Monday, August 4, 2014

The Countdown to Cataclysm Across The World: 100 Years Ago Today – August 3, 1914

We honor all those who have given their lives in war, especially honoring at this time those who died in WWI!
Sadly, it is this blogger's belief that ALL THE WARS & TERRORISM on this world has been started by our corrupt 1% world leaders (and the previous leaders over the past few centuries, in order to stay in power and keep their money) ...through their insatiable quest for G.O.D.:  Gold, Oil and Diamonds.


Austria, Circa 1908: CafÈ Korb. Graben. Vienna.  (Photo by Imagno/Getty Images)
A coffee in peacetime. Austria, Circa 1908: CafÈ Korb. Graben. Vienna. (Photo by Imagno/Getty Images)
By various reporters, The Telegraph,  August 3, 2014 –

GERMANY by Justin Huggler
Huge crowds poured through the streets of Berlin on 3 August, 1914. They were celebrating in Germany. Soldiers marched through the streets with flowers in their bayonets, weeping women clinging to their arms. People attacked the British Embassy, breaking the windows with stones, and shouting “God punish England!”

They had been out on the streets for days, ordinary people singing national songs and parading past monuments. Tens of thousands waited late into the night outside the palace for a glimpse of the Kaiser. Students tore into cafes, beating up anyone who didn’t stand for the national anthem.

“Every face looks happy,” wrote the Berlin actress Tilla Durieux. “We’ve got war! One’s food gets cold, one’s beer gets warm. No matter – we’ve got war!”
Germany was in the grip of “the spirit of 1914”, an extraordinary nationalist fervour that those who lived through would later describe as a “holy moment”, a “rebirth through war”, and “the ascent of a whole people to the heights”.

Germany had only been unified as a single country 43 years before, but in that time it had seen astonishing economic success. It was the rising power of the age, and patriotic Germans saw no reason why they should not prevail on the battlefield. It was Germany’s hour.

It was a sentiment that had been shared by Kaiser Wilhelm II, eager to compete with his relatives in Britain’s Royal Family. But by August 3, though he remained confident and defiant in public, the Kaiser, who had done more than anyone to bring about the war, was panicky and insecure in private.

So was his Chancellor, Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg. He would tell parliament the next day that “the fourth of August 1914 will, for all time, remain one of Germany’s greatest days”. In fact, he had already attempted to resign, and privately admitted he had lost control to the generals.

The chief of staff, General Helmuth von Moltke, had won his command largely because of his friendship with Wilhelm. Inflexible and unable to adapt, he was wedded to a decade-old plan to attack France through Belgium.

“You will be home before the leaves have fallen from the trees,” Wilhelm would tell German troops as they left for the battlefields of France. But they would not be back for four years. Millions of them would never return at all.

FRANCE by David Chazan
The assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the Archduke of Austria, in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, had surprisingly little impact on the French and failed to dampen popular enthusiasm for the Tour de France, which began the same day. By the time the race ended four weeks later, however, France stood on the brink of war.

On Saturday August 1, the government ordered a general mobilisation after Germany declared war against Russia, an ally of both France and Britain under the “Triple Entente” – an extension of the Franco-British agreements of 1904 known as the “Entente Cordiale”, which were partly a response to Germany’s growing military and naval power. That afternoon, church bells tolled across France to alert reservists and conscripts.

Little more than a week after completing the Tour de France, many competitors swapped their cycling shorts for the blue coats, scarlet trousers and red képis of the army. In these conspicuous nineteenth-century uniforms, the French soldiers made easy targets, which contributed to their heavy losses as the Germans pushed into France. Among those who fell in battle were three winners of the Tour de France.

On the eve of the call to arms, another assassination shocked France far more profoundly than the killing of Franz Ferdinand. Jean Jaurès, the internationally respected leader of the French Socialists, a pacifist, was shot dead by a fanatical nationalist as he dined at a restaurant in Paris on July 31.

By 1914, the humiliation of France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 had largely been eclipsed by the prosperity of the French Empire. Despite the loss of Alsace and part of Lorraine to Germany, France had strengthened its army and remained a great power. The president, Raymond Poincaré, who was from Lorraine, loathed Germany.

France was still a mainly rural country in 1914, with half of the working population tilling the fields, but an exodus had begun from the countryside to the rapidly industrialising cities.

Villages had no running water or electricity but Paris was recognised as the cultural capital of Europe. It had become the fourth world city to be endowed with an underground network – the Métro. The Lumière brothers had pioneered the development of cinema, and the French capital had acquired its first telephone boxes. Louis Pasteur had achieved breakthroughs in disease prevention and Henri Becquerel had discovered radioactivity. Marie and Pierre Curie had pioneered the use of radium to treat cancerous cells.

However, few French people were educated. Outside the cities, regional languages and “patois” were still commonly spoken and more than half of the nation’s 41 million people spoke French as a second language. Nevertheless the French were generally proud of their status as a Republic, ruled neither by a King nor a Kaiser.

