Origins of the First World War

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Splendid Isolation? Britain, the Balance of Power and the Origins of the First World War

Splendid Isolation? Britain, the Balance of Power and the Origins of the First World War

Having said that, this is not an easy book to review. First of all, its title is slightly misleading. This is not primarily a history of British foreign policy from Disraeli's second administration to the outbreak of the Great War. Charmley's chief interest is rather in what he calls a Conservative, or 'Country Party', foreign policy tradition. Secondly, especially in the first part of the book, he deals less with the actual course of British diplomacy than with the politics of British foreign policy, that is the influence of diverse groups and individuals within the Cabinet on policy-making. It is here, in its 'high politics' approach, that the book's real strength lies. Broadly speaking, the book falls into three parts, the first of which deals with the problems of British foreign policy under the auspices of the awkward Disraeli-Derby tandem. This is followed by a survey of Lord Salisbury's long and unruffled ascendancy over Britain's foreign relations, and its sequel under Lord Lansdowne. As almost a kind of anti-dote, the final part of the book is devoted to what Charmley sees as Edward Grey's gratuitous over-committing of this country to France and Russia, and his subsequent blundering into war.
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Reflections on the Great War

Reflections on the Great War

The blame game actually started prior to the outbreak of hostilities as each of the major powers and a few of the minor powers released a highly selective collection of official documents—some of which were fraudulent and many of which were intentionally misleading—and all of which were designed to deflect culpability for the war. After the war, the game continued and, not surprisingly, all five of the European powers were fingered. Both the Kaiser and the Russian Foreign Minister blamed the British, as does Niall Ferguson (1998). Many historians, including Fritz Fischer (1967, 1975), Annika Mombauer (2013), Max Hastings (2013), John Röhl (2014), and political scientist Dale Copeland (2000) point to the Germans. The important work of Samuel Williamson (1990), however, clearly shows that many of “the steps that pushed Europe toward war were taken in Vienna.” At the same time Christopher Clark’s book demonstrates convincingly that the French were more highly involved than is generally understood. And Sean McMeekin’s (2011) penetrating analysis of the Russian Origins of the First World War most certainly implicates the Russians. So who is to blame? From the point of view of The Games of July, all of these answers and none of these answers are correct. In the Sleepwalkers, Christopher Clark assiduously tried to avoid answering this question. In the end, however, his conclusion about the conflict, I believe, is the most incisive: Clark characterized the July crisis as “genuinely interactive” (p. 561). In other words, had the policies and decisions of any of the five major powers and of Serbia been other than what they were, the nature of the war would have been much different. Indeed, the war might not have occurred at all. This is a conclusion that I reach in The Games of July. I believe that in light of the most recent scholarship it holds up well.
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Overlooked : Tasmanian Aborigines in the First World War

Overlooked : Tasmanian Aborigines in the First World War

The Bass Strait sealing industry began in 1798 when Captain Charles Bishop and his crew obtained 9,000 skins at Kent Bay on Cape Barren Island. The number of seal taken over the next eight years all but decimated the industry, forcing the big Sydney and American based companies to move on to new grounds in New Zealand. This opened up the Bass Strait islands to exploitation by smaller companies from Hobart and Launceston, who were forced at times to put into the north coast of Van Diemen’s Land for repairs and sustenance. This brought the sealers into contact with Aborigines from the North West and North East nations on their summer pilgrimage to the coast for mutton-birds, seals, shellfish and other seabirds and their eggs. As contact intensified some Aborigines were willing to trade with the sealers. This started with kangaroo skins, but later included women, who were exchanged for dogs or traded to another sealer when no longer needed. Not all would be traded, with many women kidnapped by other clans or by the sealers themselves to help catch and skin the seals. Another often overlooked family grouping which also had its origins in Tasmania is that belonging to Betty, a Tasmanian Aboriginal woman who was taken to Kangaroo Island where she later married Nathaniel Thomas and raised a family. Among her closest friends were two other women who had come from Tasmania and been forcibly removed to Kangaroo Island, where they eked out the rest of their lives. 30 Four of
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First World War Digital Resources

