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(Telegraph)   The centennial of the First World War is coming up. Time for idiots to ransack battlefields for live shells and personal items of the dead   (blogs.telegraph.co.uk) divider line 79
    More: Dumbass, Body Snatchers, personal properties, artillery shells, hand grenades, electronic trading  
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3112 clicks; posted to Main » on 11 Nov 2013 at 12:36 PM (22 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-11-11 12:00:33 PM
We've had issues with unscrupulous divers stealing artifacts off sunken U-boats off the NC coast for years.  What's sad is, there are people within the archaeology profession who think it's okay to pocket items for personal profit.
 
2013-11-11 12:14:07 PM
I spent years searching for two pencils and a pair of underpants to no avail.

images.wikia.com
 
2013-11-11 12:38:54 PM
I'm on a bit of a WWI kick at the moment (Hardcore History just started what looks to be an awesome series on it), and the more I learn and read, the more you realize that, yeah, it pretty much was Germany's fault. There are obviously lots of factors and it was a chain reaction type event, but Germany had the power to stop it and just kept farking up.
 
2013-11-11 12:41:13 PM
Haven't learned much since then, have we?
 
2013-11-11 12:41:26 PM
Lost in all the hubbub is the fact that it's also the bicentennial of the War of 1812, or as we Canuckistanis call it, The Great Patriotic War Against American Imperialist Aggression.

But yeah, I guess celebrating the meaningless slaughter of over 15 million people to keep Serbia out of the hands of the Austro-Hungarian Empire is also a thing.
 
2013-11-11 12:41:30 PM
If only they spoke Hovitos.
 
2013-11-11 12:41:53 PM

vudukungfu: Haven't learned much since then, have we?


I can't tell if this is a serious question or not. We've learned an insanely large amount.
 
2013-11-11 12:48:41 PM

Suckmaster Burstingfoam: Lost in all the hubbub is the fact that it's also the bicentennial of the War of 1812, or as we Canuckistanis call it, The Great Patriotic War Against American Imperialist Aggression.

But yeah, I guess celebrating the meaningless slaughter of over 15 million people to keep Serbia out of the hands of the Austro-Hungarian Empire is also a thing.


All those Allied soldiers bravely died to put all these pieces in place for Hilter's rise to power, too. It's beyond sad. Dying for nothing is one thing, but dying to set the stage for an even greater horror is infinitely worse.
 
2013-11-11 12:49:29 PM

DamnYankees: I'm on a bit of a WWI kick at the moment (Hardcore History just started what looks to be an awesome series on it), and the more I learn and read, the more you realize that, yeah, it pretty much was Germany's fault. There are obviously lots of factors and it was a chain reaction type event, but Germany had the power to stop it and just kept farking up.


History is written by the victors. Maybe read some German history books?
 
2013-11-11 12:50:45 PM

Quantum Apostrophe: History is written by the victors. Maybe read some German history books?


Good argument.
 
2013-11-11 12:52:55 PM
How many years does it take for someone to be considered an archaeologist rather than a grave robber?
 
2013-11-11 12:53:10 PM

DamnYankees: I'm on a bit of a WWI kick at the moment (Hardcore History just started what looks to be an awesome series on it), and the more I learn and read, the more you realize that, yeah, it pretty much was Germany's fault. There are obviously lots of factors and it was a chain reaction type event, but Germany had the power to stop it and just kept farking up.


Both sides could have slowed the rush to war down.
 
2013-11-11 12:55:15 PM

JohnAnnArbor: Both sides could have slowed the rush to war down.


There were, like, 8 'sides' involved here. The only people who, in my opinion (though I'm definitely open to counterargument) could have slowed the rush down were Austro-Hungary and Germany, and Germany could have stopped Austro-Hungary if they wanted to.
 
2013-11-11 12:56:35 PM

DamnYankees: I'm on a bit of a WWI kick at the moment (Hardcore History just started what looks to be an awesome series on it), and the more I learn and read, the more you realize that, yeah, it pretty much was Germany's fault. There are obviously lots of factors and it was a chain reaction type event, but Germany had the power to stop it and just kept farking up.


