Tuesday, December 4, 2012

First World War poet Hedd Wyn’s home to become a museum | First World War Centenary

 

Funding has been secured by the Snowdonia National Park Authority (SNPA) to turn the home of First World War poet, Hedd Wyn, into a museum and interpretation centre.

The Grade II listed farmhouse, called Yr Ysgrwn, is near Trawsfynydd in Gwynedd, Wales. An award of nearly £150,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) will be used to secure its future as a tourist attraction.

The chair of HLF Wales, Dr Manon Williams, said: ‘Hedd Wyn is one of Wales’ heroes and it is fitting that this project should be developed as part of the First World War commemorations.’

Hedd Wyn’s real name was Ellis Humphrey Evans. He became a successful Welsh-language poet before the First World War and had won several prizes at eisteddfodau – festivals of literature and poetry. In 1916, he won second place at the National Eisteddfod. He vowed to win first place the following year.

But in early 1917, Hedd Wyn joined the 15th battalion of the Royal Welch Fusiliers and left for the Western Front in June. He was killed in action on 31 July during the Battle of Pilckem Ridge.

First World War poet Hedd Wyn’s home to become a museum | First World War Centenary

First American Casualty In WWI From Kansas, Honored

The First American Officer to die in WW1.

You might not know it, but a Kansan has a major place in World War One history, and his hometown took time to honor him today.

Thanks to a dedication ceremony, this piece of history will always be remembered.

Lieutenant William T. Fitzsimons was the first American officer to die in World War One. The story had been lost over time, but through a little digging, it was finally uncovered.

[***]

The FItzsimons Army Medical Center was renamed after him in 1920 by the U.S. Army. He also has a memorial and fountain in Kansas City, where his family moved during his late childhood.

The health system's Rehabilitation and Wellness Services facility was going through a renovation, and they decided the side of the building would be a perfect place for a mural of Fitzsimons.

"It was high time for Burlington to honor his memory," Campbell said.

Fitzsimons attended the University of Kansas School of Medicine and volunteered with the Army Medical Reserve Corps in Europe before the United States joined the Allies in the war. After the U.S. joined the war, he went back over to France.

He died in 1917 when a bomb struck his field hospital in France.

First American Casualty In WWI From Kansas, Honored

Fallout from 1917 Halifax explosion reached all the way to the Prairies - Winnipeg Free Press

My Dad was in San Francisco during WW2 when a similar explosion occurred at Port Chicago.  I had never heard of this one in Halifax (link at bottom).

Shortly after 9 a.m. on Dec. 6, 1917, in the midst of the First World War, the largest human-made explosion prior to the atomic bomb was set off when the munitions ship Mont Blanc and the steamer Imo collided in Halifax harbor.

It had a catastrophic effect on Halifax, leveling five square kilometers of the city and killing as many as 1,600 people instantly. But, as the Manitoba Free Press told its readers in the following days, "the calamity was a national one."

Fallout from 1917 Halifax explosion reached all the way to the Prairies - Winnipeg Free Press

The trench talk that is now entrenched in the English language - Telegraph

A review of Trench Talk in the Telegraph (link at bottom).

If you’re feeling washed out, fed up or downright lousy, World War One is to blame.

New research has shown how the conflict meant that hundreds of words and phrases came into common parlance thanks to the trenches.

Among the list of everyday terms found to have originated or spread from the conflict are cushy, snapshot, bloke, wash out, conk out, blind spot, binge drink and pushing up daisies.

The research has been conducted by Peter Doyle, a military historian, and Julian Walker, an etymologist, who have analysed thousands of documents from the period — including letters from the front, trench newspapers, diaries, books and official military records - to trace how language changed during the four years of the war.

The trench talk that is now entrenched in the English language - Telegraph

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lost work by renowned First World War artists come to light - Telegraph

Alex Hayter, head of modern and contemporary art at Bloomsbury, is quoted saying in an article on WW1 art,

"The market for work relating to the First World War is very buoyant at the moment. A lot of collectors have their eye on 2014 which will be the 100th anniversary of the start of it."

Lost work by renowned First World War artists come to light - Telegraph

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Film reveals Canadian Sikh community’s World War I stories

A new film on Canadian Sikh’s in WW1.