First World War Digital Resources

Returning to an Anglo-centric focus, and building upon material contributed by the Europeana project, the British Library has released its own First World War website [7]. As with the first two sites reviewed, the Library’s resources are collated into broad themes based upon the political, military and social history of the conflict. And, as with the other sites previously mentioned, the site is dotted with an impressive array of visual accompaniments to the main articles. The unique selling point for the British Library however is the impressive quality and depth of those articles. Written by a combination of internationally renowned scholars such as David Stevenson [8], and subject-specific experts such as Santanu Das [9] (on the experiences of colonial troops) and Susan Grayzel [10] (the roles of women), the articles offer readers an introduction to the conflict based not upon ‘myths’ and popular perceptions but upon the latest academic scholarship. The series of articles on the historical debates surrounding the First World War is particularly welcome in light of the ongoing trend of mainstream debates in the run up to August 2014. Outlining many of the controversies which have dominated the mainstream commentary on the centenary, and offering links to both related items within the Library’s collection and to external sites of interest, Annika Mombauer’s digest of the origins of the war [11] is a notable example of the strengths of the British Library site.
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Echoes of the Great War: The recordings of African prisoners in the First World War

Echoes of the Great War: The recordings of African prisoners in the First World War

I suggest to understand these acoustic traces as echo-voices, that is, not only in the sense of their sonic qualities as abbreviated, mediated and often distorted traces of speech acts, songs and stories, which implicate the modification of the voice that spoke, but also as the uncertain reverberations of accounts, messages, interventions, commentary and critique that was articulated from subaltern positions in the process of producing an archive of languages. As echo-voices, the acoustic traces elude their containment or assimilation in the archive. The conceptualisation of the voice recordings as echoes offers an approach to understanding the recordings of African prisoners of war, which were generated under the auspices of a project of colonial knowledge production, as a locus of reverberation that evades complete containment. The notion of the echo-voice may be good to think with, since it allows for the re-surfacing of ambiguous responses that resided in the interstices of formalised speech acts, between the lines of grammatical examples, and that were at times emerging blatantly direct in the recordings of soldiers’ songs and accounts of suffering and fear. Yet even in the case of the most direct
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Treating and preventing trauma: British military psychiatry during the Second World War

Treating and preventing trauma: British military psychiatry during the Second World War

In order to elucidate the perspective of psychiatrists who faced the Second 'World War, it is important therefore to examine both the history in War involvement First World the the of an[r]

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Panic over the pub : drink and the First World War

Panic over the pub : drink and the First World War

The abolition of treating was a major assault on working class custom as it was the most popular method by which drinks were purchased. Balfour had originally raised the idea in March in Cabinet with the caveat that ‘these suggestions may perhaps seem at first sight somewhat fantastic, but they are in my judgement worth consideration’. 42 That he describes them as ‘fantastic’ indicates the swift change in attitude that had occurred. What had once seemed like fantasy was now reality. One newspaper believed that the ‘abolition of treating is perhaps the greatest revolution in our social customs produced by the war’. 43 The custom had long been criticised by the temperance movement and the CCB agreed, believing it to be an invidious practice. Treating was known as the ‘have another habit’, due to its tendency to encourage long bouts of drinking, as people would not normally leave the public house until the round had been completed. For many, though, treating was looked upon with fondness and was an intrinsic aspect of the social experience that the pub offered. ‘Why’, commented one old man, ‘more than half the pleasure of a dram lies in having a friend to share it with.’ 44 Others saw the ban as a security measure, ‘[the no treating order] tried to stop the social life of the pub as much as possible, because of the possibility of people saying unguarded things, having a drink or two over the odds’ noted William Benham. 45
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Art from the First World War Review Article

