Politics, diplomacy, revolution and mutiny take center stage at the start of this episode, but mud, blood, shells and tragedy drown all by the end.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
What you're about to hear is part five of a multi part series on the first world war. If you haven't caught the earlier episodes- and you want to know what's going on, it might be worth your time to go back and listen to them. If you've already heard them or you don't care about stuff like that, then please join us for part five of blueprint Armageddon December? Seventh, one thousand nine hundred and forty one a date which will live in infamy Events, the more than from this
I take pride in the words it Bin be in the in the care I welcome. This kind of examination, because people have got to know whether or not their president should not question. Well, I'm not a crook if we dig deep and artistry in our document. But we are not descended from it's hardcore. History.
Earlier in the story, we brought up the often quoted phrase that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter, and we brought it up in relation to the man who actually launched the incident that sparked the first world war. The serbian Nationalist print ship who killed the heir to the Austro hungarian throne, the Archduke France Ferdinand there by a precipitating the crisis that actually started the war. The Austro Hungarian saw print ship unequivocally as a terrorist is serbian nationalist brethren revered him in
back? Not that long ago a statue was unveiled in Sarajevo where the assassination happened on a ring, the assassin. So your view of the motives of these people really depends on you know who's doing the viewing at the time. Friendship is far from the only figure in this story who falls into a similar category. The United States is dealing with one themselves selves in nineteen. Sixteen, for example, in January one thousand nine hundred and sixteen just as the german military is putting the finishing touches on what will become the queen. Essentia Lee Horrible Battle of Verdun, the quintessentially 20th century style battle, the killing field created by mass artillery the meat grinder that will be Verdun. The United States is attention
taken off european affairs by events going on in northern Mexico. Mexico has been convulsed by revolution since nineteen ten Northern Mexico often becomes one of these hotbeds of unrest and instability in January, one thousand nine hundred and sixteen gunmen waylay a train in Northern Mexico now is at the tail end of the era where train robberies are not uncommon, but these gunmen aren't there to rob the train, in fact, as they go up and down the aisles they leave mexican nationals, the locals alone, but they pull off every American from the train that they find they find sixteen to eighteen workers, employees of a U corporation, operating in Northern Mexico,
They take these Americans off the train line them up in front of the tracks for stem to strip and then execute them. We know this because one of the Americans feigned death and got away and told his story, I believe, the bodies were also mutilated. This very well may have been an attempt to provoke a response on the part of the Ui government and if so, the mutilation is just part of adding fuel to the fire little something to make the US government even angrier. At this event, things have been escalating to this point in Northern Mexico, for sometime groups affiliated with the same gunman had been attacking
native Americans and murder here and murder there, a rape here were there, but this was upping the ante significantly. None the less the maneuver accomplished. Nothing concrete of note. So, a couple of months later in March, one thousand nine hundred and sixteen this group of gunmen or outlaws or revolutionaries, if you're, looking at it from another point of view up the ante again and cross the US mexican border in strength more than a hundred go after american inch? on the US side of the border, culminating in that in an attack on a US city, Columbus New Mexico, in the middle of the night they roar through this town, shooting, looting, killing and burning. Eighteen Americans will be killed, the town will be burned down and the
bandits or terrorists or revolutionaries, depending on your point of view, will escape back into Mexico. Now as a side note, then, as now, Americans are heavily armed people and those bandits paid a high price for what need to that town. Many more of them died. Then Americans died. Nonetheless, the idea that you were safe and protected within the confines of the US borders was shattered in a way that hadn't happened since the Apache wars, in that region had ended thirty years previously, the attackers of Columbus New Mexico were affiliated. With a mexican revolutionary leader known to history, not his actual name, is Pancho Villa now. We're almost. Lee wasn't in Columbus. New Mexico had been hurt, not that long before, but these gunmen were part of his men and if you look at this,
officially there's a lot of similarities between Pancho Villa. Osama Bin Laden now? This is not said to insult mexican folks, who still, in some cases, Revere Pancho Villa's memory, but hard to avoid that, at least from the american side of things. There are rough analogies that you can point to, for example, like Bin Laden via had once a pawn a time bin, a friend to the United States, someone we thought we could work with and use and an arm and train and help. In fact, after that attack in Columbus New Mexico, when it was obvious that some response had to be put together, Woodrow Wilson, the american leader launch, is an expedition. Militi expedition into Northern Mexico, sends about five thousand men across the border. There was a
an official leader, but he wasn't the guy who actually said things on the ground, the guy who let things on the ground. Wasn't in general, named John Pershing, whose nickname by the way was blackjack and a year before, to show you how close the United States had been via at one time the year before Pershing launches this expedition to go capture this terrorist Pancho Villa he loses his whole family in a terrible house, Fire Pershing's, wife and his little girls, they were little children died in the fire. And as he was wallowing in almost soul, crushing grief
thanks. The condolence letters he received was one from this Pancho via person that he would be chasing about a year later. There are a lot of interesting things that this expedition across the border shows not just Mexicans, not just Americans, but european observers everywhere, who all throughout this war have wondered what the United States is going to do and what their capabilities are. All of a sudden. They have a US military force in the field to have a look at and measure up against the standards of early 20th century warfare. And, to be honest, the American Endeavour looks like a disaster. It doesn't look a whole lot different than efforts thirty years ago to the year that were launched to go after the last Apache leader too. You know break off the? U reservation system with forty warriors
and go into some of the same country that, via and his men were hiding in no like a very similar army just and some motor cars, which is what the US military was employing to give them some mobility and some airplane does that look like they were invented by the Wright brothers themselves. In fact, the pilots were trained in some which, by Orville and Wilbur Wright. That's how recent you know. Airplane development is and the planes are so rickety and so new that none of them survive the first week or two of operation down there, one of the more interesting aspects to the: U S: up: relations in Northern Mexico to go get Pancho Villa is the US doesn't know. Northern Mexico and their maps are all wrong and so they have leading their army as Scouts Apache's, and these are patches in
allegedly some Apache scouts who were amongst the Apache scouts that huh down Geronimo thirty years before, in fact there's quite connection to a lot of these people involved in this conflict. Jaune General John Blackjack Pershing was a junior officer, trailing Geronimo thirty years before these events, it's believed that Pancho Villa wanted to get the US to attack in Northern Mexico and bog them down in this insane country to fight in. Insane terrain insane weather conditions and buy a raise. His standing amongst several revolutionary leaders vying for control of the Insta the in Mexico that have been going on since the nineteen ten revolution began. But if Europeans already had a stereotypical view of
United States is a nation of cowboys and an army mired in an almost old West sort of approach. The addition into Northern Mexico to capture Pancho Villa did nothing to disabuse them of that stereotype. To many european observers. It wasn't just a frontier army that the United States of America like they possessed. It was kind of a frontier mentality to go along with it in one of the things that was really hard for european planners, on both sides of the war by the way is that it began look more and more like the United States was going to a huge role in the war, but that even mean, do you know It had never sent over lots of men to go fight in some european war. It was alien to the american experience. So would they actually do that there were a lot of european
is the thought that even if the US got into the war, they wouldn't send troops. Americans don't do that and that's part of what makes that pre first World WAR, United of America hard for modern Americans to understand. You know if you know your grandparents, if you're lucky enough to have ventured grandparents, you can explain them to other people. You begin to get a real feel and what they're about, even if they are very different than you are but they're real. You can relate to them United States of nineteen. Sixteen is like a great great. Grandparent, you can read all about it. You want, but those people are different from you and you don't and you never knew them. You never know anyone like them. The modern United States of America is the most. Interventionist great power in the world in nineteen. Sixteen, it was the opposite.
And it had a long mythology connected to its very founding. That reinforce the idea that that's the way american foreign policy should be before the United States could involve itself in the first World WAR it had. How deal with this lasting legacy dating all the way back to pre, merry days. But why don't you just start with the farewell speech of the first, to President George, Washington plus which that was re read aloud once a year in patriotic fervor a speech that told Americans stay out of Europe's wars. In the middle of his goodbye speech, the american people, in his resigning from public life, he said quote the great. Rule of conduct for us in regard foreign nations is it extend in our commercial relations to have with them
little political connection as possible. So far, we've already formed engagements. Let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith here. Let us stop Europe has a set of primary interest, which do have none or very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent Contra. Seize the causes of which are essentially for into our concerns. Hence therefore must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics with ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities, our detached and distant situation in and enables us to pursue a different course We remain one people under an efficient government, the pier It is not far off when we may define material injury from external annoyance when we made Take such an attitude as well, because the neutrality we may at anytime resolve upon to be scrupulously respected. When believe,
nations under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us will not Lee Hazard the giving us provocation which we make. Who's peace or war. As our interest guided by justice, Shall Council, wife or all the advantages of so Q your situation, why quit are Phone just stand upon foreign ground. Why buy into leaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe. Entangle our peace and already in the toils of european ambition, rival ship interest, humor or caprice, It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world. End quote. When Americans revere those people like Demi Gods, and that speech is re read to american school children and re read publicly once a year on the anniversary. You can see. That if you were an American who thought the United States should enter the first World war, you have a lot of mythology to overcome a lot
grained ideological training and, lest you think that those are revolutionary sentiments. You know from the beginning nation a lot of times. People are very emotion, unsentimental and lofty and idealistic when a nation is founded in that cools overtime. Forty five years after Washington gave that speech the current president of the United it's a second generation guy. Like him, George W Bush kind of John Quincy Adams, games gave another one of these foreign policy speeches cool meaning a famous phrase that Americans would use ever since you know going abroad in search of monsters to slay the very antithesis of the idea that the United States government is going to use as the slogan get the United States into the first World war. John Quincy Adams, in the middle of one of his speeches, dealing with what the countries for
policy should be forty five years after Washington gave. His speech said, quote speaking about the United States here in the feminine pronoun, by the way quote wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been, or she will be unfurled. There will her heart, her benedictions in her prayers, be he goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well, Wisher to the freedom and independence of all she's, the champion. Indicator only ever own. She recommend the general cause by the countenance of her voice and the ign sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once, enlisting under other banners than her own, where they eat the banners of four in independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication in all the wars of interest and intrigue, visual avarice, envy and ambition which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom
fundamental. Maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force the front letter browse would no longer being with the ineffable splendor of freedom and independence, but in its stead would soon be substituted and imperial diadem flashing, false and tarnished luster, the murky radiance of dominion and power she might become the dictators of the world she would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit. End quote this kind of a ical legacy of idealism this mythology? If you will that Americans, you know had reinforced all the time provided a natural counterweight for patriots to choose a side, It seemed to be you opposite of Patriotism normally implied in Europe, Patriotism was a key, a key part of nationalism. It's the grab the flag, sometimes in pushing your nations, glory and and and borders farther.
This true in the United States to everybody's human, the same sorts of Raleigh, cries, often and work on Americans that work on other people, but you so had this refuge for people who were patriotic and who could take an anti interventionist position and couch it as much in the flag as those who were suggesting that real patriots. You know, joined up and fought the Spanish in Cuba, for example as the unit or Roosevelt, the former president of the United States, and and volunteer for that spanish of an american war you know kept taking the opposite view point at the end states of America lived in a different time than those founding fathers and that real reaches in real man would be he join. The first world war in the United States is looking like a powered by not being involved. The theater. Roosevelt is not the president in nineteen. Sixteen he's needling the guy, who is from the other party, a Democrat name, Woodrow Wilson, one of the most
enigmatic and hard. To get your mind around figures in this story and part reason that Wilson is so hard to figure out is Historians don't agree, image, historians have always taken Wilson, sort of at face value and pray him as one the most. If not the most idealistic president in american history, a guy who is so peace, loving he's virtually Gandhi, ask and a man everything he could to keep the United States out of war and to fight for this wonderful, just fair peace. Afterwards, that's the sort of the good Wilson. I divide them into the good Wilson in the evil. Woodrow Wilson, in terms of have some historians see them the other historical campus, smaller, but very vociferous very loud and growing? And those are the people for a lot of domestic reasons. It should be pointed out, don't like Woodrow Wilson at all, and often you know
scribe, sinister or venal motives for him doing what he was doing and, let's see a man who wanted to involved with the allies who sought peace for his own glorious reasons who was a and a person who hid behind a mask that promised you know, idealism and they were german generals, for example, who were never falling for that read it. Wilson was some Bambi Deer in the headlights on the world stage and always thought that that was just a really good mask that his match. Valley, Schemings hid behind making him even more dangerous, more danger. Tragus disguise was better number. I'm not going to wait as a fan of history into which Wilson, I believe, was the real Wilson, but look at how it adds to the uncertainty of the whole thing What is this guy all about now? I personally think that the air of mystery that surrounds Wilson makes him a more interesting character. In he's. A giant and Nick mothers quickly
coming perhaps the most important single individual in the story by the end of nineteen, sixteen I didn't have to live with them to the people in this he's, not a character he's a world leader and what the United States in this war might decide the conflict, so the stakes couldn't be higher. Winston Churchill OM writing. After the first World WAR, he's got a very interesting view on Wilson. It's hard to describe, you could see he's he's, he's walk an eggshell sometimes, but he says this guy- we didn't know anything about him and he comes out of academia basically, and he says only in the american system. Do you get these people that can come from totally outside politics as complete He goes in Britain. Such a prime minister we spent years in the in the House of Commons, or what have you in a working their way up, they would be in the public eye the whole time. They would be a known quantity by the time they got the top job. He marvels at the fact that would Wilson is an unknown. You know the most
powerful man in the United States and quickly becoming the most important single figure in the war. Churchill writes about Wilson Quote, in all his strength and in all his weakness in his ability and in his foibles. He was in space, his long academic record and brief governorship and unknown and unmeasured. Quantity to the mighty people who made him their ruler in nineteen, twelve still or was he a mystery to the world at large writing, Every sense of respect it seems no adjuration to pronounce that the action of the United States repercussions on the history of the world depended during the awful of Armageddon upon the workings of this man's mind and spirit to the exclusion of almost every other factor and that he played a part in fate of nations in comparably more direct and personal than any other man. End quote: that's why we're talking about the United States so much in this episode and
The other parts of the Wilson story that are interesting is when you get human things in positions of great power and authority, oftentimes their little quirks or idiosyncrasies, or characterised can make or break history. I mean we all have little things about us that might be quirky or idiosyncratic because we're not in positions of power and authority. They don't really make much of a difference if, if Adolf Hitler leaves the Milit after the first World WAR, is a decorated, corporal and goes and opens The sausage shop in Munich, his quirks and Syncro CS an characteristics: don't make a big difference on the world stage. You probably never hear about them, they only affect the people he has contact with, but you take that same figure. And you make in the iron fisted dictator of one of the great twenty, century nations on the planet and all of a sudden that man's quirks and idiosyncrasies and characteristics can create a deadly holocaust
Now, Wilson didn't have those kinds of characteristics. At least I haven't heard that even from the evil Wilson Camp but did have characteristics that impacted this whole situation. One was, he was almost all. Convinced that he was right. No paraphrasing reset something to the effect of ones that he felt pity for people who had different opinions than him 'cause. He knew they were wrong. You can watch the way he operates in government and he's a Supreme Lee gifted politician, but a lot of Those people are unwilling to let other men carry out. You know their pool and their programs, because they know they could do it better, and you can see that from Wilson to after the war, the man to become the british prime minister. Again, David Lloyd, George will have to sit by the french military leader on one side and the President of the United
states on the other, and he said it was like sitting between Napoleon on one side, and that was the french leader and Jesus on the other. That was Woodrow Wilson engine This was probably more. The way Wilson saw himself is what George was trying to convey than the way others. I'm negotiating with the Savior can require a deft touch and Wilson's demeanor and soda professor will air of superiority and that I'm always right kind of Savior air about him. Sometimes rob some people the wrong way and certainly influence the way that Wilson handled things and there were several big challenges to american neutrality that Wilson had to deal. And all were especially acute in nineteen. Sixteen. One involved american lives. The other involved,
american money and the last involved in american election start with Perhaps the number one most obvious thing sucking the United States into the whirlpool, the vortex of the first World WAR, and it was something that was so obviously doing that you can feel the phantom even now reading the history books about this sort of slide into a war, because Germans use of this thoroughly modern science fiction almost weapon. The submarine the submarine was creating conditions where a couple of reckons here and there every now and then we're dying on ships every now, and then it was worse than that when the Lusitania went down, which was a titanic like liner to a submarine torpedo more than a hundred Americans went down with that ship. How long Would any nation put up with that on the problem? is that the UN would complain. They'd work, something out with the Germans. Tent
drop and then a month later month and a half later boom, it happens again. It's like a sore that kept getting poked with a needle before it was able to heal and yet Wilson kept, making the conditions more and more impossible to fulfill, so those anti will Sony historians who say no, no, no. You misunderstand Wilson was trying to create the conditions that the Germans couldn't help but violate and then get the United States into the war and then claim that was voiced upon the Americans. For example, at one point in his administration with high minded rhetoric and speeches was defending the right of an am or it can passenger and remember, Americans travel on american ships or neutral ships, and at certain time, The Germans had had sworn they wouldn't go after those, but Wilson was the right of an American to travel on a british ship or a french ship. Belligerent ship and defending their right to
Avalon a belligerent ship, even if it was carrying munitions. Defending their right to travel on a belligerent ship carrying munitions that also carrying defensive guns on it. That could hurt a submarine that's when the Germans would throw up their hands and say say that to them Wilson didn't look like an honest broker. That's the kind of guy you're going to trust with peace. Let me look and their attitude was. He doesn't hold the British to any of these same rules. He. Trying to hold us to the british? Had a blockade going, they didn't submarines, they use mines, would mine, the North Sea and they create these zones where they would stop every line that they could get their hands on, make it go to a british port search. It decided it was contraband. Wilson and his administration were pretty darn quiet about that. The occasional protest nothing more to the Germans. This look like rank hypocrisy,
and two anti will Sony and historians to them? It looks like a perfect example to show that really these ideals that Wilson professed were very conveniently ignored when they ran against what he wanted. There were other complications that affected what he wanted to one had to do with perhaps the most ancient of motivations of all economic ones, the United States was making a killing on the first World war by one thousand nine hundred and sixteen pardon the pun, and it began to affect its entire outlook. Tored the conflict. It's one of the longest term impact by the way of the first World WAR, the of which we live with everyday in our modern world. But it's sort of sinks beneath,
radar. It's a lot easier to understand the submarine warfare question. Then it is the economic transfer of wealth from Europe to the United States. This war was so total in its stakes. That? These the sides fighting it found no good reason not to spend every. Capital they had to win it. When Britain started this war in one thousand nine hundred and fourteen, she was the richest country in the world, It was not long after the era where the phrase the sun never sets on the british Empire was in vogue. The british empire control directly or indirectly about one slash three of the planet. She was Alfie and she'd been sucking up a lot of the wealth of Europe for a hundred years during Europe's most dominant time period on the world stage. The era of you know colonies and post napoleonic, splendor right, the victorian age, and yet, when one thousand nine hundred and fourteen started
didn't just have their own bills to pay in this most expensive of all human conflict. They under their the Canada is the Australia is the New Zealand's they under. Countries like ITALY and paid almost all their costs during the war, the Russians to in a lot of other small powers, the amount of money that we're changing hands, I've seen so many different attempts to come up with that All you have to know, though, is its ungodly. At one point, it seventy five million dollars a week in one thousand nine hundred and sixteen money minutes kredible the wealth transfer and when Britain started buying stuff from places like the United States when the war start use, cash and gold by one thousand nine hundred- and sixteen were talking about credit and debt and if you wanted to think of New York as being like a giant vacuum cleaner with the sucking hose and in London just sucking out a hundred years civilizational wealth, acquirement, that's not a bad image.
