Tag Archives: Battle of the Somme

the Soup will not be eaten as hot as it is served

“Are they really bringing people to workplaces to give them a better life?”

It was known or said that even if Jews were converted to the Christian faith, they remained “different” because of their bloodline. It was also known that many were jealous for the lifestyle and family feeling which could  be found in the Klal Yisrael or Jewish communities. Many goyim found the Jews separated themselves from the society, but they did not often see it were goyim who themselves gave enough reason not to mix too much with them.

Samuel Morgenstern was one of those shopkeepers who was one of the most loyal buyers of Hitler’s paintings in Vienna, by which Hitler could receive enough money not to be a tramp. Naturally there were also rumours Hitler could not stand Jews because he got a disease from regularly going to some ‘Jewish harlots’.

Portrait of Karl Lueger (ca. 1900), mayor of Vienna. He used anti-Semitism as a political strategy. Collection: Austrian National Library / painter: Alois Delug. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Rights: Public Domain

Hitler, Adolf: Mein Kampf

Mein Kampf, (German: “My Struggle”) political manifesto written by Adolf Hitler. It was his only complete book and became the bible of National Socialism (Nazism) in Germany’s Third Reich. It was published in two volumes in 1925 and 1927, and an abridged edition appeared in 1930. By 1939 it had sold 5,200,000 copies and had been translated into 11 languages.

It perhaps were not just rumours that the politician, co-founder and leader of the Austrian Christian Social Party, and mayor of Vienna Karl Lueger (1844-1910), used anti-Semitism as a political strategy, and that he was also praised as “the greatest German mayor of all time” by Adolf Hitler (In Mein Kampf) who did not mind following his ideas.

The prejudices about the role of the Jews in the Great War were incorrect, but as with many rumours, it spread like a virus. Many Germans did not want to believe how more than one hundred thousand German and Austrian Jews had fought for their homeland, one of them being Otto Frank, the German-born merchant best known as the father of Anne Frank, who witnessed the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

In the 1920ies our family members could already hear how our brethren were compared with germs. It was as if our people had been infecting generations for ages. That Hitler never thought his people were not strong enough to live according to the wishes of their god or according to the mitzvot of the Only One True God, the Elohim Hashem Jehovah. Lots of our friends could not believe that those who said they were “Christian” and as such would, or should, be following the Nazarene Jewish rabbi who preached brotherly love, could do such atrocious things, as others told about them. Perhaps it was to set up Jehudiem against Christians, so that the goyim had all the reason to tell

religion is the cause of war.

The words spread that Hitler said that you cannot fight a disease without destroying the person who caused it, and as such according to him, the influence of the Jews would never disappear without removing the perpetrator, the Jude, from the midst of the Arian race.

Radical ideas paved the way for the mass murder of the Jews in the 1940s, but not many of the Bnei Yisroel or Chosen People of God wanted to believe the rumours at first.

In many families, like ours, it was the saying

“the Soup will not be eaten as hot as it is served”.

They heard about plans which would be taken, but they seemed so unbelievable that they could not be true or would have been exaggerated, as by a circling fire. Others were not so much at ease, and warned

“to be aware of a silent dog and still water”.

Should we look askance at him? Now we can easily say they had much better looked at him out of the tail of their eyes. By not believing the many rumours, lots were woken up with a start, when it was too late.

For a long time, many wondered if it was within the odds, whilst others said

“He is not likely to go.”

Others wanted to be a friend to all, forgetting that then they would be a friend to none. Many debates about what went on in Germany and Austria could bring lots of talks after the children were sent to bed. For sure that what was to be spoken about was not for children’s ears.

It was, and is still, known that there was and is, an existing prejudice that Jews associate with financial power and monetary gain. Many are also convinced Jews are “foefelaars“, who make their pile on the poor white people. Lots of Jews may be looked at as a ramay / nokhel, a fiddler or cheater whilst there was no oysnarn at all.

White movement propaganda poster from the Russian Civil War era (1919), a caricature of Leon Trotsky, who was viewed as a symbol of Jewish Bolshevism.

