Author Topic: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period  (Read 10060 times)

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Offline JamesAPrattIII

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2017, 04:49:08 PM »
The Russians in 1914 started a major army expansion and reorganization plan that scared more than a few German and Austrian generals. Some historians have stated that if this plan had been completed in 1917 the Russian army would have been so large and well equipped that it would have been impossible for the Germans and Austrians to have gone to war with the Allies and had a chance of winning. So in 1914 they decided it's now or never and FF assassination provided the Austrians the excuse they needed. Also note Russia was also in the middle of a major naval building program.

Offline JamesAPrattIII

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2017, 08:42:24 PM »
In the Hapsburg section of this site there are a number of books that deal with the Austro-Hungarian Empire and this and earlier periods.

Offline NicolasG

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2017, 06:22:27 AM »
The Russians in 1914 started a major army expansion and reorganization plan that scared more than a few German and Austrian generals. Some historians have stated that if this plan had been completed in 1917 the Russian army would have been so large and well equipped that it would have been impossible for the Germans and Austrians to have gone to war with the Allies and had a chance of winning. So in 1914 they decided it's now or never and FF assassination provided the Austrians the excuse they needed. Also note Russia was also in the middle of a major naval building program.

I object to the use of "excuse" to describe the reaction of Austria to the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and his wife. A team of murderers is trained by the Serbian army, provided with weapons by the Serbian army, smuggled across the border by Serbian border guards and hidden in safe houses following the plan of senior Serbian officers, including the head of the Serbian Intelligence service, Dragutin Dmitrijevich, "Apis". The Serbian government knows about it, but fails to do anything to avert it or to give a clear warning to the Austrian authorities.

We are not talking about some people burning Austrian flags during a demonstration in Belgrade. If a conspiration to murder the heir of the Austro-Hungarian Empire is not a obvious "casus belli", I don't know what it is. 

Offline nena

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #18 on: January 13, 2017, 03:25:06 PM »
From what I have been taught, there are differences in the trigger and the reason of starting the WW1. The trigger, 'initial spark', (word 'excuse' would be too harsh but it is very similar to 'trigger', if not the same) was that unhappy assassination in Sarajevo on June 28th (St. Vido's day, a special day in Serbian traditional history, therefore people understood the Heir's visit on that same day as a provocation) but the reason was desire of AH Empire to expand its borders over Balkan countries. (so called, 'Drang nach Osten' [German: Drang nach Osten,  "yearning for the East", "thrust toward the East", "push eastward", "drive toward the East" or "desire to push East") was a term coined in the 19th century to designate German expansion into Slavic lands.]). I

Also, the annexiation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908 by AH Empire was also one of the triggers among Balkan people. Simply the old world that had been known to the people was going to be destroyed. After the WW1, the three great Empires crashed. So I could tell that there were several indications before 1914 that were implying the WW1. 

Also, one thing more : AH Empire sent an ultimatum to Serbia which consisted 10 items and Serbian Government was ready to accept them all expect the last one - to allow the foreign army (Austro-Hungarian) to spread all over Serbia.
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Offline NicolasG

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2017, 10:00:29 AM »
From what I have been taught, there are differences in the trigger and the reason of starting the WW1. The trigger, 'initial spark', (word 'excuse' would be too harsh but it is very similar to 'trigger', if not the same) was that unhappy assassination in Sarajevo on June 28th (St. Vido's day, a special day in Serbian traditional history, therefore people understood the Heir's visit on that same day as a provocation) but the reason was desire of AH Empire to expand its borders over Balkan countries. (so called, 'Drang nach Osten' [German: Drang nach Osten,  "yearning for the East", "thrust toward the East", "push eastward", "drive toward the East" or "desire to push East") was a term coined in the 19th century to designate German expansion into Slavic lands.]).

Regarding St. Vitus' day, Franz Ferdinand travelled to Bosnia to inspect military exercises that routinely took place in summer. It was not for the Austrian army to coordinate its calendar with Serbian mythology. The predatory intentions of Austria towards Slav countries in the Balkans in Serbian or Russian history books are just a projection of Serbian intentions, their Greater Serbia project. Austria did NOT want to annex Serbia and the Hungarians, who had a say on that matter, even less so. Franz Ferdinand is quoted as saying that annexing Serbia would only add "one more pile of thieves, murderers and rascals, plus a few plum trees" to the Empire.

Serbia was a bomb ticking across the border. The Austrians did not want to take it home. They wanted it deactivated. They would have been glad to see the Bulgarians (other Slavs) or Albania taking part of the land Serbia had acquired after the Balkan wars of 1912-13 and was busy getting ethnic-cleansed. 

