100 de ani

Still in the grip of the Great War

British and French generals saw what their political leaders did not: that the war would be decided on the western front (almost everything else was a sideshow); that it would take time to learn how to harness new weapons, such as the machinegun and fast-loading field artillery, which initially favoured defence, to effective offensive operations; and that a war between fully committed industrial societies would not be won by clever wheezes, but only by the hard slog of attrition. A young Charles de Gaulle, already wounded twice, grimly observed in December 1914: “What is this conflict but a war of extermination? A struggle of this kind, which in its range, significance and fury goes beyond anything that Europe has ever known, cannot be waged without enormous sacrifices. It has to be won. The winner will be the side that desires it most ardently.”

1914 – 2014 o paralelă istorică

What Can 1914 Tell Us About 2014? by RICHARD J. EVANS


The ideological rivalries between the superpowers now and then look strikingly similar, too, at first glance: on the one hand, Britain then and America now, with their democratic political systems that make governments responsible to legislatures and removable by popular elections; on the other, Germany then and China now, with appointed and irremovable governments responsible only to themselves. A free press and open public on the one hand contrast with a controlled public sphere on the other, in which censorship and the trappings of a police state in effect muzzle the government’s most trenchant critics.

And of course there was, and is, the baleful influence of nationalism, with China’s sabre-rattling over disputed islands today yielding little in rhetorical vehemence to the kaiser’s bombastic speeches asserting German claims in Africa and the Middle East before 1914. The clash of ideologies and religions was evident before 1914, just as it is today, and in both cases concentrated on trouble spots in specific parts of the world.