Posts Tagged ‘WW1’

The Lord Kitchener Poster myth?

theyounghistorian77
theyounghistorian77
Fri Sep 06, 2013 6:09 pm by theyounghistorian77

One could perhaps expect something of an increase in news-stories about the first World war to pop-up in the run into it’s 100th anniversary. There will be the very human stories such as this from the Birmingham Mail about a Private Henry Tandey who could well have killed a wounded Hitler (and thus could have produced a very different 20th century) or this from the Daily Mail about a “Captain Robert Campbell” who was a POW in a German camp and how he was let out by the Kaiser to go see his dying mother. All very touching and interesting to read if i might add. And in addition to all that there will be the stories about individual historians that are trying their utmost (rightly or wrongly) to challenge a national consensus, for example the stories of Max Hastings’ new book which i touched upon in my last blog post which the things i said there will be subject to a critique by myself in the near future.

The following as reported by the Daily Telegraph certainly belongs in the latter camp, and there’s very little to say about it other than to point out the sheer sensationalism of the article and of the historian being reported upon here. Because according to it the Lord Kitchener poster, perhaps arguably the single most iconic army recruitment poster of either World war …. “never existed”!?

“..[N]ew research has found that no such poster was actually produced during the war and that the image was never used for official recruitment purposes. In fact, it only became popular and widely-used after the conflict ended. […] As part of his research, he [James Taylor] studied the official records of the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee, the body responsible for recruitment posters, in the National Archives at Kew. These documents provided details of the production of almost 200 official recruitment posters produced during the war and indicated which ones were deemed popular. The so-called ‘Your Country Needs You’ poster is absent. He also analysed thousands of photographs of street scenes and recruitment offices from the period in search of the image, again, without finding it.”

But is that true?

“Mr Taylor’s book shows how the Kitchener image did inspire similar posters, which were used, including one, which was produced by LO [London Opinion], with the word BRITONS, above the same picture of the Field Marshal pointing, with the words “wants YOU – Join Your Country’s Army!”, beneath, and the words ‘God Save The King’ printed along the bottom.”

To properly understand this one needs to have a look at both versions described in the paragraph side by side. The one on the left is the version being derided as being mythical, the one on the Right is the Kitchener poster being conceded as genuine.

Of course the way to prove that the poster on the left is a genuine poster is to find it within any old photo taken during the war but on the Internet that is not as easy to do as it sounds. Because of the modern popularity of the “poster” a “Google images” search will only turn out either with replicas such as a recent “Colman’s Mustard” advertising campaign or digitisations which is what you see on both cases above without substantial indications that what you’re looking it are taken from photos of originals. That being said i know of 2, and only 2, potential examples of the left poster. This and something akin to it appearing right at the beginning of this 1959 doc about the Great War here. I have to give credit to a good friend of mine for alerting me to these examples.

If you have any more examples of the left poster (as opposed to the Right one) in old photos, please feel free to share them. As for the rest of the Telegraph article it conveys truths that have already long been known about. The poster failed to halt a relative decline in recruitment in late 1914, and those who have seen my old poster collection thread will know the poster was later adapted by the Nazis, the Soviets, and indeed Churchill (among others) for their own propaganda purposes. So i don’t think i really have much more to say on the matter.

“Germany and Austria started WWI seeking European domination, historian says”

theyounghistorian77
theyounghistorian77
Sun Jun 16, 2013 4:39 pm by theyounghistorian77

The above title was from a Daily Telegraph headline to one of its recent articles concerning the causes of the outbreak of WW1 and I thought I may take a break from blogging chronologically about leading up to WW1 in order to focus on what I have seen.

If one wishes to discuss the causes, arguably one could stretch this to the Treaty of Berlin in 1878, which was designed to settle the so-called eastern question, i.e., what belongs to what within the context of the end of the Russian-Ottoman war of 1877–1878. Initially that question between Russia and the Ottoman had been resolved through the treaty of San-Stefano signed March 3 1878. That treaty ceded effective Ottoman control of the Northern Balkans and likewise allowed the Russians to increase their political influence upon the region, much to the chagrin of the great powers of the West, namely the British, who felt that an expansionist Russia could put her far-eastern colonies at risk and the Austria-Hungarian Empire who wanted to maintain their own diplomatic influence in the Balkans.