Every year, Canadians participate in the Remembrance Day ceremony and pay special tribute to those compatriots who died defending their country during the wars.

Until recently, nothing much was known about handful of Sikhs who joined the Canadian army and fought during the First World War

This year on Remembrance Day another little known part of Canadian history was brought to light by the hour-long documentaryCanadian Soldier Sikhs: A Little Story in a Big War.”

Film reveals Canadian Sikh community’s World War I stories | DAWN.COM

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Indian Sepoy in the First World War | University of Oxford Podcasts - Audio and Video Lectures

An ongoing series of Podcasts on the War.  This one on the Indian Sepoy.  There are a variety of others.

The Indian Sepoy in the First World War | University of Oxford Podcasts - Audio and Video Lectures

First World War facts are a mystery to many people - Education - Scotsman.com

The Scotsman on WW1 ignorance.

YOUNG people are largely ignorant about the First World War with almost two-thirds not being able to name the year that the war ended, a poll has found.

More than half (54 per cent) of the same age group did not know when the war started (1914), according to the research from think-tank British Future.

But it is not just young people who are confused about the facts. When asked by pollsters YouGov, members of the public hazarded guesses as wildly out as 1800 and 1950 for the start of the Great War, and 1910 and 1960 for the end date (1918).

First World War facts are a mystery to many people - Education - Scotsman.com

Friday, October 19, 2012

Speech at Imperial War Museum on First World War centenary plans Number 10

The Prime Minister gave this speech at the Imperial War Museum in central London on 11 October 2012.

Speech at Imperial War Museum on First World War centenary plans Number 10

The Left's redwashing of the First World War – Telegraph Blogs

Ed West’s column on the controversy surrounding the celebration of the WW1 centenary in Britain.

The Left's redwashing of the First World War – Telegraph Blogs

2017 still a little to far off for those of us in the United States, and the war not as etched in our memories. Yet this debate will come here too, and it will be an important one.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Digitized diary of mother of a First World War soldier preserved online - Ireland's Technology News Service

I expect will see more history online as we get closer to the 2014 centenary.

A digitized diary written in 1916 offering a candid and poignant insight into the life of families of Irish soldiers during the First World War and the turbulent events of the 1916 Rising has gone live.

The Diary A Family at War: Mary Martin’s Diary, 1 January – 25 May 1916 is an online resource developed and produced by students on Trinity College Dublin’s M Phil in Digital Humanities and Culture, and the Digital Arts and Humanities PhD in UCC, using a manuscript treasure from the collections of the National Library of Ireland.

Martin, a widow and mother of 12 children, living in the affluent Dublin suburb of Monkstown, began a diary shortly after she received official word that her son Charlie, a soldier with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, was missing in action on the Salonika front.

She wrote in her first entry on New Year’s Day 1916: “Since I heard you were missing as well as wounded, it has occurred to me to write the diary in the form of a letter. We hope to hear from you soon. Till then cannot communicate with you & later on when you read this it will you know what has been happening.”

Digitised diary of mother of a First World War soldier preserved online - New Media - New Media | siliconrepublic.com - Ireland's Technology News Service

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The First World War vol.1 1/4 and 2/4

Not sure where the last two clips are, or where the other volumes might be, but here's 1 and 2.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Poetry and the first world war: Late starter | The Economist

A biography of Edward Thomas reviewed here:

Poetry and the first world war: Late starter | The Economist

Another book for my Shelfari list.

The Wellington Advertiser - Raid on Guelph novitiate drew national attention in 1918

First in a series, chasing shirkers in Canada,

Conscription seemed to add fresh fervour to the words and actions of the super-patriots, who were vocal in their characterization of Germans as heathens. They wanted the war pushed aggressively whatever the cost in dollars and human lives.

Much of their attention was directed at shirkers - young men who avoided military service by claiming to be agricultural workers (who were exempt from military service during the 1917 harvest), and those who faked physical incapacities to avoid service.

In the spring of 1918 they focused on a another target: the Roman Catholic novitiate at Guelph, which they believed was overrun with young men determined to avoid military service.

