World War I

July 28th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

World War 1 started 100 years ago on 28 July 1914. Some stats from that terrible conflict:

  • 70 million soldiers mobilised
  • 9 million combatants killed and 7 million civilians
  • 20 million wounded
  • Four empires destroyed – Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, German and Russian
  • NZ occupied German Samoa
  • Germany tried to get Mexico to attack the US and reclaim Texas, New Mexico and Arizona from them – this led to the US entering
  • Germany initiated the use of poison gas in the war, and eventually all sides used it resulting in 1.3 million causalities
  • 8 million men held in POW camps
  • 11,000 soldiers were killed or wounded between the signing of the Armistice and it coming into force six hours later.
  • NZ lost 1.5% of its population, Australia 1.3%, UK 2.0% France 4.3%, Ottoman Empire 15%
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76 Responses to “World War I”

  1. mjw (396 comments) says:

    Lest we forget. Good post dpf.

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  2. RF (1,402 comments) says:

    I agree a good post. My family along with thousands of others lost relatives in the 1st World War RIP.

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  3. EAD (1,128 comments) says:

    WW1 with the benefit of hindsight will be viewed as perhaps the seminal moment of the post enlightenment age and the turning point in modern history.

    It marked the beginning of the end for the British Empire which was the great spreader of civilisation across the planet. It ended the golden age of international trade with the whole world on the international gold standard that enabled the greatest increase in living standards the world has ever seen as millions rose from poverty to the middle class between 1870-1914. Laissez-faire ended and the age of powerful governments began.

    When all of the European countries went off the gold standard immediately upon entry into the war, it marked the start of the century of total war, total central banking and philosophies (Socialism, Communism , Nazism, Social Democracy) that put Governments rather than individuals at the forefront of national life. With government control of money supply, it made all of the destructive wars and philosophies of the twentieth century possible.

    Without the money-counterfeiting tool of central banking, World War One would have been over by Christmas as the price would have to be consciously and immediately paid.

    “It is no coincidence that the century of total war coincided with the century of central banking.” is a very prescient quote.

    World War I was the greatest tragedy to befall the planet both for the loss of life, and for the philosophies it ultimately enabled.

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  4. flash2846 (287 comments) says:

    So very sad and what most people don’t realise is that WW1 actually killed off generations of strong, fit and healthy European men; as did WW2. These men, the killed and wounded had no chance to “replace” themselves. They would have produced strong, fit and healthy children who in turn would have produced the same.
    Many if not most of us were bred from those who failed the medical. Didn’t affect those who either wouldn’t or weren’t allowed to fight though which is one big reason why there are so many weaker men of European decent.

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  5. Nostalgia-NZ (5,218 comments) says:

    Plug your radio in again flash2846 you’re tuned into the wrong planet. Kiwis have always been strong and resilient and the wars, unfortunate as they were, made them stronger.

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  6. Liam Hehir (125 comments) says:

    It’s worth noting for the sake of fairness that the Zimmerman Telegram only proposed that Mexico invade the United States if that country had first declared war on Germany by entering the war on the side of the Entente.

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  7. EAD (1,128 comments) says:

    Very true flash2846, these men were the best and bravest bought up in a very Darwinian society which in very egalitarian NZ, meant that the cream rose to the top and we were led by perhaps some of the finest and noble men to ever come from this country (read the biography of Colonel William Malone).

    I would think these all these great soldiers would be turning in their graves if they saw what has happened to the country and society they gave their lives for. What would these brave men make of: Atheism? Agnosticism? Nihilism? Apathy? Shopping? Massive Debt? Wind Turbines? Gay marriage? lowest common denominator education? liberalism? cultural marxism? socialism? housing benefits? urbanisation? political correctness? victim culture? Government spying? CCTV? more taxes? the moral high ground? Multiculturalism?

    As a country we are forever indebted to their heroism and bravery, but were forever scarred by their loss.

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  8. flash2846 (287 comments) says:

    Seriously Nostalgia-NZ – How could killing off your strongest and bravest men possibly make the gene pool stronger?

    From memory 18,000 New Zealand men dead; 40,000 wounded when our entire male population, old, young, middle aged and fighting aged was little more than 500.000.

    And my post referred to “European” men so perhaps plug YOUR radio in; whatever that stupid saying even means.

    EAD – Well said

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  9. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    It is ironic, that one hundred years ago our forefathers entered a fight that would cost many of them not only their lives, but others their health, their peace of mind, and their innocence. Some, as young as 18 went willingly and without question to an environment that none of us can even imagine ever being in.

    I’ve read Kiwiblog over the last few days as the bloggers try to dissect what is happening at Gaza. The benefit of technology that has allowed the knowledge of the details behind the politics and the religions, the beliefs and the motivations is obvious. But my grandfather didn’t know any of that when he enlisted, all he knew was that the homeland he had left a few years beforehand, to seek a better life in New Zealand, was under threat. A young man, innocent but brave, wanting the world to be a better place for the young woman he had fallen for and the children he hoped to one day have.

    They went blindly into the pits of hell because love, honour, and family was the most important thing to them, they didn’t need to know the details, only that they were needed. I wonder how many young men today, would do the same?