Whilst this treaty was designed to mitigate the effects of San-Stefano and in effect allow the Ottoman Empire to retain control of the Southern Balkans, crucially to my perspective, this treaty also allowed the region of Bosnia and Herzegovina to be occupied and administered by the Austria-Hungarian Empire through international mandate. In 1908 however, without any legal justification, the Austria-Hungarian Empire decided to annex Bosnia and Herzegovina, triggering the Bosnian crisis and a subsequent amendment to the treaty of Berlin in 1909, recognising the Austria-Hungarian Empire’s governance of the region. This amendment denied nationalists within Serbia their ambitions to build a full “greater Serbia”, i.e., want of a restoration of the lands that once belonged to Serbia during the middle ages before the nation was subsumed by the Ottoman Empire.

Serbia for its part would go on to be a key player in the set of Balkan wars that played out just before the First World War. In the conclusion to the first Balkan War, Serbia practically doubled its territory, through expanding southwards into Kosovo and Macedonia. In the second Balkan War against Bulgaria, it consolidated these gains. This was perhaps enough for the govt but it certainly was not enough for the nationalists who were embedded within the army, such as the nationalist group “The Black hand” who had already possessed a track record for changes in Serb foreign policy through political terrorism, such as the changes in foreign policy caused by the assassination of King Alexander I for not being too belligerent enough with the Austria-Hungarian Empire, and also because he married to someone whom the Black Hand thought had a dangerous influence upon society.

But the Serbian govt wasn’t represented by terrorists and officially expressed little desire for war between itself and the Austria-Hungarian Empire in 1914. And this is what made the assassination of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand by the “Black hand” so tragic in retrospect. It wasn’t the first time that a major figure had been assassinated by nationalists either; In 1908 a Ruthenian nationalist murdered Andreas Potocki, the governor of Austria-Polish province of Galicia which was also contested for influence by both the Austria-Hungarian Empire and Russia. In this case however, the assassin was handed over and no war came about. Evidently the Galician and Sarajevo assassin events were clearly different. As of yet I have not seen anything to suggest that Austria-Hungary had suspicions that the event in Galacia was a state sponsored act of terrorism whereas with regards to Serbia they clearly did. On July 23 1914 Austria-Hungary presented to Serbia an extremely harsh ultimatum to Belgrade with the addition that a response should be delivered from Belgrade within 48 hours. And, although Serbia did say they would comply with most of the ultimatum, most wasn’t enough. On July 28 Serbia Austria-Hungary declared war and was invaded and so WW1 formally began.

It is then that the systems of entangling alliances both sides of the War had kicked in. Russia mobilised against Austria-Hungary as a response to the former’s ominous treatment of Serbia, but there was no declaration of war. Germany responded by declaring War on Russia anyway on August 1, and then on Belgium and France. Britain had an entente with France and a guarantee to Belgium that had existed since 1839 which promised, in short, that the British would go to war with whoever shall attack Belgium. On August 4 1914 that country happening to attack Belgium was Germany, and subsequently the British declared war on the Germans.

The above presents the history of the beginnings of World War 1 that I am sure most would be familiar with, and in this summation, German blame for WW1 is implied. But is this the most explicit of finger-pointing? What I will present you now are two recent articles centered around Max Hastings who has a new book coming out, who seems very much in the explicit finger-pointing camp, stating that the central powers are mainly to blame for WW1.

(1) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/britain-at-war/10110657/Germany-and-Austria-started-WWI-seeking-European-domination-historian-says.html

(2) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2339189/MAX-HASTINGS-Sucking-Germans-way-remember-Great-War-heroes-Mr-Cameron.html?ITO=1490&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490

In addition to Germany’s foreign policy on its southern neighbour, whom she vowed to stand by like a knight “in shining armour”, and the subsequent reaction to this from Vienna as pointed out in these articles, another point I’ve seen is that the German rationale for aggression in the west was detached from Austria-Hungarian aggression against Serbia. Indeed, part of the reason Germany said on August 3 that it was going to war with France was that because the German city of Nuremberg had earlier been bombed by French aircraft, (this bombing raid seems a nonsensical story).

