I would tell you of a war that should never have occurred. Of course that can be said of all wars but alas some had to be fought but the one that started 100 years ago this month is one that should never have happened.
28 July 1914, Europe has just stepped off the precipice into the quagmire called War pulling the majority of the world with it.
The first recorded war happened around 2700 B.C.E. and mankind has been waging it with varying success or not, ever since. Actually we are rather good at it. There are two species of creatures on this Planet that engage in War, Man and the Ants. What does that say? So 4714 years ago the first war was recorded and only because at that time humans of the area had learned to write. War itself has been going on since our ancestors realized they could bash each other’s skulls in using a tree branch. So from out of the mist of time comes mankind’s greatest sport. If the amount of time, wealth, and energy that the species has put into devising newer and better ways to eradicate each other had been put to other pursuits we would more than likely be travelling amongst the stars by now.
Returning to the anniversary of World War I let us have a very brief lesson in History as to why the war started. There were actually a great many causes such as colonialism, balance of power in Europe and just plain animosity on the part of some of the participants. The so called straw was the assignation of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro Hungarian Empire and his wife Sophie in Sarajevo buy an ethnic Serb, Gavrilo Princip. Austria sent harsh demands to Serbia giving them only 48 hours to comply. Serbia did so on all demands except for the ones that would end their independence which they asked to be arbitrated by the Court at Le Hague. With the complete rejection of this by Austria Serbia called upon its Slavic cousins, Russia to help. Hence the first step was taken. The short version is Serbia called on Russia, Austria called on Germany, France jumped in because of treaties with Russia and in the England jumped in because Germany would not commit to securing Belgium’s’ neutrality . So Europe snowballed into war and with it dragging all of the British Empire and Commonwealth. Thus Canada rallied to save the “Motherland and serve King and Country”. With nationalism running rampant it was almost as if the world was eager for a blood bath and for the next 4 years it would be in blood up to its armpits.
In the opening months of the war the snowball grew bigger until all of Europe plus the colonies of France, Germany, and Britain were pulled in. In the Far East Japan declared war on Germany so it was becoming a world war and the young men of these nations flocked to the colours eager to participate in the great adventure. By September 1914 the trenches had started to be dug and soon they would stretch continuously for four hundred miles, from the North Sea to the Swiss border. It was here in this no man’s land between the two lines of trenches that Death strode killing and maiming the young warriors of both sides. For in those days Death feasted well on the tens of thousands of corpses lying strewed about like mowed wheat. When the rain came the earth transformed into a gelatinous goo that could swallow a man, it also caused the bodies that ‘had been hastily buried to resurface filling the air with a gut retching stench of decay. Now the Gods of War were once again feted and the sacrifices that sated their appetites grew gluttonous. By wars end between 15,163,603 and 17, 989, 982 military and civilians would be dead and the world changed forever.
The borders of Europe would change and Kings would fall as new countries sprang up or old ones reasserted themselves. Throughout the world colonies would exchange one master for another as in the Far East Japan would gain the German Colonies and in Africa Britain would gain also from the takeover of German colonies. All around the world the old would vanish and the new arise. Perhaps the greatest change would come in Russia where the Tsar would be swept aside and a fledgling democracy would arise for a brief period only to fall To the Bolsheviks and Communism. The Tsar, his wife and 5 children would be executed in July of 1918 at the hands of the Communists. A war that should never have happened would change the course of world history for eons to come. Because of this war and its results the stage was set for the rise of Communism in Russia, the Rise of Fascism in Italy and Spain, and most important the rise of Nazi Germany and the resulting 2nd World War. From the ashes of the 2nd World War would rise the Cold War, the Korean War and the Vietnamese War all fought over ideological differences brought about by the competition of the Western Democracy and Communist Russian and China.
So this dirty nasty little war that was to end all wars did just the opposite and 21 years after its end the far greater carnage of the 2nd World War would occur.