    Long may we remember them.

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  10. holysheet (397 comments) says:

    Cough cough splutter ahem!!!
    Judith for once you have posted something I can give you an uptick for. Very well said.

    The pity is that some on here just cannot wait to give you a down tick. Force of habit I expect?

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  11. KiwiGreg (3,255 comments) says:

    “Germany tried to get Mexico to attack the US and reclaim Texas, New Mexico and Arizona from them – this led to the US entering WWI”

    That’s not a fact. Or a statistic.

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  12. stephieboy (3,154 comments) says:

    An unfortunate consequence of the Great War was the economic impact of the Versaille treaty and reparations and war guilt clauses imposed on Germany.These had the long term effect of skewing the German economy creating a cycle indebtedness that was to have a direct bearing on the Great Depression in the 1930s which also ushered the rise of extreme right ideologies like the Nazis in Germany .
    The other related effect was to see the decline of the British and French economies both severly weakened by the costs of the war bot in terms of human and economic.The return to the Gold standard postwar actualy exasperated and made the situation worse than it could be.
    A good book to read is Catastrophe by Max Hastings that focusses on the year 1914 and the circumstances that led to the outbreak of war .He maitains the seminal event was the decision by German High command to defy Belgium neutrality and invade that actually witnessed the massacres of Belgium citizens.The decision to invade Belgium was part of their implementation of their key miitary strategy the Schleiffen plan.which aimed to encircle the French armies tad capture Paris with a surprise knock out blow.I failed and the Germans halted at the Marne by French and British armies …This in turn led to the stalemate of Trench warfare,

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  13. Lance (2,656 comments) says:

    Well said Judith

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  14. Simon (727 comments) says:

    Poor Stephieboy so ignorant. The most unfortunate consequence of WW1 was Russian communism.

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  15. MT_Tinman (3,202 comments) says:

    I wonder how many young men today, would do the same?

    None I would hope.

    Modern communication technology allows non-combatants to see and understand the horrors of war.

    No longer can the politicians and old people of means hoodwink the young that war means glory.

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  16. EAD (1,128 comments) says:

    Good comment Simon,

    poor Stephie still believes that National Socialism (with its big all controlling government) is the polar opposite of Communism (with its big all controlling government).

    All are just versions of Animal Farm where the elite enrich themselves at the expense of the masses who are lead to believe that their particular “ism” will make them more well off than the other one.

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  17. Nostalgia-NZ (5,218 comments) says:

    ‘Seriously Nostalgia-NZ – How could killing off your strongest and bravest men possibly make the gene pool stronger?

    From memory 18,000 New Zealand men dead; 40,000 wounded when our entire male population, old, young, middle aged and fighting aged was little more than 500.000.’

    The killing off of the strongest and bravest is pure rhetoric because not all the combatants died. Those that survived were also the ‘strongest and bravest’ and continued on the gene pool. You write as if a generation was wiped out, it wasn’t. 2 generations of surviving combatants were made fairly quiet by what they experienced but they worked on to build the opportunity for the next generations. Many of them were farmers, politicians, professional people, tradesmen and workers who kept contributing to the country as it is today with luxuries of a type that would have been hard to imagine in 1914, along with scientific advancements in medicine, transport, technology and the list goes on. From my experience with many of them, they were more tolerant to changes and society more freely able to embrace it’s diversity and that is part of their legacy, along with the recognition that they never forgot those they served with and who were lost. These were men never treated for hearing loss, trauma and other issues that the country was simply unable to address at the time, so they just got on with it.

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  18. Lance (2,656 comments) says:

    @Simon
    So……………….. without WW1 there was going to be no Russian revolution?

    Yea right
    An oppressive Monarchy trying to brutalize a vast ocean of people emerging from a middle ages lifestyle and mentality into the modern world was going to end well?

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  19. Mobile Michael (452 comments) says:

    And the British gained a new territory in the Eastern Mediterranean, which it attempted to partition into Arab and Jewish states…

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  20. kiwi in america (2,454 comments) says:

    Not to be too picky but Wilson asked the US Congress to declare war on Germany ostensibly over the issue of German U Boats sinking of US flagged ships. The sinking of the Lusitania led to outrage that in turn led to a German moratorium on sinking non military shipping. The German High Command, in an attempt to replicate the British navy’s increasingly successful naval blockade of Germany with their own U boat blockade of England, sank a US merchant ship with an all American crew. War was declared only days later.

    WW1 was a dreadful war and the statistics David posted are particularly grim. WW1 was the beginning of modern technology driven warfare as we know it: first use of tanks, first use of chemical weapons, first use of submarines, first use of planes in bombing and air to air combat, first indiscriminate bombing of civilian populations (Zepplin and German bombing raids on London) and the first widespread use of the machine gun. All these technologies (with the thankful exception of chemical weapons) form the backbone of modern military technology.

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  21. Warren Murray (311 comments) says:

    Was the Russian empire actually ‘destroyed’? Sure, it lost some territory to Poland, Finland and the Baltic states, and the Czar and his immediate family were eliminated, but Russia as a nation is still not that much smaller than it was in 1914.

