A hundred years ago

A section to discuss matters not related to Chess in particular.
Colin S Crouch
Posts: 163
Joined: Sat Nov 10, 2012 8:37 pm

A hundred years ago

Post by Colin S Crouch » Sun Mar 02, 2014 11:47 pm

A nice simple question. Who started the Great War?
Discuss, and analyse...

James Pratt
Posts: 412
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 11:10 pm

Re: A hundred years ago

Post by James Pratt » Mon Mar 03, 2014 12:16 am

AJP Taylor?

John Upham
Posts: 4338
Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2007 10:29 am
Location: Cove, Hampshire, England.
Contact:

Re: A hundred years ago

Post by John Upham » Mon Mar 03, 2014 12:29 am

The Romans? They deserve to take the credit for more than you'd imagine according to John Cleese.
British Chess News : britishchessnews.com
Twitter: @BritishChess
Facebook: facebook.com/groups/britishchess :D

User avatar
Christopher Kreuzer
Posts: 7293
Joined: Fri Aug 06, 2010 2:34 am
Location: London

Re: A hundred years ago

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Mon Mar 03, 2014 12:32 am

[Apologies for posting the first serious answer... :? ]

Heh. That's a complex subject. In one of the recent BBC programs, the presentation/debate hosted by Niall Ferguson, one of the experts on the panel said that this has been debated for 100 years and might be for another 100 years. He may be right, though whether subjecting the past to that level of scrutiny is desirable is another matter - I suspect some of those who fought in that war would say there is a need to get the balance right between learning from the past and paying attention to and shaping the present. What is indisputable is the impact that the Great War had on the world we live in.

As to who started it? A better question might have been whether it could have been stopped and who could have stopped it. The standard historical outline is that the trigger was the assassination by Serbian nationalists of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and this brought Austria-Hungary and Russia into confrontation, and various alliances drew in Germany, France and (once Belgian neutrality had been violated) the UK (or rather, the British Empire). The Ottoman Empire (Turkey) and Italy came a bit later (the story of how and why Constantinople entered the war is a fascinating one). Imperial ambitions muddy the waters. German plans for dominating Europe and the arms race argument and several other theories as to what helped cause the war.

Fast forward a bit (about five years), immense slaughter and advances in military technology, and several empires have crumbled to dust and one has been fatally weakened and the seeds sown for another World War. Was it all inevitable? Who knows?

PeterTurland
Posts: 541
Joined: Sat Dec 01, 2007 10:03 pm
Location: Leicester
Contact:

Re: A hundred years ago

Post by PeterTurland » Mon Mar 03, 2014 8:13 am

Ahem, Queen Victoria's grandsons maybe and if they did not start it, they perhaps could have stopped it!

But and it's a massive but, the collosal insanity might have endowed us species of blundering bipeds, with the ability to reach for the stars.

User avatar
Paolo Casaschi
Posts: 1089
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2009 6:46 am

Re: A hundred years ago

Post by Paolo Casaschi » Mon Mar 03, 2014 8:19 am

If WWI was anything like any other war, since the Germans and the Austro-Hungarian eventually lost, it MUST have been their fault.

User avatar
Christopher Kreuzer
Posts: 7293
Joined: Fri Aug 06, 2010 2:34 am
Location: London

Re: A hundred years ago

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Mon Mar 03, 2014 2:29 pm

Paolo Casaschi wrote:If WWI was anything like any other war, since the Germans and the Austro-Hungarian eventually lost, it MUST have been their fault.
Hi Paolo. I hope you don't mind me asking, but I've read a number of books on WWI and one of them touched on the issue of national perspectives and national narratives. There was an article this morning on the BBC about the differences in the way the war is being remembered in the UK and Germany:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26368633

'World War One: Germany's forgotten war'

Would you have any insight into how the war is remembered in Italy? Most of what I have read has been about the Western Front, but one book I remember in particular was about the battles between Italian and Austrian troops in the high Alpine regions (such as the Asiago plateau) and along the Isonzo River.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_Fr ... d_War_I%29

The book was, ironically enough, titled 'Forgotten Battlefronts of the First World War':

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=C3CFPwAACAAJ

MartinCarpenter
Posts: 2439
Joined: Tue May 24, 2011 10:58 am

Re: A hundred years ago

Post by MartinCarpenter » Mon Mar 03, 2014 3:46 pm

A bit pointless to argue precise causes I think - up until WW1 major land wars in Europe were quite simply something that the major powers did on a regular basis. Like conquering random countries in Africa/America etc.