I'll bite: and Serbia?
 
2013-11-11 12:56:56 PM

USCLaw2010: How many years does it take for someone to be considered an archaeologist rather than a grave robber?


Anywhere from 4-6.

www.diploma-degree.com
 
2013-11-11 12:57:59 PM

UNC_Samurai: We've had issues with unscrupulous divers stealing artifacts off sunken U-boats off the NC coast for years.  What's sad is, there are people within the archaeology profession who think it's okay to pocket items for personal profit.


I agree; IT BELONGS IN A MUSEUM!
 
2013-11-11 12:58:17 PM

USCLaw2010: How many years does it take for someone to be considered an archaeologist rather than a grave robber?


I'm going to say at leastuntil everyone who knew a combatant in the war in question is dead.  We're getting close to that point for the Civil War.  For the First World War, it's going to be a while.
 
2013-11-11 12:58:54 PM

mainsail: DamnYankees: I'm on a bit of a WWI kick at the moment (Hardcore History just started what looks to be an awesome series on it), and the more I learn and read, the more you realize that, yeah, it pretty much was Germany's fault. There are obviously lots of factors and it was a chain reaction type event, but Germany had the power to stop it and just kept farking up.

I'll bite: and Serbia?


A few answers to this:

1) Serbia itself didn't really do anything to start the war, unless you attribute the actions of the Black Hand to Serbia as a whole. And the Black Hand didn't really want to start a war either, as best I can tell. They just wanted to assassinate someone.

2) Serbia theoretically 'could' have stopped the war by giving into the Austrian ultimatum, but the ultimatum was designed to be unacceptable, so I find that rather unpersuasive.

3) Even if you grant Serbia started a war with Austria, that in no way required it to be a World War. The globalization of the war was not anything Serbia did.
 
2013-11-11 01:03:27 PM

DamnYankees: vudukungfu: Haven't learned much since then, have we?

I can't tell if this is a serious question or not. We've learned an insanely large amount.


I'd say that; while we've learned a lot about how physics and such works; we are just as likely to make a series of really shiatty decisions that come back to bite us in the butt. The only difference is; now, more people would die.
 
2013-11-11 01:04:28 PM

iheartscotch: The only difference is; now, more people would die.


Empirical reality shows the exact opposite to be true.
 
2013-11-11 01:04:36 PM
Well, they're not using them anymore, are they?
 
2013-11-11 01:04:53 PM

iheartscotch: I agree; IT BELONGS IN A MUSEUM!


Right into storage with the rest of up to 95% of museum holdings.
 
2013-11-11 01:07:50 PM
On the brite side, Darwin seams to be handling some of these A-holes.
 
2013-11-11 01:12:05 PM

shizukanavix: iheartscotch: I agree; IT BELONGS IN A MUSEUM!

Right into storage with the rest of up to 95% of museum holdings.


Are you being snarky or are you just not familiar with how collections management works?
 
2013-11-11 01:15:09 PM

DamnYankees: iheartscotch: The only difference is; now, more people would die.

Empirical reality shows the exact opposite to be true.


"A Short History of War" touches on why this is so, and can be read, for free, from the Air Force War College Web Site; a fun and informative way to spend an hour on this Veteran's Day, and the linked page includes many other things to read as well.
 
2013-11-11 01:15:50 PM
Do I get to throw a grenade at an Archduke? The Archduke across the street from me hasn't cleaned up his leaves yet. I shot a pistol at him as he returned home in his open car but he just shrugged it off.
 
2013-11-11 01:19:51 PM

DamnYankees: mainsail: DamnYankees: I'm on a bit of a WWI kick at the moment (Hardcore History just started what looks to be an awesome series on it), and the more I learn and read, the more you realize that, yeah, it pretty much was Germany's fault. There are obviously lots of factors and it was a chain reaction type event, but Germany had the power to stop it and just kept farking up.

I'll bite: and Serbia?

