Skip to comments.Envoy Sent to London: Berlin Denies Rift with UK over WWI Centenary
Posted on 08/20/2013 1:44:13 AM PDT by Olog-hai
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Germans do not want to celebrate the fact that they lost two world wars in a row. Let ‘em go celebrate cultural diversity and being flooded with Muslims over a beer.
Yah! Yah! Ve von de var you know!
In my view, WW1 was fought to a stalemate since the German homeland was not decisively occupied/defeated. The Kaiser had to accept terms of surrender where those were the larger defeat rather than was the battlefield defeat. This was where the seeds for WW2 were sown. At least the Allies learned from that and went for the full victory in WW2.
I live in a very small village in Bavaria. Every one of the surrounding villages has a church and near the church there is a "Denkmal", a monument, with a list of names on it attributed to the years from 1914 to 1918 and some to the years 1939 to 1945. The lists in both time periods are shockingly long when one compares their length to the diminutive size of the village.
Let me assure you that there is no celebration of either war. But it would be very small minded and quite ignorant to celebrate the victories over Germany as anything other than a great tragedy of history which could have and should have been avoided.
Why the sensitivity on the German side then?
The first world war is a century old and the second world war is now approaching three quarters of a century old. When I first moved to Germany I lived in the town which was renowned for its baths and accordingly was a place for the evolution of hospitals and rehabilitation centers. In 1989 the streets of this town were filled with men with white hair and one arm or one leg, veterans of World War II who were lucky enough to have survived. Today, these veterans are no longer to be seen on the streets of this town, virtually all of them having died out.
I tutor kids to help them pass their English and history exams and so they are anywhere from 17 to 20 years of age and their universal reply to whether they feel "guilt" for World War II, or for the Holocaust, is to observe that they were not even alive at that time. They feel no such guilt.
Likewise, I feel no guilt for slavery. Do you?
There are a thousand facts which historians have avoided, and the public tended to just skip....in a review of WWI.
We can bring up the murders of a couple members of the Hapsburg royal family (the Austrian-Hugarian Empire).
We can bring up the actual text of the Hapsburgs direct message to Serbia after the crown-prince was murdered on the streets. It really wasn’t anything different than what most countries would have expected. Serbia didn’t even pause to think over a couple of simple actions....they just went direct to Russia and enacted their secret defense treaty.
The French fell into this whole because they finally thought....with the Russians and English....they could win an actual war against Germany (three miserable defeats throughout the 1800s weren’t enough for them).
The Germans knew every single weakness of the Russians and exploited it. Communism only arrived....because the Germans allowed to be a apart of their entire strategy in defeating Russia.
Lousy military leadership and strategy from the British and French...accomplished almost nothing for the war.
And Wilson arriving for peace talks? He was marginally in any health to travel, and even less to focus on the issues. In the end....Wilson being there, merely triggered the causes for WW II to occur.
I’m kinda hoping for this anniversary next year to drag out all these topics and refocus history professors on the subject.
Oh, and I should add....after the war, and the US legislature all hyped up to look good....sat up the GI-bonus deal....roughly a $1 a day for each day of service, but payable around 1945 (two decades away). This single act....triggered the Anacosta Flats riots in DC, and condemned the Hoover campaign to loose in 1932. This event is almost completely lost in US history, but reshapes the nation with FDR and his failed economic policy.
“UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER”, something we have stopped doing.
With all due respect, those are nonsequiturs. Never mind the fact that they presume that all liberal stereotypes about white Americans to be true. We do not have any parallels here; there was never a civil war fought in Germany to extricate those who were hardcore adherents to the elites of either second or third reichen, and the slavery culture had to be forced out of Germany from without.
Might seem ironic that such sensitivity arises in light of the European Union’s “ever closer union” and “solidarity” rhetoric. Why should the character of the UK change for anyone?
Succinct summary, correct and to the point in just two words.
I live in a small village in Israel, every single village and town has a reminder of those killed in all of Israel's wars, WWII and WWI. Some have tributes to Germans (from WWI), Turks, British, French, Australians, New Zealanders and others.
Germany (and the allies) lost generations of young men in both wars but we must leave behind, the modern concept of parity where everything is relative and equal such as the suffering was equal on all sides or Germany (or Imperial Japan) as they were “victims” too.
True, these were massive tragedies BUT...
There were aggressors and defenders. Who initiated the onslaught and who paid the price. Those that brought these horrible events to the rest of us should not celebrate anything but quietly remember the dead but not forget the why and how.
Those that “won” the hard fought battles can indeed celebrate though modestly that they saved the world from Austro-Hungarian Imperialism and then Nazi Fascist world slavery.
There were clear winners and losers. We do not celebrate killing others, we do however, celebrate halting them.