    Did the Ottomans lose 15% of its population to war casualties, or does that statistic reflect boundary changes? If the latter, then Austria Hungry lost a great many too.

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  22. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ MT_Tinman (2,986 comments) says:
    July 28th, 2014 at 8:31 am

    You think they went for the glory? Maybe some did, but I have two diaries here, one of my grandfather’s and one of a great Uncle. They didn’t go for the glory, or the medals, or to be honoured as brave. They went because they were needed. Because society at the time had values where men were meant to be the protectors of the weak, the innocent and women. They weren’t narcissists who went to make themselves a name – they went because they wanted to make sure those they loved were not harmed.

    The politics may have been very different, the propaganda that encouraged them to go, very manipulative – but to reduce their sacrifices, and their pain, and their sheer determination to do ‘what was right’, to the desire for glory, does them a great injustice.

    I know all the politics, the unfairness, the inequality and at times the sheer dishonesty involved in that War, but most of them didn’t. They went because they didn’t want to see their mothers, wives, girlfriends and children harmed in any way. They went knowing there was a chance they would die – and there is no glory in death. I think you, along with many others misinterpret the value of their ‘honour’ – it was not honour they sought for themselves, but the honour they already had for others.

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  23. Mike Readman (363 comments) says:

    A false flag event started by the bankers – just like the upcoming World War III.

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  24. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    That’s just great Mike, WWI was a conspiracy too, eh?

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  25. RRM (9,932 comments) says:

    Judith – I’m inclined to think a lot of men will fight because they love what’s behind them, more than because they hate what’s in front of them, if that’s what you’re saying..?

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  26. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    And naturally EAD is on board with that, too.

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  27. EAD (1,128 comments) says:

    The real reason for WWI (particularly for the then isolationist, laissez-faire & isolationist USA’s involvement)

    “There are no known means more efficient than war, assuming the objective is altering the life of an entire people.” – Norman Dodd

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  28. RRM (9,932 comments) says:

    On a very trite and unrelated note… last year I read a 1920s children’s novel Kerrell by the author who called himself “Taffrail” about WW1 Royal Navy Destroyer warfare in general, and the Battle of Jutland in particular.

    He wrote well and it was a window into a side of WW1 history that is often overlooked, and which I had been completely unaware of – as the focus of almost all WW1 writing, retrospect and reflection is usually the trench warfare and the Western Front.

    He made a lot of the fact that, at a time when soldiers were marching through the mud and most of the guns and stores were drawn by horses, at sea the fighting happened between sides that were moving at the speed of an express train, fighting a technological war with huge high-tech guns controlled using mechanical computers (at least in the battleships and cruisers) and it was mechanised warfare on a massive scale that was not really seen in other theatres until WW2.

    We get such a skewed view of the Victorian and Edwardian world, thanks to sepia photos that make everything look far older and more primitive than it really was.

    The book is out of print now and the author is forgotten except by fans of dated, sabre-rattling British patriotism of the early 20th Century. With CGI film making being what it is now, someone could make it into a really spectacular war movie!

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  29. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ RRM (9,439 comments) says:
    July 28th, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Very much so RRM. These diaries show that strongly. Even sitting in the bog a Passchendaele, my Grandfather’s thoughts were for his loved ones. In fact, it was the thoughts for them that kept him going despite all that was happening around him.

    When we think of these wars, we have to remember the times they were conducted in. It’s easy to judge them from today’s standards, and with today’s knowledge and technology etc. But they didn’t have that. I have no problem dissecting the causes of the war and critiquing those at the top that made some dreadful judgments, but to put those onto the men and women that simply did what was asked of them, is kinda tough and disrespectful.

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  30. Crusader (316 comments) says:

    A fine post by EAD. Well said.

    Some posts by others who do not understand much about genetics.

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  31. Tauhei Notts (1,721 comments) says:

    Judith might like this.
    Read the histories of Pssschendaele. Then go to the Papers Past site and read what the N.Z. newspapers were writing about that slaughter just a few days after the event.
    The censorship of the media must have been all consuming. The papers were full of shite.

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  32. Simon (727 comments) says:

    “without WW1 there was going to be no Russian revolution?”

    Said Russian communism, another moron.

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  33. Fentex (986 comments) says:

    Germany initiated the use of poison gas in the war

    Not exactly. The French were the first to use chemical agents in WW1 when they used civilian supplies of tear gas, as did then Germany and Britain. None of them thinking chemical irritants were beyond the pale.

    The eventual deployment of more serious chemicals (by Germany against Russia in 1915) was more of a escalating pattern than spontaneous breach of norms, so it isn’t really accurate to say Germany initiated it as if it came out of the blue.

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  34. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ Tauhei Notts (1,607 comments) says:
    July 28th, 2014 at 9:50 am

    I agree, the censorship was atrocious. People had absolutely no idea of what was happening, or even the conditions. My grandfather was injured at Passchendaele. He was a machine gunner and the rest of his unit except one, killed. He had a back full of shrapnel that was just left there. It plagued him all his life.

    He never talked about it much, but he did write about it – I guess it was sort of a way of releasing it, and making sense of the whole thing.