So, for all the above, how much relative blame should we point to Germany and Austria-Hungary? You tell me.

(PS: With regards to the Greater Serbia that the nationalists there wanted and their base being the medieval kingdom of Serbia, I am actually writing this on the anniversary of the Battle of Blackbird’s Field, which took place just 3 miles north of Prishtina in Kosovo in the year 1389. For the Serbs, it was at most a Pyrrhic Draw, in the long term it began a slow decay and splinter in Serbian Anti-Ottoman political elite, although that being said, it did take another 132 years for Belgrade itself to fall into Ottoman hands with that city finally being captured in 1521. However because of the losses on the Ottoman side this battle is often seen as delaying Ottoman advance into the rest of the Balkans, thus this battle forms part of the modern Serbian pride in that medieval kingdom. This is the Gazimestan monument, located on the modern day battle-site.

It commemorates those Serbs who fell in battle. It was also where the late dictator Slobodan Milošević made this notorious speech

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8QwHrRzpeo )

Countdown to ww1: The end of the First Balkan War.

theyounghistorian77
theyounghistorian77
Thu May 30, 2013 9:59 pm by theyounghistorian77

As I am sure you may be all aware, the centennial of the Great War, “the war to end all wars” is looming ever closer. And to mark the occasion, it has been decided that I should commission a series of short posts (such as the one you are reading) to mark the events that led up to it, so here goes. And perhaps what better way to begin this series by marking the signing of the Treaty of London, which was signed on this very day as I type, 100 years ago. A treaty that marked the formal ending of the First Balkan War! What you see below is a map of how what the Balkans looked like, after this Treaty and to commemorate the signing of it, what I am going to do in this post is give you a very basic guide to the territorial changes for the Balkan nations as a result of the first Balkan War. Of course, if there’s anything you feel that I have missed, feel free to point it out to me.

 

Crete was allowed to become formally unified with mainland Greece in accordance with the latter’s demands for “enosis”. Note this: officially the enosis took place during December 1913 with the ceremonial raising of the Greek flag at the city of Chania.

The Treaty of London also confirmed Albania as a independent state in the eyes of the western powers, but this didn’t mean all its peoples belonged to it. Instead, its borders had to be decided by an international commission due to the fact its neighbouring states in the Balkan league also had substantial Albanian populations. And it was this that meant Kosovo (whose inhabitants are mostly ethnic Albanian) would come into the fold of the Kingdom of Serbia, for example. So one can easily guess Albanians have a mixed opinion of this treaty? For a brief time (until WW1) the ancient port of Vlorë was made the new capital and its politics resembled a western style monarchy, lasting until 1925 when Albania became a republic.

As for the Kingdom of Serbia, it got from the war and the Treaty of London a practical doubling of its territory, through expanding southwards into Kosovo and Macedonia, although the Kingdom was frustrated by not having a slice of the Adriatic coast. This, with a growing Serb nationalism and dreams of all the Serb peoples united under one single state, was not healthy. And this nationalist dream included all the Serbs residing in Bosnia and Herzegovina which at the time was under the jurisdiction of the Austria-Hungarian Empire through it being annexed in 1908. This dream would go on to have ramifications with regards to the assassination of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand, But I think I can save this for another time. I would also like to note that Serbia also shared its spoils in the region of Sandžak with Montenegro and thus the latter got a slight expansion of its territory.

As for Bulgaria, it got territorial expansion to include Black and Aegean sea coastal regions thus becoming the largest of the Balkan nations, as you can see on the map, yet was left physically weak due to it’s large role in securing the Balkan league’s victory over the Ottoman Empire

And finally? Perhaps one should spare a thought for the suffering peasants of Macedonia who did not get any independence! Instead, their land became a flashpoint of conflict between especially Bulgaria and Serbia over who should own what part of it. But I think I might just save my thoughts about the second Balkan War for another time.

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