Art from the First World War Review Article

Big though the IWM’s exhibition Truth and Memory: British Art of the First World War may be, the accompanying publication, Art from the First World War is far less substantial than Meirion and Susie Harries’ encyclopaedic 1983 The War Artists: British Official War Art of the Twentieth Century. Although published with the help of the IWM and the Tate Gallery, however, the Harries'book was not an exhibition catalogue, which is what the compact but unindexed and unpaginated Truth and Memory publication is. We see, however, contrary to Wilkinson’s misgivings, that there are many professional artists who served ‘in the trenches’ and managed to pass on to us their ‘records’. In his introduction, Roger Tolson, Head of the IWM Department of Art, shows that even as Wilkinson was fretting in Suvla Bay, the politicians were shaping plans for a ‘an unprecedented act of government sponsorship of the arts’, led by Charles Masterman. In fact, the Masterman scheme built upon existing public patronage, one form of which was that of Wilkinson by the Navy.
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Shell shocked: trauma, the emotions and the First World War

Shell shocked: trauma, the emotions and the First World War

Most historians’ comments on Regeneration are less critical than engaged, but they are fascinated by the novel for the same reason: it is the unusual proportion of fact to fiction in Regeneration which really gets under my professional colleagues’ skins. Siegfried Sassoon really did protest against the war in 1917, and after some string-pulling by his friend Robert Graves, he really was sent to Craiglockhart for treatment by W. H. R. Rivers. It needs none of what Hilary Mantel calls ‘the novelist’s arithmetic’ to manoeuvre a strange meeting with Owen: it happened, and we have Sassoon’s handwriting all over the drafts of ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ to prove it. Most of the less familiar characters in Regeneration are also real: the doctors Bryce, Brock, Head and Yealland all treated shell shock and published details of their work in wartime medical journals, while the histories of patients such as Burns and Anderson correspond to case studies in Rivers’ published writings. Of the major characters in the novel, only Billy Prior and Sarah Lumb are entirely fictional creations. The novel liberally quotes from historical ‘documents’, including the Times and the poetry of Owen and Sassoon. Barker not only portrays real people and events, she constructs a narrative which takes its place among several other factual, fictional, and semi-fictional versions of the same events by the protagonists, of varying length, depth and reliability: Sassoon’s fictionalized memoir Sherston’s Progress (1936); his ‘straight’ autobiography Siegfried’s Journey (1946); Robert Graves’ Goodbye To All That (1929); Rivers’ Conflict and Dream (1923); and Owen’s letters. The author’s note at the end of the novel also points readers to two histories which Barker drew on, Eric Leed’s No Man’s Land: combat and identity in World War I (1979) and Elaine Showalter’s The Female Malady: women, madness and English culture, 1830–1980 (1985).
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A Composer Goes to War: E. J. Moeran and the First World War

A Composer Goes to War: E. J. Moeran and the First World War

other composer) had selected a style of working specifically as a response to the war, this would be detectable as a distinct variance with their earlier work. However, while it may be possible to show this for other composers, in Moeran’s case, only five works survive that are known to have been composed before he went to the front line and was injured in 1917, and three of these—the piano work Fields at Harvest (probably December 1915), the song-cycle Four Songs from ‘A Shropshire Lad’ (July 1916) and what is now published as the second movement of the String Quartet in E flat (probably November 1916) indicate the influence of folk music, and may be considered as displaying the characteristics of a pastoral idiom. In later life, Moeran was prone to destroying earlier compositions that he found now displeased him, and the present author has estimated based on the number of former works that are known or believed to have previously existed that just a small proportion of Moeran’s work produced between 1913 and 1925 has survived. 93 Thus, it seems to be very likely that Moeran
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The Empire at war: British and Indian perceptions of empire in the First World War

The Empire at war: British and Indian perceptions of empire in the First World War

It is impossible to show that an individual did not have a belief in the British Empire by the lack of enthusiasm in one letter. A letter is but a snapshot of a person’s mentality in one moment in time. Yet, these letters are all the evidence that we have. If disillusionment, ambivalence or anger comes through in a letter rather than a concern for honour or duty, we must accept this as being more powerful in the individual’s mind at the time of writing. As these themes come through frequently, we cannot make the argument that the Indian soldiers were motivated by honour and duty, because clearly many of them no longer believed in these. We should bear in mind what has been discussed in the first two chapters of this study. Some of the British officers, such as Willcox and Alexander, believed the role of the Indian soldiers was to be completely loyal. Some of the Indians saw this as their role too, as
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Army officers, historians and journalists: the emergence, expansion and diversification of British military history, 1854 1914