A few answers to this:

1) Serbia itself didn't really do anything to start the war, unless you attribute the actions of the Black Hand to Serbia as a whole. And the Black Hand didn't really want to start a war either, as best I can tell. They just wanted to assassinate someone.

2) Serbia theoretically 'could' have stopped the war by giving into the Austrian ultimatum, but the ultimatum was designed to be unacceptable, so I find that rather unpersuasive.

3) Even if you grant Serbia started a war with Austria, that in no way required it to be a World War. The globalization of the war was not anything Serbia did.


It is my understanding, and an old history professor had this idea, that the whole of WW1 was a an excuse to finally put the Ottoman Empire out of its misery. It had been reducing for decades, had become decadent and weak and still maintained its influence on the world power stage, even though it was pretty much toothless at that point.

The Austro-Hungarian Empire was still going strong, and the push to unify Germany into a single state brought the French and British into it, as they were vehemently opposed to the idea of a greater German State. It was mostly an excuse to push the broader British empire into eastern Europe where it had little real influence at the time. Instead, it pretty much solidified Germany into a unified country, pushed the Austro-Hungarians out of their empire, and cost the British and French much of their own. The British Empire did not survive WW2, and Turkey ceased to be much of a political influence outside of its own borders after WW1. The French desires for an Empire never really gelled, and really stopped being a factor by 1872.

The Russians and Allies expanded their spheres of influence, while the old weak empires were pretty much destroyed. WW1 and 2 were pretty much a continuation of the jockeying for control left over from the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent expansion of the Russian empire into southern Europe. It really was a continuous war from about 1872 to 1945. Just varying levels of conflict over the decades, but it never really ceased until the collapse of the Axis.
 
2013-11-11 01:20:53 PM

DamnYankees: iheartscotch: The only difference is; now, more people would die.

Empirical reality shows the exact opposite to be true.


I'm saying if the shiat hit the fan again; world war 3, as it were; a lot more people would die. I agree, that war is less likely these days; but, that does not preclude the possibility.

The next Great War is going to be over resources.

/ the conflicts we've had since the end of the Cold War are barely at the kurfuffle stage; a few gulf wars, a few revolutions; but, nothing earth shattering
 
2013-11-11 01:21:07 PM

UNC_Samurai: We've had issues with unscrupulous divers stealing artifacts off sunken U-boats off the NC coast for years.  What's sad is, there are people within the archaeology profession who think it's okay to pocket items for personal profit.


Indiana Jones jokes aside, I'm honestly curious, why is this unscrupulous? Is there a law or rule that says that artifacts that sink on boats need to stay on them?
 
2013-11-11 01:21:12 PM
You really cant blame just one side for WWI. The thing is that since the fall of the Roman Empire to the 20th century, European countries loved to wage wars against each other, mostly due to the fact that the continent was fragmented into hundreds of different politicial entities who didnt get along with each other. If it wasnt for the fact that WWI was one of the first major war fought with machine guns and rifles that didnt suck balls that resulted in massive casualties, the war wouldve just another footnote in European history.

/every country that participated in WWI was pretty much asking for it and wanted it
 
2013-11-11 01:22:22 PM

iheartscotch: I'm saying if the shiat hit the fan again; world war 3, as it were; a lot more people would die. I agree, that war is less likely these days; but, that does not preclude the possibility.


I guess I don't put much stock into this sort of thinking. People have been saying this for 70 years. Eventually there will probably be another big war, yes. That's the law of large numbers. But it doesn't mean any particular predictions about generalized war is true.

iheartscotch: The next Great War is going to be over resources.


How specific.
 
2013-11-11 01:23:01 PM

DamnYankees: mainsail: DamnYankees: I'm on a bit of a WWI kick at the moment (Hardcore History just started what looks to be an awesome series on it), and the more I learn and read, the more you realize that, yeah, it pretty much was Germany's fault. There are obviously lots of factors and it was a chain reaction type event, but Germany had the power to stop it and just kept farking up.

I'll bite: and Serbia?

A few answers to this:

1) Serbia itself didn't really do anything to start the war, unless you attribute the actions of the Black Hand to Serbia as a whole. And the Black Hand didn't really want to start a war either, as best I can tell. They just wanted to assassinate someone.