    You know that censorship was not just during the war, for years, and even past WWII, there seemed to be a concerted effort to stop the reality from being known. Passchendaele in particular was the worst, and yet, even now, very little is ever said about it. Slowly more is coming to light, 100 years on, and only now the grandchildren and great-grandchildren are starting to release the written words that tell of a horror even Quentin Tarantino couldn’t dream up.

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  35. tom hunter (4,887 comments) says:

    With CGI film making being what it is now, someone could make it into a really spectacular war movie!

    Yes. I’d like to think that with all the 100-year anniversaries about WW1 happening over the next few years we might see more of this. One reason there are so many more movies about WWII than the so-called Great War is that many of the former could be made in the 1950’s and 1960’s when it was still possible to get hold of military equipment from that war. But WWI had few such movies because the industry was really only getting started in the 1920’s, people did not want to re-live such horrors, equipment was scrapped to a far greater extent, and the technology to fake it was just not there. Now it is.

    For those who are willing to go to the time and trouble the following two documentaries on the war are very good.

    First up is a series from the early 2000’s: The First World War. Largely in colour with 10 episodes from Channel 4 in Britain. You can probably get it from any library or if that fails it’s on BitTorrent.

    Second is much harder to get, almost certainly only on BitTorrent since the BBC tossers have never got around to re-broadcasting it and DVD’s are limited and bloody expensive. It’s simply called The Great War and was made in the early 1960’s in B&W. Given its dotage it’s a little more ponderous and goes into greater detail with 26 episodes. Very much a pre-cursor to the much more famous series about WWII that was made a decade later, The World At War. However, it’s worth a look because the old soldiers in it were interviewed while they were in their 60’s and they present quite a contrast to men I saw interviewed in the 1970’s and 1980’s. The former have their wits about them and as such they present rather a different view of the war to the standard soldiers impression that I think we’ve all grown up with.

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  36. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    The Episodes of The First World War are all on You Tube. Also the 1964 The Great War. :-)

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  37. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    Any time now NZ is going to be asked to say sorry for invading Western Samoa in WW1 and taking it off Germany.

    The offended will have to wait a few years until the sorry, sorry party – Labour – is back in to get that.

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  38. Fentex (986 comments) says:

    the censorship was atrocious. People had absolutely no idea of what was happening

    Not merely because authority promoted the war (as it is again doing now as the British establishment attempts to rehabilitate it’s reputation by conflating the absurdity of WW1 with modern fears and threats), but also because the hysterical nonsense used to promote hatred undermined trust in authority.

    So it was a real problem twenty years later when people didn’t believe the truth about atrocities committed by fascists because within most peoples lives they remembered news from authority is not to be trusted.

    Authority must not, for it cannot, be trusted. This is why we must not empower agencies of the state that do not answer directly to us more than is absolutely necessary.

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  39. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    Flash 286 blames WW1 casualties in his 7.27 post for:

    Didn’t affect those who either wouldn’t or weren’t allowed to fight though which is one big reason why there are so many weaker men of European decent.

    In no way am I a pacifist, but you could never describe as weak people like Archibald Baxter, one of NZ’s WW1 pacifists, who was chained to a post in one of the most dangerous areas of the front for shelling, yet still did not yield on his beliefs.

    Genetics do count in physique and personality, Flash 286, but within the mix there will be what you call “weaker men” who have had tough, fighting grandfathers who survived the trench warfare.

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  40. tom hunter (4,887 comments) says:

    The Episodes of The First World War are all on You Tube. Also the 1964 The Great War.

    I know, as is Simon Scharma’s History of Britain, but unless you’ve got very high speed internet (and I do) watching YouTube is a pain the ass, even then it’s not great if you need to pause halfway through, not to mention the video quality. All in all, still not as good an experience as data-on-disc.

    BitTorrent every time.

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  41. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    Re Tom Hunter (10.50)…

    Do you have a fibre connection Tom? If so, is it worth it?

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  42. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Yes Jack5, Flash’s evolutionary take on WWI is complete nonsense.

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  43. tom hunter (4,887 comments) says:

    Do you have a fibre connection Tom? If so, is it worth it?

    No, just copper, but the latest offerings from Telecom and Vodafone are about three times faster than the standard ADSL and are actually being offered at a slightly reduced monthly cost.

    We won’t have fibre in our area until 2015 but at the moment it’s hard to see moving to it as all my streaming seems perfectly okay. There’s the occasional glitch but it’s minor so unless or until the cost drops below what I’m currently paying I won’t be moving to fibre. I think the latters real advantage will be in upload speeds and if you’re into Cloud computing (and most people will be sooner or later) that becomes a key issue.

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  44. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    Judith posted at 10.26:

    The Episodes of The First World War are all on You Tube. Also the 1964 The Great War.

    So WW1 was the most extravagant movie/TV set of all time.

    Switch on the other half of your brain, and read about the war Judith. (Everyone knows you can watch TV when you are too tired or too drunk to read.) A good start, perhaps, Tuchman’s August 1914.

    Re Tom at 11.05: Thanks for that info.

