Anzac Day 2017

Tuesday, April 25, AD 2017

[19] Wilt thou give strength to the horse, or clothe his neck with neighing? [20] Wilt thou lift him up like the locusts? the glory of his nostrils is terror.

[21] He breaketh up the earth with his hoof, he pranceth boldly, he goeth forward to meet armed men. [22] He despiseth fear, he turneth not his back to the sword, [23] Above him shall the quiver rattle, the spear and shield shall glitter. [24] Chasing and raging he swalloweth the ground, neither doth he make account when the noise of the trumpet soundeth. [25] When he heareth the trumpet he saith: Ha, ha: he smelleth the battle afar off, the encouraging of the captains, and the shouting of the army.

Job 39:  19-25

Today is Anzac Day, in Australia and New Zealand.   It commemorates the landing of the New Zealand and Australian troops at Gallipoli in World War I.  Although the effort to take the Dardanelles was ultimately unsuccessful, the Anzac troops demonstrated great courage and tenacity, and the ordeal the troops underwent in this campaign has a vast meaning to the peoples of New Zealand and Australia.

At the beginning of the war the New Zealand and Australian citizen armies, illustrating the robust humor of both nations,  engaged in self-mockery best illustrated by this poem:

We are the ANZAC Army

The A.N.Z.A.C.

We cannot shoot, we don’t salute

What bloody good are we ?

And when we get to Ber – Lin

The Kaiser, he will say

Hoch, Hoch, Mein Gott !

What a bloody odd lot

to get six bob a day.

By the end of World War I no one was laughing at the Anzacs.  At the end of the war a quarter of the military age male population of New Zealand had been killed or wounded and Australia paid a similarly high price.  Widely regarded as among the elite shock troops of the Allies, they had fought with distinction throughout the war, and added to their reputation during World War II.   American veterans I have spoken to who have fought beside Australian and New Zealand units have uniformly told me that they could choose no better troops to have on their flank in a battle.

A century ago in 1917 the Anzac troops were still fighting in the Great War.  They accomplished many remarkable feats of arms during that year, but perhaps the most remarkable was the charge of the 4th Australian Light Horse Brigade at Beersheba, a battle in which both Australian and New Zealand troops fought.  The long day of cavalry was almost over, but the mounted infantrymen of the 4th Light Horse, waving their bayonets in lieu of sabers, routed the entrenched Turks and only suffered light casualties themselves, a true military miracle.  The war horse, ridden by Anzacs, had his last moment of military glory.

 

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April 6, 1917: Congress Declares War on Germany

Thursday, April 6, AD 2017

WHEREAS, The Imperial German Government has committed repeated acts of war against the people of the United States of America; therefore, be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the state of war between the United States and the Imperial German Government, which has thus been thrust upon the United States, is hereby formally declared; and that the President be, and he is hereby, authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the Government to carry on war against the Imperial German Government; and to bring the conflict to a successful termination all the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.

The Declaration of War against Imperial Germany in 1917 was highly popular among the American people in general, so it is not surprising that the votes in each chamber of Congress were lopsided.  In the Senate on April 4 the vote was 82-6 with eight senators not voting.  On April 6 the House passed the Declaration of War 373 to 50.

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3 Responses to April 6, 1917: Congress Declares War on Germany

  • Don

    My Grandmother, when she was a teenager, campaigned hard for Woodrow Wilson because he kept us out of war. A month and two days after the beginning of his sec0nd term we declared war.

    In all her 90 years she never voted for a democrat for President..

  • My early 1960’s, HS US history text says that April 6, 1917 was Good Friday. The war declaration and subsequent League of Nations (Gross Britanien also would have its five Dominions voting) boondoggles were unpopular with Irish- and German-Americans, plus the extant isolationist bent.

    In November 1916, it was “He kept us out of war.” Hey, it’s what politicians, especially progressive politicians, do. Similarly in the run-up to November 1932, FDR promised not to do anything with US gold. In April 1933, by executive order, FDR confiscated, er, forced the surrender of, all monetary gold (coins) in the US and it a crime to possess it. Later in 1933 or 4, FDR ordered removed from Federal Reserve Notes (what you believe is money, but is the World’s reserve currency) the promissory statement, “Will Pay to The Bearer ## Dollars.”

    Wilson! What would we do without the Federal income tax and the Federal Reserve? They were necessary for WWI and WWII.

  • Similarly in the run-up to November 1932, FDR promised not to do anything with US gold. In April 1933, by executive order, FDR confiscated, er, forced the surrender of, all monetary gold (coins) in the US and it a crime to possess it.

    There’s a reason you don’t announce a currency devaluation five months in advance. Even a rumor of one can induce a run, which is what the country was coping with for the four months prior to Roosevelt’s inauguration. A devaluation of the currency and expansion of the monetary base was very much in order in the Spring of 1933 and proved quite tonic. Britain devalued its currency in September 1931 and began it’s economic recovery right away. The U.S. economy careered downhill for another 18 months.

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Killing People Won’t Help Matters

Monday, April 3, AD 2017

 

That quote comes from Congresswoman Jeannette Rankin, the lone dissenting vote in the House against declaring war on Japan after Pearl Harbor.  A Republican from Montana, Rankin is an interesting figure.  The first woman elected to Congress, she served two terms.  In her first term she voted against declaring war on Germany in World War I and in her second term she voted against declaring war on Japan.  Both votes stemmed from her deep-seated pacifism, both votes were immensely unpopular and both votes effectively ended her political career at two different points in her life.  I give her the courage of her convictions.  However, her stance after Pearl Harbor illustrates the folly of pacifism as a national policy.  The sad truth is that in this vale of tears it is sometimes necessary to take up arms to avoid greater evils than war, and those peoples who forget that truth of the human condition will experience such evils sooner or later.

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8 Responses to Killing People Won’t Help Matters

  • Seen elsewhere on the worldwide web, “The first sentence of almost any story can be improved if the second sentence is “And then the murders began.”

    There are two outcomes for appeasement: defeat/fundamental transformation or more devastating war.

  • Like Don said, full salute for convictions. But it strikes me that much of these debates between pacifism, or even the anti-death penalty and anti-war stances of today fundamentally revolve around 1 question: “Is there anything in this life worse than death?” One side says no, the other side says yes.

    It’s certainly not a pleasant question to consider nor an easy one to answer. Thus the debate goes on.

  • “Is there anything in this life worse than death?” One side says no, the other side says yes.”
    It is the love of neighbor; it is the love of the other that motivates us to take up arms. A person may turn his other cheek, but he is not allowed to turn his neighbor’s other cheek for the neighbor, as this is a violation of the man’s free will and freedom. Elected officials speak for their constituents, and may only speak according to the precepts of our Constitution delineated in The Preamble, the inscribed purpose of our Constitution. Peaceable assembly may be armed forces directed to secure the Liberty of innocent people.
    Jeanette Rankin voted her reality. Rankin did the right thing for herself. She was outvoted by her fellow Congressmen who voted” to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our (Constitutional) Posterity.” The Preamble

  • Nate. With one exception. The side that pretends to say “no,” to your question happens to support the demise of countless lives via abortion on demand. The ones who answered yes appreciate the fact that this life is only a chapter in the book. The death of the soul is of course worse than the death of the body.
    As you said; “the debate goes on.”

  • It’s damn easy to be a pacifist when it isn’t your neighborhood being invaded. Are there things worse than death? Eternal damnation comes to mind. Do does submission to a totalitarian state.
    Pacifism…. bah, humbug.

  • With one exception. The side that pretends to say “no,” to your question happens to support the demise of countless lives via abortion on demand.

    Philip, I will be fair and say that there are a fair number who remain anti-abortion (yes, even Mark Shea) though yes, I’ve thought it weird too those who believe life is most important… and are pro-choice.

    Are there things worse than death? Eternal damnation comes to mind.

    Pengiuns Fan, note that I said in the question “in this life” which would exclude the damnation of Hell. Obviously there are some who believe in that and thus think life should be preserved in an effort to “run out the clock” so to say and give people the maximum chances they can to avoid the fate. But then I say that reasoning is what leads to the conclusion that no, nothing is worse than death since it is the gateway to the worst fate of all. Regardless, it is still shifting things to the first and most important question.

    Do does submission to a totalitarian state.

    I assume the first word should be “so” and on this, we agree. It certainly seems that the soul can suffer and die long before the body does.

  • There is a scene in the movie, “Friendly Persuasion”, after the battle with confederate cavalry, a dying man tells his Quaker friend (played by Gary Cooper) “I’m glad you didn’t join the battle, and held out for a better way.” Like the dying man, while I don’t agree with the Quakers or Rep. Rankin, something in me admires their “holding out for a better way”.
    Someone earlier asked, “Is there anything worse than death”. That’s not really the question. It’s: “Is there anything worse than killing your fellow man.” I think very little is worse, though it may be sometimes necessary. It changes the person doing the killing, and not in a good way. Something in the normal human being rebels against it, even in war, that’s way the training is so rigorous in “harding the hearts” of recruits. That’s why we reserve capital punishment for those killers who have so hardened their hearts in killing that they’re no longer human, but the form of monster who takes joy in killing their fellow human beings.
    I dont think there’s any such thing as a “good war” or “good kill” when it’s against fellow human beings. Their are necessary and unnecessary wars and killing. I pray we always seek the counsel of our Lord, to know the difference.
    Happy Palm Sunday to everyone!

  • BPS: There is a just war. 1 Samuel 15:33 “As your sword has made women childless. so shall your mother be childless among women.” Then he cut Agag down before the Lord in Gilgal. (NAB)

April 2, 1917: Wilson Asks Congress to Declare War on Germany

Sunday, April 2, AD 2017

Gentlemen of the Congress:

I have called the Congress into extraordinary session because there are serious, very serious, choices of policy to be made, and made immediately, which it was neither right nor constitutionally permissible that I should assume the responsibility of making.