Those previous wars were of course often rather idiotically destructive but not remotely as much as some 'useful' technological advantages allowed WW1 to be :(

Thankfully we've managed to get out of the most dangerous bits of that mindset in recent years.

User avatar
Paolo Casaschi
Posts: 1089
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2009 6:46 am

Re: A hundred years ago

Post by Paolo Casaschi » Mon Mar 03, 2014 3:48 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
Paolo Casaschi wrote:Would you have any insight into how the war is remembered in Italy? Most of what I have read has been about the Western Front, but one book I remember in particular was about the battles between Italian and Austrian troops in the high Alpine regions (such as the Asiago plateau) and along the Isonzo River.
I haven't read anything recently about WWI in Italian and being abroad I don't really get the feeling about the celebrations for the 100th year anniversary (too much going on in Italian politics at the moment). However I can tell you how WWI was thought in Italian schools not long (well...) ago.
I believe WWI went down in Italian history as a victory for the country; at some extent you can see WWI as the final step of the Italian independence. A number previously separate territories were unified under the new country of Italy only in 1861; at the time only a portion of what Italy is today was unified in the new country and Italy went through several following conflicts in order to to expand; a key opponent was the Austro-Hungarian empire that at some point ruled in the North of most of modern Italy (Milan and everything East of Milan). At the end of WWI Italy expanded the territory of the country significantly in the North-East area, well beyond current borders (we had to give up a lot of that to former Yugoslavia after WWII). As such, Italy has overall a positive memory of WWI, well, as much as you can have a positive memory of any war. Still, it was not all good news, not at all. The battles at the Austrian border are remembered with terror; for example the battle of Caporetto is still considered one of the worst Italian battle defeats and the term is used in everyday language to refer to any disastrous experience (for instance, any of my Italian chess friends would understand what I mean if I told them that my last game in the London league against Wood Green was like Caporetto).

Feelings about WWII are a lot more ambivalent, with Fascism, an internal civil war in the middle of WWII and all that, but we'll talk about this in 35 years or so...

Ray Sayers

Re: A hundred years ago

Post by Ray Sayers » Mon Mar 03, 2014 3:59 pm

I studied History A Level and since then have dipped in and out of various books on why WW1 started.

But I think what really summed it up well was Blackadder's take on it in 'Blackadder Goes Forth'...

But the real reason for the whole thing was that it was too much effort not to have a war.

David Robertson
Posts: 2154
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2007 6:24 pm
Contact:

Re: A hundred years ago

Post by David Robertson » Mon Mar 03, 2014 6:05 pm

Colin S Crouch wrote:A nice simple question. Who started the Great War?
Entire libraries have been written on this matter. The National Archives of every participant country contain multi-volume works which say "Not us!". But for your benefit, I can distill all of this into one definitive answer:

Gräf & Stift started the Great War. Here's why.

On June 28, 1914, just before noon, Archduke Franz Ferdinand (AFF) and his wife were driving through cheering crowds on the way to a reception at the Town Hall. Six Serbian assassins were lined along the route. The first assassin bottled it; the second did too. But the third threw his bomb - and missed! It bounced in the road, and exploded under the third car in the procession, injuring many but not AFF. The would-be assassin then swallowed a cyanide tab, and jumped into the nearby river. Alas, the cyanide was too weak to kill him; and the river too shallow to drown him. So he was fished out, beaten up, and arrested.

Meanwhile, AFF had sped off to the Town Hall for lunch - as you'd expect after a busy morning dodging bombs. After lunch and speeches, AFF decided to abandon the rest of the pre-arranged route, and drive instead to visit the injured in hospital. So off they set.

Alas, no one remembered to tell AFF's driver of the change of plan. So the driver turned right instead of driving straight on. They drove straight past the fourth assassin, Gavrilo Princip, who had carefully positioned himself at the corner of the junction. But shouts from the following cars halted AFF's vehicle some several yards down the road from the junction. It stopped.

The vehicle was a luxury Double Phaeton made by the Austrian firm, Gräf & Stift. But this model lacked a reverse gear. So people helpfully pushed the car back to the junction. As the car was being slowly turned to join the others, Gavrilo Princip stepped forward and fired two bullets from close range. The first hit AFF in the neck, severing the jugular vein; the second hit the car door before wounding the Archduchess in the abdomen. Both died within the hour.