In many countries people also looked at the Jehudi as the originators or conspirators and spreaders of communism. The vast majority of the communist leaders at that time were Jewish. However, it is only a small part of the Jews that were communists, and what a lot of people did not see is that several Jews were promoting or aiming for social equality, this being considered by many liberals and capitalists a danger for the economy and consumption gain. During the war with the Soviet Union, from 1941 on, it will be the idea of the ‘Jewish communism’ (sometimes also called Marxian-communism or meant to be Jewish Bolshevism, also Judeo–Bolshevism) with terrible consequences. The population and the prisoners of war being brutally treated by the Germans.

When Hitler got into power rumours got stronger, but still many did not want to believe what went around. Others were smart enough to be at the safe site by sending their beloved far away from Germany and Austria. Some thought they would be safe in Holland, but how they were mistaken. Having gone to Holland luckily several managed to cross the channel and find a safe haven in the United Kingdom, but the others got taken and deported.

At the Schalkland, in the “Klein-Brabant” region, less than 25 kilometres from the centre of Brussels and 19 kilometres from Antwerp, to the south of the Dendermonde highway (Mechelen – Dendermonde) was build the “Willebroeck Fort” as a fortified defence to protect the port and city of Antwerp, which by Royal Order dated 12 January 1907 rechristened the fort “Breendonck Fort”. On september 20th 1940 Sturmbannführer Philip Schmitt brought his first victims to Breendonk. The Fort officially became the Auffanglager Breendonk, a transit camp; a major centre for the Sicherheitspolizei-Sicherheitsdienst (SIPO/SD), the german political police.

Words spread that in Breendonk the kaze-the mats were to be removed from the earth in which they were covered. Three or four men had to push a railway carriage that was loaded with the earth. It was not the best marterial the prisoners had to use. Of these vehicles, the wheels were worn out, having to be pushed on worn-out rails, so that a person would have more than it is possible. Was it a rumour or was it true that the SS guards, with their weapons beated on the upper arms, the backs of the heads of the unfortunate ones until the latter were exhausted, but also fell dead?

Former working site at the camp of Breendonk. The regime set up here by the Nazis hardly differed from that of an official concentration camp. The undernourishment and the forced labour wore down the body and mind. The ever-present physical cruelty sometimes caused the death of prisoners. Initially, the camp was only guarded by a few German SS and a detachment of the Wehrmacht. In September 1941, the Wachtgruppe of the SD arrived as back up. This time, these were no longer German SS but mainly Flemings.

Some of the prisoners were to be buried up to the neck, after they were first on a ferocious manner, beaten. The S, S. jailers were there, then settled for the pitiful earth at the face of them. The game lasted sometimes for 1 or 2 hours, and when the victims were about to die, they did not stop to punch and to death. During the singing of the song of Breendonk, the text of which these words were placed on the grave:

” Wir werden nie mehr Breendonk vergessen, das Paradies-tier Juden…’.”

Sturmbannführer (majoor) Schmitt had created and placed a pulley on the ceiling in a folterbunker (torture bunker or blockhouse) of the camp, to make, that the victim’s hands at the back tied up would be drawn to the ceiling.

After that, it was a pizzle of the shot, he was then beaten with a bullepees (bullenpees: baton between a whip and a stick made from dried penis of a bull). When the hoist was released, the unfortunate person fell on two angular boards. Kachelpoken or stove pokers were glowed for immediate use,… because the Jews were not worth the bullet. They had to be sent to death during work and by torture.

When the words rang true for most of the Jews still living in the region, it was too late to find a safe place for their children and for themselves.

After the camps in Belgium or Holland as “Musselmen” (completely emaciated) thousands were deported to Germany to find an end to their unbearable suffering, either of starvation, giving up, or in the gas chambers.

