Author Topic: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period  (Read 8843 times)

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Offline Janet Ashton

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #30 on: January 20, 2017, 05:31:17 PM »

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.

I'd say I was pretty objective. I feel pretty dispassionate. I have written on the Austrian role in world war one from several sides and can appreciate the perspective of many of those involved. But mainly I see the situation of the common man charged to actually fight it. And the people in the crossfire.

You have said that the Austrian authorities had no need at all to care about the meaning of Kosovo to some of their subjects. I am not sure how this squares with your subsequent claim that it was a successful multi-ethnic state which prevented people from butchering each other. In fact, in the aftermath of Sarajevo, that's exactly what they did.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2017, 05:34:21 PM by Janet Ashton »
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Offline Janet Ashton

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #31 on: January 20, 2017, 05:45:45 PM »

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.

So in ceding that Kosovo had power to evoke sentiment into the 1990s (and it does now; you can follow the comments on any online article on Serbian history should you care. And have you read about the train?!), you charge that it was irrelevant in 1914, when Bosnia was - in the view of of many of its people, a good number of whom actually moved to Serbia - an occupied state? That it was OK for the Austrian military to blithely dismiss this and send the Heir to the Throne to face it?

"facts" (as you or Christopher Clark perceive them) are not the issue. Emotions are. And a responsible government takes care not to inflame them.
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Offline Janet Ashton

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #32 on: January 20, 2017, 06:04:29 PM »

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?



Ah, so we can ignore Conrad, and his influence and that of the military. But we can take Franz Ferdinand's personal view (insofar as known) as indicative of that of "the state".

I'm curious - are you aware of the Austro-Slav movement? And have you heard of the Party of Right? Not that the government necessarily supported this (though many hoped that Franz Ferdinand did), but I think it gives a little nuance to the picture you are painting. You cite endless examples of the instability and turbulence of contemporary Serbian history, while contending that the Habsburg authorities had the right to simply ignore this, and to send their crown prince headlong into it.

It matters not whether Austria intended to swallow Serbia. It matters whether people in Serbia thought they did. But mostly what matters HERE is whether - as I posted, and it was all I posted - anyone had the right to simply wave the issue away, as you contended.
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Offline Clemence

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #33 on: January 21, 2017, 02:07:57 AM »
Quote
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?

It seems there are many people who do not realise how little things change in centuries in some parts of the world. The Balkans will always consider Turks as oppressors no matter the date. Glad to know there are countries that have the best relations with their neighbours, but these countries are not in the Balkans.

Quote

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

No, he was not an Ottoman. The Empire he rappresented was in alliance with the Ottoman Empire though. May I remind you that the Austrians and the Ottomans were great allies and there have been many people that have been arrested in Austrian territories and given in custody to the Ottomans who brutally murdered them? That were the terms of friendship between civilized Empires back then and some things will never be forgotten, not by the oppressed.

Quote

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

So the annexetion and crisis of 1908 never took place?


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Offline NicolasG

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #34 on: January 21, 2017, 05:57:56 AM »
Quote
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?

It seems there are many people who do not realise how little things change in centuries in some parts of the world. The Balkans will always consider Turks as oppressors no matter the date. Glad to know there are countries that have the best relations with their neighbours, but these countries are not in the Balkans.



I realize that some things do not change in some places. Reading about the ethnic cleansing committed by Serbs in Macedonia in 1913 reminds anyone the ethnic cleansing committed by Serbs in Bosnia in the early 1990s.

It does not have to be that way. People usually get over things that happened centuries before they were born. For example, the British had Joan of Arc burned at the stake 585 years ago and French do not use as a excuse to plot the murder of visiting British Prime Ministers or to loot the houses that British have bought in Provence, killing the men and raping the women in the process. That's a feature of what is usually called "civilization".