Each of those points of history have probably had multiple tomes and treatises published, each properly filed and forgotten by most. Your post makes excellent points, most of which I studied in college as part of two history courses, one on WW2 and the other on the diplomatic history of the US in the 20th Century. Both courses were taught by the same professor who regularly taught the class in various costumes of the time.
I especially commend your comment on Wilson as I think it is an under-studied area. I only recently read “When the Cheering Stopped” to get a better sense of that time and that presidency.
You ask why the sensitivity, and the answer is because they do not accept the biblical injunction of visiting the sins of the father onto the sons. If they were not alive they are not guilty. It does not matter whether the practice was terminated by an internal civil war or an external invasion. They object to the practice, all too common in America, of attributing to Germans who were born subsequent in 1945 the stigma of racism. Evidently it does not occur to those making the charge that there must be some racial reason for guilt to run with the DNA from generation to generation. Who is the racist?
Never mind the fact that they presume that all liberal stereotypes about white Americans to be true.
To the degree that they stereotype Americans perhaps we should blame ourselves. Look at the American television through a foreigner's eyes and describe what you see. Look at American movies the same way and tell me whether you see any stereotypes. Finally, ask yourself whether we succeeded only too well in the object of the occupation. Never mind the Morgenthau plan which was to turn Germany into a de- industrialized farm, consider only the intention to remove racism from the German psyche. When they see racism they react the way we wanted them to and the way we conditioned them to do.
We programmed the Germans post-World War II to react against racism. They see us as racist. They see us as imperialistic and warmongering partly (repeat "partly") because we gave them a set of values which leads them to that conclusion.
We do not have any parallels here; there was never a civil war fought in Germany to extricate those who were hardcore adherents to the elites of either second or third reichen, and the slavery culture had to be forced out of Germany from without
Evidently you are unaware of the Soviet republics around Berlin and in Bavaria post-World War I and the military struggles to put them down. If you are familiar with the post-World War II history of Germany, you will see a society not just sullenly obedient to the Western occupation but eager to restore actual democracy. If you look at the transition from the American occupation here where I live to self-government at a time when people were starving and beaten, you will see a history of enlightenment and genuine democracy as they succeeded in creating one of the great and prosperous democracies of the world.
Might seem ironic that such sensitivity arises in light of the European Unions ever closer union and solidarity rhetoric.
My interaction with Germans tells me that they mostly don't really think about the implications of the European Union except as it affects their pocketbook. I ask them, "where is the capital of Bavaria," and they will gladly tell me that it is Munich. When I suggest to them that perhaps it is in Berlin they concede that's possibly so. If I then suggest to them that the capital is really in Brussels, they look startled. If I suggest to them it might be where the world court is located, or the European Court, where the United Nations, or the WTO is located, they scratch their heads.
If I tell them that we fought a civil war to find out whether the capital would be in Richmond or in Washington, they begin to understand what I am talking about. But if we judge them because on the one hand they are too left-wing with respect to American foreign policy or American race relations and in the next breath indict them for what their fathers did in the Holocaust, we might feel good, but we advance our understanding not 1 mm.
It was the end of an age of innocence.
It is certainly proper to analyze the causes of these conflicts. But it is not proper to vest the sins of the father onto the son. If there is residual anti-Semitism here in Germany, and I believe there is, much of it comes from the younger Germans who resent paying "reparations" to Israel or to Jews-I'm not saying whether they do or not, I am merely commenting on the perception which certainly exists.
If one can say that the bungled peace of 1918 led to the Holocaust, one can also say that the occupation of Germany post-1945 has been a great success because it produced one of the great democratic, prosperous nations of the world.
If I were a Jew in Israel, I would agree that we should never forget, I agree with that and I am not a Jew in Israel. But I also think that as we celebrate halting mass murderers, we should also celebrate their rehabilitation.
Thank you very much for your elucidating and friendly words:-)
Unfortunately, most Germans have, as you implied, but a dim idea of the US, her political system or her history and her self-image derived from both.
Thus, they somehow always seem to hold Americans against their ideals.
Some of these Germans really should remember that politics is the ‘art of the possible’, e. g. one should not expect the impossible, such as conforming 100% to one’s ideals.
After all, we are only human :-)
Dear Mr. Pepsionice,
thank you very much as well, especially your reference to President Wilsons feeble health.
But I thought that his health problems did not occur until the end of the Versailles peace conference.
I could be very wrong, though...
Sorry, typo: it should have read ‘President Wilson’s’, not ‘President Wilsons’
zu habst der krieg verloren!
Good reports from the source, thanks. As I learn more about the history of the 20th C and the ability of the British to manipulate and destroy so much freedom in the world, I’m amazed that we even consider Britain as an ally. After what a mess the Brit left made in Africa (esp SA), the MidEast and most other places on the earth, I’d think we would never again ally with that criminal nation!
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