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June 28, 1914

A guest post by Alan Knox.

Alan lives in California where he studies Sociology at the State University. He was formerly from Burringbar NSW and attended Murwillumbah High School.

Today is a very significant centennial. It was on Sunday, June 28, 1914 that Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his wife, Archduchess Sophie, were assassinated in Sarajevo. Archduke Franz Ferdinand was a nephew of Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph.

Mankind has felt the results of those assassinations ever since. Exactly a month later, on July 28, 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia. Within another week, many of the Great Powers and some minor powers had become involved in the war.

Great Britain and the British Empire entered the conflict on August 4, 1914. World War One was the great tragedy of the twentieth century, for two reasons. Firstly, it was unnecessary. Secondly, it was the cause of all the terrible events that followed: the Great Depression, Nazis, Communists, World War Two, the Holocaust, the Cold War, Zionism, the Zionist-Palestinian conflict, terrorism.

So mankind is STILL paying the price of World War One! In 1914, Europe had enjoyed a century of relative peace, since the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 and the Congress of Vienna of 1814-1815. Indeed, in 1914, there had been no wars in Western Europe since the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. Some historians call that period of peace in Western Europe following the Franco-Prussian War “Bismarck’s peace” after the wise Otto von Bismarck, the first German Chancellor. For more than a century immediately prior to 1914, mankind appeared to be approaching a Golden Age as a result both of material progress facilitated by the Industrial Revolution and of improvements in mankind’s behaviour such as the widespread abolition of chattel slavery and advances in social justice.

However, in 1914, mankind took a gigantic step backward, a gigantic step from which we have not recovered and may not recover. Family ties failed to prevent the disaster of 1914. Indeed, the crisis of that year sent German Emperor William II, Queen Victoria’s first grandchild, to war against his first cousin King George V of Great Britain.

The carnage that followed was unprecedented. Fearsome new weapons were introduced to the battlefield: the tank, the airplane, the flame thrower and, perhaps most terrible of all, poisonous gas.

At least one of my great-uncles, Bill Greenhalgh (Royal Australian Army), was a victim of a poisonous gas attack on the Western Front. He survived the gas attack and the War. However, he suffered from breathing problems for the remainder of his life. He lived until my early childhood. Another of my great-uncles, Albert Tripcony (Royal Australian Army), lost his life on the Western Front and is buried in the War Cemetery in Villers-Bretonneux. His brother Vincent Tripcony (Royal Australian Army) also served on the Western Front, was wounded in the jaw and thigh but survived the War and lived until 1975. So, a century to the day after it all started, are we any wiser?

I see little if any evidence of it. We humans are a dysfunctional species. Mankind continues in his extremely dangerous downward spiral that began that sunny Sunday in Sarajevo exactly a century ago. As the conflict was breaking out in 1914, Sir Edward Grey, who passionately attempted to prevent it, observed, “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime”.

No doubt, he foresaw the cultural, moral and spiritual damage to mankind that the coming conflict would cause. Some traditionalists, including Pat Buchanan, fear that World War One was the beginning of the end of Christian civilization.

Some decades ago, I read Carl Jung’s books “Modern Man in Search of a Soul” and “The Undiscovered Soul“. In one of those two books, Jung points out that World War One revealed how fragile civilization is.

Sir Edward Grey was correct:

The lamps were not lit again in his lifetime. Will they be lit again in our lifetime? Will they be lit again? Will we recover from that gigantic backward step we took in 1914? Let us hope so! Let us strive to light the lamps again! Let us strive to recover from that gigantic backward step we took in 1914! Let us strive to bring about, at last, that Golden Age that mankind appeared to be approaching for more than a century immediately prior to 1914! Very best wishes to all!

Alan Knox


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  1. Zachary Church

    Sadly not if Abbott has his way. His latest attempts at warmongering on foreign soil go against all the positives you hope for John. Every time I see and hear this evil trash I have an overwhelming feeling of being unclean. Life under this Abbott conglomeration of incompetent self centred, nation destroying fools has become one of survival, no longer a happy pleasant existence.
    We in my family make do and get by, tens of thousands are not.

  2. hemingway13

    This is sound and thoughtful commentary. As a Vietnam Veteran, I’ve always felt a strong affinity with those who served in or suffered from the bloodlust tragedy of The Great War.

    It is most saddening that the Balkans ignited into killing fields yet again at the end of the century and that most wars of our current century are at least partially the consequence of Great Britain and France during WWI carving up the spoils of Asia Minor out of the crumbling Ottoman/Turkish Empire (often called the secret Sykes/Picot Agreement).

