Contrary to popular belief, Germany had entered World War One only reluctantly, and as a result of its mutual-assistance pact with Austria-Hungary. When it became obvious that the Kaiserreich could not defeat the Allies – especially after the entry of the United States, with over a million fresh troops, and in light of the “November Revolution” that resulted in Bolshevik (Marxist / Communist) takeovers of several major German cities – its representatives sought to negotiate, in good faith, a treaty to end the war.
Those negotiations were intended to be conducted on the basis of Woodrow Wilson’s “Fourteen Points,” which “called for the victorious Allies to set unselfish peace terms with the vanquished Central Powers of World War I, including freedom of the seas, the restoration of territories conquered during the war and the right to national self-determination in such contentious regions as the Balkans.”
On this day, almost at this hour – at the “eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month” – the guns of the Western Front fell silent at last, and four years of a cruel, horrific, European brother-killing war, the “Great War,” World War One, the “war to end all wars” (if only!) came to an end.
Bled nearly dry by four years of meat-grinder warfare, a whole generation nearly annihilated, Europe was exhausted. But the arrival of more than a million fresh, able, and (for the most part) well-equipped American troops turned the tide. Now hopelessly outnumbered, its cities falling to Marxist revolution and even parts of its once-proud military in mutiny, Germany had no choice but to sue for peace. Continue reading “Centenary of Armistice Day: 11 November, 1918-2018”
“To mark the centenary of the end of the First World War, I have decided to collate 100 images I’ve colorized in tribute to the men and women who lived through the war, and those who lost their lives.”
We are, at this posting, just three days and a little more than an hour (EST) from the Centenary of “the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month” – 11:00 a.m. on November 11th, 1911 – when after more than four years of horrifically bloody warfare which all but destroyed a generation and generated chains of events the effects of which are still being felt, the guns of the Western Front fell silent, and “the Great War,” the “war to end all wars,” was finally over.
I have mixed feelings about colorizing old pictures, but these striking photographs do, in my estimation, tend to humanize the people depicted, and lessen the gulf between their time and ours. It is too easy to forget events that happened only a decade or so ago (witness the decreasing appreciation of the events of 9/11, and their significance to the world we live in), and all the more when the events occurred a century ago.
This coming Sunday is the 11th of November: traditionally Martinmas, the Feast of St. Martin of Tours – a Roman soldier – in the calendar of the Western Church, but since 1918, commemorated somberly as Armistice Day (Remembrance Day, in the U.K.). In the U.S., that remembrance has been somewhat eclipsed by the larger context of Veterans Day, since we have a Memorial Day in the spring. But this year, on its Centennial, let us not forget the ending of a war which, far from ending all wars, ended up sparking – directly or indirectly – most of the wars since.
The acting assumption seems to be that if only we can erase any memory of the Confederacy and slavery, racism will finally be a thing of the past… [However,] it’s worth pointing out that before we tear men apart, or tear down their statues, we are duty bound to know the facts of the case, no matter our personal feelings toward, or disagreements with, the male in question.
Today marks the anniversary of the passing of General Robert E. Lee – “Marse Robert” (“Master Robert”), to his devoted men – in 1870, just over five years after he had reluctantly surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, in the realization that he had done all he could do, and prolonging the conflict any further would simply result in still more senseless death and destruction.
Although he was the greatest of many great Southern generals (and indeed, among the greatest military leaders of any land and of any time), he had never been a secessionist, and only reluctantly resigned his commission in the United States Army when it became clear that he would have to choose between what he – along with many, both North and South – saw as a voluntary Union of sovereign States, and his beloved home state of Virginia, “the Old Dominion”: it would not be possible to remain loyal to both.
He also was personally opposed to slavery, holding it to be a “great moral and political evil,” but believed that its abolition should be gradual and equitable to all parties concerned – rather than the sudden, violent, and disorganized way in which it actually occurred, which has contributed to both resentment, and many practical problems, ever since. In this, I think he was rather prescient. Continue reading “Defy Mob Justice by Celebrating the Life of Robert E. Lee | Crisis Magazine”
The increasing public veneration of the Imperial New Martyrs in Russian society is an integral part of the comprehensive, multifaceted vision of a gradual re-Christianisation of Russian society and culture in the wake of the Soviet system’s collapse.
Notwithstanding my ambivalence toward the ever-burgeoning influence of information technology – and in particular, social media – within our present society, it has benefited me in a number of respects, over years. One of those benefits has been the fact that it has enabled me to virtually “meet” and interact with quite a number of people I would probably have never come into contact with, otherwise.
One of these is the individual who delivered the speech that is the subject of this blog post, and which is linked above and elsewhere throughout this post. Ryan Hunter is a brilliant and articulate young scholar. A recent graduate (BA, History, 2016) and current MA candidate (European History) at Stony Brook University, his intelligence, perspicacity, and perspicuity have already garnered him considerable respect and recognition, as his invitation to speak at this conference demonstrates.
Among the numerous points raised by my erudite young friend, that it might behoove some (perhaps many) of our political leaders and media “talking heads” to consider, is this:
“None of the former Soviet states today maintain atheistic, single party communist dictatorships, and — regardless of the exact state of rule of law, due process, or democracy in any former Soviet states — none of the various political leaders in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) can aspire to anything even remotely approaching the totalitarian level of political control or terror held by Lenin and Stalin.”