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

No, he was not an Ottoman. The Empire he rappresented was in alliance with the Ottoman Empire though. May I remind you that the Austrians and the Ottomans were great allies and there have been many people that have been arrested in Austrian territories and given in custody to the Ottomans who brutally murdered them? That were the terms of friendship between civilized Empires back then and some things will never be forgotten, not by the oppressed.


Could you name just one single war before WWI in which the Habsburg/Austrian/Austro-Hungarian Empire fought on the same side? Let's say between 1389 (Kosovo Battle) and 1914 (Sarajevo murders). That's 525 years. If they were so "great allies" it shouldn't be so difficult to find at least five wars. Please, name ONE if you can.

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

So the annexetion and crisis of 1908 never took place?


Autro-Hungarian troops occupied Bosnia as a result of the Treaty of Berlin in 1878. They had to fought a short campaign against supporters of the Ottoman authorities (including Ottoman regular soldiers) - not against supporters of a "Great Serbia". In 1908 they were already there. They just said that a province they had administered during 30 years would become part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire by decree. The Russians made a lot of noise because they expected to grab the occasion to get the right for their navy of crossing the Turkish Straits, but ended up empty-handed. There was sabre-rattling, threats, diplomats became frantic, the press agitated... and that was all. No Serb suffered loss of life, limb or property.

Offline NicolasG

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #35 on: January 21, 2017, 06:57:04 AM »

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.

So in ceding that Kosovo had power to evoke sentiment into the 1990s (and it does now; you can follow the comments on any online article on Serbian history should you care. And have you read about the train?!), you charge that it was irrelevant in 1914, when Bosnia was - in the view of of many of its people, a good number of whom actually moved to Serbia - an occupied state? That it was OK for the Austrian military to blithely dismiss this and send the Heir to the Throne to face it?

"facts" (as you or Christopher Clark perceive them) are not the issue. Emotions are. And a responsible government takes care not to inflame them.

I did not write that nationalist myths are irrelevant. I wrote that a multi-etnic empire, which had to keep nationalism in check for its own survival and for the safety of its subjects, did not have to bow to them. The Austro-Hungarian Empire included Serbian and Muslim subjects. Muslims were being killed by Serbs in recently-annexed Macedonia. Honouring the myths used by radicals to fuel the flames of hate was not the way.

Imagine this situation. November 12, 1864: Sherman orders the burning of Atlanta. November 12, 2017: a small group of citizens of Atlanta calls for a demonstration on the anniversary asking for reinstatement of racial segregation.
What should the authorities do? Should they replace the Atlanta black city major with a white man for a day?  And the flag of the United States at official buildings with the confederate flag? Maybe, exceptionally, celebrate a "segregation day" in public transportation?
Or should the authorities in Atlanta just ignore them and, if they become violent, have them arrested by the police and prosecuted?

And I think that a historian has to work with facts. Hitler may have been frustated for not being admitted to the art academy in Vienna and not becoming an artist. Stalin may have had his emotional balance shattered by the suicide of his wife in 1932. Gavrilo Princip may have had a sensitive nature, affected by the fact that it was the flag of the Autro-Hungarian Empire which was displayed at official buildings in Sarajevo, instead of the flag of the Kingdom of Serbia. I simply don't care. The fact is that he murdered in cold blood two persons: the heir apparent of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and his wife and that provoked what was then the bloodiest war in history. Enough for the current Serbian authorities to consider him a hero.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2017, 06:58:44 AM by NicolasG »

Offline Janet Ashton

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #36 on: January 22, 2017, 03:27:38 PM »

I did not write that nationalist myths are irrelevant. I wrote that a multi-etnic empire, which had to keep nationalism in check for its own survival and for the safety of its subjects, did not have to bow to them. The Austro-Hungarian Empire included Serbian and Muslim subjects. Muslims were being killed by Serbs in recently-annexed Macedonia. Honouring the myths used by radicals to fuel the flames of hate was not the way.