On the 3d of February last I officially laid before you the extraordinary announcement of the Imperial German Government that on and after the 1st day of February it was its purpose to put aside all restraints of law or of humanity and use its submarines to sink every vessel that sought to approach either the ports of Great Britain and Ireland or the western coasts of Europe or any of the ports controlled by the enemies of Germany within the Mediterranean. That had seemed to be the object of the German submarine warfare earlier in the war, but since April of last year the Imperial Government had somewhat restrained the commanders of its undersea craft in conformity with its promise then given to us that passenger boats should not be sunk and that due warning would be given to all other vessels which its submarines might seek to destroy, when no resistance was offered or escape attempted, and care taken that their crews were given at least a fair chance to save their lives in their open boats. The precautions taken were meagre and haphazard enough, as was proved in distressing instance after instance in the progress of the cruel and unmanly business, but a certain degree of restraint was observed The new policy has swept every restriction aside. Vessels of every kind, whatever their flag, their character, their cargo, their destination, their errand, have been ruthlessly sent to the bottom without warning and without thought of help or mercy for those on board, the vessels of friendly neutrals along with those of belligerents. Even hospital ships and ships carrying relief to the sorely bereaved and stricken people of Belgium, though the latter were provided with safe-conduct through the proscribed areas by the German Government itself and were distinguished by unmistakable marks of identity, have been sunk with the same reckless lack of compassion or of principle.

I was for a little while unable to believe that such things would in fact be done by any government that had hitherto subscribed to the humane practices of civilized nations. International law had its origin in the at tempt to set up some law which would be respected and observed upon the seas, where no nation had right of dominion and where lay the free highways of the world. By painful stage after stage has that law been built up, with meagre enough results, indeed, after all was accomplished that could be accomplished, but always with a clear view, at least, of what the heart and conscience of mankind demanded. This minimum of right the German Government has swept aside under the plea of retaliation and necessity and because it had no weapons which it could use at sea except these which it is impossible to employ as it is employing them without throwing to the winds all scruples of humanity or of respect for the understandings that were supposed to underlie the intercourse of the world. I am not now thinking of the loss of property involved, immense and serious as that is, but only of the wanton and wholesale destruction of the lives of noncombatants, men, women, and children, engaged in pursuits which have always, even in the darkest periods of modern history, been deemed innocent and legitimate. Property can be paid for; the lives of peaceful and innocent people can not be. The present German submarine warfare against commerce is a warfare against mankind.

It is a war against all nations. American ships have been sunk, American lives taken, in ways which it has stirred us very deeply to learn of, but the ships and people of other neutral and friendly nations have been sunk and overwhelmed in the waters in the same way. There has been no discrimination. The challenge is to all mankind. Each nation must decide for itself how it will meet it. The choice we make for ourselves must be made with a moderation of counsel and a temperateness of judgment befitting our character and our motives as a nation. We must put excited feeling away. Our motive will not be revenge or the victorious assertion of the physical might of the nation, but only the vindication of right, of human right, of which we are only a single champion.

When I addressed the Congress on the 26th of February last, I thought that it would suffice to assert our neutral rights with arms, our right to use the seas against unlawful interference, our right to keep our people safe against unlawful violence. But armed neutrality, it now appears, is impracticable. Because submarines are in effect outlaws when used as the German submarines have been used against merchant shipping, it is impossible to defend ships against their attacks as the law of nations has assumed that merchantmen would defend themselves against privateers or cruisers, visible craft giving chase upon the open sea. It is common prudence in such circumstances, grim necessity indeed, to endeavour to destroy them before they have shown their own intention. They must be dealt with upon sight, if dealt with at all. The German Government denies the right of neutrals to use arms at all within the areas of the sea which it has proscribed, even in the defense of rights which no modern publicist has ever before questioned their right to defend. The intimation is conveyed that the armed guards which we have placed on our merchant ships will be treated as beyond the pale of law and subject to be dealt with as pirates would be. Armed neutrality is ineffectual enough at best; in such circumstances and in the face of such pretensions it is worse than ineffectual; it is likely only to produce what it was meant to prevent; it is practically certain to draw us into the war without either the rights or the effectiveness of belligerents. There is one choice we can not make, we are incapable of making: we will not choose the path of submission and suffer the most sacred rights of our nation and our people to be ignored or violated. The wrongs against which we now array ourselves are no common wrongs; they cut to the very roots of human life.

With a profound sense of the solemn and even tragical character of the step I am taking and of the grave responsibilities which it involves, but in unhesitating obedience to what I deem my constitutional duty, I advise that the Congress declare the recent course of the Imperial German Government to be in fact nothing less than war against the Government and people of the United States; that it formally accept the status of belligerent which has thus been thrust upon it, and that it take immediate steps not only to put the country in a more thorough state of defense but also to exert all its power and employ all its resources to bring the Government of the German Empire to terms and end the war.

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32 Responses to April 2, 1917: Wilson Asks Congress to Declare War on Germany

  • My point of view is that Germany is responsible for both world wars. We know the other factors and other parties involved, who voted the first shots of the ward, but Germany jumped in anyway.

  • Well, this ex-Rangers Devils fan has a different and somewhat revisionist view, and will start with what some would consider an outrageous premise; the wrong side won the Great War!
    Now, Germany was responsible for ‘II,’ but certainly not for ‘I.’ To make this long, convoluted story short, let’s just look at three things. One; though the pretend Kaiser, to paraphrase Q.Victoria, was a petulant child, we must ask, did he ever follow through on any of his bombastic demands? No! In one crisis after another, if I remember correctly, he backed down, as in Morroco, and even after equally bombastic threats from T.Roosevelt about Samoa. Second, the assassination of the pro-Slav Franz Ferdinand was planned in Belgrade, which got its backbone from the aggrandizing pan-Slavism of Tsar Nicholas, pushed by the French to get involved in defending ‘poor Servia,’ a sponsor of political terrorism in the guise of Slavic nationalism, from which all of the other mobilizations stemmed. Third, that lying bigot Wilson, like all ‘progressives,’ believed in honest brokering and negotiation, except when he didn’t, like refusing to treat with the crowned heads of the Central Powers, destroying political legitimacy directly paving the way for Hitler. Yes, reasoning individuals can lay blame for the calamity caused by Versailles directly at the feet of Woodrow Wilson; you know, the guy who brought segregation to the federal bureaucracy and encouraged Jim Crow, and forced Hoover to deny food to Hungary if they allowed (real) Kaiser Karl to assume his rightful throne as King there.
    Over simplified, yes; and though I had relatives fighting in King George’s service, to (control laughter) “make the world safe for democracy,” the Allies victory because of American money and manpower, with Wilson’s duplicitous conduct and the political turmoil that resulted, made a second war, if not inevitable, at least a definite possibility.
    One of my great uncles saw in Eastern Europe that all men had the right to vote in all those constitutional monarchies that made up the Central Powers…well, except Turkey, while he, because he hadn’t owned a home, could not vote, but could spill his blood for those who could. He was the first of my relatives to leave Britain without a look back; something that did not sink in until I read history years later, and had a girlfriend/wife of Hungarian descent who had more distant relatives who fought for the ‘other side.’ This altered my views of the ‘victor’s narrative when studying that last bastion of catholic culture and responsible, benevolent, catholic-inspired governing, Austria-Hungary. Not perfect to be sure, but, how’s it working here???
    Almost sorry for that….OK, let the games begin….

  • “we must ask, did he ever follow through on any of his bombastic demands?”

    Yes, the blank check he gave Austria against Serbia.

    “Second, the assassination of the pro-Slav Franz Ferdinand was planned in Belgrade, which got its backbone from the aggrandizing pan-Slavism of Tsar Nicholas”

    Elements in the military were involved, but not the Serbian civilian government. In any case beginning a general European War over it was a horrendous overreaction.

    “Third, that lying bigot Wilson, like all ‘progressives,’ believed in honest brokering and negotiation, except when he didn’t, like refusing to treat with the crowned heads of the Central Powers”

    Wilson had called for negotiations since the beginning of the War. Neither side was interested.

    “One of my great uncles saw in Eastern Europe that all men had the right to vote in all those constitutional monarchies that made up the Central Powers…”

    Assuming your great uncle was a Brit, universal male suffrage was granted in 1918 for men over 21 and women over 30. In regard to Germany, the Reichstag had little say over foreign policy and the making of wars. Hitler’s rule by emergency decree was pioneered in Germany in World War I.

  • I will never understand how civilized/cultured Europe permitted itself to be immolated in the insane violence of WWI.

    America took sides early on. Of course, “neutral” America didn’t sell/ship foodstuffs and munitions to Austria and Germany because the elites/establishment “knew” the British would stop/seize neutral American ships on the high seas. But, the bosses sold to Britain and France. It was commerce not belligerency/personal – See “The Godfather.” So, in April 1917, the casus belli was, among other casi belli, German submarines torpedoing US ships carrying war supplies/munitions to Rule Britannia and the umpty-umphth French Republic. “I see.” said the blind man. Easy solution and alternative to war: ship munitions and war supplies in British/French vessels. No good. The fix was in.

    Here is one explanation for my first paragraph quandary. Consider the likelihood that most nations are led by imbeciles. It took the idiots running America until 1917 to get into the war. And, then the too-powerful, incompetent “geniuses” fouled up the peace sowing the seeds of a more bitter conflagration in 1939.

    FYI – Britain and France never paid for much of that stuff. Of $10 billion in allies’ war debts, the US eventually collected about $2.75 billion. And, the loss was greater because the interest collected was far below the agreed-upon amounts. FYI FYI – The US government and private financiers “financed” much of the British/French war efforts – mostly they didn’t pay cash.

    Only tiny Finland repaid according to terms. But, that debt was different.

  • Consider the likelihood that most nations are led by imbeciles.

    I’m not. It’s a stupid thought.

  • “So, in April 1917, the casus belli was, among other casi belli, German submarines torpedoing US ships”

    The German policy was to sink all neutral shipping, without warning, including passenger liners, no matter what they were carrying. Then we have the little matter of Imperial Germany attempting to incite war between the US and Mexico with several states as bait. The US had ample reason to declare war on Germany and like Theodore Roosevelt I regret that it took the US such a long time to do so. American intervention in 1915 might well have led to Allied victory prior to the Bolsheviks seizing power in Russia in November 1917.

  • I apologize in advance.

    It seems many don’t believe in God, but believe in unlimited government (to solve problems), In fact, unlimited government can lead to unlimited sorrows.

    Art, Not so “stupid thought.” I can name a number of apocalyptic, ticking time-bombs the Bushes, Clintons, Obama (not to mention Wilson, Hoover, Coolidge, FDR, HST, JFK ) inflicted on America.

    Don, more evidence that Imperial Germany was run by idiots. And, Imperial Brit Naval policy was to stop/seize all shipping to Germany. Did all the neutral nations also declare war on Imperial Germany?