In four years. The center of world banking, as we said in an earlier episode, is transferred, London to New York, same thing for the center of World Trade and all of a sudden by one thousand nine hundred and sixteen Wilson is acquiring a huge amount of power, because the United States is the banker and these people are beginning to owe it money. The British realized it at the same time. Yes, injustice, justice writes rights about Wilson's new ability because he controls the purse strings of the allied side in this war to dick any sort of outcome he might want. Donicea writes quote If Wilson desire to force the allies to the peace table, the opportunity had come and he knew it on October. Third, one thousand nine hundred and sixteen a british
Inter departmentally conference, noted the nation's utter dependence upon american munitions, steel, foodstuffs, oil, wheat, cotton and lubricants where the United States to engage in economic reprisals, Britain's war effort would practically stop of the five million pounds sterling needed to prosecute the war reported a government economist John Maynard Keynes. Later, though, week. Two million must come from North America quote in a few months time claimed the Treasury official, the American, look will be in a position to dictate to this country on matters that affect us more nearly than them and quote the author continues quote. Reginald Mckenna, chancellor of the exchequer, can curd with canes telling Cabinet in late October, quote by June, or earlier the press, under the American Republic will be in a position if he wishes to take his own terms to us, and quote the author says the end of December Mckenna told an american journalist that Wilson could quote for
The allies to their knees anytime in a moment end quote. The United States in late, one thousand nine hundred and sixteen is like a bank and Europe, and especially great who is the financial underwriter of the whole Allied war effort, basically owes the bank money that gives the bank a lot of power. But there's an old line in banking that, if you owe the bank a little bit of money, it's the bank who has the But if you owe a bank a lot of money, that power goes back to the person. That knows the money, because the bank Now has a vested interest in seeing that that person survives so that they can pay them back. The United States is beginning to worry about what happens if we can't sell this war material anyway, more or if we can't get paid for the credit we're loaning out. The US, add a very Uncomfort Obel sort of prosperity to send on it in the past two years in one thousand, nine hundred and fourteen when the
war breaks out the american economy is not doing well at all by one thousand nine hundred and sixteen halfway through the year, the American. Economy is humming along nicely. Thank you so his I've actually called the United States, a nation of war profiteers at this point, If Wilson was successful in creating a negotiated peace at the end of nineteen, sixteen somehow and you wanted it at that point, here the winner in the first World war. Do you know which powers, I'd nominate. I nominate Japan and the United States and the job, he's hardly fought in the war at all and by the end of nineteen. Sixteen, the United States hadn't fought in the war at all. Those are the victors. The Please get involved in nineteen fourteen for purely opportunistic reasons, they can take over all the german holdings in their neck of the woods, and the Germans can't do anything. So you get all this territory for basically nothing the United States, is selling stuff amazing amounts of stuff
the both sides need everything in the Americans will sell to anybody, but they can't get their stuff to Germany still made loans and tried to get stuff to them, but by and large the british blockade shut that down, but you could still trade with the british and we did and the idea that that trade might somehow go away began to fill, to the halls of government. The prosperity this war brought. The United States created another vested interest and there are you historians and his story. Look more at ease motivations for why countries do things that point to this is the most important current of why the war was really going. The way it was that there's another reason to this is very pedestrian, but would Wilson in nineteen. Sixteen was an american president that faced an election campaign- and this is where
the real uniqueness of the american situation is demonstrated. What does the president do? Who is running for reelection and the big yellow, in the living room situation. Is this war in Europe when he's facing in it made up of immigrants of people on both sides of that conflict in the old world. Historian, David Stephenson, does a great job breaking down. You know the the make up of the United States and showing you all. These weird problems at the United States would have if it got into this conflict, that other nations wouldn't, for example, he points out that large chunks of the United States is made up of immigrants from some of these countries. The two main groups that are that are problematic for anyone who wants to talk about siding with the allies in this first World war are German reckons an irish Americans. Here's what Stephenson writes quote so
port for american neutrality was strongest in the interior and assess the the Middle West, where the german Americans were concentrated, of whom only an insignificant minority, favored intervention on the side of the central powers of a? U population in nineteen ten of ninety two million he writes two and million had been born in Germany and five points million had one or two german born parents in one thousand nine hundred and seventeen five, one hundred and twelve two german language. Newspapers and journals were published in the United States, and german Americans were the largest ethnic group in Baltimore Pittsburgh Chicago Detroit, San Angeles and San Francisco end quote. He Goes on to talk about Irish Americans who and we didn't even get into this as a person, a partly irish american descent. I would have just gone off on on the whole irish
uprising the Easter uprising that happened during this conflict, of which the german may have had a role the British considered, and especially nasty stab in the bank back since it happened during wartime, reacted killing a lot of Irish or it depends on if you're, british or not killing irish leaders in the uprising infuriating Americans of irish descent, of which there were a ton? And so, if you're, a politician like Woodrow Wilson, you have to deal with the fact that you have a ton of voters? Who are the only people that can keep you in power who are really interested in not join? the side of the ally maybe or anyone the slogan for the nineteen sixty. Campaign, that's most remembered on the Woodrow inside is the one that said quote. He kept us out of war. End quote. That was a slogan that appealed to most Americans, Wilson's
peace, oriented secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan, had said at one point that New York, and the major newspapers want war. The rest of the country wants peace and, if you're in american planner it's interesting. How many times you can open up the history books and see ref, This is to the uncertainty of what these large immigrant descended populations would do if the US joined the allied side in the war. If you have two five million Americans born in Germany. What are they Do when war breaks out of these potential terrorists, and so it became an interesting issue before the conflict involved, the United States as to whether or not the United States was divide in the idea that it would go fight on any side in this conflict. No what do you do if you're one of these american figures, perhaps one of the top politicians who wants the United States to get into the first World war. What's your strategy, for dealing with these Americans who don't
want to go stay neutral. It may be a he. The majority of the country during this time period, if, politician in your used to sort of putting your finger in the wind and going in the direction, the p want to go, but they don't want to go in the direction you want to go. You know what your strap For dealing with that, the Several of the top political figures in this period was to play the Super patriot card and to accused Americans who agreed with the idea of getting into the war as being disloyal and take. For example, the former President Theodore Roosevelt in nineteen. Sixteen Roosevelt is not running for president, but he's campaigning and helping the guy who is from his own party that the Republican that's challenging Woodrow Wilson in the November, one thousand nine hundred and sixteen elections Roosevelt is in an interesting position here. He desperately wants to get into the first world war. He thinks cowardly that the US is staying out. He's publicly
slamming Woodrow Wilson from pillar to post, for not wanting to get involved in the conflict. He compares him on the campaign trail to Pontius Pilate in fact he says, Wilson's neutrality is worse than Pontius Pilate, remember, Pontius Pilate, is the roman official who, in the Bible sentences Jesus to be crucified? That's a pretty good political slam at the president. Isn't it but then Roosevelt makes a point to go after what at the time were referred to as hyphenated Americans. You know people who had a hyphen between there. Description of their nationality: German, hyphen, Americans, Irish Hyphen, Americans, Jewish Hyphen America And there was a feeling amongst a lot of Americans, that these people weren't real Americans, that they had conflicted loyalties. And it was also this idea that you had to have one hundred percent loyalty to the United States and any consideration with what the ancestral home might want was equivalent in row
belts own words to being a moral trader. So how do you deal with the fact that you want to United dates to do something that most Americans don't want to. Do you, slam is traitorous, those who oppose it now Wilson was in a bit of a different position, because not only many historians, did not want to get in the war, maybe, but he certainly had a public persona of not wanting to get into the war but listen didn't like anyone who disagreed with him, and you can see Wilson's attitude about, though who would oppose his policies even in peace time in his response to telegram he received from an irish American there's that hyphenation right irish Hyphen american leader in September, one thousand nine hundred and sixteen a guy name. Jeremiah O'Leary and a just telling Wilson something. That's that's perfectly logical! He's explaining to him
it. All of these moves that seem to lean toward the allied side of the war are going to be issues in the campaign right. There's nothing controversial about that O'Leary's cable said: quote your foreign policies, your failure. Secure compliance with all american rights. Your leniency with the british empire, your approval of war loans, the ammunition traffic are issues in this campaign and quote most american political figures would understand that. That's just someone from the opposition explaining that that's how the american political system works, is nothing wrong with that, especially not in peacetime. Wilson wrote back to Jeremiah O'Leary quote your telegram receipt I would feel deeply mortified to have you or anybody, like you vote for me, since you Access to many disloyal americans- and I have not. I will ask you, convey this message to them and quote, in other words, to
we oppose Woodrow Wilson's policies in peacetime doesn't make you part of the loyal opposition. It makes you disloyal what is a president who feel That peace, time, opposition to peacetime policies is disloyal. What's a guy like that going to do when it's no longer peacetime? Well, here's a little preview to think about. We still have laws on the books that were currently enforcing and using in the war on terror that are President Wilson's response to critics who addressed him negatively in wartime. And, lest you think that this is an over reaction, though, or maybe misplaced priorities. It's worth noticing that in late one thousand, nine hundred and sixteen there are belligerence in this war who are most threatened. By foreign armies defeating their armies on the battlefield, but by their own populations collapsing from with
morally or in terms of their unity and support for the government. In an era where more and more of the army these modern twentieth century states, could take a punch and stay on the battlefield fighting year after year that- ink in the national armor, for some of these states was proving to be the home front. Nowhere by the way do you a better example of the eating away of the nineteenth century mentality, then in how the homefront is viewed. The home front, of course, is a shorthand word for the people, back living their civilian lives, and you know supporting the war economy and helping to make munitions and all the stuff that help support those troops at the front. In the 19th century, in Europe's more genteel sort of error, there were all sorts of peace, convey
INS and and laws of war meetings to do to help spare civilians and keep them as far away from the suffering of wars possible. That was considered to be a civilization, live Vance. It's interesting and and telling I think, to watch that sort of GEN shield peacetime mentality crash into the rocks of reality, that on the 20th century, where all of those rules. Look rainbows and unicorns mean from another time were gassing each other with you know insecticide humectant humic decide. Can we say that you may decide something used to spray on human beings like their aunts? You know there. So the 19th century genteel conventions right there and the same apply civilians, we have the Germans, Using Zeppelin raids to drop bombs on british cities, I mean there goes those 19th century conventions right there and the german bombers who do it. You know site this side. That everyone's a combatant now, if the home front, is a legitimate target in total
or then so are the civilians going about their daily lives in places like Germany and Austria hungry, when the British cut off trade to those places they begin to do the equivalent of put an entire nation or an entire alliance under siege, and one official actually said you know. What's the difference between you know putting a city under siege which has been done throughout history in the civilian population, in that besieged city always suffers and putting a nation under siege, the british clamp down this blockade beginning of the war by the middle and ladder parts of nineteen. Sixteen that long anaconda like strategy really begins to bite, and part of the reason. Why is these societies are already straining to the maximum to just keep There are militaries in the field, and I think it's easy to forget exactly The strain on these societies was because you look at the we don't we've, often
The size of these are modern armies to what Alexander the Great conquered the known world with back in the end of the three hundred and thirty is BCE Alexander. The great is a core. In one of these modern armies. Listen to what a german army, core of which they had dozens in the army, requires too sustain itself. Imagine an ancient economy trying to provide this. This is from a whole, her vague and his book on the first world your quote: the army consumed copious amounts of food and fodder. A single score of thirty five thousand soldiers monthly devoured, one million pounds of meat, six, thousand loaves of bread a eighty, nine thousand pounds of fat or he says Two hundred and forty two thousand pounds of canned meat and a hunt. Twenty one thousand pounds of marmalade and He says seventy three thousand pounds of coffee- it's horses Irving, says
needed, seven million of oats and more than four million of hay, the 18th army core as, for example, estimated that it needed one thousand wagons extending for nine miles to haul its monthly allotment of bread. It's butchers slaughtered thirteen. One hundred and twenty cows, one thousand one hundred hogs and forty one thousand one hundred and fifty eight sheep every month taken the whole? He says the german army weekly demolished. Million pounds of bread, honey thirty one million pounds of potatoes and seventeen million pounds of meat. No the government or the general staff he writes had given SIRI considerations to such mammoth needs for a period of four years. End quote. No, no one saw that coming.