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  45. kiwi in america (2,454 comments) says:

    Thanks Judith – just watched the 1st episode of The Great War on YT

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  46. flash2846 (287 comments) says:

    @Jack5, tom hunter, Nostalgia-NZ and mikenmild

    If any of you had spent time in the military you would understand logistics and the number of support personnel required to manage combat soldiers. New Zealand again for memory had a front line casualty rate of 8/10 (killed and/or injured). Probably the same or worse for the French, Austrians, British and Germans.
    My point stands; many many brave, strong men have no family whereas many more medically unfit etc went on to breed.
    As for so called conscientious objectors. Scum mostly; if they weren’t they would have served as medics, drivers, cooks, engineers, doctors, storemen, clerks, prison camp guards etc. etc. etc. They for the most part were the enemy.

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  47. Kimbo (934 comments) says:

    @ Warren Murray

    “Did the Ottomans lose 15% of its population to war casualties, or does that statistic reflect boundary changes?”

    No doubt boosting the figure was the ethnic cleansing of their own Armenian population. Some sources put the death toll at 1.5 million.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_Genocide

    It was the first genocide of the industrial age. It is a propaganda fabrication that Hitler said, “Who now remembers the Armenians?” when instigating the Final Solution. Nevertheless, the sentiment is correct

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  48. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    ‘My point stands; many many brave, strong men have no family whereas many more medically unfit etc went on to breed’
    With nil consequence for the overall health of the population. This kind of social Darwinist nonsense was popular with people like the Nazis but has no scientific basis.

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  49. tom hunter (4,887 comments) says:

    @flash2846

    I don’t think I was part of the conversation but since I’ve been dragged into it …

    We are the hollow men
    We are the stuffed men
    Leaning together
    Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
    Our dried voices, when
    We whisper together
    Are quiet and meaningless
    As wind in dry grass
    Or rats’ feet over broken glass
    In our dry cellar

    T S Eliot’s famous little ditty was very much a narrative of the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. Other writers hammered away at the theme that the youth of the day compared poorly to the giants of old.

    In fact those “hollow men” turned up in their millions to fight WWII, my father was one of them. As a small taste of how wrong the theory is I suggest you read about the exploits of the US torpedo squadrons in the battle of Midway. They were almost entirely annihilated and their attack was a complete failure – aside from the small detail that they totally derailed the Japanese fighter defences which never saw the dive bombers coming in from above.

    Your theory was also much believed at that time by the Nazis and the Japanese militarists, both of whom were utterly contemptuous of the courage, skill and fortitude of all their enemies, none more so than the Americans, who were held to be products of a soft, consumerist society of mongrels. They learned differently.

    It’s hardly a new idea though. Napoleon sniffed that the British were merely A nation of shopkeepers, but Its actually a theme as old as the Greeks.

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  50. Kimbo (934 comments) says:

    For what it is worth, I think that despite the at-times mixed motives of the Allies, World War I was a just and necessary war. That may run counter to what the revisionists have been arguing, certainly since the time the devious Lloyd George wrote his self-serving memoirs in the 1930s that threw the essentially capable Field Marshal Haig under the bus, and then really gained momentum with the 1960s anti-Vietnam war movement. So be it.

    Belgium did nothing to deserve violation of its neutrality and invasion, all brought about to fulfill a supposed military “necessity” as determined by the Kaiser’s generals (particularly Schlieffen, who had died two years before). By any reasonable definition it is out-of-control militarism when generals rather than elected politicians determine and dictate foreign policy.

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  51. tom hunter (4,887 comments) says:

    Sheesh – who is the moron giving a downtick to Jack5’s comment at 10:56am where he’s merely asking me a technical question? Is it the same person stalking Johnboy?

    That may run counter to what the revisionists have been arguing,

    I’ve tried to stop using the term “revisionist history” since most history is revisionist. What you’re talking about there has actually been more like the standard view of WWI for decades.

    It’s a few “revisionist” historians who’ve been trying to push back recently against what one called, the Blackadder view of the war.

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  52. David Garrett (7,311 comments) says:

    How enlightening to have a killer’s views on the first “total war”

    If he had a skerrick of shame he would stay away from posts involving the death of innocents.

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  53. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    flash2846 posted at 11.17:

    many many brave, strong men have no family whereas many more medically unfit etc went on to breed.

    First WW1 was a waste and a disaster. However, the flaws in your argument include:

    When the armies were in the millions, most of the men were conscripts, so reflected a broad cross section of society.

    Consider countries which didn’t participate in WW1, including Spain, Switzerland, China, the Latin American countries. Their present populations are NOT physically or mentally superior to the populations of countries that lost big numbers of people in WW1.

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  54. stephieboy (3,154 comments) says:

    I see both simon and EAD post misleading comments about WW1. Certainly the Great War saw the collapse of the Romanov’s in Russia and the eventual take over by the Bolsheviks October 1917.But that revolution was more a result of the collapse of the Russian Imperial Army that e.g suffered a catastrophic defeat at the Battle of Tannenburg 1914 and subsequent set backs.
    Lenin and his Bolsheviks exploited the discontent and disillusionment with the Romanov government’s war effort. . He coined the term . ” they voted wit the their feet” with rank and file soldiers deserting in droves .