The Austro-Hungarian empire was not as sensitive to the dangers of nationalism as you are arguing. I think some people could see the problem spiralling out of control - Franz Joseph and *perhaps* Franz Ferdinand, who both had particular animus against both German and Hungarian nationalism. But the very existence of the dual empire was in itself predicated on Hungarian nationalism of what became a particularly repressive kind. If the Austrian ruling class could see this, the Hungarians clearly couldn't. And, passive as it was, the Austrian side of the empire continued to maintain the dominance of the German language to an unbalanced extent - to the extent that grammar schools could bring down the government. It was, I agree, much better than many of its peers - and we tend to look back on it with nostalgia, as did its subjects later - but it was not the perfect multi-ethnic state. Multi-ethnic by accident, not design. And its development was patchy, geographically if not ethnically. The south slav states Bosnia and Dalmatia (with Galicia, a less recent acquisition) were the poorest parts.

That is by the by, just posted because I like robust debate! :-) Among the men who killed Franz Ferdinand was one Muslim. To this little group, religion was infinitely less an issue than the question of foreign repression. To ethnic Serbs (as we are not talking about the State of Serbia), the Kosovo/Vidovdan meme became an anti-occupation one - whoever the occupier. It was not anti-muslim. They grossly and fatally overplayed this when the south slav state became a reality, in assuming that others (the Habsburg slavs) would take their national day to their hearts, but part of the reason why it became an issue for the Catholic slavs was the death of Franz Ferdinand on that day. In 1914, the day was far less charged to Austrian subjects. In 1921, actually, the one ally Serbia had in approving the Vidovdan constitution were the Bosnian muslims, because it was a secular constitution - which protected the muslims against the near-pogroms taking place in parts of the countryside.

I'd say again, though, that it doesn't matter. By refusing to side-step the day - or even to try to turn it to their own benefit by emphasising that Bosnia had joined Austria in escaping the Ottoman empire - they lost their crown prince.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2017, 03:58:08 PM by Janet Ashton »
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Offline Janet Ashton

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #37 on: January 22, 2017, 03:36:57 PM »


It seems there are many people who do not realise how little things change in centuries in some parts of the world. The Balkans will always consider Turks as oppressors no matter the date. Glad to know there are countries that have the best relations with their neighbours, but these countries are not in the Balkans.



I realize that some things do not change in some places. Reading about the ethnic cleansing committed by Serbs in Macedonia in 1913 reminds anyone the ethnic cleansing committed by Serbs in Bosnia in the early 1990s.

It does not have to be that way. People usually get over things that happened centuries before they were born. For example, the British had Joan of Arc burned at the stake 585 years ago and French do not use as a excuse to plot the murder of visiting British Prime Ministers or to loot the houses that British have bought in Provence, killing the men and raping the women in the process. That's a feature of what is usually called "civilization".



Folks, what no-one here has yet mentioned is that while the Battle of Kosovo may have taken place in 1389, the territory the Ottomans occupied as a result remained in their control until the nineteenth or twentieth centuries. So while people may have been looking to a medieval event as a symbol, it was a symbol with a lot of modern resonance.

I don't think that bringing Britain into this as a counter example is very useful, because let's not forget Norther Ireland, and the active grudges many people bear over battles which took place hundreds of years ago.

Serbia has a *lot* of issues as nation state, but to hold it up as a perennial "special case" of particularly obnoxious nationalism is not helpful to anyone. We also need not to read history backwards from the events of the 1990s to what happened in 1914. Christopher Clark's book has ben criticised for doing just that.
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Offline NicolasG

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #38 on: January 22, 2017, 05:24:19 PM »
Certainly the Austro-Hungarian Empire was not the perfect multi-ethnic state. Neither the Roman Empire nor the current United States of America are examples of perfect multi-ethnic states because such thing does not and cannot exist, being human nature as it is. Different ethnic groups can live more or less peacefully in the same country, with each group trying to get privileges for themselves or they can butcher each other. In 1914 the Austro-Hungarian Empire, including the Kingdom of Hungary, belonged to the first category, the Kingdom of Serbia, which had made a cult of nationalism, to the second one.

