAN HARMONY" he says
"Europe in the summer of 1914 enjoyed a peaceful productivity so dependent on international exchange and co-operation that a belief in the impossiblity of general war seemed the most conventional of wisdoms." He goes on to mention a 1910 book "The Great Illusion" which evidently focused on international economic interdependence, and postulated that "disruption of international credit inevitably to be caused by war would either deter its outbreak, or bring it speedily to an end."


Whoever wrote that book in 1910 seemed to believe that financial success had something to do with the well being of the various populations-major financial institutions are the prime concern of those in power-not the people. The banks did quite well during WW1-and years after due to the massive debts created by the war.

Anthropoid wrote:Not sure if he is off-base here or not but if he is right, that is very interesting that it was, at least to some, so unexpected. He makes a similar point earlier in the book that the train of events that led to the war "might have been broken at any point during the five weeks of crisis that preceded the first clash of arms, had prudence or common goodwill fond a voice."


I agree with that statement. The war did not have to start over the assassination, but it did because everything was in place and ready for the conflict in waiting. If war did not break out in '14, something else would have happened in the not to distant future.

Anthropoid wrote:So I'd say Keegan thinks it was NOT inevitable!


It was not carved in stone somewhere that the war had to occur. However, with the overall situation considered, it seems to me that it would have been a miracle if Europe could have avoided war for an indefinite period of time.

Anthropoid
Lieutenant
Posts: 128
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 7:11 pm

Thu Feb 26, 2009 4:56 pm

Read through to about the end of third chapter now. Not having really consumed any thing on this period of European history, it is quite fascinating. Lots of subtle generalizations about the period that I really had not appreciated; the standing-armies of conscripts point being one of them. Another one, the role of the War Planning, the "Mobility Doctrine" that was prevalent at the outset, the influence of a "General Staff" table-top strategy kind of ethos, lack of inter-branch (or for that matter intra-govt) communication, and the general inability for the existing communications systems (telephone, telegraph, and primitive wireless) to actually facilitate the heightened level of battlefield communication necessary for the actual offensive Mobility Doctrine plans to actually work.

Seems like this game represents many of the factors involved here even better than I had appreciated! :thumbsup:

@ 06Maestro: are you ex-military? academic? or just enthusiast? Me, I'm a pre-tenure (2nd year) professor of anthropology, but not this type of stuff. Psychobiology, eating, stress, obesity, health is my focus. Just love military history though. Last book that I can say I genuinely could not put down was "Shatter Swords" by Parshall and Tully. Refreshing to get away from the Hormones and Behavior for a few hours every now and then :)

ADDIT: "continuation" might not be the right word . . . but Keegan clearly thinks that the latter cannot be understood without reference to the former.

We talk about mediators and moderators in biopsychosocial sciences. I'd say the strong hypothesis is that WWI is the mediator (continuation) and Keegan is probably arguing for more of a very strong moderation hypothesis.

User avatar
Aphrodite Mae
Posts: 764
Joined: Fri Sep 05, 2008 3:13 pm
Location: With Dixicrat

Conscripted armies

Thu Feb 26, 2009 5:24 pm

Anthropoid wrote:... Lots of subtle generalizations about the period that I really had not appreciated; the standing-armies of conscripts point being one of them.


I know virtually nothing about the period, and so this aspect of the pre-war socio-economic situation surprises me. Can anyone concisely explain to me why such armies were maintained? ...

EDIT: Never mind. It's been explained to me.

patrat
Captain
Posts: 161
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2008 11:27 pm
Location: Illinois USA

Thu Feb 26, 2009 7:10 pm

"We can only speculate as to how unjust a German dictated peace would have been-we know what the French and British did-and it is sad."


i think the treaty of brest litosk is a good guide to the kind of peace the germans would of imposed.

i find it highly unlikely a german dictated peace in the west would have been much differant.

Return to “WW1 History club / Discussions historiques sur la Grande Guerre”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests