Permalink to For You, Tommy, The War Is Over

For You, Tommy, The War Is Over

 

Jasper Copping reports in the Daily Telegraph:

[Germany’s] special envoy for the centenary of the [outbreak of the Great War], Andreas Meitzner, requested a series of meetings in London earlier this month with his British counterpart, Andrew Murrison, as well as senior officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, to hear about the UK’s plans and outline Germany’s position.

There are understood to be some official German concerns that the way Britain marks the centenary could cool relations between the two countries, against a backdrop of possible negotiations over the future of the EU and the UK’s membership of it.

Norman Walter, from the country’s London embassy, said that a “less declamatory tone”, which did not dwell on issues such as who was responsible for the conflict, “would be easier”. He also suggested that commemorations should include a focus on the achievements of the European Union in helping to bring peace to the continent.

The tone of Britain’s commemorations has been the subject of debate, with historians accusing the Government of concentrating too much on the carnage of the conflict and depicting it as accidental and futile out of a desire to avoid upsetting the Germans by appearing triumphalist….

Contribution of the European Union to bringing “peace to the continent” : close to zero.

George Orwell:

“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”

Mr. Meitzner should be listened to politely, and then ignored.

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Members have made 39 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of EJHill Member

    Note to Frau Merkel:

    Get-over-it.png

    • #1
    • August 19, 2013 at 1:22 am
  2. Profile photo of Valiuth Member
    Andrew Stuttaford

    Mr. Meitzner should be listened to politely, and then ignored. · · 51 minutes ago

    Just like the English to be passive aggressive. On the other hand one should consider what the Germans do when they become angry. As the saying goes, “Third time’s a charm.” 

    • #2
    • August 19, 2013 at 1:27 am
  3. Profile photo of Ross C Member

    If the British are very lucky their commemorations will put the kibosh on their future in the EU. It is hard to imagine a more feckless and yet destructive bureaucracy than Brussels.

    • #3
    • August 19, 2013 at 1:34 am
  4. Profile photo of Larry3435 Member

    There is nothing about the Great War that is worth celebrating. It was idiotic butchery on all sides, and for no reason, and it gave rise to everything bad in the 20th Century, from the Soviet Union to the Nazis.

    • #4
    • August 19, 2013 at 1:51 am
  5. Profile photo of I. raptus Member

    “Who won the bloody war, anyway?”

    • #5
    • August 19, 2013 at 2:10 am
  6. Profile photo of Skyler Member

    I don’t see a need to rub Germany’s face in it, but at the same time, it wasn’t that long ago and if Germany hasn’t learned a lesson yet, perhaps it needs another. They were the aggressors twice. No one should forget what they did, and the people who died to stop them should not be insulted by not speaking the truth.

    • #6
    • August 19, 2013 at 2:14 am
  7. Profile photo of tabula rasa Member
    Andrew Stuttaford

    George Orwell:

    “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”

    Exhibits A-C: Howard Zinn, Edward Said, Noam Chomsky

    • #7
    • August 19, 2013 at 2:17 am
  8. Profile photo of Ed Driscoll Contributor

    “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”

    It’s a brilliant sentence, but where did Orwell write this? I’m not coming across the phrase by searching in my Kindle edition of 1984, which is where it seems to be universally attributed, when it’s attributed at all other than simply “– George Orwell” in every reference in Google that I’ve found. (Curiously, considering the themes of the novel, the word “obliterate” doesn’t seem to appear at all in 1984, according to the Kindle search engine.)

    Unless I’m mistaken, or someone can track it down in an earlier article or book by Orwell, I’m wondering if this is the Orwellian version of that equally brilliant but apocryphal Chesterton quote, “When a Man stops believing in God he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes anything.”

    • #8
    • August 19, 2013 at 2:20 am
  9. Profile photo of Valiuth Member

    Who is this they? I did not realize sin was hereditary. No one is left alive to blame. Do we not believe the Germans to be contrite.

    • #9
    • August 19, 2013 at 2:24 am
  10. Profile photo of raycon and lindacon Member
    Valiuth: Who is this they? I did not realize sin was hereditary. No one is left alive to blame. Do we not believe the Germans to be contrite. · 12 minutes ago

    Perhaps the same might be said of the Greeks and Romans. This is a remembrance of what happened almost 100 years ago. To mean anything, it must be a truthful recollection.

    Otherwise, it will be another indulgence in political correctness.

    • #10
    • August 19, 2013 at 2:41 am
  11. Profile photo of Andrew Stuttaford Contributor
    Andrew Stuttaford Post author
    Ed Driscoll: “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”

    It’s a brilliant sentence, but where did Orwell write this? I’m not coming across the phrase by searching in my Kindle edition of 1984,which is where it seems to be universally attributed, when it’s attributed at all other than simply “– George Orwell” in every reference in Google that I’ve found…

    Unless I’m mistaken, or someone can track it down in an earlier article or book by Orwell, I’m wondering if this is the Orwellian version of that equally brilliant but apocryphal Chesterton quote, “When a Man stops believing in God he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes anything.” · 50 minutes ago

    Hmm. Very interesting. There’s already one famous but dodgy Orwell ‘quote’ out there (“we sleep easily in our beds…”). Could this be another? 