The one token muslim Bosnian in the team of murderers was merely there to make more difficult for Austrian investigators to pick the scent trail and follow it all the way to Belgrade. It was a Serbian nationalist plot. What killed Franz Ferdinand and his wife was Serbian nationalism, not some coincidence in the dates or negligence of Austrian authorities in paying attention to the anniversary of a battle.

The importance of the date, St Vitus Day, the anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo, has been overstated for two reasons

1. Historians love that kind of coincidences, it's the equivalent of astrology in their trade and makes things more interesting for readers. I have read in a book published by a British historian (not Mr. Clark) that Franz Ferdinand and Sophie were murdered on their wedding anniversary. They weren't.

2. Serbs, and people who are glad to accept their narrative, can use the coincidence to make the visit of Franz Ferdinand to Sarajevo look like a "provocation". This way they can shift the blame to Austrian authorities and create a smoke-screen around what happened on 28 June 1914 in Sarajevo: a dirty, treacherous double murder in cold blood. 

If Franz Ferdinand had visited Bosnia on 24 June, 2 July, 15 March or 28 February, there would have been a murder attempt. And if he had avoided visiting Bosnia altogether, sooner or later a Serb would have traveled to Austria and tried to kill him.

If Serbia is "hold up as a perennial special case of particularly obnoxious nationalism", the reason may be the behaviour of Serbian authorities. For example, inaugurating a monument to the terrorist Gavrilo Princip in Belgrade on the anniversary of the double murder he commited (28 June 2015). The president of Serbia, Tomislav Nikolic, several ministers in the Serbian government and a band of music of the Serbian army attended the inauguration, a bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church blessed the statue. The president Nikolic said: "Gavrilo Princip was a hero, a symbol of the idea of freedom, the assassin of tyrants and the carrier of the European idea of liberation from slavery".

http://www.dw.com/en/gavrilo-princip-assassin-who-sparked-wwi-gets-statue-in-belgrade/a-18546305

Cristopher Clark's book is excellent and "does not read history backwards". It reads history forwards, from the murder of King Alexandra and Queen Draga in Belgrade 1903 to the start of WWI. If it has been criticised is, I guess, because it shatters the myth of "brave, little Serbia attacked by the Austrian bully" and "gallant Serbia, defender of Christian civilization in the Balkans".Obviously Serbs and their allies do not like it, neither people that wish to agree with the Treaty of Versailles in blaming exclusively "Germany and her allies" for WWI.   


Offline Janet Ashton

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #39 on: January 23, 2017, 03:23:32 AM »

Cristopher Clark's book is excellent and "does not read history backwards". It reads history forwards, from the murder of King Alexandra and Queen Draga in Belgrade 1903 to the start of WWI. If it has been criticised is, I guess, because it shatters the myth of "brave, little Serbia attacked by the Austrian bully" and "gallant Serbia, defender of Christian civilization in the Balkans".Obviously Serbs and their allies do not like it, neither people that wish to agree with the Treaty of Versailles in blaming exclusively "Germany and her allies" for WWI.

I can assure you that people are capable studying the motivation of Princip and colleagues from a completely different perspective. And of reaching quite different conclusions. You seem to be blinded by the Kingdom of Serbia. Not sure why you feel the need to make these sweeping comments impugning the motivation/objectivity of anyone who disagrees with you. Have you ever been to Bosnia? Did you live there in the 1990s? It's remarkable that you think people could see that first hand and emerge with the motivation you imagine.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2017, 03:37:16 AM by Janet Ashton »
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Offline NicolasG

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #40 on: January 23, 2017, 05:14:12 AM »
I can assure you that people are capable of studying the motivation of Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Charles Manson, Daesh terrorists and "colleagues" from completely different perspectives. And of reaching quite different conclusions. That does not mean that all those conclusions are equally valid.