    My real-world experiences are with (low-level) military and financial matters. The more you know, the more you understand (I think Aristotle wrote that, too) that it is little that you “know.” Go figure. Right? The arrogant people running the place never listen to guys like me. Your loss.

    Art, a reading recommendation. It’s not just me. It seems it’s also Henry Kaufman, PhD.

    3 April 2017 Barron’s: “Dr. Doom’s Diagnosis” by Randall W. Forsyth: Henry Kaufman new book, Tectonic Shifts in Financial Markets: People, Policies, and Institutions. N.B. Anybody younger than 35 years-old only has experienced disinflation and falling interest rates.

    The foolishness of policy-makers and market participants led to the recent financial crisis and its long-running aftermath. Einstein’s definition of insanity: “the Fed has attained an unprecedented prominence – precisely because of its past policy failures.” Greenspan and Bernanke failed to note deep changes in financial markets – securitization; repeal of Glass-Steagall; increased concentration of markets – handful of megabanks dominate. Dodd-Frank worsened the concentration of financial risks – far more fragile financial system and more dependent on the idiotic Fed. Without the slightest understanding of the real world, just a slavish devotion to their theoretical models.

    The next financial markets catastrophe is festering, while the Fed, Congress, UST, etc. are not only clueless, but (infallibly ignorant) they are making it worse.

  • Don, I disagree with your spin, but it’s understandable as that’s what we were taught way back when. I mentioned Kaiser Bill not following through on his threats prior to 1914, and you respond with the comment about giving the real Kaiser a blank check. That does not follow, but we can agree to disagree. In any case what about honoring its commitment to Austria-Hungary against the Tsar’s mobilization? No matter what Germany did, Austria was justified in seeking redress against Serbia. We can debate that the smarter course for KFJ would have been to accept Serbia’s positive response to all but one of his demands. However, there is no proof that the civilian government was not complicit in the assassination, as they had been actively fomenting trouble in Bosnia since the bloody coup in Belgrade in 1903 against the ruling house which had been Austria’s ally; such friendship was not something Serbian nationalism could abide. And, starting a war was not something Vienna did lightly, needing Germany’s guarantee of help in anticipation of Russia’s aggrandizing meddling. As I said, the smarter course, in hindsight, was not taken as they felt the threat would only continue.
    Your comment about Wilson’s unheeded call for negotiations is flat out wrong. Kaiser Karl tried to broker peace status quo ante on at least two occasions beginning with his accession to his throne, while Wilson ran his campaign on “he kept us out of war,” which sentiments ended quite soon after the election, though obviously made all the easier by Germany’s desperate blunders. You forgot about Karl’s cause for sainthood?
    I see you didn’t respond to my comments about Wilson’s racism….
    I did say my veteran great uncle left Britain, so yes, he was a Brit. As for the extension of the franchise, that was December, 1917, a month after the armistice; so again, he fought for the King without having the right to vote.
    You also ignored my mentioning the catholicity of Austria-Hungary, but that makes it easier to see that country and Imperial Germany as the collective source of all 20th century woes….
    Your comments about the Weimar Reichstag and Chancellor Hitler’s rule by decree have no bearing at all on the Wilhelmine assembly of the same name, which in fact did have “…say over foreign policy and making wars.” They just had a lot of trouble contending with a dope of a head of state. “…(P)ioneered in World War I,” could be, should be, changed to ‘…in Versailles.’
    Thanks for this venue!

  • oops, December, 1918!!!

  • “Don, I disagree with your spin, but it’s understandable as that’s what we were taught way back when. I”

    My “spin” Jim is called historical facts.

    “I mentioned Kaiser Bill not following through on his threats prior to 1914, and you respond with the comment about giving the real Kaiser a blank check.”

    No, you posited that the Kaiser was a paper tiger because he backed down in regard to some foreign crises prior to 1914 and I pointed out the historical fact that in 1914 the Kaiser gave a blank check to Austria Hungary in making war against Serbia and that he did not back down from that disastrous decision. That monumental blunder of course turned a crisis in the Balkans into World War I.

    “No matter what Germany did, Austria was justified in seeking redress against Serbia.”

    Without the blank check of the Kaiser that redress would never have included War. Serbia in its response to the Austrian ultimatum went very far to appease Austria, as far as a nation could go and still remain independent:

    https://wwi.lib.byu.edu/index.php/The_Serbian_Response_to_the_Austro-Hungarian_Ultimatum_(English_translation)

    “Your comment about Wilson’s unheeded call for negotiations is flat out wrong. Kaiser Karl tried to broker peace status quo ante on at least two occasions beginning with his accession to his throne, while Wilson ran his campaign on “he kept us out of war,” which sentiments ended quite soon after the election, though obviously made all the easier by Germany’s desperate blunders. You forgot about Karl’s cause for sainthood?”

    Once again Jim, historical facts are stubborn things. Go to the link below to read about the American peace initiatives to end the War through negotiations.

    http://encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.net/article/peace_initiatives

    “I see you didn’t respond to my comments about Wilson’s racism…”

    I’ve written about Wilson’s racism before on this blog several times. I didn’t respond because Wilson was a racist and it had bupkis to do with the foreign policies he pursued in regard to World War I.

    “As for the extension of the franchise, that was December, 1917, a month after the armistice; so again, he fought for the King without having the right to vote.”

    Yes, and the right to vote was extended universally primarily as a thank you to the Brits who fought in World War I.

    “You also ignored my mentioning the catholicity of Austria-Hungary, but that makes it easier to see that country and Imperial Germany as the collective source of all 20th century woes….”

    Not all the woes, but a heaping helping of blame for starting World War I. Once again historical fact is historical fact.

    “Your comments about the Weimar Reichstag and Chancellor Hitler’s rule by decree have no bearing at all on the Wilhelmine assembly of the same name, which in fact did have “…say over foreign policy and making wars.””

    No they did not. The Reichstag did not even appoint the government, that being the prerogative of the Kaiser. Imperial Germany was a far cry from being anything like a democracy and it became progressively less so as World War I went on. By 1916 Germany was effectively a military dictatorship with the Kaiser reduced to a figurehead.

    http://karmak.org/archive/2003/01/history/silentdict.html

  • OK, lots in there, many unequivocal remarks which just repeat the standard “victors’ narrative” certainly open to other interpretations….
    No, you posited that the Kaiser was a paper tiger because he backed down in regard to some foreign crises prior to 1914 and I pointed out the historical fact that in 1914 the Kaiser gave a blank check to Austria Hungary in making war against Serbia and that he did not back down from that disastrous decision. That monumental blunder of course turned a crisis in the Balkans into World War I.
    To repeat, I stated that prior to 1914, KW did not follow through on his threats. The Aug.’14 guarantee to AH was not a public threat. Come on; you can’t see the inaccuracy of your characterization?
    The link to the Serbian response, with which anyone who studies Eastern European history is familiar, proves nothing. It was standard, diplomatic ‘plausible deniability’ which any gov’t would provide in similar circumstances.
    Once again Jim, historical facts are stubborn things. Go to the link below to read about the American peace initiatives to end the War through negotiations.
    You did read that link, no? Does it not mention KK’s peace initiative of 1916? I never denied that Wilson attempted to negotiate peace, I merely disputed your unequivocal statement that no other powers were interested.
    I partly concede your points re: Wilson’s bigotry. However, his anti-monarchist views did affect his later actions leading up to Versailles, but only against the Central Powers and not the monarchies with which he was allied.
    Yes, and the right to vote was extended universally primarily as a thank you to the Brits who fought in World War I.
    How does that refute what I asserted? Really…well, I’ll just leave it at that….
    No they did not. The Reichstag did not even appoint the government, that being the prerogative of the Kaiser. Imperial Germany was a far cry from being anything like a democracy and it became progressively less so as World War I went on. By 1916 Germany was effectively a military dictatorship with the Kaiser reduced to a figurehead.
    A lot in there too. I ask, does our Congress ‘appoint the gov’t?’ That is the prerogative of the President, no? Many educated people are unfamiliar with the confederation of constitutional monarchies and free cities which comprised, their official term, “The Associated Governments of the German Empire. Imperial Germany WAS NOT a ‘far cry….’ The fact that martial law was declared during the war doesn’t change the state of affairs prior to bungling their way into it. I seem to remember we may have had some martial law here some 150 years ago….I agree that the Kaiser became a figurehead, and the Reichstag a mere rubber stamp for the military gov’t. But that doesn’t change the fact that Imperial Germany was a technically a democratic polity, though we can debate the extent of such democracy.

  • Jim, nothing you say can change my mind. Long time readers of this blog know I frequently blather about things Polish.

    The Germans were nasty and brutal to the Polish who lived under German rule. So were the Russians, but that’s a different discussion. Kaiser Bill referred to Poles as dogs who should just die.

    No, the wrong side did not win. No, Wilson was not wrong to join the war on the side of the British and French. The Germans have a history of being nasty to their neighbors before and after World War I. If anybody needed to have their rear ends handed to them it was the Germans.

    The time for empires was coming to an end. Much loved by radtrads, the Hapsburgs ruled over people who longed to be rid of their rule.

    The Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Poles and Lithuanians regained their right of self rule after World War I. They lost it due to the Germans putting Hitler in power – a deed of their own choosing, and the Germans in WWI backing Lenin to overthrow the Czar with a communist dictatorship.

    I have German ancestry. I’m not proud of it.