BELGIUM by Bruno Waterfield
The morning was already hot and Brussels was waking up to war as street newspaper sellers shouted that day’s headline: “German ultimatum to Belgium”.
Sitting in the grandeur of Belgium’s foreign ministry on Rue de la Loi, Count Albert de Bassompierre heard a “growing tumult of sound arising from the town below”.

“It was like an extraordinary murmur, swelling gradually as it passed along,” the senior diplomat wrote. “It was caused by the cries of hawkers selling the papers, containing the news… the exclamations of surprise and anger uttered by their readers and the excitement growing more and more intense which the terrible news aroused in the streets.”

Germany’s threat that it would declare war unless German soldiers were given free passage across Belgium to attack France had arrived the evening before. It had been personally handed over to a stunned Julien Davignon, the country’s foreign minister.

Henri Davignon, the minister’s son and also a diplomat, had seen Claus von Below-Saleske, the German envoy, leave his father’s office. “I pushed open the door. My father had the pallor of death. He held in his hand a paper,” he wrote.
Davignon was a 19th century man renowned for his sense of honour and famous in the world of European diplomacy for his motto: “let’s hope it will turn out alright in the end”. Now he was undone as Europe’s era of enlightened diplomacy ended.

Belgium had been given 12 hours to respond to the ultimatum, and the lamps burned all Sunday night in the Royal Palace and the country’s ministries. On receiving the ultimatum, King Albert I of Belgium had summoned his council of ministers who met throughout the night drafting a defiant reply to Germany and making military preparations. “This is war,” the king told them.

De Bassompierre had been instructed that Monday morning to relay the precise wording of Belgium’s refusal to “sacrifice the honour of the nation and betray their duty towards Europe” to a British diplomat, an attaché named Webber. It was an emotional encounter.

“He took my two hands, and, having gazed at me a moment in silence, he said simply ‘Bravo, Belgians!’ in a voice that was not quite steady,” wrote de Bassompierre.

A visitor to Vienna in the summer of 1914 may well have felt that they were in an untroubled city: a confident capital of a multi-ethnic empire that covered 261,000 square miles in the heart of Europe with its imperial reach.

The Austro-Hungarian capital was indeed enjoying golden period. It had become a glittering powerhouse of European art, culture and science that would leave an indelible mark on the continent. Attracted by a powerful cultural life nurtured by the Hapsburg monarchy, religious tolerance and liberal attitudes to politics some of Europe’s finest brains called Vienna home. Sigmund Freud frequented the city’s Café Landtmann while at the nearby Greinsteidl Theodor Herzl, the creator of Zionism, drank his coffee. Composer and painter Arnold Schonberg pioneered the expressionist movement, while at the same time the city was the epicentre of the Vienna Secession, an artistic movement embracing painting, sculpture and architecture that included the likes of Gustav Klimt and Otto Wagner.

But away from its cafés there was both a darker side to Vienna and, indeed, the empire. Despite liberal attitudes, political debate and discourse had stalled helping to breed some of the political and national extremism that would help tear the country apart in the Great War, and later rip Europe apart in the Second. Both Hitler and Stalin were attracted to the city: using their time there to ferment the political beliefs that would some 27 years later set them on an apocalyptic collision course.

Around the empire various nationalities were manoeuvring for greater freedom. To the north, the Czechs of Bohemia and Moravia – tired of playing second fiddle to German speakers – were campaigning for looser ties with Vienna. In the south, there was growing resentment amongst Croats over Hungarian cultural and linguistic dominance.

And in the Balkans, the empire’s annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina in the early years of the century was resented deeply by the province’s Serbs, some of whom plotted to strike the blow that would spark the Great War.

Faced with calls for greater freedom, and contradictory demands from conservatives for more centralisation to protect the unity of the empire, Austro-Hungarian politics had become dangerously polarised and moribund.

One by the one the delicate threads that held the sprawling empire together were snapping under the myriad political and ethnic tensions. Very soon the Austro-Hungarian Empire would expire, and the sun would set on Vienna’s golden age.

ITALY by Tom Kington
For a country that showed up a year late to the First World War, joining the allies in 1915, Italy was not short on bellicose energy. It fell to five-times prime minister Giovanni Giolitti, who dominated pre-war politics, to inject some calm into proceedings and seek national unity through prosperity.

That did not stop a creeping radicalisation of politics, with conservatives loathing Giolitti for his concessions to workers, while revolutionary socialists fomented upheaval. This lead to the so-called Red Week in 1914 when the country was riven by a general strike, the deployment of thousands of soldiers, and the torching of churches.

“In 1914, Italy was a country sensing that it was teetering on the edge thanks to its divisions, and a number of leading politicians were tempted to look to war as a solution,” says the historian Christopher Duggan.

But not all politicians: a majority of members of parliament opposed signing up to the Great War, but foreign minister Sonnino and prime minister Antonio Saladra kept them at bay while deciding which side to join.