The remaining Jews in Belgium were unable to follow the course of events that their fellow believers underwent elsewhere. Their own concerns were too overwhelming for this and contact with neighbouring countries was too incomplete. The seeping job tidings were considered exaggerated …

Commissioned by the notorious member of Heinrich Himmler’s SS, the Nazi paramilitary corps, Adolf Eichmann, the Sicherheits polizei in Berlin, wrote the following urgent letter, in which the word “Secret” is not missing (22 June 1942):

“From mid-July and early August this year, special trains of 1,000 people each day are planned, first of all about 40,000 Jews from the occupied French territory,
Send 40,000 Jews from the Netherlands and 10,000 Jews from Belgium to employment in the Auschwitz camp.
“The circle of persons to be included extends primarily to Jews who are skilled in work, insofar as they do not live in mixed marriages and do not have the nationality of the British Empire, of the U.S.A., of Mexico, from the enemy states, from Central and South America, as well as from the neutral and related states.

“I may request willing access and assume that there are no objections to these measures on the part of the foreign office either.
Commissioned get. Eichman “

On 12 July 1942 the last restriction on freedom before the local raids started was put visible on billboards. From the onward Jews were no longer allowed to visit cinemas, theatres, sports grounds or public institutions. In the trams they were only allowed to stand on the front platform of the trailer.

Such regulations still did not unbalance many of the Jewish diluted community. According to many the German measures only wanted to deprive the Jews of public pleasures … (Few will then have immediately known that the first nocturnal masses in Paris on Friday July 17, 1942 raffle had taken place.)

Wimpel Organisation Todt.svg

Pennant for Organisation Todt

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-2007-0074, IG-Farbenwerke Auschwitz.jpg

Woman with Ostarbeiter OT badge at Auschwitz

The second Jewish labour team was also confidently leaving the civil and military engineering organisation “Organization Todt” to Charleville-Mèzières (18 July), until on July 22 the second deception beared its bitter fruit.(It was the day that the memorial of the destruction of the Temple took place in Jerusalem in the evening – Tischa be’af – -). Jews were arrested without any excuse! When that day the trains from Brussels and Antwerp stopped at Mechelen as usual, Feldgendarmen were on the platform. All the Jews, both men and women, were taken out. The same happened at the Antwerp and Brussels North terminus stations. (The Brussels-North-South connection did not yet exist.) Their freedom had ended. Some went to Breendonk. Most were sent to the 18th century Dossin barracks, where between 1942 and 1944, 25,484 Jews, 352 Roma and Sinti were deported. Just over 5% returned from Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Kazerne Dossin, Goswin de Stassartstraat 153, B. 2800 Mechelen, where in the old barracks, visitors will find a memorial, which commemorates countless people who stayed there in despair and fear and who died later in unspeakable circumstances.

From the onward the Jews throughout Belgium were being seized by panic. Being an ode alone was therefore sufficient here to be arrested … The Jewish Council was powerless … followed by a reaction of partial sobering among the Jewish population. They forged new flight plans that were kept secret even from close acquaintances.
The panic mood was tempered after a few days. When  people received mail from the internees in Mechelen it all looked not as bad as the rumours went around.

They are not nearly as bad there … Fruits are missing … They may receive packages …

Faces from those who lost their life after being brought to the Dosin Kazerne in Mechelen

These days we remember all those who lost their life in a struggle to survive in a hatefull world.

Let us not forget how politicians can use disinformation and propaganda to mislead many and to create unwanted scapegoats.
We also may not let ourselves be fooled this time that it would not be as bad today with what was happening in the 1930ies. There are people who say

That can never repeat again

but after the Great War all people agreed also that such a horror should never take place again. Only a few years later the world found itself again in such time or terror.

This time let us be more careful, notice the signs of people bringing others on the wrong path, and react wisely to those who want us to believe we are ridiculous seeing ghosts or bad things in what are just jokes or carnavalesc activities.