Also, one thing more : AH Empire sent an ultimatum to Serbia which consisted 10 items and Serbian Government was ready to accept them all expect the last one - to allow the foreign army (Austro-Hungarian) to spread all over Serbia.

Austria sent an ultimatum with several points, some of which would have allowed the presence of Austrian troops in Serbia. It was not different to what NATO requested in 1999 to avoid a repetition of the Bosnian ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.

"The Austrian note was a great deal milder, for example, than the ultimatum presented by NATO to Serbia-Yugoslavia in the form of the Rambouillet Agreement drawn up in February-March 1999 to force the Serbs into complying with NATO policy in Kosovo. Its provisions included the following:
NATO personnel shall enjoy, together with their vehicles, vessels, aircraft and equipment free and unrestricted passage and unimpeded access through the Former Republic of Yugoslavia, including associated airspace and territorial waters. This shall include, but not be limited to, the right of bivouac, manoeuvre, billet and utilization of any areas or facilities as required for support, training and operations."
Quote: Christopher Clark, The Sleepwalkers, p.456


Of course, the NATO ultimatum, as the Austrian one, supposed a limitation of Serbian national sovereignity, but that is the consequence of being a rogue state, as Serbia was, in 1999 and in 1914. Austria could not expect any cooperation from the Serbian authorities in the investigation of the Sarajevo murders, and could not sit quietly waiting for another Austrian general, governor or heir to the throne being assassinated.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2017, 10:10:55 AM by NicolasG »

Offline edubs31

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #20 on: January 18, 2017, 01:32:22 AM »
All good points there NicholasG and thanks for the clarification James.

I for one have never accused Austria of truculence or capriciousness regarding their response to Serbia and the assassination of the Arch Duke. And given the political dynamics of Europe at the time and how the Hapsburg's were slowly losing their grip on power it seemed all the more logical to strike quickly and decisively.

Assuming what James is saying about Russia's naval build up and restoration of its pre-Russo-Japanese military strength/prestige by 1917 it seems all the more likely that this opportunity was one that couldn't be passed up. Now Austria-Hungary had justification for their impetuous behavior. Germany machinations on the otherhand cast serious doubt about the Kaiser's claims of wanting to seek a peaceful resolution with Nicholas and Russia to the dispute.

Sounds to me like 1914 was Germany's opportunity to assert its dominance over a rebuilding Russia, a disengaged France and a disorganized map of states in central and Eastern Europe. Once you can stomach the loss of life and convince yourself that the economic and long term political risks are justified what reason did Germany NOT have for escalating the war?
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Offline Clemence

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #21 on: January 18, 2017, 01:59:21 PM »
NicolasG I hope you will not mind I quote your posts, you made me go and read more on that historic period I find the most interesting. Obviously being Greek myself I find it hard to see things from the perspective of people from outside of the Balkans, and I believe it's hard for anyone outside the Balkans realise how we in this region feel about history of our countries.

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I object to the use of "excuse" to describe the reaction of Austria to the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and his wife. A team of murderers is trained by the Serbian army, provided with weapons by the Serbian army, smuggled across the border by Serbian border guards and hidden in safe houses following the plan of senior Serbian officers, including the head of the Serbian Intelligence service, Dragutin Dmitrijevich, "Apis". The Serbian government knows about it, but fails to do anything to avert it or to give a clear warning to the Austrian authorities.

I also would have used the word ''excuse'' only to imply that Austria had already decided they wanted war and the only thing they were thinking of was how to declare one. As to inform the Austrian authorities, I believe I have read something about diplomats who later said they had, but that was not a good moment for diplomacy, of either side.

''Immediately following the assassinations, the Serbian ambassador to France, Milenko Vesnić, and the Serbian ambassador to Russia, Spalaiković, put out statements claiming that Serbia had warned Austria-Hungary of the impending assassination. Serbia soon thereafter denied making warnings and denied knowledge of the plot. Prime Minister Nikola Pašić himself made these denials to Az Est on 7 July 1914, and to the Paris Edition of the New York Herald on 20 July 1914. During the war, the former Serbian Military Attaché to Vienna, Colonel Lesanin, claimed that Prime Minister Pašić had ordered the Serbian ambassador to Vienna, Jovanović, to warn Austria-Hungary of the plot, but Jovanović carried out his instructions poorly''

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/July_Crisis)

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Regarding St. Vitus' day, Franz Ferdinand travelled to Bosnia to inspect military exercises that routinely took place in summer. It was not for the Austrian army to coordinate its calendar with Serbian mythology. The predatory intentions of Austria towards Slav countries in the Balkans in Serbian or Russian history books are just a projection of Serbian intentions, their Greater Serbia project. Austria did NOT want to annex Serbia and the Hungarians, who had a say on that matter, even less so. Franz Ferdinand is quoted as saying that annexing Serbia would only add "one more pile of thieves, murderers and rascals, plus a few plum trees" to the Empire.