  • Hey Fan,
    I obviously don’t expect to change minds directly, but just to push them to see a different perspective. Now, my main thrust was in favor of Austria-Hungary, and basically stated that Imperial Germany was not responsible for the war. You mentioned how terribly the Germans treated Poles, and mentioned some diatribe attributed to KW. Is it actually true? I did read that many, many years ago, but I believe it’s on the same vein as “let them eat cake’ falsely attributed to Marie Antoinette. I ask, when exactly did this alleged persecution occur? After the failed 1830 revolt against Tsar Nick I when Poles sought and received refuge in Prussia? I am no apologist for protestant Prussia, but too many of the Junkers were of Polish blood for me to believe, in the absence of evidence, any widespread anti-Polish persecutions. You say Germans have a history of being nasty; which Germans? Before 1866, there were about 40 independent polities in “Germany.” Now Prussia did maneuver two wars to gain suzerainty over what later became the one Germany over all the other Germanies, but can you enlighten me as to this nastiness you refer too? Hey, I don’t have all the answers….
    You said the time for empires was coming to an end…just the monarchical ones? The standard view post-Great War is just as you characterized, and what we were taught in public school. However, the sentiments calling for breaking up the Habsburg empire were no where near as widespread as we’re spoon fed. All the people in eastern Europe did not long for the end of Habsburg rule. Some did of course. But, even Freud was a supporter of the Habsburgs(but how that serves my point I…?). If you’re familiar with Hungarian history, you’ll know that it was an independent nation which shared a head of state and national defense with Austria. However, that independent nation would not grant autonomy to the Slavs in its borders, to the consternation of Franz Ferdinand, and an issue Franz Josef didn’t want to press in fear of upsetting the Ausgleich.
    As for the Germans putting Hitler in power, yeah they did, just like we put Obama in power.
    But it should be remembered that Wilson delegitimized the various governments of the German states, leaving a power vacuum the Weimar construct could not fill. We could argue other points about Hitler’s campaign for seats in the Reichstag, but that’s a bit away from my original premise….
    There is much to loathe and laud about Germans and Germany, much like any other
    people. That Holocaust thing does cause pause though…! All any nationality can do is go forward with Christian/CATHOLIC virtue, forgive sins of the past, but not forget how easy it is to fall….
    Thanks PenFan; my oldest son is one like you…I might root for them again like last year given how well my team has done…again. Cheers!

  • “To repeat, I stated that prior to 1914, KW did not follow through on his threats. The Aug.’14 guarantee to AH was not a public threat. Come on; you can’t see the inaccuracy of your characterization?”

    Not at all. Absent the Kaiser’s blank check to Austria Hungary, and his constant prodding for Austria to attack Serbia, Austria would not have dared to declare war on Serbia. What is irrelevant is your citing foreign policy crises where the Kaiser backed down in reference to the 1914 crisis in which he did not.

    “The link to the Serbian response, with which anyone who studies Eastern European history is familiar, proves nothing.”

    No, it amply demonstrates that Serbia was going the extra mile to satisfy Austria. Absent a declaration that the Serbians would be henceforth slaves of Austria, I don’t know what more the Serbian government could have done and retain its independence.

    “I merely disputed your unequivocal statement that no other powers were interested.”

    Oh Germany was interested if a negotiated peace meant that they could retain their conquests in the East and/or their conquests in the West. The Allies were never going to agree to that,

    “How does that refute what I asserted? Really…well, I’ll just leave it at that….”

    The Allies contended that they were fighting a war for democracy against an autocratic power seeking to dominate Europe. Making the franchise universal in Great Britain for men certainly went along with that war aim.

    “I ask, does our Congress ‘appoint the gov’t?’ That is the prerogative of the President, no?”

    Who is elected by the people. The Imperial German government had no such Democratic base but were rather appointees of the Kaiser.

    “The fact that martial law was declared during the war doesn’t change the state of affairs prior to bungling their way into it.”

    What happened in Imperial Germany in World War I was not martial law but rather martial rule.

    Good debate Jim! As faithful readers of this blog know, I live for good debates on historical topics.

  • It’s a reasonable judgment that the Wilson Administration was foolish to promote the disestablishment of the German monarchies, but the political landscape had turned to quicksand and it’s a reasonable wager they’d have evaporated anyway. The National People’s Party was the only inter-war configuration which was monarchist in outlook. The National People’s Party was good for about 20% of the vote during its heyday, so you cannot say there was strong public revulsion contra republican institutions. As for the Hapsburg Monarchy, it fell to pieces rapidly and spontaneously, and Hungary’s monarchists explicitly ruled out a Hapsburg restoration.

    All the participants in the 1st World War counted as constitutional states in 1914. Russian and Ottoman institutions were fledgling and weak and neither Russian nor Ottoman political practice was impressive. Different business in Germany and the Hapsburg dominions.

  • Good debate Jim! As faithful readers of this blog know, I live for good debates on historical topics.
    Indeed! But, with all due respect, we should get the history right, no? Or maybe acknowledge that another vantage point that refutes the propaganda history is valid? Repeating the misrepresentations which we were subjected to in grade school do not suffice. “Not at all. Absent the Kaiser’s blank check to Austria Hungary, and his constant prodding for Austria to attack Serbia, Austria would not have dared to declare war on Serbia. What is irrelevant is your citing foreign policy crises where the Kaiser backed down in reference to the 1914 crisis in which he did not.”
    Don, you have that backwards. It was Russia’s interference which gave Vienna pause (though the veterans of the Serbian Army should have as well!) and the necessity of German support in case the Tsar mobilized before they did, which is what happened. I cited Bill’s empty threats and capitulations to illustrate that Germany’s so-called quest for domination is a chimera. Do you honestly think that any supposed prodding to resist Serbia was the dominating feature of the Triple Alliance? You’re again repeating the same misrepresentations. Berlin knew that any outright aggressive action against Serbia would involve Russia, and thence them; something they did not want as it would then result in a general war that both Vienna and Berlin knew they could not win if their initial military moves were unsuccessful. They were deathly afraid of what they called the ‘materiel schlact.’ Russia’s meddling confirmed the need for Germany to back Austria.
    “No, it amply demonstrates that Serbia was going the extra mile to satisfy Austria. Absent a declaration that the Serbians would be henceforth slaves of Austria, I don’t know what more the Serbian government could have done and retain its independence.”
    Again, a distorted view of Austria’s Balkan policy. They did not want more nationalists in their supranational confederation; only relief from nationalist agitation. Yes, those war mongers were at the last given pride of place by a tired Franz Josef, who did not trust that Serbia would really do anything to those responsible as they permeated the Serbian gov’t, something I referred to previously. I agree that Serbia acceded to all they could, and Austria would have been wiser to accept that and avoid a conflict their intransigence ensured. Russia’s mobilization guaranteed a wider war.
    “Oh Germany was interested if a negotiated peace meant that they could retain their conquests in the East and/or their conquests in the West. The Allies were never going to agree to that,”
    Again, Kaiser Karl wanted status quo ante; something you continually ignore as it disproves your initial comment. As for this one quoted here, you seem to forget that Allied war aims, especially perfidious Italy’s, was more responsible for putting an end to possible negotiations. As I mentioned, try to present the whole history. Yes, the German military was committed to justifying its expense in manpower and resources, just as the Allies were. Bad actors on both sides, to the exclusion of Austria-Hungary, which abandoned any war aims and was the only honest ‘player’ from 1916 on.
    “The Allies contended that they were fighting a war for democracy against an autocratic power seeking to dominate Europe. Making the franchise universal in Great Britain for men certainly went along with that war aim.”
    Come on, that is disingenuous. The Allies’ propaganda war aim doesn’t make that in any way true. Germany and Austria-Hungary were constitutional monarchies with universal, secret suffrage. Britain was not until Dec, 1918. I don’t know how you justify propaganda that contradicts well-known facts; well, known to everyone outside Britain, Canada, and the USA….
    “Who is elected by the people. The Imperial German government had no such Democratic base but were rather appointees of the Kaiser.”
    How many times must I repeat that every country in Europe which was not a republic was a constitutional monarchy. You don’t have to believe that ‘world safe for democracy LIE!!! Even the Tsar accepted such in 1908 with the establishment of the Duma. Was that also not democratic? Really, it was only in 1911 that Commons asserted ‘overlordship’ of Lords. Man…I don’t know what about universal (male) suffrage electing parliaments advising and consenting to expenditures you think constitutes tyranny of the Kaiser. Just because a head of state is not elected does not mean that the rest of the popularly elected gov’t exercising such powers is not an example of some sort of democracy. You forget that the Kaiser had the other crowned heads, represented in the Bundesrat, to deal with. Yes, he had executive control, but he had constraints on action; too bad there were none on his mouth….
    “What happened in Imperial Germany in World War I was not martial law but rather martial rule.”
    Mainly semantics, but I certainly don’t dispute that the ‘rule’ assumed by the Prussian General Staff was as you stated, which controlled all aspects of life because of the privations of war that were only equaled in Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria, and not by the Allies; though it got close in Britain until the convoy system was begun.
    Art Deco’s post is one you should consider as well. I would only posit that political legitimacy is something that cannot be easily regained once the existing regime is forced out. Just look at how Iraq turned out. Anyway, I’m not so sure that the various monarchies of the German states would have evaporated that easily. Despite the propaganda, those monarchs were ‘popular’ with their subjects. What happened in Vienna was more complicated, and not easily explained because there was no homogeneity in population, and as was indicated, Wilson refused to negotiate with any crowned head.
    Don, many thanks again for your venue. It’s exceedingly nice of you to allow all of us would-be pundits to share your stage show!!!

  • “Berlin knew that any outright aggressive action against Serbia would involve Russia, and thence them; something they did not want as it would then result in a general war that both Vienna and Berlin knew they could not win if their initial military moves were unsuccessful. They were deathly afraid of what they called the ‘materiel schlact.’ Russia’s meddling confirmed the need for Germany to back Austria.”

    Kaiser Bill personally gave Austria the blank check on July 5, 1914.

    http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/germany-gives-austria-hungary-blank-check-assurance

    Along with his continual prodding of Austria to get on with it and attack Serbia, the Kaiser’s blank check guaranteed war with Russia and France.

    “Again, Kaiser Karl wanted status quo ante; something you continually ignore as it disproves your initial comment.”

    That poor, hapless dilettante had nothing to say about meaningful peace negotiations. Germany was in control of their alliance and Austria only maintained its existence courtesy of the Imperial Germany Army. Whatever his private virtues, Kaiser Karl, who came to throne in November of 1916 was a disaster as a monarch. His secret peace overture was revealed and he lied about his involvement. Clemenceau published letters showing his involvement. After that, nothing more was attempted by him until October 14, 1918 when Germany was about to toss in the towel in any case. His destiny was to lead Austria to defeat and the dissolution of the empire, and he fulfilled that destiny. The admiration that some Catholics have for Karl as a public figure eludes me, since as the leader of a nation he was a complete failure, albeit he inherited a very bad situation.

    “Germany and Austria-Hungary were constitutional monarchies with universal, secret suffrage.”

