100 Years Past The Great War

The Battle of Waterloo marked the end of the long Napoleonic Wars, and Napoleon’s defeat ushered in a 99 year period of European peace. Europe was still plagued by wars of one kind or another, but mostly, there was peace and many of the warring Houses of Europe were quelled by Queen Victoria’s long and stable reign in the United Kingdom. In this period, the Industrial Revolution took hold, and the world’s economies, particularly in America, were remade.

That peace was shattered in 1914 and four years of unprecedented human slaughter followed.  On November 11, 1918, 100 years ago this Sunday, the war ended via a German surrender and subsequent negotiated settlement. Sadly, the end of the “Great War” as it was called, ushered in many more years of war and set up the conditions under which we live to this day. It industrialized warfare, and made mechanized fighting a growth industry.

Of course, we only call the “Great War” World War 1 now because it was followed by World War 2 just twenty years later. WW2 with all its attendant horrors and consequences was the result of WW1. Hitler, who was a corporal in the German Army during WW1, rose to power on the strength of his testimony as a loyal and fanatic German combat veteran. His early supports were his fellow Army mates.

WW1 costs just shy of 1,000,000 British men their lives and the shock of the staggering losses deeply wounded the British psyche and made servicing the massive British Empire untenable. Several empires fell in that four year period from 1914 to 1918, and the British Empire fell as well just a few decades later.

The Brits pulled in soldiers from all over the Empire to fight in WW1, and what those men saw ended any talk of the superiority of the Europeans in the field of morality. The losses were so shocking that the entirety of European Christendom was mortally wounded. The emptying out of European churches can be traced to the loss of faith that such widespread and quick death facilitated.

Before losing their empire, the British picked up portions of other fallen empires including that of the Ottoman Turks. The Turks controlled most of the Middle East, and when they lost the war, the British supervised the creation of virtually all of the warring states that exist there today, including Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The British partitioned the ancient setting place of the Bible, thus setting in motion the creation of the modern state of Israel in 1948, after the Holocaust put the survival of the Jewish people in to question.

The Holocaust is the result of WW1, and Israel is the result of the Holocaust so the intractable terror-based fighting with the Bedouin Arabs of Palestine, now referred to as Palestinians, can be traced to WW1.

In Russia, the monarchy under the rule of the Czars ended in 1917, and the Russians went full Soviet Communist, thus settling up the Cold War to follow at the end of WW2. Along the way, the Soviets starved or murdered millions of Ukrainians and other nationalities. The wars in Korea and Vietnam can be traced back to the Soviets. In their waning days, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan which allowed a disgruntled Saudi named Osama Bin Laden to gain valuable fighting expertise.  This makes 9/11 yet another poisoned descendant of WW1.

We live in the dark shadow of WW1, and the consequences are still being played out. No one knows if the next 100 years will bring further consequences or a new turn of the wheel. It is doubtful if any of the survivors of the deathly trenches of WW1 support the idea that the Universe has an arc that bends towards justice.

brit and german soldier post

WW1 gets an incredible treatment in the film 1917. Here is the unbroken first 9 minutes done as a single shot. This movie is to the Frist World War was Saving Private Ryan was to D-Day.

If you are interested in this and other aspects of US history, a great summary of US history can be found here.