Charges that draft evaders had taken refuge at the college began to circulate in the spring of 1918. An article published in the Orange Sentinel, a paper published by the Orange Order, made the charge a much more serious one. That article was republished by several newspapers in Ontario.

That resulted in a visit by members of the military and government officials to the novitiate on June 7 at about 9:30pm. Major C. A. Macauley, who headed the group that included military personnel and Guelph police officers, presented their credentials.

The Wellington Advertiser - Raid on Guelph novitiate drew national attention in 1918

Art on the battlefield and a lost generation - Books - Yorkshire Post

More WW1 literature by a contemporary author.

Art and war collide in Booker Prize winner 
Pat Barker’s latest novel. The author talks to Yvette Huddleston about Toby’s Room.

“What I am interested in is why human beings slaughter each other on a mass scale,” says novelist Pat Barker.

“Most other animals don’t do that. What is it about the nature of human beings that we do?”

Barker’s latest book, Toby’s Room, focuses on the experiences of a group of young men and one young woman during the First World War. It is an era Barker has explored before, in the 1990s, in her powerful and moving Regeneration Trilogy – Regeneration, The Eye in the Door and the Booker prize-winning The Ghost Road. At the centre of the three novels was the pioneering work of Dr William Rivers in the treatment of the psychological trauma of war.

Barker was initially inspired to write about the First World War by family history. “My grandfather was bayoneted – he had a huge scar – and my step-father was gassed in the trenches at the age of 15,” she says.

What brought Barker back to “the war to end all wars” for Toby’s Room was writing one of her more recent novels, Double Vision (2003), which dealt with modern warfare and featured a photojournalist among its characters.

Art on the battlefield and a lost generation - Books - Yorkshire Post

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Grimsby Chums Memorial Projects

A site I’ll have to add to the links.

The Grimsby Chums Memorial Projects

Why we should celebrate the First World War as well as commemorate it | BBC History Magazine

Conclusion from Hew Strachen’s column,

In 1904 Britain and France came to an understanding which formed part of the reason why the British army went to Europe ten years later. The entente required Germany to see it as a hostile alliance for it to become one. It was a resolution of outstanding colonial disputes between two imperial powers, a continuation of old diplomacy between two great powers, more than it was a harbinger of the war which ushered in the modern world. But the Manchester Guardian, whose editor CP Scott would oppose Britain’s entry to the war in July 1914, welcomed "the new friendship" for ‘"the chance it affords of a genuine alliance between the democracies in both countries for the furtherance of a common democratic cause".

We need to reintegrate these ideas, which suggest that the First World War was fought for values that we also respect, as we approach its centenary. If we cannot admit competing and sometimes contradictory interpretations of the war, then its commemoration is unlikely to deepen our understanding, and so will prove as futile and wasteful as the stock clichés about its appalling losses.

Why we should celebrate the First World War as well as commemorate it | BBC History Magazine

Thursday, September 6, 2012

First World War internment camps a 'difficult scar' for Canadian Ukrainians

Interesting link on internment camps in Canada during WW1

First World War internment camps a 'difficult scar' for Canadian Ukrainians
The Canadian government identified about 80,000 people as enemy aliens during the First World War and those who were living close to urban centres were required to report to the North West Mounted Police.

Nearly 8,600 were deemed to be a threat to Canada and sent to 24 internment camps across the country, four of which were in the Canadian Rockies. The majority of the prisoners were of Ukrainian descent.

While most people are aware of the internment of Japanese Canadians in the Second World War, the First World War camps are an often overlooked part of Canadian history.

The Harper government set up the $10 million Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund in 2008 to support projects commemorating the experience of the thousands of Ukrainians and other Europeans interned between 1914–20 and the many others who suffered a suspension of their civil liberties.

A new exhibit on the history of First World War internments in Canada is being built adjacent to the Cave and Basin National Historic Site in Banff, Alta. It is scheduled to open next summer.
"It is a very unknown story in Canadian history," said Parks Canada national historic sites manager Steve Malins.

The life of Ford Madox Ford

A TV adaption of Parade’s End. First I’ve heard of it, but I imagine will be seeing many more adaptions of WW1 novels as we approach 2014.