    Austria-Hungary was a prison house of nations that wanted independence from the dual monarchy, except for the two nations in the saddle, the Austrians and the Hungarians. Germany had a weak Reichstag that had no control over government policy as demonstrated during the War. German rule over Belgium and Occupied France set standards for abuse of civilian populations that those more innocent times were rightly shocked by. They were not much by the standards of sheer horror set by the Third Reich two decades later, but rule of enemy populations under the Prussian Eagle was grim enough.

    “How many times must I repeat that every country in Europe which was not a republic was a constitutional monarchy.”

    When most Americans think of a constitutional monarchy they think of Great Britain where the monarch is a figure head. That was not the case in Imperial Germany except, ironically, during the latter half of World War I when the Kaiser was reduced to being a figure head. If the Reichstag had established the government in 1914, along the lines of Parliament in Great Britain, I doubt if there would have been a World War since I can’t imagine any civilian government set up through the Reichstag having given Austria a blank check.

    “Don, many thanks again for your venue. It’s exceedingly nice of you to allow all of us would-be pundits to share your stage show!!!”

    Thank you Jim. That is why my favorite part of this blog are the comboxes.

  • I have a piece of History in form of a 1915 2 Dinar Serbian coin. I received it from my father (RIP). I had believed (Cyrillic letters) it was a czarist Russian coin,, except face is not Czar Nicholas. I “googled” it. It is a king (?) named Peter I, who bears some resemblance to Stalin. It is 10 grams of .835 silver and (melt value) worth $4.81, possibly about $20 to a collector.

    I also have (from Dad) a 1917 Lee Enfield Mark II .303 caliber, which kicks like a mule, and a box of shells. I was to find a bayonet, but . . .

  • Austria-Hungary was a prison house of nations that wanted independence from the dual monarchy, except for the two nations in the saddle, the Austrians and the Hungarians.

    In the general elections held prior to the war, ethnic particularist parties cadged about 10% of the vote in Hungary and 17% in the rest of the Empire. They weren’t politically separatist in an unambiguous way, either. The situation in 1918-19 was quite protean and events took a course that would have been scarcely imaginable a decade earlier in either the Hapsburg or Hohenzollern realms.
    Germany had a weak Reichstag that had no control over government policy as demonstrated during the War.

    It’s very strange to characterize a country’s political order by what goes on in brief time periods when it’s under a general mobilization.

    That aside, you had prevalent shortcomings in a number of the European powers and their dependencies. France was damaged by hyper-centralization and a contrived and abusive secularism. In the United States, you had the Southern caste system and urban patron-client politics which had no analogue in Britain. In the Mediterranean states, parliamentary institutions were corrupted in various ways. In Russia, electoral institutions were novel on the supralocal scale and not venerable in the realm of local government, either (and the general elections held prior to the war manipulated). The political order in most components of Europe in 1907 compared favorably to what it was 30 years later.

  • When most Americans think of a constitutional monarchy they think of Great Britain where the monarch is a figure head. That was not the case in Imperial Germany except, i

    I doubt the institutional differences between the British monarchy and the German monarchies were contextually all that important. As for what the Bethmann-Hollweg ministry might have done had it be responsible to the legislature, that’s tough to say without a really granular knowledge of German parliamentary politics of the period. The political culture in European countries was radically different. Spain, France, and Italy invested over 15 years in subduing the Maghreb in the era. It’s difficult to imagine any occidental country today having that kind of attention span or willing to do something so incongruent with commodious living. Establishing dependencies in Syria and Morocco wasn”t some hobbyist’s project in France. There was vigorous sentiment in favor of it among politically attentive populations if not the public at large. Clemenceau was unusual among working politicians in France for thinking the collection of dependencies abroad a waste of resources and attention.

  • “I doubt the institutional differences between the British monarchy and the German monarchies were contextually all that important.”

    In Great Britain Parliament controlled the government and in Imperial Germany the Reichstag had no say as to the government, the government and the Reichstag being completely separate institutions.

    “As for what the Bethmann-Hollweg ministry might have done had it be responsible to the legislature, that’s tough to say without a really granular knowledge of German parliamentary politics of the period.”

    For the 1914 crisis it might well be irrelevant since the Imperial constitution gave the Kaiser control over foreign policy and he was the one who decided to give a blank check to Austria.

  • “In the general elections held prior to the war, ethnic particularist parties cadged about 10% of the vote in Hungary and 17% in the rest of the Empire. They weren’t politically separatist in an unambiguous way, either. The situation in 1918-19 was quite protean and events took a course that would have been scarcely imaginable a decade earlier in either the Hapsburg or Hohenzollern realms.”

    It was quite imaginable Art with nationalist groups looking for more and more autonomy since the middle of the nineteenth century. It was a miracle that the polyglot empire survived until 1914, and with the advent of the Great War, the empire was fresh out of miracles.

  • Just a side comment from a German-American whose family left the country during Kulturkampf. WW I essentially began because few of the participants thought they could be defeated. It was clear in 1915 that this was not the case. Yet the war continued because there was fear that governments would fall if it were stopped on any basis other than victory. Most of the comments here regarding the state of conditions in Europe are largely correct. It was a 20th century continent in many ways but shackled to 18th century style governments. Even when the war ended on 11 Nov, the countries were determined to act in large measure as before. Little wonder than most historians regard the 1914-1945 period much the same as the Thirty Years War of three centuries earlier.

  • In Great Britain Parliament controlled the government and in Imperial Germany the Reichstag had no say as to the government, the government and the Reichstag being completely separate institutions.
    The cabinet in Britain is notionally responsible to the parliament. I’m not sure you could find an example of a ministry being ejected from office by a no confidence vote at any time since 1902. There are British prime ministers and party chieftains who’ve run afoul of their party caucus and faced leadership crises (Austen Chamberlain, Ramsey MacDonald, Edward Heath, Margaret Thatcher, and Ian Duncan-Smith). It’s a skill for a British PM to ‘be a Westminster politician and not a Whitehall politician”. Still, you do not have the sort of discipline of the executive that the French or Italian Chamber have exercised, and that’s a good thing by and large. ‘Cabinet responsibility’ in Britain governs the composition of the ministry, not really the balance of power between the cabinet and the legislature. As for Wilhelmine Germany, the ministry still has to work with the legislature (though there was a consequential incident in Prussia ca. 1862 when Bismarck ordered tax collections in defiance of the legislature).

    For the 1914 crisis it might well be irrelevant since the Imperial constitution gave the Kaiser control over foreign policy and he was the one who decided to give a blank check to Austria.

    The Kaisar made decisions in a given matrix. Your counterfactual is that had someone like Friedrich Ebert had been sitting in the Chancellor’s chair, there would have been no war. That’s conceivable, but that’s really more a function of the policy dispositions of the German political class, not of a structural factor.

    It was quite imaginable Art with nationalist groups looking for more and more autonomy since the middle of the nineteenth century. It was a miracle that the polyglot empire survived until 1914, and with the advent of the Great War, the empire was fresh out of miracles.

    Again, political separatism in the Dual Monarchy was in 1910 fairly weak. It’s rather florid to call the place a ‘prison house’ that being the case. It was a rather cumbersome and suboptimal arrangement, but that’s a different problem.

  • It was a 20th century continent in many ways but shackled to 18th century style governments.

    What are you talking about? Monarchical absolutism was the order of the day in 18th century Europe everywhere but in Britain, Switzerland, and a few coastal merchant republics. There wasn’t a single example of monarchical absolutism left in Europe in 1914. Russia bore the closest resemblance to monarchical absolutism. You’d be hard put to find a European county of any size in 1750 that was as equalitarian and liberal-democratic as Stolypin’s Russia.

  • “The cabinet in Britain is notionally responsible to the parliament. I’m not sure you could find an example of a ministry being ejected from office by a no confidence vote at any time since 1902.”

    Twice in 1924 and once in 1979. Of course knowing this could happen often exerts a restraint upon a government for policies hard to explain to parliament.

  • Twice in 1924 and once in 1979. Of course knowing this could happen often exerts a restraint upon a government for policies hard to explain to parliament.

    The Labour Party in 1979 had lost control of parliament through attrition and by-elections over the previous 4 years. The no-confidence vote cut short the life of parliament by just 5 months. The party system was in flux from 1916 to 1939 and at its most unstable right around 1924 as the Labour Party was displacing the various LIberal Parties. It was during that era when the British party landscape most resembled a continental landscape, with the qualification that Britain’s never been hospitable soil for red parties or brown parties (as France, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Czchoslovakia, Hungary, and Roumania have at times been).

  • I appreciate your response, Jim.

    There is a YouTube video, produced in Poland with English subtitles, that is a docu-drama about the retaking of Greater Poland (western Poland) by the Polish from the Germans after WWII. Before the war ended, when Lenin seized Russia, he quit the war and withdrew the Russian Army to Russia proper. After the war, Austria withdrew from Galicia (southern Poland and western Ukraine). The Germans had no intention of withdrawing from the Polish territory they seized in the Partitions. It is from this video that i got my historical background, along with the quote from the Kaiser. A patchwork of Polish militias attacked German army bases and political installations in Greater Poland until the Germans withdrew.
    (After that they fought and beat the Red Army but that’s another story).

    The Hapsburgs had to give in to the Hungarians in the 19th century to hold the whole thing together. From a practical point, Galicia, which was at least able to be Catholic, was the poorest of partitioned Poland.

    I still find myself faulting the Germans, at least their government. They gave Lenin free passage from Switzerland and gave him money and other help to overthrow the czar in order to get Russia out of the war. They were allies with the Ottomans, who committed genocide against the Armenians. Their quest for their “place in the sun” cast a long shadow over Europe and led to the rise of the Nazis and Communists. They never really had any chance to win either war, as both times the severely underestimated the United States.

    Dzien dobry.