    Meanwhile EAD gives us a highly colourful and distorted view of the economic situation surrounding the War as though there was a kind of golden age of ” laissez faire capitalism prior to it.Reference is made often to the so called “gilded age ” to illustrate this. Ignoring the fact there were numerous interventions by “big government “including notably Teddy Roosevelt’s the anti trust busting regulation, the creation of the Federal Reserve bank system, Federal funding of the Transcontinental rail road etc, etc. Actually this age of unparalleled prosperity ” for all ” largely bypassed the Southern US sates .

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  55. Kimbo (934 comments) says:

    I’ve tried to stop using the term “revisionist history” since most history is revisionist.

    Fair call. I’ve always understood revisionism to be the first challenge to the original orthodoxy.

    Put it this way. I look at the “war guilt” clause in the Treaty of Versailles, and I say, “Yep, fair cop”.

    Talk about how it was the “cause” of the Germans burning with a desire for national revenge (by fighting another war?!) or inevitably set in motion the next war overlook that Ludendorff was already planning for the Prussian militarists to make a comeback before it was even over. Just resign knowing the war was already lost (as Ludendorff declared to the Kaiser on the “Black Day, August 8 1918), then give the socialists the hospital pass of having to negotiate the Armistice.

    Then hey, presto, it wasn’t the General Staff’s incompetence or the soldiers at the front who lost it. Instead, he had the “stab-in-the-back” myth all lined up before the November 11 Armistice was even signed.

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  56. tom hunter (4,887 comments) says:

    @Kimbo

    That’s interesting. One of the reasons I’ve picked up a couple of TV series on WWI is that I’ve never actually taken much interest in that war. The American Civil War and WWII are more my bag. But I can’t help thinking that the reason for that is the latter two seemed to have a meaning larger than war, whereas I grew up with the standard view of WWI – courtesy not just of history books but popular culture and my family and relatives – that it was a conflict that was a total waste with no redeeming features.

    By contrast there’s this recent piece in the BBC: Viewpoint: 10 big myths about World War One debunked.

    Of course there’s also this counter that followed soon after: The ‘Historian’ ‘Dan’ ‘Snow’ and his 10 Myths of WW1

    For me it’s an interesting look into a history I’ve rather ignored. Obviously there’s going to be lots of discussion over the next few months and years perhaps. I told my daughter today that her history class might have more interesting discussions about than I ever did at high school.

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  57. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    The myths about the First World War die very hard. When the New Zealand Parliament pardoned the soldiers executed during the war, the bill as introduced contained a whole series of myths designed to set the scene in the preamble. Fortunately, this was dropped during the parliamentary process.

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  58. Fentex (986 comments) says:

    as though there was a kind of golden age of ” laissez faire capitalism prior to it

    The biggest economic impact WW1 had was the closing of European borders to international trade. The nationalism that it invoked was leveraged for decades to block competition, distort comparative advantages and buttress national cartels to the expense of populations. Such foolery contributed to the weakening of Britain in particular and the strengthening of the U.S at Europe’s expense in general.

    Trade in Europe has barely gotten past those consequences.

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  59. Akaroa (557 comments) says:

    I have to take issue with whoever it was, in the preceding posts, who maintained that – If i understand the post correctly – the First World War resulted in the death of so many fit men that the gene pool was adversely affected for ever more.

    Not so! In fact many – note the use of the word ‘many’ – of the conscripted British soldiers who fought in the 1st WW were from the industrial heartlands where physical standards were adversely affected by hard-work, poor living conditions and near-slum-like living conditions. Their progeny – if any – would likely mirror their paternal modest physique.

    Not all though, I hasten to point out.

    My own father, who served in the Machine Gun Corps, was a Herefordshire countryman of robust physique and manner. Regrettably he was gassed and suffered accordingly for the rest of his life, dying in 1944. But not before he had fathered three six-footer-plus sons!!

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  60. Fentex (986 comments) says:

    From Viewpoint: 10 big myths about World War One debunked>./a>

    Rarely in history have commanders had to adapt to a more radically different technological environment.

    A very important problem in WW1 that contributed to much of the stagnation in movement was the industrialism of warfare getting well ahead of communication capabilities. Where generals could once observe a battle field and direct tactics while forces are engaged in WW! this was not possible for the scale of the conflict.

    As such many of the charges and assaults to break through trenches and turn enemies flanks succeeded but were never exploited because no one had the ability to see and seize opportunity. The inertia and confusion in numbers was unmanageable at the time and made some people look more foolish than they were – except no-one should have been as slow as generals were in general to wake up to the limitations of their opportunities at the trenches.

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  61. Longknives (4,763 comments) says:

    Some incredible old photos-

    http://www.theatlantic.com/static/infocus/wwi/introduction/

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  62. EAD (1,128 comments) says:

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  63. Crusader (316 comments) says:

    Jack5 (4,584 comments) says:
    July 28th, 2014 at 11:51 am

    flash2846 posted at 11.17:

    many many brave, strong men have no family whereas many more medically unfit etc went on to breed.

    First WW1 was a waste and a disaster. However, the flaws in your argument include:

    When the armies were in the millions, most of the men were conscripts, so reflected a broad cross section of society.