Serbia was a bomb ticking across the border. The Austrians did not want to take it home. They wanted it deactivated. They would have been glad to see the Bulgarians (other Slavs) or Albania taking part of the land Serbia had acquired after the Balkan wars of 1912-13 and was busy getting ethnic-cleansed. 

I wonder why were Bosnian territories more appealing to Austria, since they annexed them and by so acting they came closer to the Balkans and to Serbia. There must have been good reasons for expanding south taking risks.

''At the Congress of Berlin in 1878, the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister Gyula Andrássy obtained the occupation and administration of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and he also obtained the right to station garrisons in the Sanjak of Novi Pazar, which remained under Ottoman administration. The Sanjak preserved the separation of Serbia and Montenegro, and the Austro-Hungarian garrisons there would open the way for a dash to Salonika that "would bring the western half of the Balkans under permanent Austrian influence." "High [Austro-Hungarian] military authorities desired [an...] immediate major expedition with Salonika as its objective."

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosnia_and_Herzegovina)

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Austria sent an ultimatum with several points, some of which would have allowed the presence of Austrian troops in Serbia. It was not different to what NATO requested in 1999 to avoid a repetition of the Bosnian ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.

This reminds us that all empires think they can dictate and decide on other countries but they rarely resolve the problems they use as an excuse to invade.

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Of course, the NATO ultimatum, as the Austrian one, supposed a limitation of Serbian national sovereignity, but that is the consequence of being a rogue state, as Serbia was, in 1999 and in 1914.

So you made me search the definition of a rogue state:

As early as July 1985, President Reagan had asserted that "we are not going to tolerate … attacks from outlaw states by the strangest collection of misfits, loony tunes, and squalid criminals since the advent of the Third Reich," but it fell to the Clinton administration to elaborate this concept. In the 1994 issue of Foreign Affairs, National Security Advisor Anthony Lake claimed "the reality of recalcitrant and outlaw states that not only choose to remain outside the family [of democratic nations] but also assault its basic values. Lake labeled five regimes as "rogue states": North Korea, Cuba, Iraq, Iran and Libya. In theory, at least, to be classified as a rogue, a state had to commit four transgressions: pursue weapons of mass destruction, support terrorism, severely abuse its own citizens, and stridently criticize the United States. While four of the listed rogue states met all these transgressions, Cuba, though still known for severely abusing its citizens and its strident criticism of the United States, no longer met all the transgressions required for a rogue state and was put on the list solely because of the political influence of the American Cuban community and specifically that of the Cuban American National Foundation. Syria and Pakistan, two nations which were hardly regarded by the United States as paragons of rectitude, avoided being added to the list because the United States hoped that Damascus could play a constructive role in the Arab-Israeli peace process, and because Washington had long maintained close relations with Islamabad—a vestige of the Cold War''

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogue_state)

Is there a similar definition of failed empires? Because I think at that point we had on one hand the Balkans that were full of countries that were new and with inexperienced adminitrations and on the other empires so old that were very close to their ends, even if they prefered to ignore the signs. In the July crisis I personally would expect more from Austria not only because they were the stronger but mainly because they should be the wiser and more experienced. Sadly they decided for war and we all know how it ended.

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Offline nena

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #22 on: January 18, 2017, 03:17:44 PM »

Regarding St. Vitus' day, Franz Ferdinand travelled to Bosnia to inspect military exercises that routinely took place in summer. It was not for the Austrian army to coordinate its calendar with Serbian mythology.

I see your point and I agree, but as an multi-ethnic Empire, Austria-Hungary should have been more careful, they could have known that the visit might cause mess. He also was warned about possible revolt.

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The predatory intentions of Austria towards Slav countries in the Balkans in Serbian or Russian history books are just a projection of Serbian intentions, their Greater Serbia project.

I disagree, see :

the term became a motto of the German nationalist movement in the late nineteenth century. It was one of the core elements of German nationalism and part of Nazi ideology; as Adolf Hitler said on 7 February 1945: It is eastwards, only and always eastwards, that the veins of our race must expand. It is the direction which Nature herself has decreed for the expansion of the German peoples.

I don't see any trace of Serbian or Russian sources in those definitions (check Wikipedia, those lines do not come from 'Slavic' authors). The idea of Great Serbia did exist, but we can't say that is 'just a projection of Serbian intentions'.