Army officers, historians and journalists: the emergence, expansion and diversification of British military history, 1854 1914

Following the completion of Artillery Operations in 1859, the next official history to be produced concerned the Abyssinian expedition of 1867-8. The work, published in 1870 under the title Record of the Expedition to Abyssinia, was compiled in the Topographical and Statistical Department of the War Office by Major T.J. Holland and Captain Henry Hozier as both officers had first-hand experience of the staff arrangements of the expedition. Holland, as Assistant Quarter-General of the Bombay Army, had overseen the embarkation of the Indian Army units used in the campaign, while Hozier had been on the expedition’s staff. The work was intended as a compilation of the intelligence information gathered on the area and its people as well as a collection of reports which provided instructive information regarding the administration of an expedition in this region. Thus, the climatic readings taken by the expedition were included along with a history of the British relations with the area, including a description of the language, customs, and religion of the natives. The Official History also contained detailed information about the supplies used by the expedition and the administrative techniques employed by the force. For example, it listed how much food was taken by each soldier in so much detail that even the daily turmeric ration issued to each man was recorded. The arrangement of a water supply was a particular concern of the work, and the methods employed to secure the daily ration of this resource was also considered in great detail. By contrast, the actual fighting which took place only received a cursory mention, and no didactic information was provided regarding it. The decisive action of the campaign, the
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The Empire at war: British and Indian perceptions of empire in the First World War

The Empire at war: British and Indian perceptions of empire in the First World War

To say that Captain Singh ‘was as white a man who ever lived’ is an interesting conception of bravery. This suggests that the highest compliment that can be paid to and Indian is to call him ‘white’. This must be taken in context: he was an educated man, and a doctor. In this case, he was not saying that Singh was ‘white’ in colour, but rather ‘white’ meaning ‘honourable’ and ‘square-dealing’, as was common slang at the time. 99 In this case, calling an Indian white does not refer to his brave acts, but more his upbringing and education. That this should be summed up by the word ‘white’ shows Alexander thought that such qualities were generally European. Notions of heroism are important in understanding this. Time and again, British officers refer to the reckless bravery of the Indians. The British conceive the acts of heroism performed by Indian soldiers differently from their own. Dawson studied this notion of idealised masculinity and heroism in the British Empire. By looking at biographies, news reports and novels he found that notions of masculinity were important to British national imaginings. 100 This notion was referred to as ‘sterling qualities’ by Margaret Thatcher after the Falklands war. 101 The British self-conception of their own bravery prevalent at the time of the Empire and WWI (from which Thatcher’s remark drew) was based on a stoic, hardy masculinity. When Alexander calls Singh ‘white’ he is referring to a different kind of heroism that he saw in the actions of the Indian rank and file soldiers who escaped the German army. It was indeed brave to return to the mules instead of going straight for the trenches, but it was reckless. He says they ‘strolled’ in. This suggests that he believed them to be relaxed and almost unthinking about their actions. The British conception of Indian bravery in this case is that when they were brave, they were in a sense foolish or
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Combat Resilience in the First World War – a Historiographical Review

Combat Resilience in the First World War – a Historiographical Review

British soldiers were viewed by many as an occupying force little better than the Germans. Because France resembled a ‘demographic no man’s land’, women were drawn to British soldiers because they were either short of money or they craved companionship.(33) It was a relationship of convenience for both parties who were denied a human connection. Soldiers’ knew that women offered their services for one of three reasons: one, they were in need of cash; two, they desired sex and were not finicky about who their partner was; third, some women freely gave themselves as a reward for fighting.(34)Trouble was never far away and sex was accompanied by ‘looting, drunkenness, resisting arrest, and general indiscipline’.(35) Of even greater concern to the High Command was the spread of venereal disease. Treatment typically lasted two months and threatened to compromise Britain’s most precious commodity – officers.(36) Conspicuously absent from studies concerned with explaining how the troops ‘kept going’ is a balanced examination of the intersection between civilians and servicemen.(37) Sadly, most relationships ended with the closing of the war and even more bizarre is that most locals were glad to see them leave. These women were courageous and bold in their actions. They did their bit to give men a taste of their former lives and brought relief and relaxation in a way that no other palliative could. Indeed, for some historians they were the unsung heroes of the war.
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A Terrible Beauty: British Artists in the First World War