 

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Preceding

Remembrance and freedom in the Netherlands – Dodenherdenking and Bevrijdingsdag

Niet te negeren gebeurtenissen rond Joden in België

The danger of having less than 25 000 Jews in Belgium

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Additional reading

  1. The Great War changed everything
  2. Reformed Churches Muzzled but Protest at Barmen
  3. 2019 was #4 a Year of much deceit in Belgium and the rest of Europe
  4. Signs of the times – “An object of scorn and ridicule”

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Filed under Being and Feeling, Crimes & Atrocities, History, Lifestyle, Pictures of the World, Political affairs, Religious affairs, Social affairs, Welfare matters, World affairs

The War to end all wars

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Preceding articles:

Reflections on the Great War #1 100 years on

Reflections on the Great War #2

Too Young To Fight?

Remembrance isn’t only about those who fought, but also those who refused

In Flanders Fields II – a new poem in response to the original

Lessons of the Somme

The Somme (1916) Working Class Holocaust

July 4, 1916 – Battle of the Somme greeted with ‘the greatest enthusiasm’

Gwalia military cemetery

Truth

A poem for #Somme100 

Remembering the Somme 100 years on

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Additional reading

  1. All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting… George Orwell
  2. Parade’s End and Saint Flora Castle
  3. 1914 – 2014 preparations
  4. 11 November, a day to remember #1 Until Industrialisation
  5. 11 November, a day to remember #2 From the Industrialisation
  6. Mons 2014 remembering the Great War
  7. Liège 2014 remembering the Great War
  8. August 4, 1914 to be remembered
  9. Honouring hundreds of thousands of victims of the brutal Somme battle
  10. Ulster Tower ceremony for the Irish at the Somme battle
  11. Aftermath
  12. Juncker warns for possible new war

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Related reading

  1. Your Land
  2. The Awakening of Humanity: An End to War … by Alice ..
  3. 1776: Independence for Some
  4. On this day
  5. July 1, 2016: The Somme Centennial
  6. July 1, 1916, The Battle of the Somme: General Haig’s Murderous “Great Push Forward”
  7. Monday 3rd July 1916
  8. Reader’s Corner: Tolkien on the Battlefield
  9. 4th of July , fireworks .
  10. A 4th of July Message to u.$. Imperialism!
  11. Mark Collins – “The Lord of the Rings’” Origin at the Bloody Somme
  12. Tuesday 4th July 1916
  13. WWI Parade on St.Neots Market Square
  14. Wednesday 5th July 1916
  15. Richmond WW1 Diary 5 July 1916
  16. Last soldier standing
  17. A wall to honor the victims of abortion would be 85 miles long…
  18. It is Time to Partition Bosnia: Not for the Politicians, but for the People
  19. Why are we killing?
  20. Countries established by the peace conference at Paris
  21. GU Treaty Officer starts war peace-talks between Iceandor and the Russian Remnant
  22. Aleppo soap
  23. An attack in the 2nd holiest site in Islam is a wake up call for everyone.
  24. Shocking new report: Bombing people causes people to hate you
  25. Do not go gentle into that good night
  26. The War Is On, The War Is Won…
  27. Vietnam Vision
  28. Poems to a Libyan Girl
  29. Is Tony Blair a War Criminal?
  30. How the Taliban and the US fell out of love
  31. Israel hits Syrian army after errant shells land near border
  32. Uganda’s president (Nigger Freemason) declares: Israel was right to carry out Entebbe raid

My Poetry

King George and Kaiser Bill did call
For men to stand up and be proud and tall
The volunteers queued all day
Not really knowing ahead what lay?

The crowds cheered and gave a wave
As the soldiers marched past feeling so brave
Marching off to war they went
Like lambs to the slaughter they were sent

Back at HQ the Generals stood
Hardly ever going near the mud
From Gallipoli in the east to the Somme in the west
They sent the orders out because they knew best

To fight a war on foreign soil
Every day giving blood, sweat, tears and toil
Waiting in the trenches full of mud
To be sent to no man’s land to spill their blood

And then the day finally came
When Kaiser Bill at last took the blame
The orders were sent out to end the kill
Then at the eleventh hour…

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Filed under Activism and Peace Work, History, Poetry - Poems, Re-Blogs and Great Blogs

Remembering the Somme 100 years on

Andrew James

battle of the Somme

They went with songs to the battle, they were young
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted
They fell with their faces to the foe

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again
They sit no more at familiar tables of home
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time
They sleep beyond England’s foam

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Filed under Crimes & Atrocities, Poetry - Poems, Re-Blogs and Great Blogs

​A poem for #Somme100 

Roxical Thinking

​A poem for #Somme100

Seven Thirty.
Morning of the first.
Guns fall silent.
Boys ready.
Whistles blown.
Over the top they go.
For glory
For honour
For King and for country
Over the top
They go.