Despite a formal alliance with Germany and Austria, Italy signed a secret treaty in 1915 to enter the war with Britain, France and Russia in return for promises of fresh territory then held by Austria, notably the Italian speaking city of Trento and the key port of Trieste – the last building blocks needed to cement Italy’s unification and military back bone.

Three years later, Italy emerged on the winning side, but at the terrible cost of 600,000 war dead. Yet the fighting streak was still strong, leading to Italy’s post-war descent into fascism, led by a dictator, Benito Mussolini, who professed his love for “that supreme, inexorable violence, which is the chief motor force of world history.”

RUSSIA by Roland Oliphant
Pre-war Russia may have been overwhelmingly rural, barely industrialised, and beset by illiteracy, rural poverty, and an anachronistic autocracy bemoaned by liberals across Europe. But in the summer of 1914, things were better than they had been for years.

The careful reform programs masterminded by Pyotr Stolypin, the prime minister assassinated in 1911, were slowly beginning to bear fruit. The national economy was one of the best performing in Europe, galloping along at 10 to 20 percent growth annually. Steel production was approaching the levels of France and Austria.

The humiliations of the Russo-Japanese war and the subsequent 1905 revolution were almost forgotten. Lenin was in exile in Poland, and the divided socialist revolutionary movement seemed impotent.

In fact, when Tsar Nicholas II had marked its 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty in 1913, Europe’s most conservative autocracy seemed as confident and secure as ever.

But that security was deceptive. Despite a rapidly growing economy, discontent with the regime was growing. A massacre of striking Siberian gold miners two years earlier led to a wave of protests and industrial unrest throughout the country. The first week of July had been marked by a massive and violent general strike in St. Petersburg that paralysed as much as 80 percent of the capital’s industrial output and saw workers fight running street battles with police.

A wave of patriotism on the outbreak of war would briefly dowse this growing discontent. But conscious of the delicate domestic situation, and Russia’s economic, technological and military inferiority to Germany, few in St Petersburg thought war was a great idea.

Sergei Witte, the elder statesman who had masterminded Imperial Russia’s industrialisation efforts, called it “madness.” The Tsar Nicholas II himself vacillated over mobilising the army, sending desperate telegrams to Berlin in a bid to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis. Even Rasputin was said to have advised the Tsar against getting involved. But bound to stand by Serbia and by the European alliance system, Nicholas and his ministers felt they had little choice but to issue their own ultimatum to Austria.

On August 1, 1914, when the German ambassador in St Petersburg handed Sergei Sazonov, the Russian foreign minister, a note containing Germany’s declaration of war, few can have fathomed the catastrophe that note would bring for Russia. But one man had an idea.

“A war between Austria and Russia would be a very helpful thing for the revolution,” Lenin wrote from his Galician exile in a letter to Maxim Gorky in 1913, “but it is not likely that Franz Josef and Nicky will give us that pleasure.”
The German note gave Lenin his war. Three years later he would be get his revolution and find himself heading a new state: the Soviet Union.

UNITED STATES by Philip Sherwell
As Europe plunged into the world’s bloodiest conflict amid a storm of patriotic fervour, President Woodrow Wilson was being acclaimed in America for steering the US down a path of painstaking neutrality. It was not that the New World did not care about what was happening in Europe. Rather, its people were watching with a mixture of horror and disbelief as the continent from which so many were recent migrants was engulfed by war.

The front pages of American newspapers 100 years ago were crammed with dispatches from the European capitals filed on August 3rd 1914. Readers were left in no doubt about the dire state of affairs there as they struggled to fathom how the great European powers were spiralling into war over what seemed to be an obscure Balkan dispute.

The newspapers were also reporting about the challenges facing Americans trapped in Europe by the speedy descent into war. Some 20,000 were stuck in France alone, many having arriving there in panicked overnight train evacuations from Germany.

For some Americans, the impending conflict seemed to be just the sort of immature squabble between inter-bred royal families that they believed they had turned their backs on. But for many more in a country of predominantly European immigrants, the events in Europe were all too personal. After all, one-third of the American population was either foreign-born or had parents living abroad.

President Wilson spent the weekend discussing with advisors the wording for the Declaration of Neutrality that he delivered to Congress later in the month. The speech reflected the widespread desire not to waste American lives on what so many viewed as a pointless war.

But it also reflected Mr Wilson’s conviction that the very future of a country whose population had such deep roots on both sides of the turmoil could be at stake if it took sides.

The president believed that such impartiality would also benefit the thriving US economy as America could keep the world of international trade afloat and then step in as a peacemaker after the Europe’s capitals realised the futility of such blood-letting. It was to be another three years before German’s submarine attacks on US shipping finally forced America’s belated entry into the Great War.

Not everyone’s minds were focused on the impending horrors across the Atlantic this day a century ago, however. The lead letter in The New York Times ran under the headline: “A Plea on Behalf of Spooning Couples in the Parks”. The writer supported a plan to provide additional benches in the city’s green spaces “because from my own personal knowledge, the bench supply is inadequate to meet the demand on nights when it is pleasant to sit in the parks, either with or without one’s best girl or best young man”.

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