This year’s television adaptation of Parade’s End has led to an extraordinary surge of interest in Ford Madox Ford. The ingenious adaptation by Sir Tom Stoppard; the stellar cast, including Benedict Cumberbatch, Rebecca Hall, Alan Howard, Rupert Everett, Miranda Richardson, Roger Allam; the flawlessly intelligent direction by award-winning Susanna White, have not only created a critical success, but reached Ford’s widest audience for perhaps fifty years. BBC2 drama doubled its share of the viewing figures. Reviewers have repeatedly described Parade’s End as a masterpiece and Ford as a neglected Modernist master. Those involved in the production found him a ‘revelation’, and White and Hall are reported as saying that they were embarrassed that their Oxbridge educations had left them unaware of Ford’s work. After this autumn, fewer people interested in literature and modernism and the First World War are likely to ask the question posed by the title of Alan Yentob’s ‘Culture Show’ investigation into Ford’s life and work on September 1st: “Who on Earth was Ford Madox Ford?”

OUPblog » Blog Archive » The life of Ford Madox Ford

Friday, August 31, 2012

Digitisation of First World War unit diaries | The National Archives

Amazing time to study history with all of this material becoming available on line.  Below from the UK’s National Archives.

We are currently digitising part of the WO 95 record series, which consists of unit war diaries from the First World War. The series is one of the most requested in our reading rooms in Kew, and digitising it means that we will be able to make the diaries more accessible by publishing them online. The series is extremely fragile, largely due to its age and popularity, so we are carrying out essential conservation work while we digitise it.

Our war diaries research guide explains the importance of these records for researchers.

Digitisation of First World War unit diaries | The National Archives

Switzerland and the First World War

A new site on an overlooked country right in the middle of the war.

Books on the First World War traditionally say that by the end of 1914, "there was a line of trenches stretching from the North Sea to the Swiss frontier". That is usually the extent to which Switzerland’s part in the First World War is considered. As a neutral state, her only role seems to have been to anchor the frontline. Histories of the war barely mention Switzerland. Does this matter? Surely being neutral - as Switzerland was throughout the conflict - means you’re not involved in a war?


In fact, Switzerland could not escape the effects of the First World War. Swiss people may not have died in their thousands in the heavy fighting that was taking place not far over the border, but the years between 1914 and 1918 were still a time of great change for them. This website describes some of the effects of the Great War on Switzerland and the Swiss.

Switzerland and the First World War - Home

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

World War I Plays To Receive First Revival

Probably better reflections of public perceptions than reading the poets.

In association with Twisted Events Theatre Company, the University of Hertfordshire presents the first professional revival of the World War I plays ‘For My Country’ by Berte Thomas (1917) and ‘The Pacifist’ by John Brandon (1918).

WW1 

These short plays, which have not been seen since they were first performed in London theatres during the First World War, will re-introduce the audience to a missing dimension of life on the Home Front.

The production is part of the project Staging World War I, run from the School of Humanities at the University of Hertfordshire. Led by Dr Andrew Maunder, the project will take forgotten World War I plays into schools and the local community.

Dr Andrew Maunder said: “We tend to forget that in 1914-18 more people went to the theatre than read poetry but it’s the poetry which has been remembered. The plays, though, give us a real sense of how the War was presented to people and the issues at stake. They’re powerful pieces of theatre designed to move an audience but also to scare them, exploiting fears about spies, traitors and the enemy within.”

Brought back to life as the centenary of the War approaches, the plays offer another perspective on the War to that of well-known poets such as Rupert Brooke, Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen.

World War I Plays To Receive First Revival | Cision Wire

Monday, July 16, 2012

‘Touch and Intimacy in First World War Literature’ « Amitav Ghosh

From a review of an unusual book,

First World War writing is an old interest of mine so when I came upon a book with the intriguing title

‘Touch and Intimacy in the First World War I picked it up at once.

The writer had an Indian-sounding name, Santanu Das, but I had never heard of him before.