By days end
Sixty thousand dead & wounded.
By Days end.

By battles end
Five months later
Over one million dead, wounded or captured.
Our boys from Blighty & the commonwealth.

Gone
Never to return.
Never the same.

Somme
The bloody Somme.
A place of no return.

By Colin Nicholl
#Somme100

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Filed under Crimes & Atrocities, Poetry - Poems, Re-Blogs and Great Blogs

Truth

Philip Dodd, Author of Angel War Blog

Truth

Those who have got will get more,
those who have not will stay poor.
A few are loved by millions for a song.
Many are loved by no one
and never will belong.
If you think that’s not right,
tell me where it’s wrong.
If your path leads to light,
fight to remain strong.

Truth is a thin, upright line,
sewn on bare cloth,
unmistakable, once found.
Falsehood is a mesh,
a tangle of wire, rusted rods,
burnt signs, dusty flags,
inwoven, bolted to the ground.

The fields are green on the Somme now,
as they ought to be.
One hundred years gone
since men fought to be free of war,
for children in peace
to play with the tides on the shore.

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Filed under Activism and Peace Work, Crimes & Atrocities, Poetry - Poems, Re-Blogs and Great Blogs

Reflections on the Great War #1 100 years on

Today 11 November it is remembrance day for the worst tragedy that came over the world, war bringing many countries in agony.

In the 2014 August and November issues of the Christadelphian is spent some time to think about those awful years.
In the august issue brother Roger Long looked also at the “Signs of the times” Nearer the exit?

Today in several countries there is an annual holiday honouring military veterans. At Veterans Day, also celebrated as Armistice Day, Remembrance Day or Poppy Day, the world remembers the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I.  At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 the guns of the Western Front fell silent after more than four years of continuous warfare, with the German signing of the Armistice. It is marked by parades and church services and in many places the flags of the country and of the union (Europe, Common Wealth, America or United States) are hung at half mast. A period of silence lasting one or two minutes may be held at 11am.

The British do have Remembrance Sunday on the second Sunday in November, the Sunday nearest to 11 November. Remembrance Sunday also sees special events and services relating to remembrance and was this year (2014) on the 9th of November.

The Christadelphian August 2014 issue with Reflections and Lessons from the Great War 1914-1918

The Christadelphian August 2014 issue with Reflections and Lessons from the Great War 1914-1918

 

100 years on

Reflections on the Great War

The First World War was one of the most important events of the twentieth century, shattering the international settlement of the previous century and leading almost inevitably to the Second World War.

The War brought serious challenges to the Christadelphian community, challenges reflected in the pages of The Christadelphian and Fraternal Visitor magazines. In this brief series, these will be considered from time to time.

“A bolt from the blue”

“The murder of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his Consort on June 28th, at Sarajevo, has proved to be the match the dropping of which has converted Europe into a ‘lake of fire’. It has come like a bolt from the blue …” (“Signs of the Times” – September 1914, The Christadelphian, page 451)

Franz Joseph I of Austria 1855

Franz Joseph I of Austria 1855 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the first news was received of the murder by Gavrilo Princip of Franz Ferdinand and his wife, it was not front page news. The Times newspaper reported it on page 7 very much as just another assassination in a Europe accustomed to periodic murders of kings and politicians. After all Tsar Alexander II of Russia had been killed by a bomb thrown by a Polish student in March 1881; the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph’s wife, Elizabeth, had been stabbed to death boarding a lakeside steamer in Geneva by an anarchist in 1898 and the Russian Prime Minister Stolypin assassinated in a Kiev theatre in 1911, to name but a few. The main comment in the newspapers was about the extraordinary ill fortune of the House of Hapsburg: Franz Joseph’s brother Maximilian had died in an ill-fated attempt to become emperor of Mexico in 1867, his son Rudolf committed suicide at Mayerling in 1889, his wife had been murdered and now his nephew and heir and his wife had been shot dead in Sarajevo in yet another episode in the troubled history of the Balkans.