From the ancient world. I mean this could never have been sustained before the modern era, but sustaining it took all of those necessary foodstuffs out of the civilian populations mouths and they were beginning to starve because of it. The winter of nineteen. Sixteen one thousand nine hundred and seventeen will be remembered by Germans forever as the turnip winter and that's the winter, where the hunger block, Aid really bit historian Eric Dorn Bros writes quote as one thousand nine hundred and sixteen turn to nineteen seventeen intake, which should already be the fall in late. One thousand nine hundred and fourteen slid do about a third of pre war consumption levels. Money connections and the black market help the lucky ones, but even the upper crust suffered. Quoting a noblewoman. We are all gone and bony. Now we have
dark shadows around our eyes, and our thoughts are chiefly taken up with wondering where our next meal will be Bros continues quote poor. It almost disappeared from dinner tables in restaurants, where crow was now served, milk was curved almost exclusively for young children, butter and sugar could be per only in very small quantities, Things were rationed at two per person per month and turnips, and The beggars had begun to replace potatoes. End quote browse goes into a couple of reminisces from Germans about what those tasted like and then says, quote: inevitably, as nutrition levels fell, bodies to come to a variety of ailments like rickets, scurvy, dysentery Tuberculosis and influenza estimates place the number of
Cade related deaths by war's end at seven hundred and thirty thousand, which makes popular outrage understandable and quote now, as with everything in the first World war, there are historical dissenters who will challenge every aspect of what's known as the hunger blockade affecting the central powers, but none the less. The important thing to understand is that it it creates a dynamic in this conflict that forces the german side to do something. They're the ones continue. Getting less food there. The series. The british and the French do not have a food insecurity problem that dynamic forces, the Germans to do something to change their situation or just strangled to death. I mean if you were already living through what Germans are calling the turnip winter in nineteen sixteen and one thousand nine hundred and seventeen
What are they going to call the next winter of nineteen, seventeen, one thousand nine hundred and eighteen, you don't have to be a genius to see that you now have to do something to change the state of affairs. Sherman public opinion begins to demand it I should point out that that just pretty much makes them the equal of all the other populations of all the other, belligerent seemingly, doesn't seem like anyone's particularly happy with the way their government is prosecuting the war, regardless of which country you're talking about at least amongst the major states in Britain, at the end of one thousand, nine hundred and sixteen their government falls and the new prime minister who arises, is the very embodiment of what voters would vote for they wanted to shake things up and get somebody different in there. His name is David Lloyd, George, usually just called Lloyd, Georgia feisty.
Welshman of a much more working class background than you normally see in these sorts of positions might be exactly what you know the average dissatisfied with the way the war is going british to this and wanted. Now it is a little interesting that only a couple of weeks before Lloyd George gets the job he's recorded as having read about the allies in Britain, we've lost this war and now he's in charge of Britain's war, It's also interesting to note that you could tell how in the air the outcome of the first World WAR is in one thousand nine hundred, and sixteen, where you can find leading figures on both sides who, Their side has lost the war. Nonetheless, the also get into the game: nineteen sixteen been a terrible year for them to just as it has been for the british and they finally find the courage to get rid of their long time. Military leader, the legend Joseph shot for he's, been
even off the fumes of his reputation from the battle of the Marne a long time I think it's safe to say, been underperforming and the French. Finally, they can't fire and he's too much of a legend, but they finally sort of she came upstairs and promote him to a ceremony opposed to replace him with the first new french your since the war started. A guy name is L. The russian population public opinion which isn't really supposed to have much of a sway, supposedly because they live in a in a strange sort of autocracy with part time legislature, but making their feelings known to more on that in a minute Germany, the population He just wants a way out of this trap. Some people would like to see efforts made figuring out a way out of the war which they have. People who say this in all the belligerent countries, but you
be careful. A little while ago we talked about Woodrow Wilson, suggesting that people who might oppose his policies were just loyal. He could get you thrown in the jails in a lot of these belligerent countries. If you appear to be disloyal so too much peace talk to get you in a lot of trouble, none the less. There was a body of german public opinion that was pushing for another outcome. They wanted their government to take the gloves off, stop playing nice with the adversary. They wanted their government to unleash the submarines and to heck with what the Americans would do To some Germans, the american policy looked to be a very conniving way to simply deny Germany the use of the submarines The rules too restrictive and then the Americans case the rule basically was that in a Rick and traveling on some ship gives it some magical protection simply by stepping on board. You can't sink that ship now, there's an American on it that pretty much Nullifies the submarine for Germany at all, but if
That's the only way you see a chance to end the war with a german victory over the British. What does that mean? Can you let the Amer KEN's hamstring. You like that, added that the fact that a lot of Germans don't really see the Americans is all that neutral already and think that maybe Britain could be defeated in for six months before the Americans have a chance to do much of anything. Add to that the fact that when public opinion veers in that direction, there Germans in the military, high command, a majority of them that were already thinking that themselves. Now they have public opinion. On their side unleash the submarines. But what if the Americans come in the war. There were german leaders, though, that didn't like this choice: to find another option. Rather than use the subs get the United States into the war, chief among them was the Chancellor of Germany, the top political guy. His name was Beth Manhole Vegan, we discussed him before
This is all by the way, very controversial, very complicated, very convoluted you're. Getting the Dan Carlin condensed. Potentially, viable version of this, but it's a fast, time in the conflict, because the politicians led by Holweg think they find a way to throw a monkey wrench into that terrible choice that the allies of sort of foisted the Germans on with the hunger blockade and everything that they've got to make a move. So they make a very unexpected one. On December, twelve, one thousand nine hundred and sixteen Bethman Holweg and the Germans announced that they, prepared to enter into negotiations to win the war. Now it should be pointed out that such calls for peace and It's about peace and gone on since the war started. Woodrow Wilson had stepped up pretty much right at the beginning and said I'll meet anytime, you want, there were attempts by both
sides in the war to try to make a separate peace with somebody else and maybe get the allies of your enemy to drop out of the war. But those are peace terms just to get an edge in the conflict. They're, not peace, terms to end the war, the Germans, making the first apparently serious, certainly public offer to sit down and start talking about the issues that kept the conflict going. This was a huge shock not exactly to the Wilson Administration, they've been getting some information fed through some back channels that the Germans might be ready to do this but the Americans thought that they were going to unleash this big piece proposal. When the do what they preempt Woodrow Wilson's version, and he has to rush his out. You know about a week later, a little bit miffed that the Stole his thunder a little bit, but all of a sudden in December, one thousand nine hundred and sixteen after this horrible year there are peace proposals on the table. And it puts everybody into a really uncomfortable position. Now the
taking a real chance by the way by trying this peace proposal route. If this is a takes card game, and I often think of the war in terms like that. The Germans, cuz of the hunger block hate. Everything else are forced to play a card, and everyone think they're going to play that really high risk high reward dangerous card. They have the unrest, did submarine warfare card. Instead, they play a potentially equally perilous hard, but one that no one is expecting. They play the piece card, but the peace card can blow up in your face. If you don't play, it deftly case, point: what are your enemies going to think when you become the first power to come forward and start talking about stopping the war they're going to think you need to More there's a danger. Your own people might think that too, and you spend a lot of effort in this war to stiffen their backbone and keep resolve in place, how much going to it. If you become the first power to seek peace. So this whole thing has to be worded very carefully and it is, but almost
In such a way to give your in a given to give you flash is you're moving your neck between the human Terry inside of the german chancellor's proposals and the side filled with overwhelming hubris. The Germans talk about what this war Just civilization and I'd, be willing to get into conversations about ending it, but they're still invincible and they're going to win the war. They don't need to do this and what would the terms be on the other side, maybe you could say that allies historians have argued about the motives behind this ever since, but the truth of the matter is: if you look at this like a card game, there were some good reasons for the Germans to play that piece card, whether or not it was realistic and weather, not the other side accepted it, and some historians say this was what it was intended to do. The whole time provide some diplomatic cover for the start of
unleashing of the submarines to go and say, hey will talk about peace, then, when it's ridge did be able to turn around to your own people and say you know give up those hopes of an easy piece we just tried: they won't do it. This is a fight to the end, stiffen yourself, And also to show the world, including the neutrals and including the people on the other side of the wars population that were not the ones keeping this carnage going we've been over, but your side wants to keep fighting it. Most, especially, is an attempt to maybe influence public opinion in the neutral countries, especially the most important neutral country, the United States, which has any german Americans in it that there are more than five one hundred and twenty german language newspapers. As we said, what do you think the editorials are going to be in those newspapers after Germany? the peace proposal and the allies swatted down. That's going to put some pressure on the US government to stay out of
and that's going to influence american public opinion over who the bad guys and who the good guys are. That may have been the overriding intention of this german peace effort, But nobody knows it may have been a serious attempt to it. Start? Negotiations going and the position that didn't make you seem to vulnerable at the outset. The Germans picked the right time to do. It was right after the capital of Rome, NFL to the central powers, so they're they're negotiating position of strength here and the allies swatted down. They have to the problem with asking these powers to state publicly what their war aims are in order to create a piece is to show that the war aims of these hours, have gotten so out of hand that they bear no resemblance to anything that could be negotiated as historian Gwynn Dyer RD in, as we may have quoted already on this program
what the governments of Europe found themselves trapped in the first total war discovered to their dismay, was the means used to fight the war, a total, then so. The end is it was only impossible to stop short of total victory for one side unconditional surrender for the other end quote the old territorial exchanges and the paying of reparations and the giving up or. Wiring of colonies was uh, century sort of war aim, it sounded out of place in the century, if the british or the French or the Germans or anyone had so, their war aims involved a little change of territory and a little operations money or what have you it would have seemed so out of proportion to the cost. There would be real danger that the public would think that what the country was fighting for wasn't worth what the public was paying for it. In addition to that, of course, there were some
even territorial ambitions involved and no one wanted to state those. In fact, both sides had promised other those territories to allies of theirs. For example, the attack means we're promised territory from the Austro hungarian Empire once the war was over, the british Couldn't very well say that was a war him and still not look like cynical Games man in this war, everyone by the way on all these sides is a cynical games, but you can't show that to the public, what's more, The idea of war aims that stopped short of defeating the enemy unconditionally clashed with your propaganda. This is a war, that's using which 20th century ideas, as a war to end all wars and a war. Make the world safe for democracy, it's not a war. Two
a few colonies on the Mediterranean and some more oil in the Middle EAST in the break up of the Austro hungarian Empire. It's a war for these high minded ideals. The problem is, is if your propaganda portrays the Germans as the second coming of the Mongols. Well, actually, the Huns is the word the propaganda used and baby killers and nurse executioners and non raper, as in all the things the propaganda makes them out to be. How can you possibly sit down and sign a piece of paper to compromise with them and have peace again when the Vatican was a at this time, trying to help create the conditions where peace could happen the Vatican kept telling the powers to live up to those pre war agreements to make war less horrible, and they were saying that they were favoring this not because they were idea list, but because, if these pow kept doing everything in there you know, might
destroy one another. They were going to hate each other so much that there was going to be no space in risk mutual respect left to carve out a piece later. The Germans were no happier by the way to state their war, aims publicly, for the exact same reasons that there was an implied threat included when the Germans came forward. With this attempt to get negotiation started and the implied threat was, if negotiations didn't happen in warned fruitful, they would play the unrestricted submarine warfare card, The peace negotiations are over by the end of January in the middle of January. Actually, on January, 20Th Wilson makes a famous speech a a speech where he calls for peace without victory in his so called peace with victory speech on the 22nd of January, when essentially, he already knew that it wasn't going to
Wilson lays down the kind of peace that Europe will have to broker to end the first world war. If it's to be a lasting peace, it can't be those pieces you know where the knife is turned in one side is left hating, the other. When you think about how First World WAR ended and how it's sewed the seeds. For the second World WAR, Wilson sounds like Nostradamus with some of the things he says in this part of the speech where he talks about you know having to have this kind of peace. He says I'm seeking only to face realities and the face. The ounce soft concealments victory, Would mean peace forced upon the loser of victors term? imposed upon the vanquished it would be. Shifted in humiliation under duress an intolerable sacrifice and would leave a sting. A resent and a bitter memory upon which terms of peace would rest not permanently, but is upon quicksand? Only a peace between equals can last only a piece, the very principle of which is equality and a common.
Dissipation in a common benefit, the. State of mind the right feeling between nations. It is as necessary for a lasting peace, as is uh settlement, a vexed questions of territory, war of racial and national allegiance. End quote so he's not only calling for a yes, where nobody can claim a victory. We just stop fighting begin negotiating for a post our world in which Wilson envisions
a new international global structure to enforce global peace and harmony so that we never have a first world war. Again, as I said, for those historians who suggest that Wilson is out to make Wilson the biggest historical figure he can, that would be a heck of a legacy if he could pull that off. But instead, within a couple of months, the United States will be in the war and from the allied perspective, not a moment too soon. The end of nineteen, sixteen early, one thousand nine hundred and seventeen and we've been spending quite a bit of time, setting this period in the war up. But this period in the war is probably the most import
six months in the last hundred years, people talk about the first World war. Is this transformative moment and the after effects that we're living with you know even now, all around us, but the most transformative moment in that conflict is what's about to happen now, and you know I can't help but find some sort of metaphor analogy approach to looking at it, but I mean it's like we have this treaty and they've been shopping at it for two years and at the end of nineteen. Sixteen. Finally, the tree falls over Winston Churchill says three ingredients acting together create what he calls the second climax of the war. In this period we've dealt with to those ingredients, the Americans and the submarine question. The third ingredient involves Russia up till now. I think it's pretty obvious in this episode. We've been dealing with what you could safely call the first rate powers, the country
that were at the top of everything when the war started, the rich, powerful, cohesive, unified in a top of the line states, the Frances, the Britons, the Germany's, but if they're worn down by you, know this many years of this war. To this. Point to where they are now, where the Germans are undernourished for lack of a more provocative term. What must be. The situation that the countries that weren't first rate powers in the war started the ones that had challenges and we're struggling in various areas. How two years of war. Treating them will the Italians are have open disagreements about peace in their government. Been in the trenches there are pamphlets distributed by
Socialist, that say next winter, not another man in the trenches. The generals are not very pleased with that, but it's hard to blame the Italians. They run like their tenth or 11th battle of the Asons oh river, fighting over torturous mountainous terrain, which creates an environment. It's little teeny horrible war in and of itself with all these unique things I mean just to give you one example in the mountain war that the Italians are fighting the Austro Hungarians, when shells hit they're all carved into rock, I mean instead of trenches, a lot of times. They've blown out like chasm's, for cover but when the shells hit the rocks the rocks just splinter creating like secondary amount of shrapnel, that's just horrifying, and then, when you get wounded your way up at six seven thousand feet and you got to be brought down through. You know mountain this out conditions to the nearest station. They they still find frozen things up there, even today, the horrible conflict and by one thousand nine hundred and sixteen the Italians are, unlike their tenth or 11th verse
but in all they have to show, for it is more and more dead people. They wouldn't be human if they weren't starting to get a little fed up with this. In fact, that just puts them on par with how it's team the populations of all the belligerent countries are doing now. Austria, Hungary doing remember the other ones that you know kind of ground zero. When this whole war got started, they're the ones who had the archduke that got himself assassinated, they're, the ones that you know sent that compromising letter to the Serbians they're, the ones that sparked this war, how they doing well, I bet they. They hadn't they're in terrible shape. Herbal emperor, that ruled there for so long. The benign face ability had finally died to be arm. You know succeeded by the next who is a much younger man and who looks at his country and says to the Germans. This war has to end in one thousand nine hundred and seventeen. We are Hungry is worse than done this new
or during this coming year, will go behind the Germans back to the allies, reportedly an try to to sell them out and the german find out about it and then they're never going to take their eyes off Austria hungry again. All of a sudden, these brothers in arms, don't trust each other anymore. It was a very interesting move that a lot of people have it's it's almost like world war ones, version of Rudolph Hess flying to Great Britain. You know to make a separate peace, for you know see Germany in the Second World WAR, just this weird little endeavor and all it does is earn Austria, Hungary, Germany's mistrust, and then you have the Russians. Now the Russians from the very start of this war, even before this war for a very long time have been this contradiction in power. In one sense, they are massively powerful in the Terry, since theoretically they are terrifying, and yet they are at the same time, so Faint
flawed in the underpinnings that anything Russia is doing in this war always seems to be like writing some rail or or walking rowan and disaster loomed at any moment it just it was an unsteady sort of situation. There's a story that sort of shows this. This contradiction in terms the military leader, the russian military leader, Bruce seal off. He will have offensive named after him in nineteen. Sixteen we talked about it nowhere near as much as it deserves in the last program. This once again puts the Russians out. There in a good light shows you what they can do when they get their act together and they are devastating seven hundred and fifty thousand cash on the Austrian Gerry an army. I mean it essentially mortally wounds them. It is frightening. What the Russians can do. You know when things go the right way, but Priscilla tells a story that shows you just how fatally in a compromised. Everything is your: how how rotten the insides are
He says at the height of this offensive when everything is going so well he's receiving unsigned letters. From his own soldiers, telling him that if the fighting doesn't stop soon they're going to kill him, Russia's been having internal problems for decades now the curve, czar Nicholas the second, those are those are not even his right name he's the emperor of Russia. This is our is the old name that goes back hundreds of years, but they still call him that, because that's essentially what the office still is in his name, his official long title, it says, he's the autocrat and even the Russian Duma's been given one. Percent in the star. Still as ninety nine percent of the power he's a an example of the old world at its most royal, and yet he knows how frightfully fragile? The underpinnings are
he was a mere adolescent. He saw his grandfather read into the Royal palace with his leg, torn to shreds. Is and gone his stomach ripped out his face mangled and he's blue being out on the royal carpet and the royal family, including Nicholas the second, the man who will be Nicholas. The second watched their grand father die. It takes about fifteen minutes. He had been killed in an assassination another one of these stories. Where you know the czar is out in his bullet proof, sled and and a bomb rose a bomb. It sounds a little like the whole Sarajevo thing that kicked off the first for a bomber throws a bomb. The bomb goes off, kills people who are not the target. The tar Comes out in this case, this are comes out to look around and there's uh bomber in the crowd supposedly does are at the time had said something about. You know, thank God.