  • I read all this last evening and considered making no more ‘additions’ to this debate. However, that comment about a “hapless dilettante” changed my mind. That obtuse comment reminded me of something I read years ago by some typical dopey English secularist about Karl’s beatification; pure drivel if I remember correctly. Don, you continually repeat the same opinions and half-truths to support the established historical paradigm, which is most definitely anti-catholic when it comes to Austria-Hungary, and just plain wrong when it comes to that ‘blank check’ nonsense, again more of the same oft-repeated opinions which become fact by repetition. All European foreign policy was driven by the ‘alliance system.’ Now, you’ve chosen to believe the victors’ premise that Serbia’s active support for terrorist acts in Bosnia didn’t constitute an act of war. To keep Russia (possibly) out if it, Austria needed German support…again. You ignore the fact that France gave Russia a blank check, but notice how that is not in the so-called histories you continually cite links to.
    As to Karl lying about his peace overtures, the edited letters indicated he was open to a separate peace agreeing to all the Allied war aims; that is what he denied. He never denied making an attempt to open active negotiations, and wanted the Wilhelm’s support. That is an important fact that also fits not into the victor’s narrative. Were you aware that Wilson’s reaction to the Pope’s peace appeal was: “What’s he butting in for?” No Don, your impertinent characterization is just wrong. I no longer assume you’d even take a second look at that entire exercise in futility, and refuse to recognize that Allied war aims were governed by the secret treaty with Italy, and the assurance of victory America’s involvement guaranteed.
    Art Deco is doing a better job than I in refuting your claims about that great paragon of democracy in action known as the British Parliament. You forget that that so-called august institution has always acted at the whim of the moneyed classes. Our arguments about the extent of democracy, or its elements in Germany is becoming pointless. The fact that Imperial Germany was a federation of independent states with their own law-making assemblies again doesn’t fit the popular narrative. Yes, the Reichstag had limited powers to control the Kaiser and his ministers, and thence foreign policy; but they had control over Imperial expenditures, and even passed a peace bill, which unfortunately meant nothing under martial law.
    For the record, how much control did our congress have over a lawless tyrannical dilettante
    of a president we had for the past eight years? Since we’re making comparisons, how is the use of poison gas in Syria a direct threat to the USA necessitating military action without a war declaration? We don’t even know if the rebels got hold of some of that stuff do we? I mean, we can trust the “intelligence” community right? Hey they had that Iran ayatollah and Iraq atom bomb thing all figured out, right? Thank another hapless head of state named Jimmy Carter for emasculating our Intelligence apparatus….But I drigress….
    And for the record, there was NO German IMPERIAL ARMY, though many who’ve written on the subject and should know better have made such reference. The only Imperial German military establishment from 1871 to 1918 was the navy.
    I don’t like to argue political ‘science’ as it’s not really taught within the confines of history, or so I believe. Your characterizations about Parliament ignore the fact that it’s power over the crown resulted from a long process, based on anti-catholicism and union of church and state. That the Imperial assembly of Germany developed in a different way in deference to the respective monarchs involved doesn’t make it less democratic. Hell, do we ‘popularly’ elect our head of state? No, we don’t; and thank the Founding Fathers for that!
    I guess enough of that….
    Art Deco refuted your ‘prison house…’ better than I could.
    Don, it’s your show and you can vilify my opinions, but you have only repeated the same old have-truths as facts. I’d like to point out that many authors of like mind write books with footnotes citing each other’s books, thereby establishing each as ‘factual.’ That’s exactly what we have when it comes to the start of the Great War. Repeating a lie does make it truth, though we all must admit to more than one side to a story!
    Pen Fan, I must admit my only familiarity with the combat post-war between the Poles and the German Freikorps concerns the German naval aviators and their planes fighting there. O appreciate your point of view on that. I can only add; what is history but a record of settling scores??? Right and wrong are not always clear either….
    As to Lenin, I must add that Kaiser Karl was against fomenting revolution in Russia and refused to let the ‘sealed train’ enter his countries. So much for a “hapless dilettante” as someone said….
    Cheerio!

  • Man, poor editing…please forgive my numerous typo’s!

  • You forget that that so-called august institution has always acted at the whim of the moneyed classes.

    I don’t think David Lloyd George, Andrew Bonar Law, Ramsay MacDonald, or anyone in the leadership stratum of the Labour party prior to 1935 would qualify as manifestations of ‘the moneyed classes’. The King and the Liberal / Labour / Irish ministries co-operated in a successful effort to geld the House of Lords in 1911, btw. (While we’re at it, Stanley Baldwin, the Chamberlain brothers, Winston Churchill, Harold MacMillan, Lord Home, William Hague, and David Cameron were the issue of the ‘moneyed classes’. No other British PM or opposition leader of the last century merits the designation; only Lord Home and Churchill derived from the peerage or the gentry).

  • I was referring to the time period of the discussion and prior….A belated Happy Easter to all!

Theodore Roosevelt, the Rough Riders Corps and the Great War

Saturday, April 1, AD 2017

I make no pretense to accuracy. I shall be quite content if the sensibilities of no one are wounded by anything I may reduce to type.

Recollections of Thomas R. Marshall:  A Hoosier Salad (1925)

 

 

Something for the weekend:  Onward Christian Soldiers by Mahalia Jackson.  This stirring hymn was the campaign song of the Bull Moose Party in 1912 and was the unofficial anthem of the Rough Riders Corps that Major General Theodore Roosevelt led in the Great War.  We are almost a century away from the day when the US intervened in that War, and it is a good time to look at the controversial role that our 26th President played in that conflict.

In March of 1917 Congress passed a bill allowing Roosevelt to raise four divisions of volunteers, similar in nature to the Rough Rider regiment he raised and led in the Spanish American War.  It is said that President Wilson opposed this move.  There was certainly no love lost between Wilson and Roosevelt, Roosevelt having been the harshest critic of Wilson.  However, the stroke that killed President Wilson on April 1, 1917 rendered any such opposition moot, except to historians or writers of alternate history.  Vice President Thomas R. Marshall who now became President had no personal animosity towards Roosevelt, rather the reverse, and after his call for a declaration of war on Germany appeared at the White House with Roosevelt and former President Taft, the three men urging that now there were no Republicans and no Democrats, but only Americans united for victory.  After this there was no way that Marshall could probably have kept Roosevelt out of the War if he had wanted to, and he did not attempt to do so.

One other man could have stopped Roosevelt, however, if he had wished to, the commander appointed by President Marshall to lead the American Expeditionary Forces in France.  General John J.Pershing was a friend of Theodore Roosevelt who he had served with at the battle of San Juan Hill when Pershing was a thirty-eight year old First Lieutenant, and whose career Roosevelt had jump started when he was President by promoting him from Captain to Brigadier General, over the heads of 835 officers more senior to Pershing.  Pershing had every reason to be grateful to Roosevelt, and he was, but he was also concerned with a military amateur commanding a corps in the American Expeditionary Forces that he was to lead onto the deadly battlefields of France.  Going to visit Roosevelt at Oyster Bay, he was quickly relieved by their talk, which he discussed in his Pulitzer Prize winning memoir, My Experiences in the World War:  

“President  Roosevelt demonstrated that he had been keeping up with military developments in the Great War and was intrigued with the coordination of artillery and infantry with the newfangled air power and tanks.  He told me that he was willing to serve as a private in the force he was raising, and that as far as he was concerned no man would have a commission for any officer rank in the Rough Riders without my permission.  Touched by his self-less patriotism, I suggested that he serve as second in command of the Rough Riders with General Adelbert Cronkhite, currently in command of artillery in the Canal Zone, appointed as commander.  A worried frown passed over his face:  “The Rough Riders are not going to spend the War guarding the Canal Zone are they?”  I laughed.  “No Mr. President, I will need the best troops available with me on the Western Front, and, as was the case in Cuba, I suspect the Rough Riders in this War will be second to none.”  We shook hands and parted, still friends.”

Roosevelt made it known that he was seeking men for the Rough Riders with this advertisement he placed in all major newspapers.

Rough Riders are being recruited by Theodore Roosevelt for service in France.  Roosevelt expects that he and his Rough Riders will be constantly in the forefront of the fighting and their casualties will likely be extreme.  Only fighters with courage need apply.   Regional recruiting offices are being established at the following locations:

Roosevelt’s recruiters were quickly besieged by endless lines of volunteers.  Estimates are that some three million men filled out applications for the 100,000 slots in the four divisions of the Rough Rdiers.  Roosevelt, as with his original Rough Riders, favored men from dangerous out door occupations, men with prior military experience, athletes, and those from unusual backgrounds, like the troupe of circus clowns he allowed to enlist as a group.  Cowboys with nothing in this world except the shirts on their backs, as in the original Rough Riders, rubbed shoulders with the scions of families of great wealth.  Roosevelt made it clear that no man without prior military experience would be commissioned in the Rough Riders, and all other commissions would be earned in battle in France.  Regular Army officers looked askance at all this and referred to the Rough Riders as Teddy’s Wild West Show and by less printable terms.  Pershing assigned a number of junior officers to the Rough Riders to help bring order out of chaos, giving them the temporary rank of full Colonel.  Among them were Douglas MacArthur, George Patton, George Marshall and Dwight Eisenhower.

As in the original Rough Riders, Latinos and Indians from the West served.  A group of black regular officers, headed by Colonel Charles Young, wrote a letter to Roosevelt requesting to serve in the Rough Riders.  Although not wholly free from the racial prejudice of his day, Roosevelt got the approval of Pershing for these officers to serve on detached status with the Rough Riders, and enlisted two black regiments to serve in one of his divisions.  When a group of white Rough Rider officers protested this decision, Roosevelt had the complaining officers immediately cashiered from the Rough Riders.

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4 Responses to Theodore Roosevelt, the Rough Riders Corps and the Great War

Theodore Roosevelt and His Four Divisions

Monday, March 27, AD 2017

 

 

In 1917 a century ago Theodore Roosevelt was 58 years old.  He was not in the best of health and he had put on a fair amount of weight since his “crowded hour” leading the charge up Kettle Hill in the Spanish American War.  Nonetheless, he was eager once again to fight for the Stars and Stripes.  An advocate of preparedness, he had assembled a staff and plans to recreate his Rough Riders on a corps level to fight in France, and over a 100,000 men had indicated their willingness to join this force.  Congress in March of 1917 authorized him to raise such a force of volunteers of up to four divisions.  In May of 1917 President Wilson indicated that no such force of volunteers would be accepted by the Army, Wilson not wanting to be held responsible if the beloved ex-President died fighting.  Roosevelt was crushed and never forgave Wilson, who he despised in any case.  He kept busy making speeches in support of the War and selling war bonds, but it was not the same as fighting himself.  On April 1 we will explore the “what if” had Wilson allowed Roosevelt to take his new Rough Riders into battle.