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Franz Ferdinand is quoted as saying that annexing Serbia would only add "one more pile of thieves, murderers and rascals, plus a few plum trees" to the Empire.

I believe in that, but the annexing happened actually regardless of Franz Ferdinand's personal minds.

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Serbia was a bomb ticking across the border. The Austrians did not want to take it home. They wanted it deactivated. They would have been glad to see the Bulgarians (other Slavs) or Albania taking part of the land Serbia had acquired after the Balkan wars of 1912-13 and was busy getting ethnic-cleansed. 

They wanted it deactivated but it was activated. I am never approving murder, even I am sorry because of D.D.Apis's roles in murdering King Alexander and Queen Draga back in 1903 and F.Ferdinand's murder in 1914.

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Austria sent an ultimatum with several points, some of which would have allowed the presence of Austrian troops in Serbia.

You answered to yourself about Austria's ultimatum:

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Of course, the NATO ultimatum, as the Austrian one, supposed a limitation of Serbian national sovereignity
, and that's why the ultimatum couldn't not be accepted, even the Serbian Government was almost ready to accept it. 

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It was not different to what NATO requested in 1999 to avoid a repetition of the Bosnian ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.

I understand making parallels between two events, but this is thread about WW1 not about late events. I am not approving ethnic-cleansing or murders but some events in early 1990s before that ethnic-cleansing also caused all what happened. Serbia lost over 2500 lives in NATO bombing.

But please, let's get back on the thread.

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but that is the consequence of being a rogue state, as Serbia was, in 1999 and in 1914.

It all depends on how you define 'rogue'. In some cases I see what you mean.

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Austria could not expect any cooperation from the Serbian authorities in the investigation of the Sarajevo murders, and could not sit quietly waiting for another Austrian general, governor or heir to the throne being assassinated.

I know, but starting a war maybe was not the best solution. I believe that it was all done too early (ultimatum and the sequence war) and I completely understand the anger and grief but it all caused the disintegration of the Empire and creation of new countries after 1918.   

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Obviously being Greek myself I find it hard to see things from the perspective of people from outside of the Balkans, and I believe it's hard for anyone outside the Balkans realise how we in this region feel about history of our countries.

I agree, me being a Serb also see thing in a different way than people out of the Balkan. Medias has great influence of making someone's view and attitude to something.

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"On 12 July [Old Style, 25 July 1914 NS] Rasputin wired Vyrubova: "A serious moment, there's a threat of war." The next day he cabled again, urging her to tell the tsar to avoid war at any cost. On the following day, 14 July, he received an unsigned telegram from Peterhof, most likely from Vyrubova, asking him to change his mind and support the calls for war: "You are aware that our mortal enemy Austria is preparing to attack little Serbia. That country is almost entirely made up of peasants, utterly devoted to Russia. We shall be covered in infamy should we permit this shameless reprisal. If the occasion arises, use your influence to support this just cause. Get well soon."

You are right - Rasputin said in 1915 that he had sent over 20 telegrams (among them one very serious as he said) to NII asking him not to entry the war, and Nicholas II also was ready to stop the mobilization but after several conversation he started it the day after. Empress Alexandra also panicked and sent telegram to Rasputin in Tyumen in July of 1914. Of course that the war was worst option.

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Rasputin, a Russian peasant, didn't buy the official version of "brave, little Serbia", peopled by "good Orthodox peasants". 

I have never read or heard that Rasputin said anything about Serbia in that content.

But, in the end, this is all just discussion, I love it, you are all great people to talk about. I just we to expand our points of views; of course that I believe in one theory and will never persuade (and don't want) someone that mine POV is 100% correct. Same goes for anyone else, anyone have their opinions and point of view. We are all right in some way.

EDIT :

From Clemence:

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In the July crisis I personally would expect more from Austria not only because they were the stronger but mainly because they should be the wiser and more experienced. Sadly they decided for war and we all know how it ended.
Agreed.
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I also would have used the word ''excuse'' only to imply that Austria had already decided they wanted war and the only thing they were thinking of was how to declare one.
That's what I am saying.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2017, 03:25:26 PM by nena »
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Offline NicolasG

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #23 on: January 19, 2017, 07:42:48 AM »
I will reply to some issues raised in the previous posts, but I will not quote from them.

1. German Nationalism and Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The Austro-Hungarian Empire was a multi-ethnic empire. Any kind of nationalism: Hungarian, Czech, Serb, German... was poison for it. It is ridiculous to say that its aim was the conquer and oppresion of the Slavs by the Germans.