It is doubtful if many of the British public had ever heard of Sarajevo before and many people, including politicians, saw it as an unfortunate episode which might raise temperatures in a troubled area which had experienced two wars within the previous three years. However, those wars had been prevented from spreading by the intervention of the great powers, Austria-Hungary, Germany, Britain, France and Russia, and expectations in the initial days after the murders were that this new mini-crisis could also be resolved. No one in those first days and weeks thought that it would lead to a world war. Other crises involving the Powers had come and gone without leading to conflagration, so why should this one be any different?

Militarism and alliances

Of course, the Powers were all armed to the teeth and had been for some years; in January 1914 The Christadelphian noted the huge rise in the number of Dreadnought battleships across the Powers – up from 1 in 1905 to 125 in 1912 and 150 in 1913. The “Signs of the Times” column noted the “steady drift towards Armageddon” and that the nations were “angrier than ever”. But it also noted the general concern that money devoted to growing armies and navies was being wasted at a time of great social need. In those early months of 1914 there was no great sense of urgency, even amongst eagle-eyed surveyors of the world stage in the Christadelphian Office. Indeed an interesting observation from the Daily Chronicle quoted in February 1914’s magazine was that, “Never has Europe been more militarist or less warlike”. This comment reflected the widespread feeling that the very level of military preparedness made war less likely. The two great alliances, of Austria-Hungary and Germany on one hand and Britain, France and Russia on the other, seemed to cancel one another out and peace of a sort had prevailed ever since 1871 – a period of just over forty years. Whilst there were signs of troubled times ahead, in the spring of 1914 there was little awareness of the imminence of the disaster about to unfold or the millions of lives it would consume. People had become lulled into a false sense of security.

Watching world events

The Christadelphian magazines of those early months have a recognisable mixture of exposition, exhortation and other articles of general interest. There was much concern for the fledgling Jewish settlements in Palestine, then still under Turkish rule; Brother Frank Jannaway sent regular reports of his travels there and in neighbouring Bible lands. There was great concern for Jews being persistently mistreated in Russia, comments on events and matters of interest in other churches and the regular reports of ecclesial activities. Until September, after the war had started, the lecture titles recorded were a cross-section of issues, with few if any indicating an imminent world crisis.

So there is an interesting mix of news. In February 1914 aeroplanes were seen over Jerusalem for the first time; in March it was reported that the European Unity League was advocating an alliance of the states of Europe on an economic basis and that suggestions had been made that Jerusalem should be declared a neutral city. In April there was a report of some Suffragettes setting up their own women-only church; in May the visit of the King and Queen to Paris to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Entente Cordiale alliance with France; in June an article bewailed the failure of clergymen in the established Church to uphold the authority of the scriptures, especially with regard to miracles.

The magazine reports were not entirely ignorant of the threats posed by the Powers’ large armies and navies. In April the “Signs of the Times” reported that there were rumours that some of the Powers might consider that a “preventative” war would be better than allowing their enemies to grow stronger and stronger; it also listed the huge armies of the time – Russia 1,700,000 men, Germany 870,000, France 714,000, Austria 360,000 and Italy 290,000. Relying on its navy, Britain mustered a mere 256,000. In June a letter raised the question of whether it would be wise to send a fresh petition to the British Parliament again to request exemption if conscription was introduced: the rather cautious response was that the time was not right for such an action, although the Lincoln Ecclesia had petitioned on the subject in 1913 and received responses from senior politicians including Asquith, Lloyd George and Winston Churchill.