That, nothing happened in the other assassin, as he's throwing the bomb at him saying it's a little too early to, thank God boom He bleeds out on the royal palace floor, while the czar who will be commanding Russia as the autocrat in the first World war as a thirteen or fourteen year old boy watch, is Knows how dangerous the job is, and he knows that there's a violent current of rottenness that opposes his system, he's dealing with it all the time. One of the things that makes this story so interesting, though, is when you're dealing with one person with Almost total power, as we said earlier, their little idiosyncrasies make a big impact on history in the case of Nicholas the second,
the autocrat of all the Russians right. His idiosyncrasy's involved some things that I think most people out there who have children can at least relate to a little bit above. It's interesting that there's a part to this story that just has a personal tragedy wrapped up in it I mean this is an example why you can't reduce mystery to some sort of mathematical equation or some sort of predictable set of rules- or there are human beings involved here in the case of the czar, it's a fascinating the man just so you know I mean this is how Europe was. This is the old Europe that's being destroyed, he's the first or Second, cousin with everybody he's the first cousin with the king of England he's second, cousin, with the emperor Germany, I mean he's related to everybody, and his wife is the first cousin of the king of England. I mean
a little incestuous, maybe, but that x why does r and his wife or in her in a second who I have one son- give birth to a son who's a hemophiliac it as in the family, Queen Victoria, who sort of the the the descended that all these people can trace their heritage back. To said that this did not run in her family, but it seemed to Victoria, of course, was german in her room, So was the Tsar's wife or Tsarina Alexandra, both of them loved each other, and I say this because you know you would think today will, of course they did but listen. This is an era where, especially amongst nobility, you often had very- political marriages. You also have these very old fashioned things that were very common back then, with a husband and wife really didn't love each other in the husband was out. You know with
the girls. All it wasn't like that with Nicholas and Alexandra. This is what this was a love story, and it really was, and not just between the two of them, but with their children do they love their children. The way we think gov every. In person loving their children or the way they should, and that is not to say that people in the past didn't. Although you find a lot of examples, in the royal families throughout history with the father hardly sees the sunny. It's not like that with these guys, they take an act I've dated a role in their parenting and they wrote letters to they're constantly- and they wrote in english- which they both spoke well, the Czarina was german, but but she spoke russian. She spoke. English bizarre spoke everything and communicated in more than one thousand letters with each other where you get a real feel for these people, and one of the things that they are absolutely terrified about is their son who's got him Ophelia he's their only son he's the next czar and he is almost sir
we're going to die young from this disease. Now, just so you know, hemophilia is a disease where your blood doesn't clot not to get too technical 'cause. I couldn't explain it anyway, but but Basically any little cut or bruise has the potential to spiral out of control. The normal in a row Tumble of a of a young child's life will kill. You and in air, especially parents, just assumed almost a death sentence, and these two parents, as any parents we would think of today, probably could hardly handle that thought and they were looking around for cures and trying to find them, and eventually they found someone who seemed to be able to fix their son and because of the little idiosyncrasy connected to who this person tended to be
oral histories, completely altered and, and the funny part about it is- and I know it's it's it's it's a tragic story. It's a it's an interesting story to very human story, but there are elements to it that would make a good in a sit com or a good movie premise, and I, as I walked in to talk about this today I remembered a movie that was kind of based on the premise that it had Nick the unit was called down and out in Beverly Hills and the store about a vagrant kind of homeless kind of guy who, by hooker Brooke ends up. You know, living with a rich family, in Beverly, Hills, really fabulously, rich family and, of course, because of the dichotomy in their lifestyles and the way they view the world hilarity ensues right, but that's kind of what happened with the czar and his wife and their hemophiliac son, when they found somebody who seem to be able to heal him that somebody was basically the equivalent of the vagrant
down and out in Beverly Hills. They were bringing a peasant in to have a look at their sick son. Peasants name is Grigori Rasputin, and three has always been, I mean he's a hardcore history personality if you've ever found one and the fact that this government was Run ninety nine percent by one guy and his wife opens up the door to a grigori Rasputin being able to have the effect on history. He had historian Peter HA does a good job of of framing all the various things that seem to be going on at once, including what I just talked about the the way Russia is sort of a giant but hamstrung by this, this ancient system of theirs, so that a guy like Rasputin, could make a difference in the idiosyncrasies of a single, individual or or
come to the fore, he writes quote. The russian homefront was gradually collapsing under the intolerable strain of war. The czarist I did not have the flexibility necessary to cope with the plague of economic, political and social problem, infected the land. The tsar himself perceived any form of democracy is a threat to his regime and rather than producing an increased measure of liberalism was more try. To the idea of a total dissolution of even tokenistic Duma appointments to position considerable authority, routinely assigned by the czar. Grounds of either naked favoritism or the rotarian credentials of the candidate spy scares age, through society, with particular suspicion falling on any russian general unfortunate enough have a germanic name. Meanwhile, in competence and corruption blossomed unfettered, while at the or the czar was publicly embarrassed by the adherence of the Tsarina Alexandra to the ludicrous cult of rescue,
an unhinged religious mystic with a penchant for irreligious pursuits the whole. Spotting system of government was resting on just a few individuals, Russia, was being hollowed out from within and the vacuum at the it was creating dangerous instability? End quote now everything that Peter Hart says right: there could have applied to several other countries in this story. Everything except one thing the part dealing with Rasputin Grigori Rasputin is a great wild card in the story in a quick. Essentially russian figure and he's it's hard to imagine him anywhere else, and he is outrageous and Larger than life- and I think Peter huh great historian- is easy, sounds a little bit like he can't understand. You know the Czarina, the wife of the czar, kind of falling for this guy and his shtick. He calls it the ludicrous Rasputin cult. I mean, if
I had her here to ask her. She could probably said you, but I saw him: do it multiple times? Do what save my son's life? If you saw somebody save your kids life multiple times, don't you think it would be hard to have your logic override, which you think you saw I've seen cold hearted, total real lists. Turning to people seeking quack remedies when they were dying of cancer, they were looking for hope if your kid is dying, you're looking for hope what, if somebody actually comes through, I mean what, if that quack treatment for your relatives term,
cancer cured the cancer. That's the weirdness in this story that the royal family, the emperor and his wife run into this guy Grigori Rasputin. First, in one thousand nine hundred and five, but ten years before the time period, we are in the story and there's an entry by the czar in his diary. We met a man of God today and so starts this relationship between this person, who was born a poor peasant in Siberia, uneducated everything and his relationship with two of the most royal figures in the world. I mean, when you think of king and Queen of England, that's the level we're talking about with this r and Serena. Imagine today's queen of England who has no power at all picking up some purse. Off the street, who is almost homeless and not even a London homeless person, someone from the sticks up in north of England, somewhere some small town bringing them. The palace
having them live with you for awhile and sort of questioning them on the state of things and what the people saying and yeah, letting the minister medicinally to your child. It's a crazy and the only reason Rasputin becomes important. You can hardly imagine him important in most of the other systems of government. Because Russia is so autocratic if you capture the czar, you capture the country, Rasputin may the royal family, emotional hostages. Now, Whether that was intentional or otherwise is debatable. Historians disagree. There are some historians to think this is a person who thought he was a blessed man of God with the special powers to You know religious oriented things and others say he's a charlatan and he knew he had the Royal cup sort of emotionally blackmail, but there was nothing anyone could do about it. There's a great quote from the tsar. You know in the middle of the story, with rescued and where
one of his advisors, says something to the effect. If you gotta get rid of this guy and bizarre Answer- is there's nothing I can do about it and lot of historians have always interpreted that to mean that the he's basically saying he can't stand up to his wife you know that she wants him and there's nothing that does our can do. We won't stand up to his wife, but you know- historians have come out recently and said you know it could easily mean there's nothing. He can do about it. Because there's only one person who can save their son's life, the heir to the throne, by the way, if you really believe that this Rasputin guys got you in a weird position,. Between one thousand nine hundred and five, when does r and rest Butin first meet and where we are in this story right now, late, one thousand nine hundred and sixteen, Butte and has been worming his way into the czars family, pretty consistently, not his circle of friends, his family does our will have these get together, sometimes with him and his wife and his kids and Rasputin. Now there are
Back steps. Sometimes the relationship goes sour for a while, usually 'cause Rasputin, who is a serial misbehavior, does something particularly outrageous either? Embarrassing are so much that that he does his underlings are continually telling him to do and and sends Rasputin away or legitimately upsetting him. Nonetheless, every time he manage is to break the relation break up. I guess you could say with Rasputin, inevitably Alexi his son, the heir to the throne, will get sick again, necessitating a return of Rasputin he's like a cigarette habit. You can't kick now. This Rasputin characters fascinating on so many levels. You know you have to think you were dealt some interesting cards by fate to be to parlay your gifts from his upbringing as a as an uneducated peasant, with no money in the middle of nowhere. To where you are in the royal family and see a picture of him.
You see a little bit of it. I mean he was five. Nine inches tall, pretty normal. He had dark black oily hair parted in the middle unk, mustache unkempt beard interesting way of dressing. I mean, if you, if photoshopped his picture on to the back of number of 1970s heavy metal albums, I don't think I would be able to get the band's photo on the back and and know that you did it. He would have fit in perfectly as the basis of any number of bands from back then heck if he or lead singer Ann, you named the band after him, it would fit in on any line, you could think of it as a heavy metal festival. When did I mean you know this weekend black Sabbath iron Maiden Motrhead and Rasputin, he had the most amazing eyes
You can tell because normally you can't tell from photos one hundred years ago, you know certain qualities of individuals. It just gets lossed through the layers of fuzziness and black and white and all that. But if you catch the right photo of Rasputin, he had to be to be caught just the right time. You can see what the eyes were like 'cause. They jump out of the black and white, from a hundred years ago. At you, even now, the whites of his eyes were said by witnesses to be extra white and again, it kind of looks that way in some of the photos, his eye color, well people to the point where we have multiple descriptions that all contradict each other. Some people say: blue some people say Brown, some people say gray, some people say multi, colored, when you read about his sort of tick like way of walking moving his nervous habits, the way he wouldn't talk for awhile and then all of a sudden. You get this. This stream of sometimes unrelated conversation spiced with sexual innuendos, I mean there's a party things I mean I just read a book on the late writer one hundred Thompson. They sound like in a room
together, they would look like they were impersonating each other recipe, use a combination of a person who looks to be a very devout religious figure from Russia's Christianity and Orthodox Christian Anna Drunk and help Apparently, that's not that unusual in in the russian turn especially in the siberian tradition, where Rasputin's from there are some offshoots and sects and cults who have these interesting beliefs. And I don't understand them and wouldn't would to explain the, but apparently it involves needing to see in the sometimes in order to get the right kind of a repentance working for you and- and there are rumors of orgies that take place as part of the rights for these religions and and some historians not most, but some have tied rescued into some of those strange sex and strange beliefs. It would make sense in one in one sense, though, because there's there are conversations that have been recorded with his wife and yes, he was married,
You know when she would walk past him in in the middle of a town with other women, and they would all see him having sex in the open with some towns woman. She would say something to the effect of well. That's just his cross to bear he's got to do that. You know mean like he'd want to just. He has to do that. That's that's he's helping those people I'm sure if I was Rasputin I would want to sell it that way. Let's put it that way. The two gossip column type offenses that he's he's always with our extreme drunkenness and sexual outrage. Business and usually in combination with each other. There are rape charges that are brought to the tsar and Tsarina attention with a household staff is accusing him of going after them he's absolutely brazen. He will sit down next to her. From the royal family and put his arm around her at a party with all the aristocrats there and start moving in on her. There are stories that you have
no know that the ours are read knew he was this way because at these family gatherings I mentioned earlier with, are all sitting there and it's just him in the family. He'll sit next to the princesses, were all adolescent girls during this time and they will jump up like they've, been you know, prodded with a hot needle because he's goosing them feeling them in front of stars arena and yet, at the same time, some of this stuff is passed off as just part of his rustic peasant charm. Isn't it cute that he doesn't know how inappropriate that is? Like I said some of these people in russian aristocracy painted him, but those who didn't kind of how to react? he was some sort of exotic thing that the zoo brought in, and you have to make allowances for what he doesn't understand. He might not know you can't just walk up and touch some noble woman's breast at dinner and how How funny and interesting it is. Isn't he outrageous? You know that kind of an attitude, but he was
run an historian Joseph Furman who's written two books on Rasputin points that out quote Rasputin was fun. It was a pleasure to be in his company. He gave people, names and they were often cutting in quite appropriate here double woman, hot stuff, boss, lady, sexy girl or good looking, while a man be called fancy pants big breaches long, hair or fella, people accept this is a charming characteristic, the humor peasant who meant no disrespect end quote so. The people that didn't hate Rasputin would often You know, overlook his outrageousness and consider that part of you know his charm, his rustic peasant charm. Nonetheless, sometimes it was a little too much even for are there famous incidents, and they all end up in the local media. Believe it or not. Russia had a Lloyd media during this time period and Rasputin was one of their staple in a figures by mean back in
today. Every one of them had to have it Elizabeth Taylor Story or Michael Jackson story or something like that Kim Kardashian. Probably, today, Then in Russia. If you didn't have a rescue, the story, you know every so often I mean you were worried about circulation, dropping and just went. To be no new news. He gets roaring drunk in a in a highfalutin restaurant. In the it'll city, STAR Gl, about how he knows the czar and then pulls his pants down and whips. His genitals out to the restaurant word like that gets around in the tabloids, eat it up at one point, as I had to tell the tab, they couldn't mention his name anymore, so they just started. Bring to him as the guy who lives on so and so, ST whatever ST he lived on and everyone in the public just knew who they meant. There were cartoons that made the rounds showing Rasputin
with his hand on the naked breast of the czarina, implying what a lot of people wondered about this relationship, although it's almost certainly not true, if Rasputin's going around down sleeping with everything that moves from peasants to royal women as well. What he do with the czarina. There are even whisperings and one public charge made that the air to the throne, the czar's son, is really Rasputin's son, almost certainly not true, but the more gossip circulated with that kind of talk, the more undermined mind you know people's trust in his arms arena Czarina this arenas already german at a time when the russian people are hounding russian generals who just have german last names. What have if you are german and Zara's not around, and this strange russian peasant who seems like a svengali is I mean there were protests in one and fifteen where the
You were saying down with Rasputin down with Alexandra he's, not an unknown quantity everyone realizes he's almost a public figure, they debate in the legislature and the powers that be want. Him gone. There's a story during this time period about one of the ways they tried to get him out famous story one day, Rasputin, here's a knock at his door. He goes to the door and there's a man standing there with a package and he gives Rasputin the package and Rasputin opens the package and it's full of photos and Rasputin looks at the photos and their photos of him unconscious insensible due to drink, and there are naked women all around him night photos the man at the door who gave him the package says: either you leave town and go back to where you came from and stop talking and influencing bizarre we're going to give these pictures to him. It was an extortion attempt and on one of the night,
apparently that Rasputin had passed out from drink. His enemies have hired prostitutes and position them around him naked and started taking photos to blackmail him in typical, unexpected fashion Rasputin took the photos straight to the czar and sort of through elf on the mercy of the court. Now one of the time Rasputin's able the skate away with no real repercussions, sometimes he's not. As we said, occasional riffs would develop between the czar and Rasputin, one of them, for example, that went on in one thousand. Nine hundred and twelve is a perfect example of how hard it was for those are to stay away from Rasputin in one thousand, nine hundred and twelve. They have one of these disagreements on the tsarist ends: Rasputin back to Siberia, the Royal, only goes on vacation in September. One thousand, nine hundred and twelve to their country palace laying around in the young heir to the throne, Lexie jumps into boat, he's about seven hundred or eight years old,
not unusual, not unusual, for seven or eight year old to land wrong and hurt themselves, but most of the seven or eight year olds, of course, not hemophiliac. So it instantly becomes a problem. Giant hematoma in his lower abdomen. They take him back to the palace and they have a terrible scare. He gets very ill, very bad. It takes about a month for him to start to recover and, as he's just starting to turn the owner I've never understood this. His mother, there Czarina things would be great to take him on a little carriage ride and it's a bumpy road and they hit some bump and he cries out in pain and some things happened inside him. They take him back to the palace, and now they have one of the most horrific periods of their life, starting because this kid starts to die and it takes a while and it's very painful and the parents are watching it.