So there we have it. Had Gräf & Stift supplied a car with a reverse gear, there would likely have been no Great War

David Sedgwick
Posts: 3459
Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2007 5:56 pm
Location: Croydon

Re: A hundred years ago

Post by David Sedgwick » Mon Mar 03, 2014 7:05 pm

Paolo Casaschi wrote:I believe WWI went down in Italian history as a victory for the country; at some extent you can see WWI as the final step of the Italian independence. A number previously separate territories were unified under the new country of Italy only in 1861; at the time only a portion of what Italy is today was unified in the new country and Italy went through several following conflicts in order to to expand; a key opponent was the Austro-Hungarian empire that at some point ruled in the North of most of modern Italy (Milan and everything East of Milan). At the end of WWI Italy expanded the territory of the country significantly in the North-East area, well beyond current borders (we had to give up a lot of that to former Yugoslavia after WWII).
I'm surprised and fascinated.

I'd long thought that the outcome of WW1 was a significant defeat for Italy, as the country was betrayed when the provisions of the Treaty of London 1915 were repudiated by Britain and France at Versailles. Italian territory was enhanced as you say, but to nothing like the extent which had been agreed in 1915 as the quid pro quo for Italy joining the war in the first place.

I was reminded of this a few years ago, when the European Individual Chess Championships 2010 were held at Rijeka, Croatia. Had history turned out differently, that might have been at Fiume, Italy. (Both names mean "river" in the respective languages.)
Last edited by David Sedgwick on Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

David Robertson
Posts: 2154
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2007 6:24 pm
Contact:

Re: A hundred years ago

Post by David Robertson » Mon Mar 03, 2014 7:27 pm

David Sedgwick wrote:the country was betrayed when the provisions of the Treaty of London 2015 were repudiated
Whoa! Not so fast! You're getting ahead of events.

User avatar
Paolo Casaschi
Posts: 1089
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2009 6:46 am

Re: A hundred years ago

Post by Paolo Casaschi » Mon Mar 03, 2014 11:03 pm

David Sedgwick wrote:I'd long thought that the outcome of WW1 was a significant defeat for Italy, as the country was betrayed when the provisions of the Treaty of London 2015 were repudiated by Britain and France at Versailles. Italian territory was enhanced as you say, but to nothing like the extent which had been agreed in 1915 as the quid pro quo for Italy joining the war in the first place.
I guess a win is still a win and you celebrate what you've got :-)
David Sedgwick wrote:I was reminded of this a few years ago, when the European Individual Chess Championships 2010 were held at Rijeka, Croatia. Had history turned out differently, that might have been at Fiume, Italy. (Both names mean "river" in the respective languages.)
I still remember as a kid, when the Italian BBC equivalent had monopoly on TV broadcasting in Italy, you still could watch a few alternative foreign channels: a channel in Istria was broadcasting in Italian. At the same time, in the Italian region around Bolzano/Bozen they speak German to this day, again a memory from WWI times...

Colin S Crouch
Posts: 163
Joined: Sat Nov 10, 2012 8:37 pm

Re: A hundred years ago

Post by Colin S Crouch » Tue Mar 04, 2014 1:20 am

This one will run and run. The question has been debated, agreed, for the last hundred years, and will quite probably be hotly debated for the next hundred years. Then there will be the added complexity that the origins, battles, and outcomes of the first hundred years will still have the tendency to bite back in later years.
In terms of the origins of the Great War, it is easy enough to blame it on a few Serbs, with a few bombs and guns (this perhaps may be termed “the Blair school of history”), but of course Europe was already on a tinder-box.
The next obvious question is why the conspirators felt it necessary to blow up an archduke. Obviously this was in part a matter of individual psychology. In terms of politics and history, however, it should never be forgotten (but in the west, it is usually forgotten) that there were two really nasty Balkan Wars, in 1912 and 1913. The blood-letting was much in the lines of the disintegration of Yugoslavia. I have to admit that I had no knowledge of all this, until, when I still had reasonable eyesight, I wanted to read up on Yugoslavia and the Balkans.
This in turn leads to forward and backward links, not least to the collapse of the Ottoman empire, the Armenian genocide, and Turkey thereafter. But then, there were other empires battling though in the Balkans.
This is of course just one fragmant, not the whole picture. I have not even mentioned Britain or Germany, or the far-flung descendents of Queen Victoria.
All nuggets welcome.

Post Reply