    While British army officer T. E. Lawrence was stoking, duplicitously, the flames of Arab independence as recounted in his ‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ and ‘Revolt in the Desert’, insupportable boundaries were being drawn to suit victorious European colonial powers in total disregard for the dominant historical tribal allegiances and religious sectarianisms of the inhabitants in these new “Protectorates”. After WWI Britain was given a mandate over the area, a large section of which they renamed Iraq.

    During the early 1920’s, massive oil deposits in Mesopotamia proved a powerful and iniquitous incentive for Britain to perpetrate one of the world’s first horrific air bombing campaigns in their determination to subdue its Arab insurgents/rebels/freedom fighters/terrorists/separatists/loyalists/nationalists/jihadists/patriots (the connotations of the names might change, but the combatants’ diabolical orgy of killing, maiming and destruction for control of resources and for territorial hegemony remains the same).

    To quote a Nobel Prize laureate of that era, W. B. Yeats, from his poem “Second Coming” (1919):

    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

  3. Dennis Bauer

    I fear it has gone beyond the word evil trash Zachary, I don’t think evil is a strong enough word.
    I feel “blind unreasoned insanity” may be more the term. Not an insanity as in mentally ill, but an insanity as in intelligence that has become blind, unreasonably, cruel, coldly devoid of all empathy, a spectre of merciless hate unknown even to the psychopath.

  4. mars08

    That’s why I get so shitty around ANZAC day every year.

    So much energy put into glorifying, worshipping, glamourising the war dead… and so little effort put into understanding the foolishness that caused it. Our fellow citizens are encouraged to commemorate the event without questioning the context and background leading to the tragedy.

    It boggles my mind how practically nobody I know realise that much of today’s news… can be traced back to those assassinations in Sarajevo a century ago.

  5. Matters Not

    A minor point but an important one. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand as the ’cause’ of World War One has been over stated by many historians and it has mislead many over the years.

    For a start, the claim:

    heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire

    is somewhat simplistic. The truth is he was the heir presumptive and not even a heir apparent. Wiki explains

    Besides Franz Ferdinand and particularly Archduchess Sophie were not well regarded within the realms of power. The relationship between the Emperor Franz Joseph and Franz Ferdinand was always ‘tense’, to put it mildly. Put simply, going to war over the death of an unpopular ‘presumptive’ heir is egregious.

    The assassination was the ‘excuse’ or ‘pretext’ rather than the ’cause’. The causes include concepts such as the arms race, imperialism, militarism, nationalism and the like.

  6. mars08

    The assassination was the ‘excuse’ or ‘pretext’

    It set the wheels in motion, it got the ball rolling, it was the last straw, it was the trigger, it opened the door, it was the spark… when all is said and done, it matters not. The point is that things escalated very quickly after that event.

  7. donwreford

    Brilliant writing by Alan Knox, I have recently looked at cost of military costs such as tanks, rockets and so on, the cost of these destruction of this hardware is difficult to grasp, it is profoundly sad our leaders of today seem to be unable to grasp working towards peace, and inability get their heads around the past destruction and the cruelty that this entails, is not even on their horizon, what motivates these people? it is their ego of preposterous self importance, and divorced from any realistic appraisal of reality, this means damage of the environment, damage to people, and the betrayal of future unborn generations.

  8. mars08

    Next year is the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings. The chest-thumping and political exploitation is going to be unbearable.

  9. darrel nay

    Thanks Alan,

    Peace is the only way forward.

    Democide, genocide and war have been pushed and financed by bankers for thousands of years – politicians are simply the puppet cheer squad who convince the soldiers to put their lives at risk. Generally, in war, the records show that the bankers choose to finance (and profit from) both sides of the conflict. If we look at the word ‘government’ we can see that it has two parts: -govern > control
    -ment > mind (from mental)

    There are countless wars going on at the moment despite the fact that the average person prefers peace. The propaganda machine teaches us that wars are due to people being unable to get along with each other but the truth is that all of these wars are funded, promoted and initiated by those behind the scenes who are too gutless to enter the battlefield themselves – pick any war today and you will find the big-name banks are manoeuvering in the shadows. Modern warfare is the most immoral in history because the overwhelming majority of casualties are civilians.


  10. Pingback: Propaganda will push us into war - Social Rebirth

  11. Pingback: Propaganda will push us into war – Social Rebirth

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