The July “Signs of the Times”, probably written before the news of the assassination in Sarajevo broke, covered a diverse range of events – the crisis in Ireland over Home Rule; the Suffragette campaign which included planting a bomb behind the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey; oil exploration in Southern Persia; a suggestion from an Admiral Scott that air power and submarines would eventually make warships obsolete; references to a revolution in Albania and to collisions at sea. Even in August, the assassination only made an appearance as the third item in “Signs of the Times”, although the publication of the magazine at the beginning of the month and early requirements for copy may account for this.

The crisis everyone in Britain feared concerned Ireland, which was then entirely within the United Kingdom. A Home Rule Bill passed through the House of Commons in June 1914, but the Protestant northern counties of Ulster had been preparing for some years to resist if any attempt were made to force them into a united independent Ireland. Ulster Defence Volunteers openly marched and prepared to fight, with large numbers of guns being smuggled into the country. British Army officers stationed at the Curragh threatened to resign rather than be ordered to take action against the Protestant counties. Had the war not intervened, a civil war in Ireland would almost certainly have broken out.

The low priority given to the assassination in Sarajevo reflected the initial lack of alarm amongst the leaders of the Great Powers. The German Foreign Minister went off on July 5th on his honeymoon; the Kaiser set out the next day for his usual twenty-day summer cruise to Scandinavia; other leaders looked forward to time on holiday away from the troubles of the world. The British public planned whatever time they could get at the seaside or other holiday destinations, looking forward to August Bank Holiday, then on the first Monday in August.

A rapid escalation

All things continued much as before until July 24, when Austria-Hungary’s fierce ultimatum to Serbia, who it blamed for the assassination, set in train a rapid escalation. The Austrians had first secured the support of the Germans for this move, which made the involvement of Russia and France more likely. Within a week the mobilisation of the rival armies of Europe, unable to stand and watch their allies attacked or threatened, had brought Austria-Hungary and Germany into war with Russia and France. The invasion of Belgium as part of the German plan to defeat France quickly brought Britain into the war on August 4 and the last summer of the old order was overwhelmed by the earthquake which was the Great War.

There are lessons in all this for us. We too live in days when we have become accustomed to living with crises in different parts of the world. They form a constant backdrop to our lives. Scarcely a day goes by without a fresh report of trouble in the Middle East, whilst the Great Powers of our day posture and threaten much as they did a hundred years ago. So it is easy to be lulled into a false sense of security and to push beyond the horizon our expectation of the Second Coming and the final crises of this world which will precede it. The Lord warned us that his return would come suddenly “as a thief in the night”. In 1914, the world which then was disintegrated in the space of little more than a month from the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, serving as a warning of how quickly things change in God’s purpose. The lesson is clear and uncompromising:

“Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming … therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect … Lest he come suddenly and find you asleep.” (Matthew 24:42,44; Mark 13:36)

John Botten

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Continue reading: Reflections on the Great War #2

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Please find additional reading:

  1. All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting… George Orwell
  2. August 4, 1914 to be remembered
  3. 11 November, a day to remember #1 Until Industrialisation
  4. 11 November, a day to remember #2 From the Industrialisation
  5. 100° birthday of war and war tourism
  6. 1914 – 2014 preparations
  7. Liège 2014 remembering the Great War
  8. Mons 2014 remembering the Great War
  9. Friendship and Offer for the cause of democracy
  10. Juncker warns for possible new war

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  • Remembrance Day: Millions across the UK including London and Belfast to mark those lost (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
    This weekend – Armistice weekend in the 1914 centenary year – London will have three rivers: water, people and poppies.
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    For the first time on any war memorial anywhere in the world, the names of former comrades, former allies and former enemies will be listed together, alphabetically, with no distinction of rank or country. President François Hollande will open the memorial. Both the Prime Minister David Cameron and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, were invited. Neither, sadly, will attend.
  • The History of Remembrance Poppies (serenataflowers.com)
    At this time of year it’s hard to miss those unmistakable red poppies adorning everyone’s lapels and buttonholes. Having become such an iconic symbol of the sacrifices made and the lives lost in past wars how did this simple little flower come to mean so much to so many?
  • World War One: Use our widget to search for anyone in your family or your street who died in The Great War (manchestereveningnews.co.uk)
    The last recorded death in the conflict from Greater Manchester was James Isherwood Bolton, of Belmont Road, Astley Bridge.He sadly lost his life on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918.James Arthur Parkes, of Meadow Bank, Chorlton, was the oldest casualty when he was killed on March 29, 1917, aged 67.