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March 21: 1917: Loretta Perfectus Walsh Enists in the Navy

Tuesday, March 21, AD 2017

A bit of naval history was made a hundred years ago when twenty year old Loretta Perfectus Walsh enlisted in the Navy as a Yeoman F, becoming the first woman to be a member of the US military.  Some 13,000 women would serve in the Navy as Yeomen, or Yeomanettes as they were often unofficially called,  during World War I as clerical personnel, freeing up men for sea duty.  Walsh served her four year tour and tragically died of tuberculosis at age 29 in 1925.  She was buried in Saint Patrick’s Cemetery in Olyphant, Pennsylvania.  Her tombstone bears the following inscription:

Loretta Perfectus Walsh
April 22, 1896–August 6, 1925
Woman and Patriot
First of those enrolled in the United States Naval Service
World War 1917–1919
Her comrades dedicate this monument
to keep alive forever
memories of the sacrifice and devotion of womanhoo

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5 Responses to March 21: 1917: Loretta Perfectus Walsh Enists in the Navy

March 20, 1917: Lansing Memorandum

Monday, March 20, AD 2017

On March 17, 1917, President Wilson met with his Cabinet to consider the question of whether the US should enter the Great War.  Fortunately for historians of this period, Secretary of State Robert Lansing drafted a detailed memorandum of the meeting:

The Cabinet Meeting of today I consider the most momentous and therefore, the most historic of any of those which have been held since I became Secretary of State, since it involved, unless a miracle occurs the question of war with Germany and the abandonment of the policy of neutrality which has been pursued for two years and a half….

The corridors of the State Department and Executive Office swarmed with press correspondents seeking to get some inkling of what would be done from passing officials. It was through these eager crowds of news-gatherers that I forced my way at half-past two Tuesday afternoon under a bombardment of questions, to which I made no reply, and entered the Cabinet room where all the other members had arrived.

Three minutes later the President came in and passed to his place at the head of the table shaking hands with each member and smiling as genially and composedly as if nothing of importance was to be considered. Composure is a marked characteristic of the President. Nothing ruffles the calmness of his manner or address. It has a sobering effect on all who sit with him in council. Excitement would seem very much out of place at the Cabinet table with Woodrow Wilson presiding.

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2 Responses to World War I Day by Day

March 3, 1917: Zimmerman Telegram Confirmed

Friday, March 3, AD 2017

In the wake of the revelation of the Zimmerman telegram, President Wilson had a problem.  Large segments of the American population, most notably Irish-Americans and German-Americans, had doubts about the validity of the telegram.  The Hearst newspapers claimed it was a fake cooked up by British intelligence.  Incredibly in light of this, the German Foreign Secretary confirmed the validity of the telegram in an interview on March 3, 1917 when asked about it by an American journalist.  Overnight, American public opinion became almost unanimous that war against German was inevitable.  On March 29, 1917 Foreign Secretary Zimmerman in a speech to the Reichstag attempted to justify the telegram which only further enraged American public opinion, and solidified the status of the Zimmerman telegram as one of the greatest diplomatic blunders of all time:

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8 Responses to March 3, 1917: Zimmerman Telegram Confirmed

  • I recently saw on a History Channel WWII program that not so long (1940?) before 7 December 1941 only about 6% of Americans favored US involvement in the world war. Powerful foreign interests favored and opposed US intervention in both wars. For example, Stalin’s American, useless idiots strongly opposed (when Russia and Hitler tore up Poland; and Russia raped Finland) US intervention until they strongly favored US participation after Hitler invaded the USSR.

    More importantly, on 3 March 1985 our son John was born: Captain, US Army Infantry, Airborne Ranger; husband and soon-to-be father. Per plan he is a far, far better man than I am.

  • T. Shaw: God bless your Son John: Captain, US Army Infantry, Airborne Ranger; husband and soon-to-be father. The apple does not fall far from the tree.

  • Congratulations, Shaw! Hug the baby for my family, please. (We’ve got a new little boy here, and it’s all I can do to keep his littlest big sister from maiming him with affection….)

  • Congratulations soon to be Grandfather…will this child be your first grandbaby?

    Regardless, blessings are in order.
    Peace.

  • The German government, then and now, isn’t very smart.

  • Praise God from whom all blessings come.

    Thank you all. This gift of God (God willing!) will be our third. The oldest son’s wife is due end of April. Plus, the youngest son is to be wed in the Church on a Saturday afternoon late-July.

    Thanks be to God.

    Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.

  • TShaw, congratulations
    I’m old enough to have a 30 year old son, but…… my boys are 9 and 5. I hope God makes me wait to die like I waited to…..
    Graduate from college,
    Find a job,
    Find another job,
    Meet a girlfriend,
    Get married, and…
    Buy a house.

  • Today I was doing some historical research for a web site and came across a reference to the State Department’s “Grey Code”. Having never heard of it, I did a search and found a very interesting document that is relevant to this posting. It is https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/176705.pdf
    Enjoy.

March 1, 1917: The Zimmerman Telegram Story Breaks

Wednesday, March 1, AD 2017

On February 20, 1917 British intelligence revealed to the US ambassador to Great Britain the contents of the Zimmerman telegram, go here to read about the telegram.  The Brits disclosed to the Americans the code breaking that they engaged in to read the message.  When the telegram was disclosed to the public, in order to protect British code breaking, it was alleged that British agents had stolen a copy of the telegram in Mexico.  The contents of the message was so fantastic that many Americans thought it was likely a fake produced by the British, which was the line taken by the mighty Hearst empire.  President Wilson was  faced with a dilemma as to whether to disclose that the British had decoded the message, and risk the ability of the British to read German messages, or to let the erroneous charges that the telegram was a fake remain unanswered. His dilemma would be shortly resolved by an unlikely source.

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6 Responses to January 31, 1917: Germany Announces the Resumption of Unrestricted Submarine Warfare

Theodore Roosevelt and The Curse of Meroz

Monday, January 23, AD 2017

 

 

Theodore Roosevelt had long been a harsh critic of the neutrality policy of the Wilson administration.  On January 29, 1917 he gave a memorable response to the January 22, 1917 speech to the Senate of President Wilson in which Wilson called for Peace Without Victory:

“President Wilson has announced himself in favor of peace without victory, and now he has declared himself against universal service-that is against all efficient preparedness by the United States.

Peace without victory is the natural ideal of the man too proud to fight.

When fear of the German submarine next moves President Wilson to declare for “peace without victory” between the tortured Belgians and their cruel oppressors and task masters;  when such fear next moves him to utter the shameful untruth that each side is fighting for the same things, and to declare for neutrality between wrong and right;  let him think of the prophetess Deborah who, when Sisera mightily oppressed the children of Israel with his chariots of iron, and when the people of Meroz stood neutral between the oppressed and their oppressors, sang of them:

“Curse ye Meroz, sang the angel of the  Lord, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof, because they came not to the help of the Lord against the wrongdoings of the mighty.”” 

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7 Responses to Theodore Roosevelt and The Curse of Meroz

  • Were not the alleged atrocities the Germans perpetuated on the Belgians in WWI part of a propaganda campaign. Were they ficticious, or at least exaggerated? And what was the object of WW I, anyway? WW II I can understand; Hitler wanted to take over the world. But WW I, I can see what happened, but not why. It seems everyone involved used it as an excuse for some strategic advantage of their own.

  • “Were they ficticious, or at least exaggerated?”

    They were real enough, as the corpses of some six thousand Belgian civilians, men, women and children, slaughtered in reprisals by the German Army at the beginning of the War could attest.

    http://ww1centenary.oucs.ox.ac.uk/memoryofwar/the-rape-of-belgium-revisited/

  • Thanks for the clarification. What about the purpose of the war, or goal? never could figure it out.

  • Much ink and cyberspace has been spent on WWI.
    Granted that the Germans did not assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand, I still blame Germany. The German nation was ruled by Lutheran Prussians and wanted an empire. Kulturkampf and their treatment of Poles were both rotten.

  • The purposes of the War varied among the belligerents:

    Great Britain-Free Belgium. Prevent Germany from dominating Europe.

    France-Get back Alsace-Lorraine. Prevent Germany from dominating Europe.

    Italy-Prevent Germany from dominating Europe. Get Tyrolia from Austria-Hungary.

    Serbia-Survival.

    Russia-Protect Serbia. Stop Germany and Austria Hungary from dominating Europe.

    Austria Hungary-Destroy Serbia. Dominate the Balkans.

    Germany-Hold onto territorial conquests. Become dominant power in Europe.

    USA-Defeat Germany. Build new international order to make another World War impossible.

  • To mr. McClary. The best way for Serbia to survive was NOT to provoke Austria-Hungary to go to war. But Serbia was a very aggressive state, with a large and active irredentist faction that wanted just that and who expected Russia too come to their aid. Their war aim was the establishment of a south slave state dominated by Serbia. In other words, they wanted to become in the Balkans what Prussia had become in the German-speaking lands.

  • “The best way for Serbia to survive was NOT to provoke Austria-Hungary to go to war. But Serbia was a very aggressive state, with a large and active irredentist faction that wanted just that and who expected Russia too come to their aid.”

    Correct, and elements in Austria had long pined for the destruction of Serbia and the domination of the Balkans by Austria. The Chief of Staff of the Austrian Army had recommended a pre-emptive war against Serbia some 13 times prior to 1914. The first lesson of history in the Balkans is that no one has clean hands.

January 22, 1917: Peace Without Victory

Sunday, January 22, AD 2017

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The United States was two months from entering the Great War when President Wilson addressed the Senate a century ago, calling for Peace Without Victory and laying out the beginnings of what would eventually be his Fourteen Points as the basis of peace:

Gentlemen of the Senate:

On the 18th of December last, I addressed an identical note to the governments of the nations now at war requesting them to state, more definitely than they had yet been stated by either group of belligerents, the terms upon which they would deem it possible to make peace.  I spoke on behalf of humanity and of the rights of all neutral nations like our own, many of whose most vital interests the war puts in constant jeopardy.

The Central Powers united in a reply which state merely that they were ready to meet their antagonists in conference to discuss terms of peace.  The Entente powers have replied much more definitely and have stated, in general terms, indeed, but with sufficient definiteness to imply details, the arrangements, guarantees, and acts of reparation which they deem to be the indispensable conditions of a satisfactory settlement.  We are that much nearer a definite discussion of the peace which shall end the present war.  We are that much nearer the definite discussion of the international concert which must thereafter hold the world at peace.

In every discussion of peace that must end this war, it is taken for granted that the peace must be followed by some definite concert of power which will make it virtually impossible that any such catastrophe should ever overwhelm us again.  Every love of mankind, every sane and thoughtful man must take that for granted.