The book’s first chapter is called ‘Slimescapes’ and it is about the ways in which First World War writers dealt with the tactile experience of trench warfare. ‘In everyday trench life, the boundaries of the body can no longer be policed, as bodily fluids are perpetually on the brink of spillage. In Blasting and Bombardiering, the officer breaks wind at the sound of shelling; men vomit as they collect corpses in Graves’s Goodbye to All That and Cloete’s A Victorian Son. Winterbourne defecates in his trousers in Death of a Hero, as does the young boy in Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front.  Just as bodily fluids leak out, similarly mud and slime seep in: Céline speaks of ‘eating Flanders mud, my whole mouth full of it, fuller than full’; in ‘A Night of Horror’, the narrator writes: ‘The suffocating mud and slime/ Were trickling down my throat’. Remarque, towards the end of his novel, observes: ‘Our hands are earth, our bodies mud and our eyes puddles of rain.’ Membrances have become permeable: the skin can no longer separate the inside and outside, the self and the world.’ (p. 52)

I read the book at a stretch, finishing it in a couple of sittings (I don’t think this has ever happened to me before with a book of literary criticism). But one thing puzzled me: if the writer was Indian, as his name suggested, why had he made no reference to the one million Indians who were on the Western front during the First World War? Was this deliberate and if so why?

‘Touch and Intimacy in First World War Literature’ « Amitav Ghosh

Michigan War Studies Review of Sean McMeekin’s: The Russian Origins of the First World War

Opening paragraph to a wonderful review of a must read book.

To judge by the passionate intensity of his writing, Sean McMeekin means not only to restore analytical balance to the long neglected question of Russia's role in the First World War, but also to remedy what he sees as a moral outrage—namely, the historical free pass given the Russian statesmen who (as he sees it) unleashed the violence of the war, the brutalities of the Russian Revolution, and the heavy historical shadow cast by Nazi Germany having led generations of indulgent historians to overlook the blood on Russian hands. Though prone to overstating his case, McMeekin has produced a beautifully written book based on an extraordinary range of sources in several languages. It deserves a wide readership.

Michigan War Studies Review - book reviews, literature surveys, original essays, and commentary in the field of military studies

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

'O,' sweet: National Doughnut Day recalls doughboys of World War I

I didn’t realize the doughnut’s connection to WW1 or Chicago.

Doughboys 

What's most interesting about Doughnut Day is its origins. It succeeds a fund-raising event created in Chicago by The Salvation Army in 1938, to help the needy during the Great Depression and honor the women who served doughnuts to soldiers during World War I. 

As the story goes, soon after the United States' entry into the war in 1917, the Salvation Army conducted a fact-finding mission in France to see how they might best assist enlisted troops. One conclusion was that soldiers needed canteens or social centers (called "huts") that provided friendly smiles, baked goods, writing supplies and stamps and a clothes-mending service. The huts were established in the U.S. near Army training centers.  

About 250 Salvation Army volunteers went to France. There, because of difficulties in providing freshly baked goods from huts established in abandoned buildings near the front lines, volunteers Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance are credited with coming up with the idea of providing doughnuts. It's said the sweet rings were sometimes fried in soldiers' helmets. They were an instant hit. Salvation Army records reveal that, after one busy day, Sheldon wrote, "Today I made 22 pies, 300 doughnuts and 700 cups of coffee."

'O,' sweet: National Doughnut Day recalls doughboys of World War I - The Dispatch

Front-line Flora: Remarkable story of the only Western woman to enlist to fight in First World War

A review of A Fine Brother: The Life of Captain Flora Sandes by Louise Miller is published by Alma Books, £25.

Sandes fought for the Serbs twice: once in WW1 and again in WW2.  Quite a story.  Will add to my Shelfari list.

Front-line Flora: Remarkable story of the only Western woman to enlist to fight in First World War | Mail Online

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

French Soldiers Crafted Cave Murals in World War I - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Includes a gallery of 14 photos.

Deep in the cool, dank blackness of an underground limestone quarry in northern France stands an altar, carved from the wall by soldiers of the French army who sheltered here during World War I.

The dread they must have felt as they knelt here, under the inscription "Dieu Protege la France!" ("God Save France!"), is hard to imagine. A flight of steps next to the altar led to the trenches of the front line.

"People still come here to pray every Sunday," said Jean-Luc Pamart, a farmer who owns the land around here. "When they kneel here on this earth, the cold rises up their legs, it impregnates them. It gives them a sense of history."