2) Serbia theoretically 'could' have stopped the war by giving into the Austrian ultimatum, but the ultimatum was designed to be unacceptable, so I find that rather unpersuasive.

3) Even if you grant Serbia started a war with Austria, that in no way required it to be a World War. The globalization of the war was not anything Serbia did.


Since I love history so much, I'll play along too.

1. Imagine if the Vice-President or some other high connected Government leadership visited a foreign country and was assassinated by a local militant group there. How would the US react to that?

2. I'm not entirely certain the ultimatum was impossible though, they asked to be allowed to come in and investigate it (the FBI does similar shiat now) and that Serbia actively do something about the anti-Austrian propaganda going on there and to root out and arrest the terrorists group(s) there in Serbia.

Sounds like shiat the US demanded more or less on Afghanistan and when they refused in the end to do shiat about Osama, we invaded.

3. The core issue for The Great War was the interlocked alliances that more or less promised a world war would occur if anything set the chain of events off. Austria-Hungary vs. Serbia did just that, the only thing the Germans did is give advice and supported Austria-Hungary when Serbia counter declared war
 
2013-11-11 01:23:19 PM

Deathfrogg: It is my understanding, and an old history professor had this idea, that the whole of WW1 was a an excuse to finally put the Ottoman Empire out of its misery. It had been reducing for decades, had become decadent and weak and still maintained its influence on the world power stage, even though it was pretty much toothless at that point.


All I can say about that theory is it doesn't match the reality I'm familiar with.
 
2013-11-11 01:28:34 PM

KellyX: 1. Imagine if the Vice-President or some other high connected Government leadership visited a foreign country and was assassinated by a local militant group there. How would the US react to that?


Great question, but very, very hard to generalize about. What country? What are the motivations? I mean, if he was assassinated by a Quebecois separatist and then arrested by the Canadian police, I imagine we'd do nothing but grieve.

KellyX: 2. I'm not entirely certain the ultimatum was impossible though, they asked to be allowed to come in and investigate it (the FBI does similar shiat now) and that Serbia actively do something about the anti-Austrian propaganda going on there and to root out and arrest the terrorists group(s) there in Serbia.


It's my understanding that the Austro-Hungarian general staff actually had very vociferous debates about whether or not to draft the demand in a way that would be accepted, and they actively and knowingly decided to make the ultimatum unacceptable. The Prime Minister of Hungary (who essentially controlled half the country) at the time was actually very upset because he wanted the ultimatum drafted more reasonably, but was shot down.

If the Austrians themselves decided to give the ultimatum in a manner which could not possibly be accepted, and then the Serbians did in fact reject it (albeit very diplomatically), it's hard for me to blame anyone but the Austrians for that.

KellyX: Sounds like shiat the US demanded more or less on Afghanistan and when they refused in the end to do shiat about Osama, we invaded.


If you want to compare the Austrians to the Bush White House, that's fine, but I don't think it reflects well on the Austrians.

KellyX: 3. The core issue for The Great War was the interlocked alliances that more or less promised a world war would occur if anything set the chain of events off. Austria-Hungary vs. Serbia did just that, the only thing the Germans did is give advice and supported Austria-Hungary when Serbia counter declared war


This doesn't explain the war, IMO. It's a partial explanation for the basic events, but this explanation doesn't at all explain why Germany didn't stop Austria from invading Serbia, and it really doesn't explain why Germany attached France.
 
2013-11-11 01:29:51 PM
Awesome article about Gallipoli here.  Totally worth the 10 minute read.
 
2013-11-11 01:33:24 PM

Fallout Boy: You really cant blame just one side for WWI. The thing is that since the fall of the Roman Empire to the 20th century, European countries loved to wage wars against each other, mostly due to the fact that the continent was fragmented into hundreds of different politicial entities who didnt get along with each other. If it wasnt for the fact that WWI was one of the first major war fought with machine guns and rifles that didnt suck balls that resulted in massive casualties, the war wouldve just another footnote in European history.