    • #11
    • August 19, 2013 at 3:26 am
  12. Profile photo of Jerry Carroll Inactive

    Robert Vansittart, who occupied a high place in the British foreign office , said before WWII: “It is the most astounding thing that the Germans have been able to persuade the world they were badly treated by a treaty [Versailles] whose reparation and disarmament clauses were never enforced and which took from them nothing which they had not acquired by robbery and murder. It is actually worse. Germany’s victims extracted a thousand million pounds from them while we and the Americans were lending them two thousand million pounds. Their war criminals were steeped in atrocities, but the Allies renounced the right to try them. They allowed the Weimar Republic to conduct the trials and in consequence the very few that were brought to trial were acquitted or lionized. In every war since 1860 to the present Germany has been the wanton aggressor. The leader and his ruling clique are irrelevant as the character of the German people will always produce bellicose leaders with an ideology of force, and it does not matter if he is called Frederick, Wilhelm or Hitler, or the people around him are Junkers or Nazis.” They thought he was too over the top.

    • #12
    • August 19, 2013 at 3:34 am
  13. Profile photo of Skyler Member

    ValiuthWho is this they? I did not realize sin was hereditary. No one is left alive to blame. Do we not believe the Germans to be contrite.#9 · 1 hour ago ·Like · Quote· Flag· Share· Direct link

    In which case, no living German should be offended that other people’s sins are on display.

    • #13
    • August 19, 2013 at 4:26 am
  14. Profile photo of James Of England Moderator
    Andrew Stuttaford

    Mr. Meitzner should be listened to politely, and then ignored. 

    Never think yourself too clever to learn anything. Mr. Meitzner’s list of fears should be carefully examined for any good ideas that haven’t been considered. If there’s one time one can expect the German imagination to really excel it’s in drawing up catalogues of masochistic paranoia.

    • #14
    • August 19, 2013 at 4:27 am
  15. Profile photo of Valiuth Member
    Skyler: ValiuthWho is this they? I did not realize sin was hereditary. No one is left alive to blame. Do we not believe the Germans to be contrite.#9 · 1 hour ago ·Like · Quote· Flag· Share· Direct link

    In which case, no living German should be offended that other people’s sins are on display. · 7 minutes ago

    Well this is a two edged sword. When a person if forgiven the offense is not constantly brought up at least not by the party that was in the right. It is unseemly. Now if the Germans were less contrite like Japan or Russia about their past issues I would be more in favor. But, Germany does deserve a bit of a break on this issue of the World Wars. 

    What can I say I like all the Germans I know, and in general I like Germany more than I like other parts of Europe. They are sympathetic. Unlike the French. 

    • #15
    • August 19, 2013 at 4:48 am
  16. Profile photo of tabula rasa Member
    Andrew Stuttaford
    Ed Driscoll: “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”

    It’s a brilliant sentence, but where did Orwell write this? I’m not coming across the phrase by searching in my Kindle edition of 1984,which is where it seems to be universally attributed, when it’s attributed at all other than simply “– George Orwell” in every reference in Google that I’ve found…

    Unless I’m mistaken, or someone can track it down in an earlier article or book by Orwell, I’m wondering if this is the Orwellian version of that equally brilliant but apocryphal Chesterton quote, “When a Man stops believing in God he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes anything.” · 50 minutes ago

    Hmm. Very interesting. There’s already one famous but dodgy Orwell ‘quote’ out there (“we sleep easily in our beds…”). Could this be another? · 24 minutes ago

    If he didn’t say it, he should have. It is certainly consistent with his other writings (e.g., Politics and the English Language).

    • #16
    • August 19, 2013 at 4:51 am
  17. Profile photo of Western Chauvinist Member
    I. raptus: “Who won the bloody war, anyway?” 

    I hope the BBC plans to run the Fawlty Towers: The Germans episode on a continuous loop during all commemorations of conflicts with the Germans. Hilarious! 

    • #17
    • August 19, 2013 at 6:01 am
  18. Profile photo of DocJay Member

    The English would do well to examine their grossly incompetent generals who butchered the cream of English manhood.

    The English would also do well to realize the only reason that war was won was because America intervened.

    Germany, not so nice in this war, but not exactly a one sided blame as to the causes even though they should get most of it.

    • #18
    • August 19, 2013 at 6:10 am
  19. Profile photo of DocJay Member

    I can’t edit. A significant reason for victory was US involvement. That sounds not only better but more accurate.