2. Serbian warning before the Sarajevo murders.

I wrote that there was not a clear warning from the Serbian side. There was a warning, what proves that the Serbian authorities knew what was going on. Jovanovic, the Serbian minister (ambassador) met with Leon Bilinski (a Slav, by the way), the Austro-Hungarian Minister of Finance and Governor of Bosnia and told him that something bad might happen to Franz Ferdinand if he visited Sarajevo. It sounded like a threat from the mafia and Bilinski did not take it seriously.

"He [Jovan Jovanovic, the Serbian minister in Vienna] met with Leon Bilinski, joint Austro-Hungarian finance minister, at noon on 21 June in order to issue the Austrian government with a warning against the likely consequences if the archduke were to visit Bosnia. But the warning was delivered only in the most oblique terms. A visit by the heir apparent on the anniversary of the Kosovo defeat, Jovanovic suggested, would surely be regarded as a provocation. Among the young Serbs serving in the Austro-Hungarian forces "there might be one who would put a ball-cartridge in his rifle or revolver in place of a blank cartridge...." Bilinski, unimpressed by these auguries, "showed no sign of attaching any importance to the communication" and merely replied: "let us hope that nothing does happen.".... It is clear that he [Bilinski] was disinclined at the time to take the warning seriously - it was couched in such general terms that it might even be construed as a gesture of mere intimidation, an unwarranted attempt by the Serbian minister to intervene in the internal affairs of the monarchy by implying vague threats against its most senior personnel."
Christopher Clark, The Sleepwalkers, p. 60-61

- The warning was not only "vague". It was misleading about the source of the threath: "a young Serb serving in the Austro-Hungarian forces", not a team of murderers crossing over the border from Serbia.
- The Serbian authorities could have given the Austro-Hungarian all the information they had about the plot, offered their cooperation, replaced the border guards on the Serbian side at short notice, moved against "Apis" or at least kept him and his circle under vigilance... They did none of that.

3. The Serbian reply to the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum.

The Serbian government was not "almost ready" to accept it.

- The Serbian government had received assurances of support from Saint Petersburg:

"In the first telegram, Spalajkovic [Serbian ambassador in Saint Peterburg] reported that the Russian foreign minister had "condemned" the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum with disgust", declaring that no state could accept such demands without "committing suicide". Sazonov had assured Spalajkovic that Serbia could "count unofficially on Russia support" [...] The second telegram on that night, dispatched at 1.40 a.m. on 25 July, reported that the Russian ministerial Council had decided to take "energetic measures, even mobilization", and were about to publish an "official communiqué in which Russia takes Serbia under its protection".
[...] At 8 p.m. on 25 July, Spalajkovic fired off a further dispatch... The [Serbian] attaché had been talking with the chief of the Russian General Staff and told Spaljakovic that the Military Council had shown the "greatest readiness for war" and was resolved to "go to any lenght in protecting Serbia". The Tsar in particular had surprised everybody with his determination.
Moreover, it had been ordered that at exactly 6 p.m., the deadline for the Serbian reply, all the final-year cadets in Russia were to be raised to officer rank, a clear signal of imminent full mobilization...."
Cristopher Clark, The Sleepwalkers, p. 462-3

- The Serbian reply was a perfect exercise in hypocrisy. It was composed to looked reasonable, while conceding nothing.

"The claim often made in general narratives that this reply represented an almost complete capitulation to the Austrian demands is profoundly misleading. This was a document fashioned for Serbia's friends, not for its enemy. It offered the Austrians amazingly little. Above all, it placed the onus on Vienna to drive ahead the process of opening up the investigation into the Serbian background of the conspiracy, without, on the other hand, conceding the kind of collaboration that would have enabled the effective pursuit of the relevant leads...
Yet the text was perfectly pitched to convey the tone of voice the reasonable statesmen in a condition of sincere puzzlement, struggling to make sense of outrageous and unacceptable demands. This was the measured voiced of the political, constitutional Serbia disavowing any ties with its expansionist pan-Serbian twin in a manner deeply rooted in the history of Serbian external relations. It naturally sufficed to persuade Serbia's friends that in the face of such a full capitulation, Vienna had no possible ground for taking action."
The Sleepwalkers, p.465-6

- There was a symbiotic relationship between the Serbian "good guys" - the Prime Minister Pashich, the "moderate" politicians and the "bad guys" - "Apis" and the "Black Hand", who used terrorism to pursue their "Great Serbia" project.

"In a sense, perhaps, the Austrians really were demanding the impossible, namely, that the official Serbia of the political map shut down the expansionist ethnic Serbia of irredentism. The problem was that the two were interdependent and inseparable, they were two sides of the same entity. In the ministry of War in Belgrade, an official location if there ever was one, there hung, in front of the main reception hall, the image of a Serbian landscape, before which stood an armed allegorical female figure on whose shield were listed the "provinces still to be liberated": Bosnia, Herzegovina, Voivodina, Dalmatia, and so on."