The idea that the Russian Federation under Vladimir Putin is simply the Soviet Union “lite” does not bear either historical or objective contemporary scrutiny. Yes, the Federation has its own national interests, and no, they are not always congruent with ours.
And yes, political, intelligence, and other operatives of the RF doubtless act, and doubtless under orders from the government, to protect those interests – as do our own, for the same reason. We live in a house with sufficient glass in its makeup, that it ill-behooves us to lob stones at Russia!
But alongside and despite all this, it is incontrovertible that the political and social changes in Russia, in particular, and the former USSR in general, since Soviet days are dramatic and, in the vast majority of cases, positive. As Ryan continues,
“Think of all the progress that has been made in Russian and American commercial relations, developing business ties, and above all the laudable work of so many citizen diplomacy groups in overcoming negative stereotypes, biased news coverage, and misguided ideological prejudices between ordinary Russians and Americans.
“Think, also, of those who, even now, sadly seek to bring to Western countries the murderous communist ideology which inflicted untold suffering on tens of millions in Russia, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and indeed worldwide.”
Sadly, some of these occupy positions of prominence among the political, academic and media “elite” here in the U.S. – and some of those are among the harshest critics of the Russian Federation.
I have commented elsewhere on the irony that the same political party, and indeed some of the same people, who were willing to appease, accommodate, and apologize for the Soviet Union in its attempt to achieve worldwide Communist hegemony now squawk like plucked chickens at the thought that today’s Russia may have legitimate national interests, and the right to pursue them. Interesting, that!
At any rate, as Ryan continues,
“We certainly need a new spirit of mutual respect, rapprochement, and détente today, but I believe that it is vital that we hail what progress our two countries have made in the last five decades.”
Indeed! And perhaps we could even begin to grow away from this foolishness of considering Russia as always and automatically our enemy.
Of course there will be times when our interests are far from congruent! (Imperial Russia played the “Great Game” for a long time before the Communist Revolution.) But that is the case with every nation, even long-time allies: every country has its own interests, and rightfully so; the trick is dealing with those sometimes conflicting interests diplomatically, rather than confrontationally, wherever possible.
It would not hurt us to recognize, for instance, the historic and cultural reality that Russia feels safer when surrounded by buffer nations, balancing those nations’ equally legitimate desire for sovereignty with the Russian need for security, in a way that does not require us to push our sphere of influence right up to the Russian border.
Russia is not quite the superpower the Soviet Union was during the Cold War; but then, we are not quite the superpower we were during that long conflict, either. Both the numerical strength of our military, and our technological edge, have slipped in the years since the 1990s, and so has our political and economic strength in the world. And poking the Russian bear is likely to push it into a closer embrace of the Chinese dragon, which would be very much to our detriment.
Russia may or may not ever be a close friend and ally; but there is no reason to view, or treat, her like an adversary. To conclude with the words with which Ryan concluded his speech,
“May this centenary year [of the murder / martyrdom of the Romanovs] be a Providential source of healing of divisions and wounds between friends, families, neighbours, and nations and peoples, especially Russia and the United States, and Russia and Ukraine. May the witness and prayers of the Imperial New Martyrs, and all their co-sufferers, be with us, in every city and country, and may they bring much-needed healing of the traumas of historical memory, the bitterness of ancient conflicts, and resentment of past wrongs. May we strive to build a world worthy of their legacy as they intercede for us all before the Throne of God!”
See the Revolutionary War unfold, from Lexington to Yorktown and beyond, on our animated map, produced by Wide Awake Films in partnership with the Revolutionary War Trust (formerly Campaign 1776), a division of the American Battlefield Trust.
The entire Revolutionary War (American War of Independence) in 19 minutes!
If you’re not quite familiar with the overall sweep of events during this crucial period of American history, it’s a terrific introduction! If you’re like me, and have a pretty good general grasp of events, but a few of the details of how it all fits together have gotten hazy over the years, it’s a great refresher.
It’s more than just an “animated map,” making use of video clips of reenactments along with historical maps and artwork, but it certainly does make use of animated maps to show how the various forces maneuvered, in attack, defense, advance, and withdrawal. Excellent overview!
Unfortunately, not everyone understands and appreciates the significance of King Jan III Sobieski’s epic accomplishment in the Battle of Vienna:
“Plans to raise a monument for Jan III Sobieski, the Polish king who helped save Europe in the Battle of Vienna, have come to a surprise halt. The City of Vienna and its Social Democratic mayor Michael Ludwig, who has been elected in May, now refuse to finish the construction.
“The memorial for the Polish king was planned in 2013 and supposed to be unveiled to the public on September 12 2018, the 335th anniversary of the liberation of Vienna. As polskiradio reports, it is now ready to be delivered to the former Imperial Capital. There was no official statement from the city, however, ‘there were signals from, among others, the city council’ that the monument could be seen as an offence to Turkish residents.”
In other news, there are reports that the City Council of Minas Tirith has expressed its disapproval of plans to erect a statue of King Theoden of Rohan in the City, over concerns that it might be seen as offensive to Orcish residents…