The kids fever skyrockets, the pain, becomes so terrible, he's, delirious and slipping in and out of consciousness. I read somewhere that opium is used in the past, sometimes for people in the air. What's wrong with condition, but they didn't use it for him and the screens are so terrible that we're told the palace staff has to stuff cotton in their ears to walk around to deal with it. The parents, like I said, loving real hands on parents, take their turn at his bedside And he's begging for help ease, he's saying Lord have mercy on me was one of the things recorded over and over and over again, and my mama help me the pain and we're told that when the parents shift at the bedside was over, they would walk out of the room just burst into tears. The czar said that the Czarina handled the ordeal better than he did at a certain point. The doctors run out of things to do. They tell the parents
nothing more, they can do. It becomes apparent to the parents and to the patient that he's dying, and he starts talking about those things that destroy parents. I mean that you never want to hear your little kids saying. He sang when I die. Will the pain be gone to his mother? He asked that after he dies, they build this little shrine. In woods format of stones and then the reality of the situation sets in and they start putting together a public statement to tell the russian people that the heir to the throne has died. The last rites are performed and while at a Meeting the czar gets a hand, scrawled note from his wife saying come quickly. I think it's time the boys about to die at the last minute, the Czarina hands a note to rest booting off in Siberia, essentially saying help and she gets a cable the next morning, it's a famous cable and it lets a little air out of the tires that it's not as good according to history, just a Fuhrman as as we
we thought it was. The cable was always thought to say: God has seen your tears and heard your prayers do not grieve. The little one will not die do not, The doctors to bother him too much and quote the Russians during him. Alexandra spirit of Itch apparently says there was there were two notes, but the one that was misquoted he said quote: fear nothing. The illness is not as dangerous as they're saying see that the doctors do not bother him end quote by that afternoon. Boy is out of pain and is able to sleep in the fever, starts dropping the doctors are stunned that it should be pointed out they hate Rasputin, but they I mean several of them quoted in the Fuhrman's latest book is written, two books on Rasputin and they're. Just
I don't know what to even make of it and it wasn't just this time. They would be trying to stop the boy from bleeding in past incidents and Rasputin would come up and they would watch him stop it and historians have been trying to find explanations for this. Ever since I mean I've heard everything from hypnosis to the power of suggestion to drugs. To One theory is that that they were giving the Youngs are aspirin, which was like the new wonder drug back then, and that, of course, would have been the worst thing to give them and when rescued don't let the doctors bother him too much. They stop giving him the aspirin. Some people have suggested that there were some potion Rasputin had that sort of kept the boy You know in a bad state anytime. He wanted to put a little emotional pressure on the royal family. There's all kinds of but if you're the Czarina you've already seen: Rasputin Savior sons life several times, and he just pulled him back from the brink of death by telegram. Don't you think you'd stop caring
the where force in the what ifs and just not want this guy to leave your side. If this, are of. Russia was in the process of kicking his Rasputin habit. He fell off the wagon. After that, one thousand, nine hundred and twelve, you know pull your son back from the brink of death moment now. Here's the thing Rasputin was into problem because he kept healing Heir to the throne, if he had stuck to that, probably we don't even talk about him very much, of course, and we do talk about and the reason he's a famous figure. The reason half of Russia wants him dead is because he's not sticking to fixing the air he's. Meddling in policy in a funny way I can see how that happened. I'm not so appalled, I mean if you, if you, If you look at this from the czar and Czarina's vantage point, and you think this Guy has something there's a think he's a man of God and that God favors him and all these and these prophetic and if you'd seen what she'd say
wouldn't you think so, maybe two, and if you thought that, wouldn't you want to use this guy like a magic, eight ball, I really with the stakes as high as they are for the czar. At this time I mean when the first war war breaks out when the Romanov dynasty is threatened. When millions of lives hinge on the decision is our makes. How tempting would it be? You know to just sort of ask Rasputin in what he thought about disappointment, or that idea should I the front end command from the frontline sources say yes and that's the event by the way, those are going to command at the front lines which opens up the door to turbocharging Rasputin's in and really ushering Russia into the terminal phase of the end of the Romanov dynasty. Because what happens is you know the terrible losses against the central that the Russians had suffered the those thought the people might need a scapegoat and he
who offered himself up as a sacrificial lamb. He thinks he's going to go to the front his advisers think this is terrible idea with lots of downsides, but Rasputin likes the idea. Therefore, by the way this arena likes At one point, the czars, wavering and things- maybe we shouldn't do it in rasputin- bolsters his confidence that it's a good idea and so those are leaves the capital and goes to kind of close to the front lines and so in this is left in charge of the day to day activities and she's. Using Rasputin like a magic. Eight ball, like you, wouldn't believe you can read it in the letters back and forth between the czar and his wife, because she inform him. What's going on, she calls Rasputin our friend, that's their little code, name for him and she'll say to those. Are our friend thinks we should do this? Our friend doesn't like that. Later, our friend thinks that appointment job should go to this person until debated back and back and forth and Rasputin is making
decisions for Russia's future in wartime when things are deteriorating badly and bread riots are happening and and and dissatisfaction is, is palpably on the rise and demonstrations are occurring and he's drinking twelve bottles of wine a day at wake up, don't think the belligerent powers of the other countries are aware of it. You The british secret service is monitoring according to to to history like just a Fuhrman is monitoring Rasputin. They have a nickname for him, a code name, the column, dark forces and many things about rescued in trouble, then they're not sure he's not a german agent are, they think is unstable. Certainly they think he is in favor of some sort of peace deal to get Russia out of the war. There's a lot of reasons. They don't kind of like him, but this problem is becoming a cute and some nobleman apparently take it upon themselves
to read Russia of this cancer, which is the way they see Rasputin. They decide to kill him now when we reach this point, we're actually caught up with the story timeline again. It's one thousand nine hundred and sixteen, where we left off before our little russian digression? You know that time with the submarines and the peace deals on the table and the questions, are you getting into the war or not in December? One thousand. Nine hundred and sixteen rumors are flying in the capital that Rasputin's going to be killed and there's so pervasive. Sputum hears them, allegedly his children hear them doing. They hide his clothes, so we can't go out nonetheless, even with those rumors flying. He can't resist, and this is the traditional story. This is a Kennedy assassination type thing and good luck. Finding the truth, I'm just giving you the most common story here, apparently
a nobleman offers his wife to Rasputin. You know a nice little clandestine arrangement after a party or something like that recipe takes the guy up on the offer. He's a nobleman. Felix Yusupov is his name and I think he's Richie has more money than the ruling dynasty and he's working with a bunch of other men, it's a true. See nobody knows how deeply there are some who think the british secret service was even in on it. The majority. Don't you stop off meats disputant kind of at his door brings him down into the basement. Yankee doodle. To tie this story together, wonderfully is playing on the phonograph upstairs that they can hear. So you get this little american tune playing in this story. As Russia reaches the terminal phase here in the Romanov dynasty, there's food on the table. There is why
The rendezvous is a little pushed back. You stop off, so they sit there and they eat the food they drink. The wine and after awhile you sup off, begins to freak out Because he's laced all these things with cyanide and this guy's not dying, he says, he's a he's throats a little stomach. Bothering him a little but he's he's sitting there drinking or eating more and asking you so off to sing for him. I, like your singing voice. You so of excuses himself goes here's where the other conspirators are and freaks out. What are we going to do? Finally, one of them decides they got a pistol so of goes down. There tells Rasputin something on the wall over there and then, when we're street and turns around the pistols pointed at him. You saw pop says he said you know, say your prayers or something like that shot him in the chest. He screams me falls down on the rug, at the mouth, convulsions dies.
The assassins all come downstairs have a look at the body, the blood everything go upstairs to commiserate about it for awhile, and then we're told that the assassin Yusupov wants to have another look at the body, and so he goes down there's is, and just a the historic, quoting some original sources in his quote talks about what happened when you stop off, went down to just make sure that nothing was amiss. Furman writes quote we found Rasputin lying in the same position on the floor, overcome with the in inner rage, you so of grabbed Rasputin by the shoulders and shook him as he stared into Rasputin's, face first one eye and then the other suddenly opened and the source he's quoting says. Greenish snake eyed. They fix the prince with an expression of satanic hatred. Rasputin stumbled
ST foaming at the mouth roaring in anger and wildly clawing at the air as he rushed towards yourself off blood dripping from his mouth. He grabbed the prince by the shoulder ripping an apple from his uniform. Rasputin was reportedly growling. His tormentors name in a low guttural voice end quote It's like a zombie and Usopp office screaming I mean everybody, runs downstairs when they hear this struggle going on and use up of his screaming and by the time everybody gets downstairs. Rasputin has low, into the snowbound courtyard in his running away, and he yelling you so first name who's. Also, the Prince Prince Yusupov up Felix Felix I'll tell the sorry to everything he's going to tattle on the prince for trying to kill him and people open fire, the prince, among others, at as he flees misses him. A couple times then hits him somewhere in the back, and then they run up to the body.
On the ground and they put a bullet through his forehead then were told they wrapped him up in a tie him up, then wrapping up in the then go to a nearby river where there's ice and throw him through a hole on the ice and in a HOPI floats to Finland. Of course, he doesn't. They find him days. They drag the body out and and the myth of this story, and again it's so much better with the myth is that during the autopsy. They found water in his lungs and his body, untied as though he had freed himself, and only yet and drowns. So the cyanide image in work they shot him multiple times. It didn't work.
Threw him in the river and it almost didn't work. Historians say that the shot to his forehead almost certainly killed him. It's right in the middle of his forehead and it's possible that the cyanide was old or that never got put in his drinks or who knows, but it adds to the legend of Rasputin, there's a warning before he dies that he gives to the royal family. Supposedly. That also adds to his legend. You know another way:
these prophecies that are sometimes uncannily correct. He supposed to have said to the royal couple quote: if I die or you desert me, you will lose your son and your crown in six months. Rasputin is right again from beyond the grave this period in the first World Wars Timeline about the time period. Rasputin dies take a couple of months before he's assassinated a couple of months afterwards. That really is the first world wars crowded hour, and you know that's what Theodore Roosevelt called his combat in the spanish american war. He was trying to describe these large number of events that was crammed into a short period of time. He said it was his. Crowded hour the period from about November, one thousand nine hundred and sixteen to April one thousand nine hundred and seventeen is the first World war was crowded hour, huge number of events compressed in a short period of time the
events are all connected, though, to the various themes we've examined individually. So far, the United States and United States involvement in Mexico, the submarines high level diplomatic activity in maneuvering and the train wreck, that's about to happen with Russia. This all comes to a head, as we said, January late January, one thousand nine hundred and seventeen Woodrow Wilson gives his peace without victory speech, while he's doing that the Germans, already behind. Scenes prepping for their February first resumption of unrestricted warfare for pulled the trigger on that, because they had given the politicians in Germany, the GOA to try some peace maneuvering. Of course, they were told at the maneuvering, doesn't win, we let the submarines go the submarines are slated to go February. First, one thousand nine hundred and seventeen.
Now, because Germany was reasonably sure as well as everyone else, pretty much that if. He started shooting at every ship on the high seas, the United States was going to get dragged into the war because Americans would die. American ships would go down. It was pretty inevitable, so the Germans started working on some contingency plans in January. One thousand nine hundred and seventeen You know again right around the same time, wilsons proposing peace for all men and all his high minded sentiments. The Germans are sending a telegram to their ambassador in Mexico, giving their ambassador in Mexico some instructions on what to do just in case. The united it's comes into the war and starts fighting Germany, the telegram from the german foreign secretary, a guy named Arthur Zimmermann to the ambassador of Mexico
says this quote. We intend to begin on the first of February Unrestricted submarine warfare. We shall however, in spite of this to keep the United States of America Neutral in the Did this not succeeding? We make Mexico proposal of alliance on the following basis. Make war together make peace together, nearest financial support and and uh standing on our part that Mexico is to re conquer lost territory in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona the settlement. Detail is left to you, you will inform, president of the above most secretly as soon as the outbreak of war with the United States of America, is certain and had this again, and that he should, on his own initiative, invite Japan in immediate adherence the same time mediate between Japan and ourselves. Please call the it attention to the fact that the Ruth
employment of our submarines now offers the prospect of compelling England in a few months to make peace. End quote. So there's a note suggesting that Mexico go to war as part of this powers against the United States in United States gets into the war. What's more, they talk about getting Japan on board too, that was one of the United States, is great worries. By the way the Japanese had scared America's there's all these theories from America diners that maybe they could go, take the Panama Canal and come up. Mexico mean there's all these these war plan kind of fantasies, but the idea that Japan could be brought in and flipped 'cause they're on the allied side. The Germans are talking about flipping the Japanese, making them on the central powers to having the japanese attack the Americans, the Mexicans attack the Americans, if thing else that keeps the is busy so they're not over there fighting Germans in Europe. If your plan a board game here of risk or something that's
bad idea. You know, there's a game called diplomacy, not a bad move. If you're playing the game called diplomacy problem is there's all kinds of peoples in real life not taking into. In the game of diplomacy, one of them is that your enemies might be tapping into the cable you used to send a secret message like that from german need to Mexico, the British got it snatched it right off of the American Atlantic cable which they were tapping. I think we mention in an earlier episode, the British, maybe the the best espionage code, breaker people of all time. When the war starts, they cut the german transatlantic cables or Germany can't send telegraph messages across the Atlantic, so they work out do tools to borrow other peoples cables, sometimes the United State. Let them use the US cable for just messages. Woodrow Wilson thought would would maybe foster peace right. He wants the Germans to have an open check,
to him, so the Germans use the american cable to send a message to Mexico, offering some american states to them if they come in the war by attacking the United States, a little ironic there Now the British have a problem, they can Tell the Americans about this cable right away, then you're going to get all these embarrassing questions like. How did you get the cable and then the British would have to say if they were going to be truthful. Well, we tapped into your cable and we've been reading. Your messages for the whole war can't quite say that too easilly, so by hook or by crook, great story, Barbara Tuchman wrote a whole book on it, the British. Right away to sort of hide the source of you know how they got this cable. They give it to the America Woodrow Wilson is shocked. I shocked that this would happen and under The context right this the very month January, one thousand nine hundred and seventeen Can military forces are finally withdrawing from the
Pancho Villa expedition right. This attempt to go get this terrorist US settlers in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas would have called him and and the U force kind of comes back with their tail between their legs. They didn't get Pancho of you. They killed a bunch of his men but, despite you, know, high public praising of everything involved. General John Blackjack Pershing says it wasn't a very memorable period in american history. None it made the Mexicans mad as hell and the you almost went to war with Mexico twice in two years. In one thousand, nine hundred and fourteen US troops occupy the city. Veracruz in about two hundred people died in that little endeavor maybe be closer to three hundred Nearly the war between the US and Mexico then, and then in this Pancho Villa Expedition, the? U S crosses the border goes afk. A guy who was also the enemy of Mexico's leader, but it's so upset the Mexicans have us in the country for any reason that that almost led to war and so just as you're getting oops the very month you're getting your troops out of Mexico.