I study what happened in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914 and reach the conclusion that Gavrilo Princip was a POS who murdered in cold blood a man and a woman who deeply loved each other, left three children orphaned and provoked what was then the worst carnage in human history.

The President of Serbia studies what happened in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914 and reaches the conclusion that Gavrilo Princip is a Serbian hero who deserves a monument in Belgrade.

Obviously, quite different conclusions.

Offline Janet Ashton

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #41 on: January 23, 2017, 07:23:20 AM »
That does not mean that all those conclusions are equally valid.

In the case of Princip, as Christopher Clark himself says, "given the complexity and secrecy of the groups involved and the paucity of reliable sources, there will always be room for debate" about his motivations.

I study what happened in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914 and reach the conclusion that Gavrilo Princip was a POS who murdered in cold blood a man and a woman who deeply loved each other, left three children orphaned and provoked what was then the worst carnage in human history.

The President of Serbia studies what happened in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914 and reaches the conclusion that Gavrilo Princip is a Serbian hero who deserves a monument in Belgrade.

Obviously, quite different conclusions.

And what do *I* think?

I find it curious that in all this debate you haven't once asked me for my views or sought to address them with any evidence.

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Offline NicolasG

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #42 on: January 23, 2017, 10:47:16 AM »

In the case of Princip, as Christopher Clark himself says, "given the complexity and secrecy of the groups involved and the paucity of reliable sources, there will always be room for debate" about his motivations.


I cannot find the sentence you are quoting in Clark's book The Sleepwalkers. He writes that the work of reconstructing the murder plot of Sarajevo is difficult, because of the lack of documentation (it was a secret conspiracy, after all). I do not think that Clark's book leaves any doubt about the motivation of Princip and the rest of the team of assassins: Serbian nationalism, the "Greater Serbia" project. I'm quoting from the British paperback edition (Penguin Books, 2013).

"It should be emphasized that the archduke was not targeted on account of any alleged hostility to the Slavic minoriries in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but, on the contrary, because, to borrow the words of his assasin, Gavrilo Princip, "as future Sovereign he would have prevented our union by carrying through certain reforms". p.49

"The boys dwelt at length on the suffering of the Serbian nation, for which they blamed everyone but the Serbs themselves..." p.51

"At least as important as the contact with activists like Vasic, or with the written propaganda of the Narodna Odbrana was the coffee-house social milieu that provided a sense of belonging for young Bosnian Serbs hanging out in Belgrade [...] The prevalent political mood in these places was ultra-nationalist and anti-Austrian. There is a revealing passage in the court transcript in which the judge asked Princip where Grabez had adquired his ultra-nationalist political views. Princip replied artlessly: "After he [Grabez] came to Belgrade, he took up the same principles". p.53

Anyway, motivation is far less important that the deed itself. The stupid Russian intelligentsia was expert in finding noble and pure motivations behinds the actions of terrorists and revolutionaries. Finally, the revolution they had hoped for overthrew their hated tsarist regime and first, Dzherzhinsky and his colleagues in the Cheka, and then Stalin, took care of them.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2017, 10:50:14 AM by NicolasG »

Offline NicolasG

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #43 on: January 23, 2017, 10:49:28 AM »

And what do *I* think?

I find it curious that in all this debate you haven't once asked me for my views or sought to address them with any evidence.

Well, this is not a Sunday school, where shy little children have to be encouraged to say something by their teachers. If you want to tell your views, do it. You have had the chance in your previous posts.

Offline edubs31

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #44 on: January 27, 2017, 01:14:18 AM »
Since this discussion has narrowed itself down to focusing on the specifics - largely revolving around Archduke's assassination & preceding ethnic and/or political tensions between the Austrians & Bosnians - I thought I'd unwind things a little and go for a broader view. Below are some of the key factors I can think of that led to the war. I'd like to hear some thoughts on how much each of these factored in to the outbreak of hostilities in 1914 and what should be added (or subtracted from) the list...