/every country that participated in WWI was pretty much asking for it and wanted it


This. Most of the imperialists had gotten used to tidy massacres against dusky savages without up to date weaponry. They didn't really consider what mass mobilization of machine guns and artillery would do to their proud tower.
 
2013-11-11 01:34:13 PM

Fano: They didn't really consider what mass mobilization of machine guns and artillery would do to their proud tower.


Someone's read their Tuchman.
 
2013-11-11 01:34:35 PM

DamnYankees: Deathfrogg: It is my understanding, and an old history professor had this idea, that the whole of WW1 was a an excuse to finally put the Ottoman Empire out of its misery. It had been reducing for decades, had become decadent and weak and still maintained its influence on the world power stage, even though it was pretty much toothless at that point.

All I can say about that theory is it doesn't match the reality I'm familiar with.


Theres a reason why the newspapers and political publications of the period were calling the Ottomans the "Sick Man of Europe". The Turkish Empire had been weakening for decades by the time WW1 started.
 
2013-11-11 01:35:04 PM

Deathfrogg: Theres a reason why the newspapers and political publications of the period were calling the Ottomans the "Sick Man of Europe". The Turkish Empire had been weakening for decades by the time WW1 started.


That's true, but that fact is not in any way explanatory of the war.
 
2013-11-11 01:54:45 PM

DamnYankees: I'm on a bit of a WWI kick at the moment (Hardcore History just started what looks to be an awesome series on it), and the more I learn and read, the more you realize that, yeah, it pretty much was Germany's fault. There are obviously lots of factors and it was a chain reaction type event, but Germany had the power to stop it and just kept farking up.


Bullshiate.   Austria-Hungary was the main actor.   You might as blame Russia if you blame Germany.  Serbia was ready to sign the Ultimatum until Big bro Russia "nuh-uh! Don't you sign nothin' little Slavic bro"

Read John Kegan's "First War War" for a good overview.
 
2013-11-11 01:57:30 PM

DamnYankees: Deathfrogg: Theres a reason why the newspapers and political publications of the period were calling the Ottomans the "Sick Man of Europe". The Turkish Empire had been weakening for decades by the time WW1 started.

That's true, but that fact is not in any way explanatory of the war.


The western allies saw an opportunity. Germany attacked France because they were Allies with the British, and Germany wanted the territories in eastern France as they were perceived as being more German than French, that being leftovers from the Napoleonic Wars.

The British had already openly expressed their ambitions in the Turkish Middle East. All those borders around Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel, Lebanon and Jordan are completely artificial, imposed by the Treaty of Versailles that put the final bullet in the head of the Ottoman Empire.

The British and Americans had just assumed management of the Spanish Empire (allied with the Austro-Hungarians) just 15 years earlier, so that was one major factor removed. All the First World War was really about was the remaining Empires jockeying for position during what was already seen as the collapse of the Ottoman Turkish Empire, and the major distraction that caused to the Austro-Hungarians with their own expansionist ideas.

They smelled blood in the water, so to speak. A unified Germany made a lot of people nervous, and the major things preventing that was the Austro-Hungarians, the French and the Russians. It really was just one continuous war with short periods of low-level conflict as the various nations involved rebuilt their economies and militaries between the major blow-ups. Germany alone lost more than half its military age males to battle in WW1.
 
2013-11-11 01:58:07 PM

ObscureNameHere: Serbia was ready to sign the Ultimatum until Big bro Russia "nuh-uh! Don't you sign nothin' little Slavic bro"


Can you cite this? I've not heard that Serbia was ever willing to sign the ultimatum. What possible motivation would Russia have for telling them not to?

I haven't read Kegan; haven't heard good things about him. If my interest maintains I'll get to him.

ObscureNameHere: Bullshiate.   Austria-Hungary was the main actor.   You might as blame Russia if you blame Germany.


None of this explains why Germany invaded Belgium and France. To blame Austro-Hungary or Russia for that is absurd.
 