Germans are sending him a telegram saying: hey want to go to war, United States I'll give you three states will help you. It struck a nerve for Americans when Woodrow Wilson released. That letter publicly, when the american public first heard about Germany's offer to Mexico The reaction was one that I think would near the reaction of the american public in a similar situation today, a a number of them thought that the telegram was a forgery. The british intelligence was behind it that this was an attempt to trick the american government To affect american public opinion and make them more angry Germany, more pro war and it's interesting to speculate. How much you know that sort of perception would day that way if the german foreign secretary, Arthur Zimmermann hadn't done some early march, one thousand nine hundred and seventeen that looks inexplicable. He admitted that the
telegram had been sent in that it was genuine twice the second time he said he hoped the american people would understand that this was only to come into effect. If war broke out between Germany and the United States as a way saying you understand then write the american people wouldn't understand. The confirmation that the Zimmerman telegram was indeed an official secret proposal from the german government to the mexican government, upset a ton of Americans and undercut the of german Americans and Irish Americans, who were hoping to keep the United States neutral. It was another nail in the coffin of neutrality and a huge german misstep. In fact, the whole decision to unleash the submarines
when they did was a bad decision by Germany. If they had only waited a little while longer events would have happened. That would have made that move unnecessary and, if that's the move that gets the United States into the war than it would have made that event unnecessary. Winston Churchill points out that the timing of the events that have and in March and April, one thousand nine hundred and seventeen in his mind show the hand of destiny at work. Here's how he frames. What's about to happen. What's about to happen, ladies and gentlemen, it will screw up everything here and you know, set the stage for our modern world as much as the United States. Getting into this conflict will set the stage for the modern world. Russia has its revolution. Churchill says this quote, the beginning of nineteen. Seventeen was marked by three stupid just events, the germ declaration of Unlimited: U Boat WAR, the
invention of the United States and the russian Revolution taken together. These events constitute the second great climax of war. The order in which they were placed was decisive. The Russian Revolution had occurred in January instead of in March or if, alternatively, The Germans had waited to declare unlimited, U boat war. Until the summer there been no unlimited, limited you, but war and cons quickly, no intervention of the United States, The allies had been left to face the collapse of Russia without being stained by the intervention of the United States. It seemed certain that France could not have survived the year. And the war would have ended in the peace by negotiation or in other words, a german victory. Had Russia lasted two months less had Germany refrained for two months more the whole course of events, been revolutionized in this sequence. We discern the footprints of death, either russian endurance or German.
Impatience was required to secure the entry of the United States and both were forthcoming. End quote, we've mentioned already. The situation in Russia had been seething and simmering for quite some time. The straw that broke the camels back was an almost complete breakdown of Russia's transportation system, which had been withering since the war started and that had suffered terribly in the winter that it just happened. Russia almost couldn't handle its transportation needs in peacetime. After several years of war, there were whole cities that were not receiving enough food. One of them was the capital Petrograd Petrograd used to be called Saint Peters Burg, but when the war started that sounded a little too german, so they changed it to Petrograd. This is a city that will change its name all the time. During the communist years, it will be known as Leningrad.
Now it's Saint Petersburg again. Nonetheless, it's the big metropolis and it doesn't have enough food. You take a bunch of people who were angry already. Add the war, add no food, it's not surprising. They were marching, they've been doing it all throughout one thousand. Nine hundred and seventeen is irish. Historian, William Mulligan, points out quote from the beginning of nineteen. Seventeen there was a wave of strikes, concentrate in Petrograd on the The March third thousand workers were locked out of the feudal of armaments plants in the city. The follow and a international women's day, women gathered in the Viborg Working Class district protest against high bread prices. They marched past, one station toward Nevsky. Prospekt, by which to the strikers number two hundred thousand down The war down with high cost of living down Hunger bread for the workers. They cried as they marched through the city. The protesters connected there,
variance of war with much broader political claims. Although the crux of their complaints was the supply crisis, this material experience of war had political implications, including the throw the tsarist regime and an end to the war. It was possible in theory that the food supply system be reformed, but the Lakers new. The tsarist regime, could no longer reform itself. End quote: general. Sir Henry Wilson went to Russia during this time period and came back and reported to his peers. You know concerning how the people in Russia felt or does Ahrens and told them quote. It seems as certain as anything can be that the emperor and empress are riding for a fall. Everyone officers tions. Ladies talk openly of the absolute necessity of doing away with them, they've lost their people,
nobles and now there are me- and I see no hope for them. There will be terrible trouble. One day here. End quote: there are open discussions some of the higher levels of russian society that terror attack should be made against the czar. Someone stands up at the Duma, an important person later in the story and it says that the czar needs to be removed by terrorist means, if necessary. Now it would be foolish to say that the royal court did not have their supporters. They did and they had people who didn't have a problem with you know when emperor, but they problem with Nicholas the second, so there were all stripes in this idea that does are needed to go and no consensus at all about what would take its place or how to get from here to there. Russian knew how to have protests into revolt? About a dozen years before this time period they had
famous one thousand nine hundred and five revolution, which it also come after russian problems in a war when that revolution got it got so serious. Bizarre supposedly wrote is application letter, he didn't deliver it, but it was ready to go in that particular revolution. The crash Marched on the winter palace with is our was to align of troops who opened fire on them, killing hundreds of them, it's known as bloody Sunday. Bizarre had received intelligence reports a few months before this event saying that quote recently. The conviction has been expressed without exception that we are on the eve of great events in comparison with which one thousand nine hundred and five was but a toy, and quote that was from a police report that does our received month before these demonstrations in March break out. But here's the thing you know as with many historical,
they can be seemingly inevitable for the longest time and still come as a surprise when they actually show up the people who are out in the streets March seventh March, twitch was international women's day. They didn't know that this is the revolution. In fact, the people on the scene point out that that's one of the tip moments in this situation when people understand wait a minute. This just isn't another demonstration, like the kind we've been having. This is the chance to topple the government. That's the turning point and the actual moment of the turning point is one of those really interesting, almost turning point in history moments, revolutionaries like Leon, Trotsky, who certainly see that we spend a lot of time. Talking about that moment, the tipping point in the revolution: this is seven days by the way. Seven days for a three hundred year old dynasty to fall, and it starts off with some factory strikers on March seventh. By the way, this is our calendar.
Events in Russia happening on on the old calendar in February, so it's often called the February Revolution and it makes the dating confusing as heck. For someone like me, none the last march seventh by our calendar, one thousand nine hundred and seventeen there's a industrial strike, March Eighth is international. Women's day the women go out and strike and protest about the lack Brandon. All this this seems to be key and so many people talk about it. The fact that the women are doing this a lot of these women are the wives of soldiers at the front, which gives them a huge amount of ability, as you might imagine, with other soldiers and they're out on international women's day on the eight. On the ninth, the women come back out, bring more people and go to factories. Shops and businesses and grab the workers out and have them join the strike of the crowd swells to at least twice what it was the day before by then next day, the industry. Of Russia's capital, is paralyzed and
Show you how out of touch the arena is with all this. She writes in her die re on March, tenth about the troubles in the capital and she's, basically in charge of the capital quote, This is a hooligan movement. Young, people run and shout that there is no bread simply to create excitement, along with the workers who prevent others from working. If the weather it's very cold. They would probably all stay at home, but all this passing, become calm. If only the Duma will behave itself, end quote Duma is the russian legislature, which I think I said earlier, has about one percent of the power in this system and those are has about. Ninety nine percent- and this is our rena- is complaining that the Dumas misusing its one percent sort of rush, Revolutionary Leon Trotsky, compares her convincingly to Marie Antoinette before the french revolution. That said, let them eat cake statement there and she
And those are and before he died, Rasputin like this one Russian administer a guy named proto, and so he begins to ACT as the Czarinas minister in all this situ. And according to some of the scene. It's anger at him that prompts a lot of this activity, the events that are happening. Star Really on March Eighth and then March, ninth are large enough to be a big news story and the international media is there. There are magazine journalist there, a newspaper reporters from Britain, France places like that telling the folks back home what's going on in the russian capital. One is a Newspaper man named John Pollock, and he writes the women protesting. He calls the bread riots he writes in this is about March Eighth and my apologies for my Russia, and quote the rioting was so far confined to the Viberg side, the chief workman's quarter of Petrograd,
the center, the tramway service, had already become a regular on the The rioters stopped the trams across the river terrorizing the drivers and throwing parts of the mechanism away so that the service there's, still more intermittent visits were paid to all the To reason. The hands were called out in sympathetic strike against the sudden food shortage on this day to a prefect of police who threatened the crowd was killed, strong cosack, squadrons Petrograd and there was a collision on the nav in which the cost use their whips, but they told the crowd that they would not shoot. So long as they only asked for bread alarm The attitude of the cossacks, the authorities on the tent brought troops of the line into the streets to support the he's posted machine guns on the Nevski and stop traffic across it. At many points, end quote John Pollock, then points out It sounds like a rumor, but what what the russian Minister working for the Czarina is supposed to have said
when his methods for dealing with this uprising are being questioned. Here's what Pollock Rights he says quote: proto of approached by one who endeavored to convince him of the madness of his methods. Only answered do you know, splendidly machine guns, work from the roof. End quote: Pollock says that the serious bloodshed happens. On March tenth when police opened fire on a group of protesters and killer wound. Fifty The tsar is now told about problems at the capitol. Remember, he's off kind of at the front. Not in this capital of his Let his wife sort of run the show with this Protopopov guy there finds out about it they tell him things are bad. He issue in order that basically says make it stop.
That order appears on lampposts and all over the city. The next morning, when the rioters and protesters muster to protest for the day they see this message from the head of Patrick Grads military Garris. Quote. During the last days, disorders have taken place in Petrograd, followed by force, salt on the lives of soldiers and members of the police. I forbid every kind of assembly in the streets. I warned population of Petrograd that commands have been issued and repeated to the troops to their arms and not to stop short of anything in order to assure tranquility in the capital end quote. John Pollock is out in the streets that day when he writes Sunday March 11th began nervously. There were Soldiers everywhere in the streets and strong bodies held in reserve in courtyards by now
that rams had all stopped and it was hardly possible to find a car. No newspapers appeared about three hundred and thirty pm the troops. To clear the streets around the Nevski at the bayonet point and soon afterwards, police turn their machine guns onto a crowd at the same place as the day before, but with more deadly effect. A caucasian officer who was nearby estimating the number of dead at three hundred at the same time heavy firing took place further down the Nevski, an opposite: the Kazan Cathedral, several score. More people were killed the crowd. Retaliated with pistol shots, another prefix and a kernel of the police. Sides policeman, the various innocent passers by being killed. It was significant, he writes that saw Rogers were seen among the crowd firing on the police and and uh. Of men and some fourteen officers, are different. Attachments were arrested for refusing to support the police with arms. On the same afternoon, a drunken officer of the vote in ski regiment, nameless cabbage ordered his men to fire on the crowd they refuse. But let's get
forced one of the soldiers to obey his show. Killed a woman and quote the hurting of women, as I said, seems to be an important part of this affair. 'cause it's mention by One Trotsky says the rumor that was going around was that a police officer struck a woman with a club and that this was witnessed by the cossacks sort of sitting by neutrally there there to kind of add some still to the mix, but the army is kind of standing by while the hated police and the public face off and draw. He says whether or not it really happened. Everybody believed that a woman had been assaulted in front of the cossacks and the cossacks drove the police away. Who did it now? One of the things that if you've watched revolutions you'll notice that in time. Some incident will happen that the dam and here's protesters and rioters will sort of going to some sort of symbol generally from The event
it comes almost like a high sign that protesters use and that they rally around according to Trotsky when it as in this revolution, was a cossack cavalry men winking to the crowd and that this wink became sort of a symbol of what was going on here is the Trotsky explained it and remember Trotsky's a revolutionary for him. This is a huge the heroic tale and that's the way he tells it and I think we're all colored, at least those of us who know what's coming by what's coming. This revolution is going to devolve into something very terrible and A lot of us look back on this event, thinking that that's how we should view the removal of what came before communism, and yet there was a period this revolution, where Russia was on the road to becoming something more like the United States and getting rid of
tsarist regime that these people seem to hate like a Saddam Hussein, was initially viewed as a plus and the reporter on the for example, for the british press, he's thoroughly in favor of something replacing this regime. The United States is too by the way one of the problems the United States has, with joining the allies are being associated with the allies is not Britain and France, with they feel very close to in a lot of ways. It's Russia. To them. Russia is the same kind of listen to autocracy that US propaganda pains the Germans, as. The ideas are going away to be replaced by some sort of constitutional government makes a lot. People in the allied camp set in in a cheer for the protesters. Now in the story by Trotsky of the winking cosec. He explains that the off These are the cossacks kind of forced them to charge into the crowd at one point, but as soon as the officers find scattered the crowd, the regular cost are very.