    • #19
    • August 19, 2013 at 6:35 am
  20. Profile photo of James Of England Moderator
    DocJay: The English would do well to examine their grossly incompetent generals who butchered the cream of English manhood.

    The English would also do well to realize the only reason that war was won was because America intervened.

    Germany, not so nice in this war, but not exactly a one sided blame as to the causes even though they should get most of it. 

     

    DocJay: I can’t edit. A significant reason for victory was US involvement. That sounds not only better but more accurate. · 9 minutes ago

    You know this is about WWI, right? The “cream” comment sounds like you get that (although people complain about generals in all wars), but the suggestion that the outcome was in doubt at the point that Americans reached the front seems surprising, and I’m not sure who else gets the blame for the start of the war; Franz Joseph?

    • #20
    • August 19, 2013 at 7:07 am
  21. Profile photo of DocJay Member

    James, I read an interesting book called The Myths of the Great War which led my statements about the outcome. His arguments had validity but are of course debatable. The most miserable book I ever read was The First Day on the Somme. About 60K on day one if memory serves correct. What an absolute waste of fine Englishmen. It broke my heart.

    • #21
    • August 19, 2013 at 7:17 am
  22. Profile photo of Skyler Member
    James Of England

    You know this is about WWI, right? The “cream” comment sounds like you get that (although people complain about generals in all wars), but the suggestion that the outcome was in doubt at the point that Americans reached the front seems surprising, and I’m not sure who else gets the blame for the start of the war; Franz Joseph? · 4 minutes ago

    Are you implying that the war was all but won when the US entered? The US wasn’t the arsenal of democracy at that time, but the 4.7 million additional troops were pretty much the reason for the victory, especially as the Russians dropped out of the war, freeing up an entire front against the Germans.

    • #22
    • August 19, 2013 at 8:06 am
  23. Profile photo of Douglas Member
    Andrew Stuttaford
     

    Hmm. Very interesting. There’s already one famous but dodgy Orwell ‘quote’ out there (“we sleep easily in our beds…”). Could this be another? · 17 hours ago

    It’s not really dodgy. It’s just a condensed version of something that he really argued, picking up the ball from Kipling

    • In his 1945 “Notes on Nationalism”, Orwell wrote that it was “grossly obvious” that “Those who ‘abjure’ violence can do so only because others are committing violence on their behalf.” (“Notes on Nationalism”)
    • In an essay on Rudyard Kipling, Orwell cited Kipling’s phrase “making mock of uniforms that guard you while you sleep” (Kipling,Tommy), and further noted that Kipling’s “grasp of function, of who protects whom, is very sound. He sees clearly that men can be highly civilized only while other men, inevitably less civilized, are there to guard and feed them.” (1942)

    He may not have said those exact words, but they certainly catch the spirit of his argument. I think he’d agree that “Yes, that’s what I was saying”.

    • #23
    • August 19, 2013 at 8:43 am
  24. Profile photo of James Of England Moderator
    DocJay: James, I read an interesting book called The Myths of the Great War which led my statements about the outcome. His arguments had validity but are of course debatable. The most miserable book I ever read was The First Day on the Somme. About 60K on day one if memory serves correct. What an absolute waste of fine Englishmen. It broke my heart. ·

    Who does Mosier think was responsible for the start of the war?

    The First Battle of the Somme was, indeed, terrible, but it was the first time the British took air superiority, which they lost shortly afterwards. During the period Mosier claims the British weren’t innovating, the total German air superiority was knocked back a little, then narrowed, and had been replaced by British air superiority by the time the Americans arrived. It also saw the first use of armor, a decisive technology the Germans never matched.

    There are a lot of problems with the leadership at the Somme, but the Mosier charge that there were not serious and successful attempts to innovate is a frankly absurd one to level at the first battle fought like almost subsequent British battles would be (with combined arms).

    • #24
    • August 19, 2013 at 8:45 am
  25. Profile photo of James Of England Moderator
    Skyler
    James Of England

    Are you implying that the war was all but won when the US entered? The US wasn’t the arsenal of democracy at that time, but the 4.7 million additional troops were pretty much the reason for the victory, especially as the Russians dropped out of the war, freeing up an entire front against the Germans. ·

    And there I was thinking that it was the destruction (through blockade) of German industry, their loss of air superiority, their failure to build and deploy armor, their loss of manpower (they didn’t have the recruits available to maintain their strength), their loss of territory on all fronts except the Eastern one (Italy, Greece, Arabia, the Orient, Africa) and the failure of their U-boat campaign. In the last of those, America made a non-decisive, but non-trivial difference. In the other fields, America borrowed some tanks and planes, but contributed little.

    I wasn’t saying that the war was won when America nominally entered it, but it was won before Americans arrived in meaningful numbers. Like Truman’s nukes, Wilson’s AEF saved many, many lives by encouraging prompt acceptance of an upsetting defeat.

