Centenary of Armistice Day: 11 November, 1918-2018

Centenary-Armistice-Day-1918-2018On 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.

Image result for world war one western front

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”

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100 Beautiful Colourised Photos of WW I for the 1918-2018 Centenary

“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.”

Source: 100 Beautiful Colourised Photos of WW1 for the 1918-2018 Centenary

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.

“Poppies are for remembrance.” Let us remember.

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The Revolutionary War Animated Map | American Battlefield Trust

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.

Source: The Revolutionary War Animated Map | 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!

“We DIDN’T win the war! Peter Hitchens writes a provocative book challenging all we think about WW2” | Daily Mail Online

Celebration: British troops cheer the news on May 8, 1945, that war in Europe is over

Peter Hitchens reveals eight myths about the Second World War which we grew up on. He details in a section of his new book why we didn’t win the war.

Source: We DIDN’T win the war! PETER HITCHENS writes a provocative book challenging all we think about WW2 | Daily Mail Online

As The Anglophilic Anglican, and a Blighty Boy to boot, I have a huge amount of respect, appreciation, and admiration for all things British, and that includes the valor and determination of the British and Crown (Commonwealth / Empire) Armed Forces during World War Two. But as an historian, I am also interested in not only the conduct of that war, but its origin, causes, and the implications of its outcome for today’s world.

Peter Hitchens is an English journalist and author, and an Anglican Christian. He has published eight books, writes for The Daily Mail (UK), and is a former foreign correspondent in both Moscow and Washington. Like me, his father fought bravely in World War Two, a decorated combat veteran; like mine, his veteran father came to question certain aspects of that war. This background gives a certain poignancy to Hitchens’ take on the war, and its origins.

Hitchens notes that “the Second World War, like all events that have become myths, has become a dangerous subject. As a nation, we are enthralled by the belief that it was an unequivocally ‘Good War’, a belief that has grown with extraordinary speed. Yet I did not have to look far to see a rather different picture…

“The uncomfortable truth is that from the very beginning, it was Britain which sought a conflict with Germany, not Germany with Britain. Hitler’s real targets lay elsewhere, in Ukraine and Russia, and he was much less interested in us than we like to think…

“Poland was a pretext for that war, not a reason – as was demonstrated by the fact that we did nothing to help Poland when Hitler invaded. It was an excuse for an essentially irrational, idealistic, nostalgic impulse, built largely on a need to assert Britain’s standing as a Great Power.”

This is not the first time I have heard or read that it was actually Britain that sought to provoke a war with Germany, not the other way ’round. But it is interesting – and lends further credence to the idea – to hear it from a British author. The accounts I have heard tend to blame Churchill and his antipathy, bordering on hatred, for the Germans. While it seems likely that this played some significant part, the argument that it was also done in an attempt to shore up a flagging Empire’s Great Power status opens a new perspective on the situation.

“Nor did we go to war, as many like to believe, to save or even help the endangered Jews of Europe… Britain simply did not declare war in 1939 to save Europe’s Jews – indeed, our government was indifferent to their plight and blocked one of their main escape routes, to what was then British-ruled Palestine. We also did nothing to help Poland, for whose sake we supposedly declared war.”

Once again, I am familiar with the idea that Poland was a convenient excuse. Britain, if Hitchens and others are correct, was looking for a reason to go to war with Germany; France had a centuries-old rivalry with the Germans, which in its more modern incarnation went back at least to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, and even further, to the Napoleonic era, when Blücher’s cavalry had helped to seal Bonaparte’s doom.

For both Britain and France, the invasion of Poland provided the perfect pretext to declare war on Germany – and it is interesting that neither declared war on Stalin’s Soviet Union, which was busily invading Poland from the East while Germany did so from the West. If protecting Poland was the real reason for war, should they not have held both invaders equally responsible? But they did not.

And of course, it doesn’t seem as if anybody particularly cared about the Jews, at least until after the war, when the victorious Allies (at least in the West) were overcome with a belated sense of collective guilt (the misapplication of which in the present era is contributing to the Islamification of Europe… but I digress). Prior to the war, they were mostly ignored, much as Middle Eastern Christians are today. But again, I digress!

“Forget, too, the ‘special relationship’ with the US: America was a jealous and resentful rival to whom we ceded our global status and naval supremacy. And Washington’s grudging backing came at a huge price – we were made to hand over the life savings of the Empire to stave off bankruptcy and surrender.”

I have posted previously about the heavy cost to Britain of American aid during the Second World War – shamefully heavy, for a nation which is our mother country, and with which we have long claimed to have a special relationship.

On the other hand, setting aside the personal affinity between Churchill and FDR, we had even less reason to go to war with Germany than Britain did. If Hitler had not decided to support his Axis ally and declare war on us following Pearl Harbor, we might have ended up devoting our full efforts to Japan, leaving Britain (and Stalin, a despicable and bloodthirsty dictator whose alliance of convenience with Britain and the U.S. is one of the more repugnant elements of the whole war) to deal with Germany.