    Consider countries which didn’t participate in WW1, including Spain, Switzerland, China, the Latin American countries. Their present populations are NOT physically or mentally superior to the populations of countries that lost big numbers of people in WW1.

    Precisely.
    Plus, one war of 4 years, one generation, is not enough time or scope to make a selection pressure upon a human population with any meaningful long-term effect.
    So the “best” ones were killed? Best in what way? (Insert personal judgement)
    And anyway, more died in the Spanish Influenza immediately following WW1.
    If only bloody Hitler had too.

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  64. Fentex (986 comments) says:

    So very sad and what most people don’t realise is that WW1 actually killed off generations of strong, fit and healthy European men

    The worlds population in 1900 was approaching 2 billion. Of which 10 million odd dying is of no consequence to the species.

    It also doesn’t matter much to the the soldiers genes of the smaller population directly related to those who died, the 500 ~ 600 million Europeans, as combined from their parents and shared in various combinations by their relatives, those genes existed before the war and remain after it.

    People often think the deaths in large wars influence the nature of populations but they generally don’t. WW2 killed more than any, but many more millions were alive at the end of it than the start because on the scale of populations of species (what matters if you’re interested in differentiation over time) wars count for very little.

    If wars did shape our population by killing our strongest on sufficient scale to alter us – and by us I mean the whole species because we’re all one and the same with tiny differences (the individual differences between any one of us and our neighbours on our street – presuming no close relation – are as great as the average differences between any two populations in different parts of the globe) we wouldn’t fight as many wars as we do.

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  65. ShawnLH (5,265 comments) says:

    “All wars are bankers wars.”

    Goodness, what a load of pseudo historical crap. So, Caesar’s war against the Gauls was about banking? The War of the Roses was about banking? The war between the Cherokee and the Iroquois was about banking? The various pre-European Maori tribal wars were about banking?

    Do conspiracy theorists actively train themselves to be stupid?

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  66. EAD (1,128 comments) says:

    Shawn – are you attacking strawmen for the 3rd time in a row?

    Did you spend some time watching the video and educating yourself before passing comment or are you making a sweeping generalisation based of the title of the video?

    What do you think Cicero was talking about when he said: “the sinews of war are infinite money”

    What do you think Orwell was talking about when he said: “War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it”

    What do you think Eisenhower was talking about when he said: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex.

    Of course ShawnLH from Kiwiblog might be right, but I’ll stick with Cicero, Orwell and Eisenhower in the meantime.

    PS: I actively train myself to read widely, very widely in fact, but how do I communicate with someone like yourself who suffers from the illusion of knowledge and who refuses to countenance anything that is contrary to their deeply rooted world view? Someone who just “wakes in their bed and believes whatever they want to believe”

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  67. KiwiGreg (3,255 comments) says:

    There’s a rather neat FB site which colorises WWI photos. Their website is http://www.colourisehistory.com/

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  68. ShawnLH (5,265 comments) says:

    “Shawn – are you attacking strawmen for the 3rd time in a row?”

    No. And your versions of what constitutes straw men seems very convenient.

    “Did you spend some time watching the video and educating yourself before passing comment or are you making a sweeping generalisation based of the title of the video?”

    Either the title is accurate in what it claims, in which case it is clearly wrong, or it’s an inaccurate title. When a video starts with a false premise I’m not inclined to trust the rest of it.

    “Of course ShawnLH from Kiwiblog might be right, but I’ll stick with Cicero, Orwell and Eisenhower in the meantime.”

    Orwell talks about central banking? I assume your referring to 1984, but 1984 does not support your personal notions. It’s a warning against totalitarianism, not a warning about democracy. And you assumption that it supports your particular ideas about libertarianism and the Austrian school is just using Orwell to suit yourself. People can take the warning of 1984 with having to become Austrian school libertarians, or any kind of libertarian.

    “I actively train myself to read widely, very widely in fact,”

    Possibly you do. So do I. Want to know how many Austrian school books I have read? Literally dozens. I used to download and read the free PDF books from Mises.org.

    “how do I communicate with someone like yourself who suffers from the illusion of knowledge”

    Arrogant much?

    “who refuses to countenance anything that is contrary to their deeply rooted world view?”

    The only deeply rooted world view I have is Christianity. What you keep forgetting is that I have been their and done that with regards to libertarianism and the Austrian school. My views about them changed precisely because I am willing to look at alternative points of view.

    Are you?

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  69. ShawnLH (5,265 comments) says:

    P.S.

    Orwell was a socialist, not a libertarian.

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  70. EAD (1,128 comments) says:

    Shawn,

    You are a well-read guy, I’ll give you that but just answer me one question:

    “Why should our Government, (which should have the exclusive power to create money), go into the open market and borrow it and pay interest for the use of its own money? I have never yet had anyone who could, through the use of logic and reason, justify the Government borrowing the use of its own money…….. In all sincerity, and with all the earnestness that I possess, it is absolutely wrong for the Government to issue interest-bearing obligations. It is not only wrong: it is extravagant. It is not only extravagant, it is wasteful. It is absolutely unnecessary.