    • #25
    • August 19, 2013 at 9:33 am
  26. Profile photo of DocJay Member

    James, you clearly have a vast fund of knowledge. I think me speaking of the origins is like you explaining somatic disorders to me. I’m no more than a casual WW1 reader, and perhaps took one author’s opinion too much as gospel. More conjecture on this issue will lead to further embarrassment on my part. One thing I have done is seen a few WW1 vets in VA hospitals. Some who were gassed. A few talked with me about their experiences and it seemed particularly gruesome. God Bless all those boys.

    • #26
    • August 19, 2013 at 10:03 am
  27. Profile photo of James Of England Moderator
    DocJay: One thing I have done is seen a few WW1 vets in VA hospitals. Some who were gassed. A few talked with me about their experiences and it seemed particularly gruesome. God Bless all those boys.

    That’s a very genuine difference between the AEF and Nagasaki. God bless ’em, indeed. Them and the boys in Korea made some of the most underappreciated sacrifices, and made a pretty big difference.

    There’s just a few times that I’ve had an old man quietly and confidentially talk in a reverent tone about the men who either saved their lives or rescued them from a living hell, but it’s almost always been Americans doing the rescuing, and never been an American being rescued. I get grumpy about the leftist narrative of WWI (I recognize that Mosier is adopting it in order to big up America rather than to peddle class warfare, but it’s a cesspit he’s drawing his water from), but I should have been clearer about the debt the world owed Wilson, for all his flaws, and the boys he sent.

    • #27
    • August 19, 2013 at 12:51 pm
  28. Profile photo of Andrew Stuttaford Contributor
    Andrew Stuttaford Post author
    Douglas
    Andrew Stuttaford
     

    Hmm. Very interesting. There’s already one famous but dodgy Orwell ‘quote’ out there (“we sleep easily in our beds…”). Could this be another? · 17 hours ago

    It’s not really dodgy. It’s just a condensed version of something that he really argued, picking up the ball from Kipling

    • In his 1945 “Notes on Nationalism”, Orwell wrote that it was “grossly obvious” that “Those who ‘abjure’ violence can do so only because others are committing violence on their behalf.” (“Notes on Nationalism”)
    • In an essay on Rudyard Kipling, Orwell cited Kipling’s phrase “making mock of uniforms that guard you while you sleep” (Kipling,Tommy), and further noted that Kipling’s “grasp of function, of who protects whom, is very sound. He sees clearly that men can be highly civilized only while other men, inevitably less civilized, are there to guard and feed them.” (1942)

    He may not have said those exact words, but they certainly catch the spirit of his argument. I think he’d agree that “Yes, that’s what I was saying”. · 6 hours ago

    Ricochet – where you go to learn stuff. Thank you!

    • #28
    • August 20, 2013 at 3:10 am
  29. Profile photo of Andrew Stuttaford Contributor
    Andrew Stuttaford Post author
    James Of England
    Skyler
    James Of England

     

    I wasn’t saying that the war was won when America nominally entered it, but it was won before Americans arrived in meaningful numbers. Like Truman’s nukes, Wilson’s AEF saved many, many lives by encouraging prompt acceptance of an upsetting defeat. · 17 hours ago

    For (possibly) Churchill’s contrarian view on this, see here http://www.greatwar.nl/frames/default-churchill.html

    Regardless of whether he said it, the argument is interesting.

    Militarily the most significant consequence of the US joining the war was that it led the Germans to launch their March 1918 offensive in a desperate attempt to land a knock-out blow before the Americans arrived in force. It was a brilliant early success (one of my grandfathers, a machine-gunner, was taken prisoner, to his life-long irritation) but ran out of steam, leaving the Germans exposed and highly vulnerable, with the consequences we all know.

    • #29
    • August 20, 2013 at 3:32 am
  30. Profile photo of Animositas Member
    Valiuth

    Well this is a two edged sword. When a person if forgiven the offense is not constantly brought up at least not by the party that was in the right. It is unseemly. Now if the Germans were less contrite like Japan or Russia about their past issues I would be more in favor. But, Germany does deserve a bit of a break on this issue of the World Wars. 

    Normally I’d agree that you shouldn’t continually dredge up an offense for which you’ve forgiven the offending party.

    However, when the offending party was directly responsible for starting two world wars resulting in the deaths (estimated) of 76 million people, and the 44 year enslavement of millions behind the Iron Curtain, then I think you can be forgiven for bringing it up occasionally.

    The Germans, in both wars, engaged in horrendous atrocities as a matter of course. I find it impossible to believe that the majority, as some have theorized, didn’t know what was going on if not wholeheartedly support it. It would be in their best interest to keep their collective heads down and their mouths shut.

    • #30
    • August 20, 2013 at 3:42 am
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