This is just from the introduction! Hitchens’ eight “myths” (I’m not fond of that use of the word myth; I prefer “fallacies,” since I interpret “myth” in the scholarly sense of “a narrative which may not be factually or historically true, but which expresses a deeper truth about the nature of reality”) are yet to follow. But I will not comment on them further. I strongly encourage you to read the whole article; it is thought-provoking and, if you have not yet encountered these ideas, may be enlightening.

As Hitchens points out,

“What began as a phoney war led in the end to a phoney victory, in which the real winners were Washington and Moscow, not [Britain] – and an unsatisfactory, uncomfortable and unhappy peace. It led to a permanent decline in our status, and a much accelerated, violent and badly managed collapse of our Empire…

“Beyond doubt there were many acts of noble courage by our people, civilians and servicemen and women during that war. It is absolutely not my purpose to diminish these acts, or to show disrespect to those who fought and endured.

“But the sad truth is that [Great Britain] deliberately sought a war in the vain hope of preserving a Great Power status our rulers knew in their hearts it had already lost. The resulting war turned us into a second-rate power.”

That is a sad truth, indeed!

Why the lunatic fringe wants to ban Zulu | Daily Mail Online

 

There are, in the annals of cinema, few scenes more likely to have men of a certain age sobbing into their handkerchiefs than that wonderful moment in Zulu featuring Stanley Baker

… what will be left of Western culture? For if Zulu isn’t safe, if Laura Ingalls Wilder is not safe, if even the slightest hint of political incorrectness is enough to disqualify you, then nothing and nobody is safe.

Source: DOMINIC SANDBROOK: Why the lunatic fringe wants to ban Zulu | Daily Mail Online

“Even today, 54 years after its release, Zulu has lost none of its power. It is a film about men under fire, of course. But it is also a film about heroism, fear and sacrifice.

“Set during the Zulu War of 1879, it is a patriotic film, but not a jingoistic one. When the Zulus sing one last song to honour the courage of the British defenders, or when Lt Chard gazes wearily over the piles of African dead, there is rarely a dry eye in the house.

“But some people see things differently…”

Yes. This:

“I am not alone, I know, in feeling nothing but contempt for the disingenuousness, mean-spiritedness, sanctimony and intolerance of these people. I’m not alone, either, in feeling utterly infuriated by the cowardice of the authorities, who are incapable of realising that appeasement only encourages them to find a fresh target.

“What I find really depressing, though, is that this is becoming such a familiar story. The activists make a fuss. The rest of us scoff, sigh or shrug them off as maniacs.

“But the authorities, terrified of being branded racist, give ground. And so, almost without anybody noticing, we take one more step towards a culture defined by the suffocating narrow-mindedness of the lunatic fringe…

“Where will it end? Well, it will never end. And because these censors have no sense of humility, they cannot conceive that people in the future will doubtless find us guilty of prejudices invisible to us today.

“By then, though, what will be left of Western culture? For if Zulu isn’t safe, if Laura Ingalls Wilder is not safe, if even the slightest hint of political incorrectness is enough to disqualify you, then nothing and nobody is safe.

“The truth is that these people are the enemies, not just of tradition or even of tolerance, but of the imagination itself.

“They talk endlessly about celebrating difference. But what they want to do is to suppress difference, control the imagination and rewrite history. And that, of course, is why they must be fought.”

Or as C.S. Lewis so aptly put it, “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.”

Of course, today the “omnipotent moral busybodies” care nothing for the good of their victims; they are motivated largely by hatred, thinly veiled behind a veneer of put-on offense and pseudo-compassion. They are “omnipotent” only to the extent that they are not opposed. And they are “moral” not at all.

 


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Dum spiramus tuebimur

Dum spiramus tuebimur
“While we breathe, we shall defend.”

We’re still breathing.

 


 

(Borrowed, with gratitude, from a friend.)

Dum spiramus tuebimor” is the motto of the 133rd Field Artillery Regiment, US Army (National Guard). I strongly suspect it has older origins, but I have not so far been able to determine them. If anyone knows, please leave me a comment. Thanks!

Would the world be a better place if Germany won World War 1? (Part 1) – YouTube

An interesting take on “alternate history”!

Many people either instinctively realize or have discovered through study that the defeat of the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria) by the Allied Powers (Britain, France, Russia, and eventually the United States) – and especially the draconic surrender terms insisted upon by the French – led directly to the rise of Hitler and the Nazis in Germany, and everything that followed.

(World War One, of course, was a completely unnecessary and horribly destructive “brother’s war” which accomplished absolutely nothing positive and much to the contrary, and the negative effects of this debacle continue to ripple through Europe and the world on many levels to this day. But I digress…)

But what if the Central Powers had won? Not just attained a negotiated peace (which would almost certainly have happened, were it not for a violent Communist insurgency within the Fatherland itself which forced Germany to sue for peace – it strains both language and credulity to claim that Germany “lost” the war when its troops were inside enemy territory on all fronts), but actually won outright?

Unlikely, perhaps, but not inconceivable – especially if the United States had stayed out, as we would have been well-advised to do. Allied propaganda aside, would the world have been a worse place… or a better one? This videoPart 2, and Part 3 suggest that the latter scenario is the more likely. Despite my pride in my paternal grandfather, who fought for the U.S. in WW I, I am inclined to agree. These three videos (the second and third are embedded below) do a very good job, in my opinion, of explaining why.