One hundred years ago this month marks the beginning of WWI, The Great War, The War to End All Wars. WWI is often lost in American history in part by our late arrival to the action, and in part because it is overshadowed by WWII.
The human and physical devastation of The Great War had a lasting effect on the European psyche that lasts to this day. Not only was the First World War the direct causation of the Second (in Europe), but a significant cause of the Great Depression. Too bad that fact is not taught in American history where we think bank runs and Okies and bread lines were a pure American phenomena of the 1930's. The world was wracked in an economic slump, not just here in the good old USA.
Back to my point. There is an old military maxim that armies plan their tactics to win the last war. The opening days and weeks of 1914 saw what happens when nineteenth century tactics met twentieth century killing machines. Chew on this with your Raisin Bran this morning: in the first three months of the war there were over one million military casualties. No one can even guess the civilian toll as battle lines were formed from The Netherlands to Switzerland and across the Eastern Front with Russia and through the Balkans. Ponder that a moment -- one million men.
Take some time to do a little reading on the forgotten war. The ramifications of the events of 1914-1918 last to this day in the boundaries, the economies, the politics of the modern world. Everything changed in August of 1914.
*one good place to start is Barbara Tuchman's "The Guns of August"
Thanks for the reading recommendation.
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