The Sleepwalkers, p.467
 

Offline NicolasG

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #24 on: January 19, 2017, 08:30:19 AM »
4. The question of responsibilty for WWI

The Versailles treaty, forced on the Germans, declared that "Germany and her allies" were the only responsible for the war. That is false, but Western (British and American) historians have been quite happy following this line: it was all the Prussian militarism's fault. A composite picture has been created with both world wars, Wilhem II has merged with Hitler as the "evil German guy" and Hitler's aims of conquest of Lebensraum in the East has been made Wilhem's ones.

The reality is that Wilhem II did not want the war. He might be a bombastic man who enjoyed the pose of great warrior, but he was not plotting to have a war. Germany declared war on Russia after both Russia and France had ordered general mobilization. The system of alliances was like two groups of gunmen facing each other in a Western film. The general mobilization of a great power was one of those gunmen drawing his gun from the holster. There was no going back.

The first great power which ordered general mobilization was Russia on 30 July 1914. Austria declared war on Serbia on 28 July, but that was not a threath for Russia. Austria wanted a localized war in the Balkans. It would have been the third in three years. In the first Balkan war 1912-13, Serbia, Montenegro, Greece and Bulgaria joined forced against the Turkish Empire, which was defeated. In the second Balkan wars the winners fought over the spoils, and Bulgaria was defeated by a coallition of its former allies, joined by Rumania and the Turkish Empire.

A third, local Balkan war between Austria and Serbia would have meant Serbia's defeat. Albania and Bulgaria would have joined Austria towards the end and Serbia would have been cut down to its size before the Balkan wars, with Albania and Bulgaria getting the land that Serbia lost. The rest of Serbia would have been temporarily occupied by Austria, the Serbian king would have abdicated, some kind of regency established, the Serbian army reduced and "Apis" and those involved in the Sarajevo murder hanged (Apis was executed by the Serbs after all in 1917, he had become a nuisance even for them). But instead of a small, local war there was a global brutal carnage which caused 10 million deaths, the end of three Empires, the Russian revolution, and, eventually, the horrors of Bolshevism and Nazism.

So, who or what was guilty for starting WWI? The belief, among senior officers in the Russian Army, Duma politicans and the majority of the Russian educated class, the intelligentsiya, that Russia had to support their "little Slav brothers" in the Balkans, whatever their behaviour. Nicholas II shared this belief, but he hesitated, and if there had been a strong statesman by his side, like Stolypin (murdered by a terrorist in 1911), opposing the involvement of Russia, a world war could have been averted. So, the answer should be: "stupid pan-Slavism".

Offline Janet Ashton

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #25 on: January 19, 2017, 04:52:32 PM »

Regarding St. Vitus' day, Franz Ferdinand travelled to Bosnia to inspect military exercises that routinely took place in summer. It was not for the Austrian army to coordinate its calendar with Serbian mythology.

Really?! :)
Given that  a substantial proportion of the population of Bosnia self-identified as ethnic Serb, it would, at the very worst, had displayed a certain sense of self-preservation - and concern for the life of their future Emperor - had they bothered to note the date. At best, it would have been a gesture of sensitivity towards their Serb subjects. The symbolism of Kosovo Polje was cultivated strongly among Serbs who had been Ottoman subjects (a topic Austrians and particularly Hungarians might have had some empathy with); it was not limited to the national state of Serbia.

Any state acting with the crass arrogance and insensitivity you attribute seems to me to be unfit for purpose.

The predatory intentions of Austria towards Slav countries in the Balkans in Serbian or Russian history books are just a projection of Serbian intentions, their Greater Serbia project. Austria did NOT want to annex Serbia and the Hungarians, who had a say on that matter, even less so. Franz Ferdinand is quoted as saying that annexing Serbia would only add "one more pile of thieves, murderers and rascals, plus a few plum trees" to the Empire.



Franz Conrad von Hotzendorf thought differently, and was certainly in favour of wrapping both Serbia and Montenegro into a "Greater Croatia" - it was his aim in 1915-16 when the two were defeated. They were flip sides of the same issue; the same nationalist theories.
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Offline NicolasG

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #26 on: January 20, 2017, 05:49:19 AM »

Regarding St. Vitus' day, Franz Ferdinand travelled to Bosnia to inspect military exercises that routinely took place in summer. It was not for the Austrian army to coordinate its calendar with Serbian mythology.