French Soldiers Crafted Cave Murals in World War I - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Monday, March 19, 2012

On the politics of remembering Word War I - KansasCity.com

Lisa Budreau on the politics of remembrance,

Following Armistice Day, the U.S. government took charge of the identification, burial and memorialization of American service members who died overseas. Secretary of War Newton Baker gave American families options. One was burial in American cemeteries to be built in Europe.

Another was to have the war dead brought back to their own communities.

“What the government didn’t expect was that the majority of Americans would choose to have their war dead brought home,” Budreau said.

One unintended result was that the remains’ return to families across the country, and the ceremonies that ensued, inhibited agreement on a single narrative that could articulate the meaning of the sacrifice.

“Commemorations are meant to unify communities, stir our collective memories and validate the sacrifices that were made,” Budreau said. “But the democratic process responds to the wishes of its citizens and cannot, by its very nature, readily contribute to an enduring national remembrance.

“I think we are still struggling with finding meaning in the ambiguity of the war’s death and suffering.”

Readorama | On the politics of remembering Word War I - KansasCity.com

Over Here The First World War and American Society (9780195173994) David M. Kennedy

A new edition with reflection on the decades since the first.

This 25th anniversary edition includes a new afterword from Pulitzer Prize-winning author David M battlefield of the mind study guide pdf. Kennedy, that explains his reasons for writing the original edition as well as his opinions on the legacy of Wilsonian idealism, most recently reflected in President George W. Bush’s national security strategy. More than a chronicle of the war years, Over Here uses the record of America’s experience in the Great War as a prism through which to view early twentieth century American society. The ways in which America mobilized for the war, chose to fight it, and then went about the business of enshrining it in memory all indicate important aspects of enduring American character.

Over Here The First World War and American Society (9780195173994) David M. Kennedy

My grandfather’s war — WWI — and how it haunted him

Sory of one Grandfather,

An Irishman, my grandfather was reticent to fight on the same side as the British Empire. Nonetheless, when President Woodrow Wilson called for volunteers, grandfather Langan joined the “78th Division, 309th Machine Gun Battalion, Company B, American Expeditionary Force in France” — a phrase that was among the first I learned to repeat as a child.

Grandfather’s 1918 U.S. Victory Medal reflects his experience fighting in the Argonne Forest, St. Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne, a battle historians consider “probably the bloodiest single battle in U.S. history” (117,000 U.S. casualties). As a machine gunner, PFC Langan was never able to total how many men he killed (“Many,” he always replied).

Grandfather was exactly the kind of front-line killer upon whom any army depends to prevail. For me, he recalled apart from machine gunning that he killed 14 men, some in hand-to-hand combat. Not for nothing was he called “Iron Mike.”

My grandfather’s war — WWI — and how it haunted him - Issues & Ideas - MiamiHerald.com

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

'Humorous' German cartoons of life on the frontline in World War I are unearthed (and no, they're not funny) | Mail Online

'Humorous' German cartoons of life on the frontline in World War I are unearthed (and no, they're not funny) | Mail Online:
A fascinating collection of cartoon paintings of German soldiers on the Western Front has been discovered - and shows a little-known humourous side to the Kaiser's war machine.The images were drawn between 1914 and 1916 at the Somme and were for a senior German officer with a sense of humour.The caricatures poke fun at the officer class and a strange recurring theme is the supplying of toilet rolls to soldiers.
Check the comments for explanations on the toilet paper.  Also a question about why so many very tall soldiers, and I can only speculate it's connected to William the Great's preference for very tall Guardsmen.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Student eager to start Vimy trip

How many US Americans would know this history so important to Canadians?

Scott Morphet is getting ready for a major reality check.

He's one of about 25 students from White Pines collegiate who will mark the 95th anniversary of the Canadian capture of Vimy Ridge in France in April.

The victory, after other Allied forces were defeated by the Germans, was a major accomplishment for Canadian soldiers during the First World War. The battle marked the first time all four Canadian divisions fought together.

"We all know it's one of the biggest things that was part of Canada's history," said Morphet, 17.

"Going there is going to be a huge awakening to what it really means to be a Canadian."