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One Response to January 22, 1917: Peace Without Victory

  • I had never been happier in my life ! I had voluntarily enlisted eight days after graduating from High School; while some had tried everything they could think of to avoid the Draft. I even knew two guys, from High School, that had fled to Canada. But here I was, on the last leg of the flights that were taking me HOME ! I had been gone for nearly four long years, and was eager to see the faces of my loved ones again. I had disembarked and walked into the Terminal, when some hoodlum, who looked like a Manson follower, ran up and spit on my uniform ! Timothy Reed

October 8, 1918: Alvin C. York Renders Unto Caesar

Saturday, October 8, AD 2016

 

 

13And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and of the Herodians; that they should catch him in his words. 14Who coming, say to him: Master, we know that thou art a true speaker, and carest not for any man; for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar; or shall we not give it? 15Who knowing their wiliness, saith to them: Why tempt you me? bring me a penny that I may see it. 16And they brought it him. And he saith to them: Whose is this image and inscription? They say to him, Caesar’s. 17And Jesus answering, said to them: Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.

Mark 12:  13-17

So you see my religion and my experience…told me not to go to war, and the memory of my ancestors…told me to get my gun and go fight. I didn’t know what to do. I’m telling you there was a war going on inside me, and I didn’t know which side to lean to. I was a heap bothered. It is a most awful thing when the wishes of your God and your country…get mixed up and go against each other. One moment I would make up my mind to follow God, and the next I would hesitate and almost make up my mind to follow Uncle Sam. Then I wouldn’t know which to follow or what to do. I wanted to follow both but I couldn’t. They were opposite. I wanted to be a good Christian and a good American too.

Alvin C. York

Drafted into the Army, serving in the All American division, Alvin C. York had a moral quandary.  A crack shot from years of hunting to feed his poverty stricken family in the hills of Tennessee, he was also a fervent Christian.  He loved his country but took literally the Commandment “Thou Shalt Not Kill”.  Requesting a ten day leave to go home, which was granted, he prayed fervently to God for an answer to his dilemma.

“As I prayed there alone, a great peace kind of come into my soul and a great calm come over me, and I received my assurance. He heard my prayer and He come to me on the mountainside. I didn’t see Him, of course, but he was there just the same. I knowed he was there. He understood that I didn’t want to be a fighter or a killing man, that I didn’t want to go to war to hurt nobody nohow. And yet I wanted to do what my country wanted me to do. I wanted to serve God and my country, too. He understood all of this. He seen right inside of me, and He knowed I had been troubled and worried, not because I was afraid, but because I put Him first, even before my country, and I only wanted to do what would please Him.”

So He took pity on me and He gave me the assurance I needed. I didn’t understand everything. I didn’t understand how He could let me go to war and even kill and yet not hold it against me. I didn’t even want to understand. It was His will and that was enough for me. So at last I begun to see the light. I begun to understand that no matter what a man is forced to do, so long as he is right in his own soul he remains a righteous man. I knowed I would go to war. I knowed I would be protected from all harm, and that so long as I believed in Him He would not allow even a hair on my head to be harmed.”

In the fall of 1918, York’s regiment participated in the Meuse-Argonne offensive, the largest American operation of the war.  On October 8, 1918, York’s regiment took part in an attack to seize German positions along the Decauville rail-line north of Chatel-Chehery, France.  The attack encountered savage German resistance as York noted in his diary:

The Germans got us, and they got us right smart. They just stopped us dead in our tracks. Their machine guns were up there on the heights overlooking us and well hidden, and we couldn’t tell for certain where the terrible heavy fire was coming from… And I’m telling you they were shooting straight. Our boys just went down like the long grass before the mowing machine at home. Our attack just faded out… And there we were, lying down, about halfway across [the valley] and those German machine guns and big shells getting us hard.

Sergeant Bernard Early was ordered to take 16 men including York and work his way around the German position to take out the machine guns.  Early and his men overran a German headquarters, when German machine guns opened up killing six of the Americans, and wounding three others, including Sergeant Early.  York, the reluctant soldier, now found himself in command of the remaining seven soldiers.

And those machine guns were spitting fire and cutting down the undergrowth all around me something awful. And the Germans were yelling orders. You never heard such a racket in all of your life. I didn’t have time to dodge behind a tree or dive into the brush… As soon as the machine guns opened fire on me, I began to exchange shots with them. There were over thirty of them in continuous action, and all I could do was touch the Germans off just as fast as I could. I was sharp shooting… All the time I kept yelling at them to come down. I didn’t want to kill any more than I had to. But it was they or I. And I was giving them the best I had.

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5 Responses to October 8, 1918: Alvin C. York Renders Unto Caesar

  • TCM aired this classic movie earlier this afternoon. Great movie! They don’t make them like that any more. After it they showed “Paths of Glory.”
    .
    The Doughboys, by Laurence Stallings, if you can find a copy, has a good narrative of the action.

  • They were called doughboys because they were not old enough to be bread.

  • The term goes back to the Mexican War in the US and was in use in Britain during the Napoleonic Wars. The derivation of the nickname for infantry is obscure.

  • Thank you, Donald McClarey for giving a response to my comment. It is not lighthearted.

    Jesus Christ is the word of God and the Bread of Life. We, all sojourners on earth, are half-baked dough. Only Jesus and in Jesus, we, as sojourners on earth, may share in the Bread of Life.

    Infants are sovereign persons who have not yet learned to talk. Before Roe v. Wade, all persons under the age of majority, that is, emancipation were referred to as “infants” in a court of law. The court seizing, literally kidnapping, our constitutional Posterity declared that when a minor child found herself with child…(“pregnant” is not a word because there is no such thing as “pre-life”. Life is or is not, like virginity, there is no pre-virginity, only original innocence of the rational, human soul in the mind of God who is brought to earth by procreation as God waits upon His creatures’ will to procreate. There is life, scientific proof in DNA, or there is no life. There cannot, by any stretch of the mind, be pregnancy.)

    That being said, the court, to defend the greatest miscarriage of Justice in our generation decided that when a minor child found herself to be carrying another person, she is legally considered emancipated so that the minor child could avoid carrying her child, through abortion. The criminal intent of the court would be the evasion of the reality that the unborn child is a ward of the court.

    Ginsberg wrote that any fourteen year old female person had informed sexual consent. This decision actually disenfranchised the fourteen year old child of the civil right to be protected and acknowledged as a minor, un-emancipated person under our Ninth Amendment. SEE: Bishop Fulton J. Sheen’s Life is Worth Living episode THE GLORY OF BEING AMERICAN” available at EWTN.

    Un-emancipated persons, who are infants in the sight of the law, are not allowed to vote, suffrage denied to emancipated fourteen year olds, drink, nor are they allowed into saloons, nor serve in the military unless they lie about their age. Fourteen year olds are emancipated by Ginsberg to be sex slaves and prostitutes and abortion mill fodder.

    I was married at the age of nineteen and my husband was twenty way back in 1959. My husband was a ward of the court. When he turned twenty one, my husband, already with our first-born was notified that he was to claim his inheritance from a deputy of the court. As a ward of the court, because he was orphaned, the man was not emancipated until he turned twenty one years of age. (I guess I married a legal “infant”. Cradle robbing? Wisdom comes with age)

    Our tax dollars at one time were being used to protect and to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our constitutional Posterity. Our schizophrenia increases, disenfranchisement and taxation without representation.

    Men like Alvin York, Audie Murphy, and our exorcists Malachi Martin and Gabriel Amorth and all priests are heroes, even while they may still be the dough of the Bread of Life.

  • ETC,,,Exodus 21:14
    Exodus 21: 14 “But should a man dare to kill his fellow by treacherous intent, you must take him even from my altar to be put to death.” The Jerusalem Bible. The murderer, in the first degree, chooses by his own free will to become an outlaw not covered by the law of sanctuary. “my altar” is compassion and mercy.

    “I have come to fulfill the law not to abolish the law. Not one jot nor tittle will be lost” my loose quote.

    In fulfilling the law, Jesus had no power over the murderer who rejected the law, God and the Son of Man. The murderer in the first degree becomes an outlaw subject only to himself and for all compassion and mercy remains an outlaw rejecting all compassion and mercy. In the murderer in the first degree, there is no fellowship, nor gratitude.

Hills Are For Heroes

Thursday, August 11, AD 2016

 

My favorite TV show when I was a boy was Combat!  In 152 grittily realistic episodes from 1962-1967, the experiences of an American infantry squad fighting in France in World War II were detailed.  Most of the cast members had served in the military, several in World War II.  The men were not portrayed as supermen, but ordinary men trying to survive while doing a necessary, dirty job.  The series won accolades from World War II combat veterans for its unsparing look at what fighting had been like for them.  The series hit its artistic peak on March 1, and March 8, 1966 with the two part episode Hills Are For Heroes.  Directed by Vic Morrow who starred in the series as Sergeant Chip Saunders, the episodes detail the battle of the squad and the platoon of which it was a part to take a vital hill.  At the end of episode two, after incurring heavy losses, they succeed, only to heartbreakingly having to abandon the hill due to a German breakthrough.  As they march away from the hill, Second Lieutenant Gil Hanley grimly tells his men to remember every feature of the hill for next time.  Television does not get any better than Combat!

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6 Responses to Hills Are For Heroes

  • Must be a metaphor

  • Another mostly-fair (given Hollywood’s widespread perversion to depict Vietnam soldiers as psychopaths, losers, or baby-killers) early 1980’s TV series is “Tour of Duty.” I catch it on rare occasions on a secondary cable network.
    .
    Here’s a (unsolicited) book recommendation. A Shau Valor by Thomas R. Yarborough. The valley was famous/notorious throughout the VN war years for hill fights, sacrifices and uncommon valor. The movie “Hamburger Hill” comes close to getting it.
    .
    Hemingway: “War is a crime. Ask the infantry and ask the dead.” When you meet them, if you meet them, greet them ever with grateful hearts.

  • Thanks for the memories. One of my regular favorites, along with the “Victory at Sea” series.

  • Don,
    Agree on Combat!. I own the DVD series. Did you ever watch the 1990s series “Space — Above and Beyond”? I found it very enjoyable and it was often (fairly I think) compared to Combat!.

  • I have it on DVD Mike! I love that series.