Full moving through with their horses, not to hurt anyone and Trotsky. Writes, quote behind them, filling the whole width of the prospect Gallup. The cossacks, decisive moment the horsemen cautiously in a long ribbon road through the corridor just made by the officers, some of them smiled. He quotes a protester Caillou referee calls recalls, and one of them the workers are good wink. This wink Trotsky says well not without meaning the workers in bold and with a friendly, not hostile kind of assurance and slightly infected the cossacks, the one who winked found imitators Insp I have renewed efforts from the officers. The cossacks, without openly breaking discipline, failed to force the crowd to disperse but flow threw it in streams. This was repeated three or four times and brought the two sides even closer together, individ. Cossacks began to reply to the workers, questions and even enter into momentary conversations with them. I'll
Lynn, there remained, but a thin, transparent shell that threatened to break through any second the officers listen to separate their patrol from the workers band in the idea of dispersing them lined the sex out across the street as a barrier to prevent the demonstrators from getting to the center and quote. He then tells the story, though, but these concepts will allow themselves to be used as a mounted barrier, but they don't stop the protesters from diving. The horses bellies the fact that the stacks. Traditionally, the tsarist crowd control mechanism appear less than Susie Astic about caring out their traditional role, convince the government that they have to bring in the troops. The garrison of Petrograd is like one hundred and fifty hundred sixty thousand men, so they've got
people, and they call the man in March. 11Th is the key day, because that's the day that elements of one famous unit a training squadron, it's called open fire and kill those people that the british reporter was talking about. Now the people of Petra Brad are appealing to the troops, as you heard earlier, mingling with them talking to them, they're walk to the line of bayoneted troops. In ones and twos and saying brothers you're not really going to side with the police and kill us. Are you the women again taking the lead in this whole thing? Are walking the line of banded troops and grabbing their rifles with the bandits on them and wrestling with them and saying, join us, it's very there's a lot of that going on after the shootings in the street on March 11Th, citizens were told workers go up to member, I have one of these storage units and tell them that
You know people in your unit open fire yesterday against the people of the city and told him what happened and then those troops went back to their barracks and on the evening of March 11Th morning, they had one of those moral crisis moments, a key instant in any revolution, a guy like Leon, Trotsky, would say, and he describes it with almost with almost you know, tones this this moment where this story unit confronts the reality that they show a bunch of those poor people that have been besieging them not to shoot the day before and then we're going to have to go out and do it again today, here's what Trotsky, writes quote: the soldiers had no more time for hesitation. They were compelled to shoot yesterday and they be again today. The workers not surrender or retreat under fire there still holding their own and with the wives, mothers, sisters, sweethearts and this is the very hour that they had so whispered about if only
We could all get together. Let me stop here, Trotsky, saying that all these people in the city had thought about could these are be overthrown, if only we could all get together. That would happen, and now these soldiers we're not taking part they were taking part in crushing that, if only we could all get together, Trotsky right, and then, at that moment of supreme agony in the unbearable fear of coming day that choking hate- of those who are imposing upon them, the executioners roll their ring out in the Barrack Room, the first voices of open indignation and in those voices forever nameless the whole Army with relief and rapture recognizes itself thus and upon the earth the day of just the Roman of Monarchy end quote those soldiers shot, there officer ran out into the streets, cheering and joined the people of Petrograd, trying to
overthrow the tsar. They encouraged other military units to follow, most of which, by the end of March, 12th had done so The garrison was melting away and joining the anti czarist rioters. They ransack the artillery deep Then they go to the arsenal and break into it and take all the weapons. Then they burn down the court of just and a bunch of other government buildings and for March I'll phone. You have open battles in the streets between the people in the army and the very large police forces, and we would today, the secret police in all these police agencies that have set up machine guns at intersections. At this point, the big question is what the heck is. This are doing. Nursing, his are tries to do is just get rid of the Duma, and when the head of this
our list, for all intents and purposes, russian legislature, received the order that the Duma is to disband. He says no and most of the Duma joins him in the street joining the revolution. Next is our gets on a train on the 13th of March, and heads back toward the capital from the front where he is in one of his typically strange moves. He takes a lot longer to get there than he should have, because he says he doesn't want to disrupt any of the war traffic to the front of his train takes over the long way around and it ends up getting stopped on the way to Petrograd, because the revolution is spreading to other cities. Now and one of these trains the revolutionaries are stopping the train, we are told that the czar's advisors are bringing him telegrams from power brokers, including, for example, on his cousin and others that he he needs to give up the crown, and what sort of interesting about Nicholas is that he almost seems
willing to do it there's a whole line of thinking. You know if you read a lot of the primary sources he sometimes portrayed as this drunken tie. You know, but to read more modern day. History he's a much more pitiable figure. Churchill likes him and move, but Churchill would like his are but says great things about in this poor understood person, of course he wasn't a great man, just a good man, and he talks about him like that. But those are sort of seems to be relieved by the prospect of giving up the crown at first there's. Like five minutes to talk about giving it to his hemophiliac son, but those are doesn't want that an interesting lately enough in the abdication note to his people. Does our specific Klay mentions not wanting to be parted from you, the sun that he adores. Once again, you get that feeling of Nicholas and Alexandra these kind of parents who just adore their children. Whether or not this is some sort of smokescreen to cover something all the evidence seems to
to a guy who cared more about his family in some ways than beings are. There was a quote to the guy who will take over the what's called the provisional government of the country in the near future. His name is Alexander Kerensky and he met the czar after the arbonne. Take to sort of custody, and he said quote as I studied his face, I seem to see behind his smile and charming eyes, a stiff, proper map, of utter loneliness and desolation. When I and to know this living mask. I understood why it had been so easy to overthrow his power. He did not wish to fight for it and it simply fell from his hands. End quote the things that this is our was going to have to do to keep power. He seen
and I'm willing to do his wife may have wanted him to. She wrote letters telling him he needed to be tougher and stronger. He seem to care more about the fact that all his children, while all this is going on, have a bad case of the measles, which was pretty serious back to and is as concerned seemingly for them, as he is of giving up in his power all over Russia. They begin to break into a government buildings and tear down paintings of the tsar, and the aftermath of this revolution sounds like the aftermath of the fall of Saddam Hussein again, when all these figures that were part of the government that work for those are, are being arrested and held in custody by p you know, armed with weapons to power blocs form in the wake of all this, because remember, there is no plan. The real revolutionaries had been working for this for years, what kind of caught off guard when it happened? So there's there's competing groups for power,
group. Is the people that used to be the almost powerless Duma all of a sudden. They have power and they're, mostly liberals and and mild socialist and people who want to create they end up. Writing united. By the way in June, saying that they want to create a constitutional government, they want to use, maybe the United States as a sort of a model, but competing with that particular entity for power. Is power at a much lower level groups that especially of revolutionaries forming councils of workers and soldiers together and They form this rough, weird partnership with the provisional government, as it's called the former Duma, They kind of work with each other sometimes, but they come too in a disagree.
Over other things? But when push comes to shove, the soviets as they're called these you know, elected groups of people from soldiers and workers councils seems to win. The first thing that they win is a rule that says that anything involving the military is under the control of the Soviets. And this is the key issue for the other countries in the war. Germany wants Russia out of the war they been paying agitate? for a long time to hopefully make that happen? Now have this situation: where does rs gone water? The Russians going to do militarily, the British in the French feel the same way along with the Americans? They're, not that upset that the czars gone, but they are very concerned that rushes a lot of the war this government to be known as the Kerensky government, at a certain point
They tell the allies that they're going to continue fighting the committed to continue fighting the allies start pouring money and stuff into Russia, even at a greater pace than they were before. But how do you continue hold off Germany in the central powers with your army, while you're three hundred year. Old monarchy is busy collapsing and all the structures that have been hanging by a string start falling apart. What are the soldiers at the front going to do? This became the key quest and it's not answered right away- Churchill, as only he can saw the whole thing is an unmitigated disaster, looking back on it from the late 1920s again now he can see where all this is going to go to communism in the future. So his ideas are probably tainted. He said, The tragedy of Russia Was- and I'm quoting here, that her ship went down within sight of port meaning you know we were going to win this war and then she doesn't get to share in the spoils, and he said
of Russia, quote with victory her grasp she fell upon the earth devoured alive, like Herod of old by worms but not in vain. Her valiant deeds. The giant mortally stricken had time with her dying strength to pass the torch EAST cross the ocean to a new titan long Dunkin doubt who now arose and began ponderously to arm the Russia, empire fell on March 16th. On April sixth, the United States entered the war end quote: it's been an interesting two months for the United States, since Germany decided to unleash the submarines in the first twenty days of unleashing the submarines, the Germans sink. One hundred and twenty eight merch chips, forty neutrals among them. There are you, shipping companies. In the month, February when this all starts that start losing a million dollars. One thousand nine hundred and seventeen value money by the way a week, the next
march, one thousand nine hundred and seventeen those numbers will double and all of a sudden. We begin to see. Why the first real competent use involving At least a minimum number of submarines is like in world history. The Germans have been perfecting what you do with these new, weapon systems like submarines, these science fiction type weapons. What do you? How do you use them at the beginning of the war they're kind of going after warships and what not and then they they work on shore little burst, going after neutrals and merchant ships, and now by one thousand nine hundred and seventeen. The Germans know what they want to do with these things and they have enough ships to make their plan work. Number, but enough then, leave to go after everything, which is what their strategy has told them. You have to do to really maximize this weapon system and they're sinking enough ships, so that bridge is for the first time in the war, in real danger itself of going under one of the
These are being an island nation is, if you got the strongest navy, you don't have to have the same kind of fears that are Russia has or a France. Has the Germans aren't going to be able to break you directly 'cause? They can't reach you. This is the first I'm in the war, the british face any serious threat of the Germans in one way or another, reaching them affecting them personally, forcing them perhaps to knuckle under to some sort of peace deal? In April the month the United States gets into the war, the Germans sink. Four hundred and twenty three merchant men, almost eight hundred and fifty thousand tons of shipping. The british empire cannot stand those kind of losses it's the submarine war. It eventually brings the United States in if for no other reason than it's disrupting operations in the country, the president is under a lot of pressure on a day
the increasing basis, because once Germany starts thinking all these ships us as ship stop leaving, they begin to congregate and clogged up and traffic jams outside the major ports on the eastern seaboard and then all the commodities and food and perishables that we're going to be loaded onto those ships begin backing up? You've got this terrible claw get all the ports on the eastern. Most of material, that's rotting and degrading, because the ships won't cross the Atlantic, 'cause they're, afraid of the submarines. At one point, Wilson wants to arm the ships to change the situation, you want to provide insurance so that they can, you know cross, but this is like a ticking time bomb for Wilson. He's got to do something. This situation, only going to get worse, the Zimmerman telegram happens in late February. Two, I mean all these things that just increase the situation, that's bad and make it worse. There's no instant
where the line has been crossed, and there never will be at some. By March, one thousand nine hundred and seventeen at the latest and probably around the same time. The russian revolution is happening. An administration, decides that they've had enough five US ships go down in March, one seventy to some in the Wilson administration. This is confirmation that the US is already at war with Germany. There doesn't have to be some big Lusitania, nine hundred and eleven moment too, crossover this invisible line. It's happening every day and on April second, Wilson gives his most fame speech, one of the most important speeches in american history concerning this two that he sees that the United States is at war with Germany and the interesting part about the speech I started its monumental on so many levels. He so crafty way. It's put together. He never says to the Congress. Declare war on Germany, you know so that will be.
Or Germany. He says we are at war with Germany and I invite you to confirm that fact. He had. No time gives Congress the impression They have any control over this decision at all. Now, for him. They went along with him big time, but what, if they hadn't party open speech focuses on the specific reason we're at this point. He talks about the submarine warfare, compares Germans to pirates and all these kinds of things that he take some time out of his speech to say that not at war with the german people. We have no quarrel with them, each their government we don't like- and this is a big change by the way in in the way that much of the United States government will. Craft? You know the way that they frame relationships with other countries too got nothing against the people. It's the government. Wilson's point of view is The people aren't running the government like in a democracy or a republic. Well, then, the people aren't responsible for what they are. It's decisions. Are they may be the victims of it and we might have to hurt you in order to overthrow your government.
We're not mad at you about half this which is really high, minded sentiments. Forever known afterwards, as will Sony and principles that talk about things like the need to make the world safe for democracy and I'll, give you a taste of that in a second but more interesting and again, one of the more groundbreaking parts of this speech is that Wilson takes on the USS tradition, of non involvement in European affairs head on, and he basically said That was the way it was times have changed. Here's the exact phrasing that he gives, but it is a sea change in American Mmhm policy. In the way the government of the United States approaches the conflicts and involvement with the rest of the world, and that changes. One we are still living with today in the modern world, in the middle of his speech, telling Congress that a war exists right now with Germany, Wilson says, quote rr
right. Now, as then is to vindicate the principles of peace and justice in the life of the world as against selfish and autocratic power, and to set up launch the really free in self governed peoples of the world, such a concert of purpose, and if action as henceforth ensure the observance of those principles neutral He is no longer feasible or desirable where the peace of the world is involved and the freedom of its peoples Minnesota that peace and freedom lies in the existence of autocratic governments, backed by organized force, is controlled wholly by there will not, by the will of their people, seen. The last of neutrality, in such circumstances were at beginning of an age where it will be insisted that the same standards of conduct and of responsibility for wrong done shall be observed among nations and their governments that are
among the individual citizens of civilized states. End quote: having a national policy connected to the idea of not going abroad in search of monsters to slay just started to sound, really old fashioned. Didn't it, but at least Wilson's got some really good arguments to justify the historic course change. These are the ideas of Wilson. Nezam, and here's how Wilson enunciates just some of them quote. It is a distressing and oppressive duty, gentlemen of the Congress, which I have performed in thus addressing you. There are. Maybe many months of fiery trial and sacrifice ahead of us. It is a fearful thing to lead this great, peaceful people into war the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization self seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace and we shall fight for the things
which we have always carried nearest our hearts for democracy right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments for the right liberties of small nations, for little dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples actual bring, recent safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free to such a task. We can dedicate our lives and our fortunes. Everything that we are in everything that we have with the of those who know that the day is coming when America is privileged to spend blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she is God helping her. She can do no other end quote. One wonders what John Quincy Adams would reply to that
none the less guys like Theodore Roosevelt who'd, been saying he was going to skin Wilson alive if Wilson didn't go to war. Like the speech a lot, it's interesting to know by the that the one american political figure that the Europeans really respect in this whole in this Theodore Roosevelt, because the rows rose It is really one of the early what will be called Atlanta cysts people who believe, for example, in locking arms with countries like Great Britain in and doing great things with them. Tr was an interventionist before his time and in the United States, he's thought of as extremist the republican candidate for president tells him to stop campaigning for him because he's so Bella,
closest working against the Republican Party right you're, letting Wilson in the opposition for Trayaurus's warmongers. That's the guy, though that appeared to be ahead of the curve when it came to figuring out the Germany needed to be dealt with again from the british point of view. There's a lot of this that you could look at and say the very things the Germans are being slammed for doing are things that they were kind of forced into doing by what their opponents were up to the first World WAR is not the clear cut, good and evil separation that the Second World WAR is on. We've been that before none the less, if you're on one side of it, it certainly is the prime Minister of Great Britain for about a couple of months when Wilson makes his historic speeches Boy, George, in his memoirs, Lloyd, George writing after the war can't help but take a shot at Wilson, not because of what
did, but because of how long it took him. Speaking about Wilson Speech now, George writes quote: these principles were excellent, an excellent He expressed the allied democracies of France and the British Commonwealth had all born the burden and been scorched by the heat of a thousand days in the battle. This natural fo liberty, stealing one of Wilson's lines from his speech. They rejoiced George says at the enter this powerful help from the greatest democracy in the world. At a time when troubles were multiplying, they perhaps might be excused for thinking that issues, clear now to President Wilson ought to parent. Earlier to his eyes. They felt grateful in there to the great American Theodore Roosevelt. Vision, was so undimmed and who's but these were so sure from the outset of this grim struggle for international right end quote Winston
Churchill sounded almost the exact same way. What took you so long speaking of Wilson's peace attitudes quote, he had behind his Paula, see a reasoned explanation and massive argument and all must respect the motives of a statesman who seeks to spare his country the waist and horrors of war, but nothing, church or rights. Can reconcile what he said after March, one thousand nine hundred and seventeen with the guidance he had given before what he did April, one thousand nine hundred and seventeen could have been done in May, one thousand nine hundred and fifteen done, then, what abridgement of the slaughter bearing of the agony. What ruined? What could? after fees would have been prevented in how many million homes would an empty chair be occupied today? How different would The shattered world, in which victors and vanquished alike are condemned to live end quote writing from the late 1920s and
being the mortally wounded and terribly scarred continent, which Winston Churchill remembers as being the height of world civilization to him the US taking this long to get into the war. Looks like something that cost you the world. You knew a couple days after. The president gives his famous speech the Congress votes to support him and take the nation to war. The vote wasn't close by the way in the House of Representatives. It was something like three hundred and seventy four thousand three hundred and seventy five to fifty and as much as a wipe out is that I read somewhere that that's the second most opposition. The Congress has ever shown the president in a war vote. The war of one thousand, eight hundred and twelve being the most nonetheless seems pretty clear that most of those people voting were unsure about what
voting for going to war was going to mean the future mayor of New York. Fiorello Laguardia was a congressman when this vote was taken. He said that the percentage that, thirty years after the war that sixty percent of his brother and we're pretty sure this wasn't going to mean troops on the ground in Europe. The? U S didn't send armies overseas to fight. You know on european soil. They thought it was going to be like financial aid in naval help naval help is the one thing the US can do away military helping an army. That's a problem, because the US really doesn't have one in a one thousand nine hundred and seventeen the you armies, ranked 17th largest in the world. Doesn't have any flamethrowers or any tanks or any gas masks or mortars, no grenades the aircraft are these rickety strange beasts that you know the right like the planes, the Wright Brothers kind of put together
outlook modern at all. There's not artillery shells for the guns to shoot. More than a few minutes by western front in a standards historian, justice, as dumb says, the, u, relatively speaking, had been better prepared for the American evolution in the war of one thousand eight hundred and twelve. Then they were prepared for the First World WAR, I disagree with him about that, but his point is well taken the United States it's going to be any help to Europe. Europe is going to have, survive while it waits for this help to be accumulated. The only place that you can help right away is with money which they were Doing already they're going to lower interest rates and give better deals, but it's a question what was already happening and the use of the Navy and the thing the Navy can do right away- is help against the submarines 'cause, as we said in April,
seventeen, the submarines sink more than four hundred merchant ships. Britain's problem isn't that it doesn't have to stop all the sinking. It has just at the rate, which is so much more than what it can rebuild if it loses less ships that can build a month. It's doing well if it loses more ships than they can build a month. It's in trouble. The height of this submarine war will be from February, one thousand nine hundred and seventeen when unrestricted warfare is declared and the next eight months. This is when Britain lives or dies Those are the stakes and Lloyd, George and Churchill in all these guys go out of their way to talk about the almost alarm is the word. Lloyd. George is Lloyd. George says that there some of the most cautious people in his cabinet that are starting to muse out loud about. Maybe we better make peace while we still have some ships afloat and he said that we're getting gleeful that at times they just had these report coming in it made all the pro submarine people seem to be perfectly correct. They were all
of a sudden going to win the war. Churchill said we went from being. You know the side that had time on our side, and we could just wait this out in everyday. The Germans were losing the war a little bit more to having the tables flipped. In now time was on the german side, and the British had to come countermeasures or lose the war fast. They not only did this But it was the civilian leadership that pushed for the answer that turned out to make the biggest difference. This is sort of one of these early indications that something is changing in the war. For years. The military men have had almost unquestioned authority to choose a path for fighting the war. They wanted to know matter what happened, but now so many people died in so many disasters, and so much of the same tactic seeming to the the same results except more bodies, stacking higher and higher that there was pushed back now from civilian leaders, Lloyd, George is one of these guys who's who says openly that my job is to protect the soldier in the field and to the soldier
feel the generals, his biggest enemy sometimes- and you could hear all this talk about the stupidity of the military leaders- even Churchill kind of goes out of his way to say that the military expo for all against the solution that ended up solving the subproblem, it was billion leaders for the most part, that pushed the idea that on the day. The idea was both breathtakingly simple and incredibly complex. The idea was convoys, the grouping of ships into law Ge formations surrounding them, with warships and escorts, and sending these large bodies of ships across at we're these times and schedules. The military men often believe that this was just going to group your targets for the submarines,
make it even easier to line ships up like in a shooting gallery, but when it was experimented on again the civilian leaders pushing to experiment with this, the results were fantastic, almost right away, the? U boats that approached these kinds of formations often got sunk the idea that it was going to be easier to spot fifty or sixty ships on the water, rather than a single ship, turned out to not be true in the in the vast spaces of the ocean. Big old convoys got swallowed up to in his church will say when these convoys made it across the water and slip through the blockade instead of having one ship make it through. The german blockade you had four thousand and fifty or sixty ships do it by October nineteen
seventeen of ninety nine convoys heading to Great Britain. With more than one thousand five hundred ships in them, only ten that were still part of the convoy were sunk, fourteen more that its trade and got lossed or sunk. Those are easily replaceable losses and by October one thousand nine hundred and seventeen it was clear. The Germans were no longer going to be able to sync more shipping than the British could replace. What's more, they now had us shipyards helping to replace them.