Student eager to start Vimy trip - The Sault Star - Ontario, CA

Friday, February 10, 2012

Syria: World War 1 Continues

From Austin Bay’s response to Fouad Ajami’s essay on Syria as the final stage of the Cold War.  I’ve always felt as Bay below, no, this is the last act of World War 1 and the resolution of all that was left undone with the Ottoman Empire.

The current Syrian revolt, the entire Arab Spring phenomenon, and for that matter, the Cold War share a sobering (and I suggest more explanatory) origin: World War I, the Great War. Four authoritarian empires fell in that conflagration: the Ottoman Turk, the German (Hohenzollern), the Austro-Hungarian (Habsburg) and the Russian Romanov. The Western Front slaughterhouse damaged France and Britain; though decolonization came decades later, the democratic imperialists never really recovered. What to do with all the imperial fragments? The Nazis, exploiting German grievances with World War I's outcome, tried to create a super German empire, but lost. The Soviets did resurrect the Russian empire, and extended it, until 1991. Gone forever? As Ajami noted, Putin exhibits commissar tendencies. He is not above creating an empire with an authoritarian sword.

Syria: World War I Continues

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Heather Jones: Violence against Prisoners of War in the First World War. Britain, France and Germany, 1914-1920. Cambridge 2011.

From the conclusion of the review,

Jones is to be commended for her balanced comparative approach. When evaluating German and Allied prisoner treatment, she considers the unique circumstances facing each captor nation, such as the size and composition of its prisoner population. Jones’ examination reveals that the German army was more willing than its enemies in Britain and France to employ brutal tactics in pursuit of victory. In doing so, she provides evidence in support of Isabel Hull’s argument that the German army’s tendency to embrace extreme, violent solutions during the Kaiserreich was facilitated by a lack of civilian control of the armed forces.[3] This meticulously researched study will require historians to reconsider mass captivity’s importance to the First World War and the conflict’s role in the evolution of forced labor. Jones accomplishes her goal of establishing the centrality of captivity to the war and demonstrates that prisoners could be open to acts of violence throughout their captivity. This book is sure to establish Jones’ reputation as one of the leading scholars of wartime captivity.

Heather Jones: Violence against Prisoners of War in the First World War. Britain, France and Germany, 1914-1920. Cambridge 2011. - H-Soz-u-Kult / Rezensionen / Bücher

Birdsong, BBC One: first review - Telegraph

More WW1 films coming….

It’s been nearly 20 years since it was first published, but at last Sebastian Faulks’s First World War novel Birdsong - the book that British readers voted the 13th best ever read in 2003 - has reached the screen.

Birdsong, BBC One: first review - Telegraph

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Brill's Encyclopedia of the First World War

Coming soon: Brill's Encyclopedia of the First World War | BRILL

Brill’s Encyclopedia of the First World War is an unrivalled historical source and reference work. Written by prominent historians and World War I experts from 15 countries, it offers surveys and descriptions, information and interpretations on people and events, countries, institutions, and ideas. It presents a thematic account of the military course of the Great War, as well as of its political, economic, social, and cultural history.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Warrior, the REAL 'War Horse' who braved the bullets, barbed wire and shell fire of World War I

More on horses and WW1,

It was Winston Churchill who intervened to secure the safe return of tens of thousands of war horses stranded in Europe after the First World War.

Equine support: It was Winston Churchill who intervened to secure the safe return of tens of thousands of war horses stranded in Europe after the First World War

War Office documents found in the National Archives at Kew show that tens of thousands of the animals were at risk of disease, hunger and even death at the hands of French and Belgian butchers because bungling officials couldn’t get them home when hostilities drew to a close.

Churchill, then aged 44 and Secretary of State for War, reacted with fury when he was informed of their treatment and took a personal interest in their plight after the 1914-1918 war.

He secured their speedy return after firing off angry memos to officials within his own department and at the Ministry of Shipping, who had promised to return 12,000 horses a week but were struggling to get a quarter of that number back.

Churchill’s intervention led to extra vessels being used for repatriation, and the number of horses being returned rose to 9,000 a week.

Warrior, the REAL 'War Horse' who braved the bullets, barbed wire and shell fire of World War I | Mail Online