- Tensions within the Balkan states in the decades leading up to the start of War. Followed by the inability of the great European powers to settle their disputes in the region or carve up the territory in an equitable manner. A vacuum being left as a result of this. No one power asserting authority or legitimacy as ruler/overseer of the region.

- The Ottoman Empire's downward spiral. Perhaps looking to make one last stand by strengthening their alliance with Germany and pressuring British interests in Middle Eastern territory that they still held sway over.

- The personal incompatibility and awkwardness of Kaiser Wilhelm II in relation to his royal cousins whose feelings generally ranged from distrust to downright disdain. Exemplifying this was Wilhelm's inferiority complex regarding England and the complicated relationship he had with Edward VII...two men of opposite personalities.

- Exacerbating the aforementioned personal tensions between the Kaiser and his European relatives was the bitterness felt by his Danish relatives toward Germany ever since the Schleswig-Holstein War of 1864. Given that two of the Danish princesses - the sisters Alexandra & Dagmar - just so happened to become Empresses of dominant European powers (England and Russia respectively), and given their sore feelings towards Prussian rule, this seems like a more important factor than perhaps it's given credit for.

- Germany's vigorous foreign policy under Chancellor Bismarck followed by its naval build up in the 1890s. Naturally discomforting to other European powers it was, mostly importantly, Britain whose hand was forced. The British, traditionally reluctant to forge the sort of alliances that ironically helped create the entanglements that led to the First World War, was suddenly in something of an arms race with Germany. This encouraged Britain to strengthen its ties with France (skillfully managed by Edward VII himself) and later Russia, thereby encircling Germany and infuriating the Kaiser and the German government.

- The disastrous result of Russo-Japanese War...a conflict all but encouraged by the German Kaiser...embarrassed Russia and helped spark revolutionary tensions at home leading to Bloody Sunday and permanent resentment of the Russian people towards their Tsar an autocratic regime. In England meanwhile the Boer Wars proved surprisingly difficult for the British who lost some face on the international stage as a result.

- The shock assassination of the Austrian Arch Duke in Sarajevo and the boiling over of tensions between the Austria-Hungarian empire and Bosnia. This guaranteed that even if all out continental war had narrowly been avoided that tensions between the two country's aforementioned allies (Germany & Russia) would still have required the kind of swift & strategic diplomacy Nicky & Willy proved incapable of.

- Bad luck, bad timing and downright stupidity...Russia lacked capable diplomats such as Sergei Witte (retired, somewhat discredited and near the end of his life) and Pyotr Stolypin (assassinated). Germany had no Bismarck to turn to and was contending with a power struggle between it's erratic, impetuous Kaiser and ambitious Generals asserting dominance in matters of foreign policy. France was a democratic state probably somewhat disrespected by the other imperial powers and lacking the sort of ambition & influence the U.S and President's Teddy Roosevelt (1901-09) & Woodrow Wilson (1913-21) brought to the table. England's George V lacked vision and intellect (much like his Russian cousin), wit & charm like his father, and the power & respect Queen Victoria had. In Austria there was a rift between the elderly conservative Emperor Franz Joseph and his somewhat over-confident progressive nephew heir to the throne.

...then of course you have Alexei's hemophilia and the influence of Rasputin. The Kaiser's disastrous Daily Telegraph interview in 1908 and deformed left arm. Much more than a mere physical impediment...something that seemed to shape his personality. Leopold Lojka's fateful incorrect turn down Franz Josef Street. King George's mixed signals to the Kaiser regarding Britain's intentions of neutrality or military involvement...Like a football team with a game plan and track record of success sometimes you don't need a series of events to connect the dots to a catastrophic event/defeat. You only need a key injury or someone to fumble the ball.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2017, 01:19:06 AM by edubs31 »
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right...