    And the youngest to die was 15-year-old Frederick Thorley Finucane, the son of Theatre and Emily Finucane, when he died on November 27 1914.

    The bloodiest day was on July 1, 1916, when 585 soldiers from Greater Manchester died in the Battle of the Somme.

  • Opinion: Echoes of Great War reverberate to this day (ww1.canada.com)
    If you had been in one of those cold, wet trenches on the Western Front, bracing yourself to go “over the top” into the face of machine-gun fire, how would you want future generations to honour your potential death?Well, having spent a lot of time between attacks listening to cries for help from No Man’s Land, you’d probably not be satisfied with occasional remembrances of your sacrifice.Rather, you’d want future generations to figure out what happened, with a view to making sure the Armageddon you were living through at least became the War To Make Wars a Lot Less Likely. And today – just three days shy of the 100th anniversary of Austria-Hungary declaring war on Serbia, starting the First World War – it’s fair to say this is a debt posterity hasn’t properly paid.
  • Arrivals: This week, Remembrance Day (thestar.com)
    Military expert Doyle has assembled 100 objects to tell the story of the Great War, beginning with the 1911 Graff and Stift Double Phaeton open car in which Archduke Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, were travelling when they were assassinated, and ending with the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium, and other memorials that remember the war dead.
  • Today in History, Oct. 28 (rep-am.com)
    On Oct. 28, 1914, Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip, whose assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, sparked World War I, was sentenced in Sarajevo to 20 years’ imprisonment (he died in 1918); four conspirators were sentenced to death. (Princip escaped the death penalty because he was underage.)
  • Time Machine: Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria (1875-1914) (rosiepowell2000.typepad.com)
    The assassinations produced widespread shock across Europe. There was a great deal of initial sympathy toward Austria. Within two days, Austria-Hungary and its ally, Germany, advised Serbia that it should open an investigation on the assassination, but the Serbian government responded that the incident did not concern them. After conducting its own criminal investigation, Austro-Hungary issued what became known as the July Ultimatum, which listed demands made to Serbia regarding the assassinations within 48 hours. After receiving support from Russia, Serbia agreed to at least two out of ten demands. The government mobilized its troops and transported them by tramp steamers across the Danube River to the Austro-Hungarian at Temes-Kubin. Austro-Hungarian soldiers fired into the air to warn them off. On July 28, 1914; Austria-Hungary and its ally, Germany, declared war on Serbia. Under the Secret Treaty of 1892, Russia and France were obliged to mobilize their armies if any of the Triple Alliance (Germany, Austo-Hungary and Italy) mobilized. Russia’s mobilization completed full Austro-Hungarian and German mobilizations. Soon all the Great Powers, except Italy, had chosen sides. World War I had begun.
  • Speech: Remembrance Day (gov.uk)
    Ladies and gentlemen, we come here, of course, to pay our respects to all of the fallen and of the wounded in all conflicts over the last 100 years. 2014 also marked the 75th anniversary of the outbreak of WW2 and the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, commemorated by World Leaders, including HM the Queen, in Normandy this summer. This spirit of courage, bravery and sacrifice continues to the present day. As we welcome home our returning troops from Afghanistan, we grieve for the 453 of them who were lost to that conflict. We also pay tribute to the Cambodian troops currently serving overseas in UN Peacekeeping operations in countries as far afield as Mali and Lebanon. We wish them success in their missions and a safe return home upon their completion.Today, as every day, we remember those who volunteered, served, fought, and died, all for the cause of freedom. We have with us today several veterans of these conflicts. We are grateful for your service. We thank you, and we salute you as we salute those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. We will remember them.

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