2013-11-11 02:01:36 PM

Deathfrogg: Germany attacked France because they were Allies with the British, and Germany wanted the territories in eastern France as they were perceived as being more German than French, that being leftovers from the Napoleonic Wars.


I don't even know what to say to this. Why would Germany attach France because they were allies of the British? The Germans spent tons of time and effort to keep Britain out of the war!

Also, Germany already took the "German provinces" of France back in 1870. The situation in 1914 was exactly the opposite - territories of Western Germany were perceived as being French, and Germany only held them because they "stole" them in the Franco-Prussian war.

Deathfrogg: A unified Germany made a lot of people nervous, and the major things preventing that was the Austro-Hungarians, the French and the Russians.


I don't even know what this means. Germany had unified a half-century before WWI; there was no way to 'undo' or 'prevent' that from happening. And why are you lumping together the Austrians, French and Russians? One was a German ally, two weren't.
 
2013-11-11 02:06:14 PM

DamnYankees: Deathfrogg: Germany attacked France because they were Allies with the British, and Germany wanted the territories in eastern France as they were perceived as being more German than French, that being leftovers from the Napoleonic Wars.

I don't even know what to say to this. Why would Germany attach France because they were allies of the British? The Germans spent tons of time and effort to keep Britain out of the war!

Also, Germany already took the "German provinces" of France back in 1870. The situation in 1914 was exactly the opposite - territories of Western Germany were perceived as being French, and Germany only held them because they "stole" them in the Franco-Prussian war.

Deathfrogg: A unified Germany made a lot of people nervous, and the major things preventing that was the Austro-Hungarians, the French and the Russians.

I don't even know what this means. Germany had unified a half-century before WWI; there was no way to 'undo' or 'prevent' that from happening. And why are you lumping together the Austrians, French and Russians? One was a German ally, two weren't.


To add to the mix, let's not forget that the leaders were all related, and most of them were friends.  The Willy-Nicky (Kaiser Wilhelm & Tsar Nikolay) are a very interesting read.
 
2013-11-11 02:12:51 PM

FrancoFile: Awesome article about Gallipoli here.  Totally worth the 10 minute read.


That was a great article, I was disappointed that it got redlit when it was submitted a few days ago.

DamnYankees: KellyX: 3. The core issue for The Great War was the interlocked alliances that more or less promised a world war would occur if anything set the chain of events off. Austria-Hungary vs. Serbia did just that, the only thing the Germans did is give advice and supported Austria-Hungary when Serbia counter declared war

This doesn't explain the war, IMO. It's a partial explanation for the basic events, but this explanation doesn't at all explain why Germany didn't stop Austria from invading Serbia, and it really doesn't explain why Germany attached France.


As KellyX said, interlocking alliances.  Germany and Austria-Hungary were allied.  Serbia was allied with Russia, Slavic unity and all that.  Russia was allied with France.  France was allied with Great Britain.  Due to the system of alliances, any armed conflict in Europe involving one of the 5 Great Powers was probably going to pull the other 4 into it.

If anyone wants to read a deep history on the lead up to World War I, I would recommend "Dreadnought" by Robert K. Massie.  As the name implies, it has a naval bent.  But he goes back 50 years before the Great War started and traces the politicians and national motivations that would eventually lead to the First World War.  I didn't know this before I read the book, but Germany had a secret agreement with Russia to not honor Germany's alliance with Austria in the event of war between Russia and Austria-Hungary.  Kaiser Willy II didn't renew it, and that's what led to the formation of the Franco-Russian alliance.  And Germany and the UK almost signed an alliance several times in the years around 1900.
 
2013-11-11 02:13:49 PM

Fallout Boy: You really cant blame just one side for WWI. The thing is that since the fall of the Roman Empire to the 20th century, European countries loved to wage wars against each other, mostly due to the fact that the continent was fragmented into hundreds of different politicial entities who didnt get along with each other. If it wasnt for the fact that WWI was one of the first major war fought with machine guns and rifles that didnt suck balls that resulted in massive casualties, the war wouldve just another footnote in European history.