Really?! :)
Given that  a substantial proportion of the population of Bosnia self-identified as ethnic Serb, it would, at the very worst, had displayed a certain sense of self-preservation - and concern for the life of their future Emperor - had they bothered to note the date. At best, it would have been a gesture of sensitivity towards their Serb subjects. The symbolism of Kosovo Polje was cultivated strongly among Serbs who had been Ottoman subjects (a topic Austrians and particularly Hungarians might have had some empathy with); it was not limited to the national state of Serbia.

Any state acting with the crass arrogance and insensitivity you attribute seems to me to be unfit for purpose.


OK, let's remember some facts to keep the discussion in focus.

1. The Battle of Kosovo (field) took place in 1389. That is, in 1914 it had happened 525 years ago.
The Battle of El Alamo ended on 6 March 1836. That is, "only" 181 years ago next March. Should Mexicans who live in Texas have to stay indoors on that anniversary?

2. In the Battle of Kosovo Serbs fought against the Turks. Franz Ferdinand was not a Turk.

3. The Austro-Hungarian Empire had never waged a war on Serbia.

4. Bosnia had come under Austro-Hungarian rule as the result of a treaty, not by conquest.

So, again, why should the Austro-Hungarian authorities have honoured an old myth used by Serb nationalists to justify hate and violence? On this point, the subsequent history of the 20th century has completely vindicated the Austro-Hungarian Empire. On 28 June 1989, when tension between the Muslim and the Serbian population in Kosovo ran high, Miloshevich (Milosevic)  visited the Kosovo field and from a tribune pronounced a speech to a million man crowd in which he played the usual themes of Serbian victimhood, Serbia as defender of civilization and did not rule out the possibility of "armed battles" in the future. I think we all know what happened in Bosnia few years afterwards.

Offline NicolasG

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #27 on: January 20, 2017, 06:03:13 AM »
Any state acting with the crass arrogance and insensitivity you attribute seems to me to be unfit for purpose.

Could you tell me what is the purpose of a multi-ethnic state?

I will propose this: prevent neighbours of different ethnic groups from butchering each other, provide a fair legal system and efficient administration for all subjects (citizens), foment economic development in all the regions of that empire (state) and tolerate the different religions and cultures within its territory.

If we accept those criteria for evaluation and we are objective, we would have to admit that the Austria-Hungarian Empire deserves much better marks than any other contemporary empire: the British, the French, the German, the Russian... or the American. Certainly much, much better marks than its southern neighbour, the Kingdom of Serbia. 
« Last Edit: January 20, 2017, 06:06:19 AM by NicolasG »

Offline NicolasG

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #28 on: January 20, 2017, 08:17:03 AM »

The predatory intentions of Austria towards Slav countries in the Balkans in Serbian or Russian history books are just a projection of Serbian intentions, their Greater Serbia project. Austria did NOT want to annex Serbia and the Hungarians, who had a say on that matter, even less so. Franz Ferdinand is quoted as saying that annexing Serbia would only add "one more pile of thieves, murderers and rascals, plus a few plum trees" to the Empire.


Franz Conrad von Hotzendorf thought differently, and was certainly in favour of wrapping both Serbia and Montenegro into a "Greater Croatia" - it was his aim in 1915-16 when the two were defeated. They were flip sides of the same issue; the same nationalist theories.

Conrad was a soldier. The decision on a settlement in peacetime would not depend on him.

Could you explain me what kind of nationalism was supported in 1914 by the Austro-Hungarian authorities, who ruled an empire whose raison d'etre was checking nationalism in Central Europe?

The Austro-Hungarian Empire did not need neither more land nor more unruly subjects in the Balkans. They just wanted to preserve the status quo and have a neighbour that behaved in a civilized way. So, their attitude was (had to be) defensive.

And what kind of neighbour Serbia was? We will have to look at what in 1914 was recent history.

On 11 March 1903 King Alexandar and Queen Draga were brutally murdered in Belgrade in a coup carried out by nationalist officers in the Serbian army. The royal couple had hidden in a concealed room within their palace, but they got out after being promised that their lives would be spared. They weren't. The King and the Queen received a hail of bullet at point-blank (36 bullets into the King's body, 14 into the Queen's)  and their corpses were savagely mutilated. The murderers chopped the King's fingers and slitted open the Queen's stomach with their sabres. They had sabres because they were officers. All of them, the whole thing was a gentleman's affair. After enjoying themselves that way, the murderers threw the corpses from a window to a yard.