A Terrible Beauty: British Artists in the First World War

Futurism, Vorticism, or Imagism, as Hynes recounts, was derided as ‘a sickness, a fraud, or a foolish triviality’. (26) Although the momentum of pre- war Modernism sustained the arts for a short while into 1915, caution prevailed. (27) Ironically, into this hesitant, at times septic, environment was introduced one of the largest and most comprehensive arts patronage schemes ever to be devised in the country. It was a scheme that is now regarded as one of the British government’s ‘few inspired moments’ of the entire war, largely because it eventually recognised the cultural value of artistic records in addition to their initial function as propaganda. (28) It had several phases – a propaganda phase, a ‘record’ (or documentary) period, and a final commemorative chapter, which tried to fashion the vast body of commissioned art into meaningful shape. Few of these phases were pure; they overlapped; they repeated, they are now almost impossible to untangle. Happenchance also played a major part in the choice of artists: rivalry saw some promoted over others; prejudice denied some the opportunity to escape the tedium of active service. Those who were commissioned – and there were a great many – produced some of the most extraordinary pieces of art of the last century. Exactly how it came about is a fascinating, if slightly, convoluted tale.
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British Diplomacy on Albania during the First World War

British Diplomacy on Albania during the First World War

Slavdom there. Thus, Salandra, on 2 October, had instructed the Italian Ambassador in London, Imperiali, to notify Sir Grey with Italian request hoping on its approval (Gottlieb 1957, 235- 236). Imperiali, in his discussion with Sir Edward Grey, had justified the willingness of Italy to take the port, as a “'temporary‟ measure”. According to him Valona was threatened by Albanian and Epirote bands. Besides the approval for the acquisition of Valona, it was also asked from Great Britain to mediate to Russia and France for the issue in question. Grey had immediately sent a telegraph to the British Ambassador in Russia, Buchanan, declaring that opposition to Italy on this issue would reduce the chances of its entry in the war on the Allies‟ side, therefore he hoped that Sazonov would respond positively to Italy (Gottlieb 1957, 236; Marjanović 1962, 62). It was highly probable that, Sir Edward Grey had expressed to Imperiali the opinion that Italy should not negotiate with the Central Powers on the issue of Valona, considering that Imperiali since the first meeting with Sir Edward Grey had drawn the attention of Salandra not to discuss the matter in question with the Austro-Hungarian or German Government. Italian Government had waived from discussion with the Central Powers while Sazonov and Delcassé, after the insistence of Sir Edward Grey, as Imperiali had also noted, had approved the request of Italy (Gottlieb 1957, 236-237).
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(De)Touring Europe: The Balkan, The Postcolonial and Christos Tsiolkas’s Dead Europe

(De)Touring Europe: The Balkan, The Postcolonial and Christos Tsiolkas’s Dead Europe

A borderland of numerous geopolitical and cultural areas, the Balkans have been a significant imaginary topos for European writers as well as an object for a host of othering metaphors since early modernity. Scholars have argued that the quasi-Orientalist discourse about the region – aptly named Balkanism (Todorova, 1997) – has both reinforced and disturbed the idea of Europe: within white, Christian and civilised Europe, there resides a not-so-white, not-so-Christian and not-so-civilised Self. Not only have the Balkans been represented in fiction and non-fiction as the unfortunate source of international crises such as the First World War and disreputable regimes such as Nazism, but the political setup of this peninsula has been used as a recurrent metaphor for sectarianism, barbarism and self-serving partisanship, as valid for Eastern Europe as for Africa, Asia or Latin America (Kaplan, 1994: xxiii-xxviii). While valuable conclusions have been drawn about Balkanist discourse and its variants in different literary genres and periods (Todorova, 1997; Goldsworthy, 1998; Hammond, 2007a), the critical emphasis has very much stayed with European fiction. With the exception of Andrew Hammond’s analysis of US travel writing, there has been no study of how the Balkans feature in literary examples from Europe’s former colonial spaces, of what function the Balkan trope performs in postcolonial fictional texts, and how these versions of ‘the Balkan’ have been affected by the European legacy in postcolonial contexts.
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World War One through Scottish eyes. Scots and identity in the British army during the First World War.