    Below is a bit I’ve lifted from the below link:
    http://www.michaeljournal.org/lincolnkennedy.htm

    Lincoln printed 400 million dollars worth of Greenbacks (the exact amount being $449,338,902), money that he delegated to be created, a debt-free and interest-free money to finance the War. It served as legal tender for all debts, public and private. He printed it, paid it to the soldiers, to the U.S. Civil Service employees, and bought supplies for war.

    Shortly after that happened, “The London Times” printed the following: “If that mischievous financial policy, which had its origin in the North American Republic, should become indurated down to a fixture, then that Government will furnish its own money without cost. It will pay off debts and be without a debt. It will have all the money necessary to carry on its commerce. It will become prosperous beyond precedent in the history of the civilized governments of the world. The brains and the wealth of all coun­tries will go to North America. That govern­ment must be destroyed, or it will destroy every monarchy on the globe.”

    The Bankers obviously understood. The only thing, I repeat, the only thing that is a threat to their power is sovereign govern­ments printing interest-free and debt-free paper money. They know it would break the power of the international Bankers.

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  71. EAD (1,128 comments) says:

    Yes Orwell was a Socialist, but a Socialist who understand the tyranny of concentrated power so perhaps that makes him a Libertarian Socialist (yes I just made that term up)

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  72. ShawnLH (5,265 comments) says:

    The question of government borrowing money is to me not an either-or question. The real issue is how much is sustainable, and how much is dangerous. But governments sometimes have to borrow, that is just a reality of life. The argument that governments should never ever borrow is not realistic. Of course libertarians argue that either there should be no government, or that government spending should be so small that borrowing is never necessary. But after several years of supporting such ideas, I no longer think they are realistic. Anarchism would end up with some form of government sooner or later, and minarchism is a pipe dream at best that has never explained how it would adequately fund itself and what it does.

    7 LOGICAL Reasons a Gold Standard Is the Worst Idea Ever
    An examination of the main cases for the gold standard

    http://investorplace.com/2012/09/7-logical-reasons-a-gold-standard-is-the-worst-idea-ever/

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  73. ShawnLH (5,265 comments) says:

    “Yes Orwell was a Socialist, but a Socialist who understand the tyranny of concentrated power so perhaps that makes him a Libertarian Socialist (yes I just made that term up)”

    Is all concentrated power tyrannical? If so, how much? If you believe in some form of government, which I know you do, then an anarchist would say that is too much. So the question is a subjective one, as is the answer.

    I’m not in favor of any kind of totalitarianism, but exactly what constitutes such is a matter of opinion.

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  74. EAD (1,128 comments) says:

    You’ve missed my question – why should a government (when it has the power to mint currency) issue a debt security in its own currency when it has the power to create the money debt free?

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  75. ShawnLH (5,265 comments) says:

    Are you suggesting the government should just print more money?

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  76. ShawnLH (5,265 comments) says:

    Money and the Federal Reserve System: Myth and Reality

    “It is frequently argued that the Fed is the reason for the government’s debt. The argument usually is that, if it were not for the Fed, the government could have issued money itself directly from the Treasury, and would not have had to borrow; it then would not have had to pay interest. Sometimes it is implied that the only reason the Treasury issues securities is so that the Fed and its member banks can earn interest. Some commentators appear to believe that all Treasury debt is owned by the Fed.
    The Fed’s holdings of securities and its transactions are almost always conducted in the securities of the U.S. government. But the Fed never buys or sells directly to or from the Treasury; it is prohibited from doing so. It always conducts its business with the public in the open market. When the government needs to borrow to finance its operations, the Treasury sells its bonds and bills either directly to the public or through so-called “primary dealers.” The Federal Reserve typically buys these already-sold securities from the dealers.

    Government debt is generated by government borrowing. Whenever, receipts to the Treasury are less than outlays, the government must borrow to cover the difference. The amount of borrowing, measured by the deficit, is not decided by the Fed. The government’s debt and deficit are the result of the budgetary decisions of the Congress and President.

    A choice that the government has — a choice that is largely made by the Fed — is how much of that borrowing is going to be in the form of interest-bearing securities and how much is in the form of non-interest-bearing money. The decision is greatly influenced by the fact that excessive amounts of money creation are inflationary. Consequently, the amount of money used to finance the deficit is limited if inflation is to be avoided. All the rest must be financed by selling interest-bearing securities.

    As to the argument that the Fed gets the interest under the current system, and that the Treasury could avoid the interest payments if it issued the money itself, one must keep in mind that the Fed turns its profits over to the Treasury. Consequently, it makes no difference whether the Fed or the Treasury issues the money. In one case, the Treasury issues money, and saves the interest expense of issuing securities. In the other case, the Treasury issues securities, the Fed buys them, the Treasury pays interest, and the Fed gives the interest back. There is no difference in cost.

    In any case, the amount involved is small relative to the government’s total debt. Of the outstanding U.S. debt, the Fed holds less than 10%. The Fed can hardly be considered responsible for the fact that the government owes $4 trillion when it only holds $400 billion of it.”

    http://home.hiwaay.net/~becraft/FRS-myth.htm

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