Were the murderers punished by the new Serbian king, King Petar I? Far from it! He belonged to another dynasty, the Karadjeorjevic, which had kept a century-long vendetta with the dynasty-family King Alexandar belonged to, the Obrenovich. And King Petar, after all, owed the murderers the throne and was a grateful man. The murderers were promoted. Two of them were chosen by the new king to oversee the education of his children: they would make real men of them!

"The regicide network was especially influential at court. "So far", the British envoy Wilfred Thesiger reported from Belgrade in November 1905, the conspirator officers "have formed his Majesty's most important and even sole support"; their removal would leave the crown "without any party whose devotion or even friendship could be relied on". It was thus hardly surprising that when King Petar looked in the winter of 1905 for a companion to accompany his son, Crown Prince Djordje, on a journey across Europe, he would choose none other than Apis, fresh from a long convalescence and still carrying three of the bullets that had entered his body on the night of the assasinations. The chief architect of the regicide was thus charged with seeing the next Karadjorjevich king through to the end of his education as prince. In the event, Djordje never became king; he disqualified himself from the Serbian succession in 1909 by kicking his valet to death."
Christopher Clark, The Sleepwalkers, p.15

Another of the murderers, Colonel Mishich, was tutor to the future Crown Prince Alexandar. [Gordon Brook-Shepherd, Royal Sunset, p.38]
« Last Edit: January 20, 2017, 08:26:46 AM by NicolasG »

Offline NicolasG

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #29 on: January 20, 2017, 08:22:32 AM »
The career of Apis, the main conspirator in King Alexandar and Queen Draga murder plot, had no ceiling. He was appointed Professor of Tactics (!!!) at the Serbian Military Academy and, in his free time, became in 1911 one of the founders of a not-so-secret society, the Black Hand (official name: Ujedinjenje ili smrt!, Unification or Death), whose aim was the unification of "Serbdom" by whatever means (emphasis on terrorism). One of the sponsors of the journal of the Black Hand (yes, it was a secret society with a journal), Pijemont, was Crown Prince Alexandar, the heir apparent.

But the plotters of 1903 were not journos. They preferred action and soon they had plenty of it. After the Turkish Empire had been attacked by Italy in Lybia at the end of 1911, Serbia grabbed the opportunity to forge an alliance with Bulgaria, which would become the core of a anti-Turkish league with the addition of Montenegro and Greece. The Turks were duly defeated, but the victors did not reach an agreement on the spoils. The Serbs did not want to cede Macedonia to Bulgaria, as was agreed before they attacked the Turks as allies. A war ensued, with Bulgaria fighting all its previous allies plus Turkey. Bulgaria lost.

The result of these two wars in less than one year (October 1912-August 1913), besides much blood spilled, was that Serbia doubled its territory and population. Unfortunately, many of the inhabitants of that "ancient Serb land" recently "liberated" and annexed to the Kingdom of Serbia weren't Serbs. That was a nuisance, certainly, but not one which couldn't be done away with good ethnic cleansing.

"In October and November 1913, the British vice-consuls in Skopje and Monastir reported systematic intimidation, arbitrary detentions, beatings, rape, village-burnings and massacres by the Serbs in the annexed areas. “It is already abundantly evident”, Vice-Consul Greig of Monastir reported, “that Moslems under Servian rule have nothing whatsoever to expect but periodical massacre, certain explotation and final ruin.” Eleven days later, he filed a further report warning that the “Bulgarian and especially the Moslem populations in the districts of Perlepe, Krchevo and Krushevo [were] in danger of extermination by the very frequent and barbarous massacres and pillage to which they are subjected by Servian bands”. By the end of the month, “pillages, murder and outrages of other kind by bands of Servian comitajis and persons in league with them” had created conditions of near-anarchy. Albanians and other Muslims, Bulgars, Vlachs and Jews, the vice-consul reported in December, dreaded the prospect of subjection to “a peniless state” that seemed bent on “draining every community of its means of existence to an extent unknown in the blackest day of the Turkish regime.
[…]
It was only the cumulative detail of the reports emerging from the annexed areas, combined with corroborating accounts from Romanian, Swiss and French officials that persuaded the British Foreign Office that the news of Macedonian atrocities [committed by Serbs] should not be dismissed as Austrian propaganda.”

Cristopher Clark, The Sleepwalkers, p.44-45

Meanwhile:

“It was a mark of the Black Hand's enhanced prestige that Apis was promoted to lieutenant-colonel in January 1913 and appointed Chief of General Staff's intelligence division in August, a role that placed him in control of the extensive network of Serbian Narodna Odbrana agents inside Austria-Hungary”

The Sleepwalkers, p. 46

The stage was set for the Sarajevo murders. This is the picture of the state of affairs before June 1914, and Serbia does not look pretty in it.