World War One through Scottish eyes. Scots and identity in the British army during the First World War.

Splendid victories during the Crimean War (1854-1856), the Indian Mutiny (1857- 1859) and the Mahdist War (1881-1899) reinforced the Scotsman’s pride in the Highland regiments. The press made sure that their names were known all over Britain and certain regiments or generals became associated with particular battles. Lieutenant-Colonel (later Major-General) Hector MacDonald, the hero of the Battle of Omdurman (1898), for example toured the country after his return to Britain, delivering speeches. His funeral in 1903 attracted a large crowd, testifying to his lasting popularity. The image of the heroic Highland soldier was also spread through songs, plays, poems, engravings and paintings. More colorful than the average British soldier because of their dress, the Highland soldiers made good material for engravings, sculptures and paintings. Robert Gibbs’ famous Thin Red Line was just one of many. Memorials, histories and memoires constantly reinforced this image. In the course of the nineteenth century, the Highlanders came to be seen to represent the ‘martial spirit’ of the entire nation, not just of the Highlands. Defeats had little influence on this heroic image. Priding in their service to the British Empire, the returns of the regiments from South Africa after the Boer Wars (1880-1881 and 1899-1902) were festive occasions, and ever more memorials arose, dedicated to the regiments and their generals. This would only reach its peak during the First World War. With the creation of four Scottish (9 th Scottish, 15 th Scottish, 51 st Highland and 52 nd Lowland) Divisions and the raising of countless new battalions, more Scots than ever before took up arms, serving at every possible front. That the 51 st Highland Division - paradoxically mainly composed of Lowland Scots – was the most popular British Division of all at home should surprise no one by now. 31
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Mapping the First World War Using Interactive Streamgraphs

Mapping the First World War Using Interactive Streamgraphs

We have successfully used streamgraphs and unsupervised named entity recognition in order to compress and represent 5 years of daily press related to the first world war in an online interactive visualization tool. Our method can be extended to any domain or field of study over any period of time. In biology, for example, event mining and named entity recognition are very common for identifying protein and gene names, and interactions in between.

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Calvary Or Catastrophe? French Catholicism's First World War

Calvary Or Catastrophe? French Catholicism's First World War

To understand this position more fully we must to turn to the matter of French literary nationalism itself and how it came to be defined at the end of the nineteenth century, coinciding with the beginnings of the French Catholic revival. No early twentieth century writer is more associated with this position than Maurice Barrès. Author of a series of explicitly nationalistic works, the cycles Roman de l’énergie nationale most specifically, Barrès became the standard-bearer for French literary nationalism like no other. Writing an almost daily column in the Écho de Paris, later published as the Chronique de la Grande Guerre, Barrès became known variously as the “rossignol du carnage” or the “grand chef de la tribu des bourreurs de crâne”. 55 Like the Catholic revivalists, Barrès’s vision of France was pre-determined, its roots fixed in relation to “la terre et les morts”. French identity, fixed within Churches, memorials, and the earth itself became aestheticized within a collective past, postulated as an organic unity during the war years. Drawing on longstanding imaginative positions to create a unified – and exclusive - sense of national identity, Barrès is often grouped with the revivalists as an example of the ways in which violence became aestheticized or moulded into imaginative patterns that tapped into ancient traditions. As I show in this chapter, in both cases, the utilization of the imagery of rebirth, resurrection and metamorphosis sets up a troubling relationship between nationalism and art, throwing into question art’s ancient commitment to what is beautiful rather than violent. Like Barrès, Bloy and Claudel come to no conclusion about the fundamental contradiction of Christian
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