/every country that participated in WWI was pretty much asking for it and wanted it


Just because Belgium didn't toss Germany the keys to their country, complete with a full tank of gas, doesn't mean they were asking for it.

I understand, though, if you forgot about Belgium when making that statement.  But if not, I'd like to hear your reasoning.

/not snark
//just curious
 
2013-11-11 02:14:15 PM
Fiddeling bends.
 
2013-11-11 02:15:44 PM

Polish Hussar: FrancoFile: Awesome article about Gallipoli here.  Totally worth the 10 minute read.

That was a great article, I was disappointed that it got redlit when it was submitted a few days ago.

DamnYankees: KellyX: 3. The core issue for The Great War was the interlocked alliances that more or less promised a world war would occur if anything set the chain of events off. Austria-Hungary vs. Serbia did just that, the only thing the Germans did is give advice and supported Austria-Hungary when Serbia counter declared war

This doesn't explain the war, IMO. It's a partial explanation for the basic events, but this explanation doesn't at all explain why Germany didn't stop Austria from invading Serbia, and it really doesn't explain why Germany attached France.

As KellyX said, interlocking alliances.  Germany and Austria-Hungary were allied.  Serbia was allied with Russia, Slavic unity and all that.  Russia was allied with France.  France was allied with Great Britain.  Due to the system of alliances, any armed conflict in Europe involving one of the 5 Great Powers was probably going to pull the other 4 into it.

If anyone wants to read a deep history on the lead up to World War I, I would recommend "Dreadnought" by Robert K. Massie.  As the name implies, it has a naval bent.  But he goes back 50 years before the Great War started and traces the politicians and national motivations that would eventually lead to the First World War.  I didn't know this before I read the book, but Germany had a secret agreement with Russia to not honor Germany's alliance with Austria in the event of war between Russia and Austria-Hungary.  Kaiser Willy II didn't renew it, and that's what led to the formation of the Franco-Russian alliance.  And Germany and the UK almost signed an alliance several times in the years around 1900.


Second the recommendation for Dreadnought.  I just wish Massie had cut back on the royal family/psychological stuff and focused more on internal politics (esp change in power blocks as industrial revolution displaced landholding aristocrats) and economics.
 
2013-11-11 02:18:14 PM

Polish Hussar: As KellyX said, interlocking alliances.  Germany and Austria-Hungary were allied.  Serbia was allied with Russia, Slavic unity and all that.  Russia was allied with France.  France was allied with Great Britain.  Due to the system of alliances, any armed conflict in Europe involving one of the 5 Great Powers was probably going to pull the other 4 into it.


I understand all that, but this is a fact, not an explanation. This is one of those things its very easy to talk about in retrospect, but it doesn't really explain why things unfolded the way they did. Before the war broke out, there was absolutely no guarantee that the British would come into the war at all. Up until the very last moment they were not going to do it, until Germany invaded an innocent country. Same for France; they didn't need to declare war on Germany, and in fact that was a good chance they wouldn't do it if Russia attacked Germany first.

This interlocking system of alliances is to me an inadequate explanation. My view of events (and I'm open to argument, since I'm no expert), is that the war was essentially caused by the over-confidence and exuberance of a young, overmighty and insecure nation trying to prove itself. Germany was feeling threatened by the mere existence of France and Russia, and their alliance. They felt that if they waited to attack, demographics were against them. They had a very specific plan for how to defeat Russia in a way, but doing so involved attacking France first, even if France had done nothing at all to provoke an attack. So they did it. Just because this plan was explicable doesn't mean it wasn't their fault.

And again, all of this could have been avoided if Germany had just told Austria at the very beginning to not attack Serbia. They didn't.
 
2013-11-11 02:20:58 PM

DamnYankees: I'm on a bit of a WWI kick at the moment (Hardcore History just started what looks to be an awesome series on it), and the more I learn and read, the more you realize that, yeah, it pretty much was Germany's fault. There are obviously lots of factors and it was a chain reaction type event, but Germany had the power to stop it and just kept farking up.


I heard that it started when a bloke called Archie Duke shot an ostrich 'cause he was hungry.
 
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