As you might imagine, the whole decision on Germany's part to engage in this kind of submarine warfare is one of the most, if not the most criticized decision that the german leadership ever made. It's understandable, and you know it kind of once again puts the lie to this stereotype of the Germans as sort of a plodding, methodical, sort of conservative sort of leadership style, because in both world wars the Germans would prove to be great great gamblers. They just weren't lucky gamblers, but they were willing many times just sort of throw caution to the
try these things. In a sense, though, it's a defense mechanism, when you are the weaker party, I mean to me the analogy that works best in the in the war that that we have going right now is to weight lifters you're competing against each other, and one of these weightlifters is bigger and stronger than the other one, which is obviously a huge advantage in weight lifting. But it isn't everything on the weaker weight. Lifter has to try in to make up for it with technique and training and will to win and may be, taking some chances. That's Germany strategy for the rest of this war, and you know you're, seeing so many aspects of change from the 19th century to the 20th century that you can point to in the story, because that's really the theme when you look at this war, you know when a big picture sent. Germany has transformed it in the recent past, one thousand nine hundred and sixteen the year before this time,
from really an old style monarchy with legislative. You know balancing out to to something that looks much more like a twentieth century military dictatorship. I don't happen overnight and it almost kind of happens because it needs to the Germany has a chance in this war, is to be the technique master and have the greater will to win all those things. I said about the smaller weightlifter Germany has to organize it society more efficiently than the more powerful allied countries. If it's going to stay, chance and one of the things that happens is when you get Hindenburg and ludendorff in there. Remember the two german commanders: we talked about this military team, but it's really only one guy Ludendorff He takes on more and more the powers that in the 20th century we see over and over again in regimes where you have one strong man who sort of has dictatorial control on the german start to try to organize their society, to make it more efficient, like you know, being able to tell workers where they're going to work in a controlling people down to that level, because as one of the German,
leaders said the goal is to turn Germany into one vast munitions factory to do that requires a sort of single mindedness and a lot of power concentrated in one person at this stage in the war that person is ludendorff. He in Hindenburg took over sixteen and the first thing they did was sort of do an audit of how the where is going and what we're doing to fight it in the conditions and which condition you notice, when you take over the entire war, is on the western front. You have about Two and a half million men manning the barricades. Other side has about four million men: their numbers are increasing every month. How do those trends? Look you food riots at home, women fighting with police, officers in the streets 'cause, they can't get the food they need. You have strikes in a bunch of the major firms in a bunch of the cities and they get so bad. Sometimes the army has to be called in to disperse the striker
So the government is now going in and sending strike leaders to the front to get him out of the way I mean the society is under severe stress, and we already talked about the food. I mean there's a quote from Ernst Glasier that that sums it up when he talks about this period. There He quit, he says, quote soon: alluded ham, thrilled us more than the fall of Bucharest or some apparent success elsewhere. End quote: these people's needs are shrunk down to the most basic human survival levels. Yeah yeah, great, we took Bucharest, but did you see that ham we have in the cellar that we found? I mean you know, that's something any of us could understand. If we began to starve. The pressure is on Germany's military,
leadership to do something. You can't very well launch an offensive on the western front when you're outnumbered the way you are you going to be lucky to survive at all. One thousand nine hundred and sixty was terrible for the Germans on the western front, so you launch the submarines and that becomes your chance to win the war without having to do the impossible on the western front. Now, Ludendorff is a very strange guy. This this commander of Germany, you'll sort of and more everyday in the story, Hindenburg partners the charisma guy, but he's an old man. He really if he had been great at one time in his life, he's in his dotage now and he's the revered public face of this government, but Ludendorff the guy behind the scenes, and we about him and he's the one who way back in nineteen. Fourteen got that city in Belgium to surrender banging on the front doors with the hilt of his sword. You, we easily could have been killed, walked right up to the front door law Guy I mean that he's an interesting guy he's flaw. In a lot of ways and depending on
story. You grab you're, going to hear the the bumbling cycle, quickly fragile, ludendorff or you're, going to see this great gambler. Who was who was fantastic at certain things and remember all these generals are nineteen century men. They are adapting under fire at a quick pace to all these new conditions and just when you think they're getting it some new develop comes around maybe you're, starting to understand the physics of land warfare a year or two into the first world war. If your general and then tanks appear and then gas appears What do you do with all this airplane start having a real impact? You don't just have to learn. You have to be flexible to continue to evolve as these generals and nobody's great at it indoors, not bad ludendorff or changes by the way. The basic strategy of the guy who came before
fun. Falkenhayn strategy was in a basically defend every inch of territory. Ludendorff is perfectly willing to give up territory in exchange for killing people. He'll pull off things like Operation Albury right about this starts in late February. One thousand nine hundred and seventeen where he will pull back troops that are that are in exposed loop in the line? The line is a straight because of fighting here in there it's bulging out places and there are kinks in it and he begins in early one thousand nine hundred and seventeen to pull troops back that her that, are way out there in no man's land and straighten up his line. He'll cut off like twenty five miles from the western front. By doing this, freeing up thirteen or fourteen divisions, as basically a german army to be used elsewhere, not to come to added maneuver, but his strategy in nineteen seventeen as far as he's concerned, is going to be defense, so he going to line things up and prepare for that, and it gives him all kinds of advantages this this one area, it will be called the
Enberg line that he puts together it's hard to engine making the defenses of nineteen sixteen deeper and stronger and more impenetrable, but that's what they do in nineteen. Seventeen number line, is an example of looting, doors idea of defense in depth, and what that means is the german defenses go back to miles and they're designed to act like a rubber band so that when something runs into them, it just stretches and stretches and stretches in the farther it stretches the more resistance you find and then eventually just snaps back. It's devious mean the way it's designed and I don't need to get into all the details. It's the machine guns in the Barb wire in the pill boxes and all these things, but they just go far back into the distance and there's no more trenches anywhere near the front lines, because those are too easy to pick out and shell. Everybody sort sits in holes in the ground in a sort of a random pattern and there's no line. In fact, there's hardly any Germans when you first get to it
it's just a few Germans holding you up and taking casualties and then as soon as they can't keep you at bay anymore. They retreat back to the next line and then to the next line and every step of the way the defenses are a little bit stronger and the Germans are a little bit more numerous. As the british. The French were attacking them, are getting less and less numerous, and then you're. Getting more tired, I mean I thought to myself. Some of these defenses go back nine ten miles. It would kill me without any resistance. Imagine trying to do it with machine guns and rifle fire and grenades and artillery- and I mean it just it. You just can't imagine having much left if you even get. Nine, nine or ten to to the end of the defenses and then waiting for you. There are german armies who are going to counter attack anything that's left. That makes it all the way through these defenses. It is absolutely most impenetrable and devious. If you only have two one slash two two point: eight million men to fight for or
or and a half million men on the other side, this is a good way equalize the odds. This is a weightlifter lifter who's figured out a way to lift more than he's bigger opponent. My favorite part of the Hindenburg line defenses as a military history fan, is that they build and- Mult Moat in front of it. I mean there's no other way to phrase it. It's an absolutely perpendicular wall, walled trench, that is, between nine and ten feet. Deep and twelve feet across. It's to stop everything. Tanks, especially I mean a fall into there and won't be able to climb up the perpendicular side, It's not an easy job for troops, either an behind this giant mode, as you might imagine, our machine gun positions and all kinds of defenses and more wire, and all these sorts of things. It is crazy to think about having to attack something like that, and what,
more. When Ludendorff has people retreat sort of toward the Hindenburg line and give up these positions that hundreds of thousands of Germans had died contesting over the last couple of years. He has soldiers destroy everything you know as they go, creating a dead zone from the old frontline to the new one, a scorched earth policy, something which, by the way, upset crown Prince route to was the field marshal commanding some of the troops you had to do. This destruction he was so upset. He almost resigned over it and complained about. You know how this would hurt Germany's reputation in in that discussion. You basically see a nineteen century, a figure with 19th century standards, Crown Prince rubric to member of the bavarian royalty and Ludendorff a thoroughly 20th century total war kind of guy. It's a class cultures, the twentieth century, one ludendorff got his way and the troops of the german army in a very
old school style began. Creating a dead zone in this part of France in front of the Hindenburg line in a dead zone that extended in some places twenty miles german soldier Ernst Young was there watching the destruction take place and he compares it to a kind of lunacy. I mean it's funny because, if think about people doing this in the Second World WAR, you think about them, using mostly explosives, and there were explosives used to create this dead zone, but Germany needed her excel and so a lot of this stuff was done by hand and younger says it had a bad effect on the troops and he also blamed some of it on what he calls the econom times we live in or something like that, and he means by that is. This total 20th, century sort of mentality, younger, writes about passing through this dead zone that was being created by the german army as it moved backwards towards its main line.
Quote the villages we pass through on our way. Had the look of vast lunatic asylums, hole, companies were set to knocking or pulling down walls or sitting on rooftops uprooting the tiles trees were cut down. Windows smashed were you looked clouds of smoke and dust rose from vast piles of debris? we saw men dashing about wearing, suits and dresses left behind by the inhabitants, with top hats on their heads, with destructive cunning, found the roof trees of the houses fixed ropes to them and then with concerted. Ouch hold until they all came tumbling down. Others swinging, pile driving, hammers and went around smashing everything that got in their way from the flower thoughts on the window, sills to whole ornate conservatory's, as far back as the friedline that's what the Germans called the Hindenburg line.
Every village was reduced to rubble. Every tree chopped down every road undermined every well poisoned. Every basement blown up, her booby trapped, every rail unscrewed, every telephone wire rolled up every burnable burned. In a word, we were turning. The country that are advancing. Opponents would occupy into a wasteland as say he writes. The scenes were reminiscent of a madhouse and the put on the men were similar, half funny, half repellent, They were also. We could see right away. Bad for the men's, morale and honor here for the first time just want in destruction that I was later in life to see to access this something that is unhelpfully bound up with the economic thinking of our age, does more harm than good to the destroyer and dishonor the soldier end quote, and it be remembered that this isn't a war damaged country this. This area that they're pulling apart now in creating a dead zone, was
idyllic part of France. It wasn't touched by the war if you weren't right on the front in the first World war, especially in the western front. Things were great behind it, one of the french soldiers on leave, as you can get twenty or thirty close behind the front line. Everything is like there's not even a war going on. I see men with their sweethearts prowling around going to restaurants for dinner in a town thirty miles from their front an it's like it's another world. So there tearing down these beautiful parts of France to create this deadzone there destroying everything and then they're, leaving booby traps behind, because when the Germans give up their positions they're going to retreat, as I said, sometimes twenty miles in this one area, all the way back to the main nine. The allies are going to follow them when they follow them. They're going to run into these towns when they run into these towns, they're going to run in two and younger, talked about it earlier booby traps. Here's what he said quote among the
as we prepared for our successors, were some truly malicious inventions. There define wires almost invisible. We're stretched across the prince of buildings in shelters, which set off explosive charges at the faintest touch in some places narrow, ditch is were dug a crossroads and shells hidden in them. They were then covered over by a large plank and had earth strewn over them and nail, been driven into the plank only just above the shelf use the space was measure, so that marching troops could pass over the spot safely, but the moment the first truck or field, and rumbled up the board given the nail would touch off the shell or there were spiteful time bombs, were buried in the basements of undamaged buildings. They consisted of sections with a metal partition going down, the middle in one part, was explosive in the other acid. After these devils eggs, he called them had been primed in hidden
acid slowly, over weeks, eroded the metal partition and then set off the bomb. End quote british reporter Phillip Gibbs went through some of the sounds right after younger and his men had vacated them and allied forces had moved in an Gibbs talks about all those same kinds of booby traps, and then says this quote only a few of our men were killed or blinded by these monkey tricks are engineers found most of them before they were touched off, but one went dugouts, are into ruined houses with a sense of imminent danger all through the stated region. One walked with an uncanny feeling of an evil spirit left behind by the masses of men whose bodies had gone away. It exuded, scraps of old clothing it was in
extension of the dugouts and in the ruins that they had made end quote a booby trapped dead zone. Ludendorff is a fully 20th century total war commander, and this is a big move. This is pulling a big rabbit out of a hat, and it's you know if you're a military history fan like I am it's. What makes lewd you are so interesting. Not a lot of generals would pull this kind of stunt and it was a game changer. In many respects I mean that whole dead zone, for example, proved to be a huge problem for british and french forces to try to overcome They move into this cratered or a denuded area where even the wells have been poisoned. How do you even supply that the Germans, on the other hand, have just like they've been working on for months, some parts of the Hindenburg I've half a million workers working on it for months and months and months and building a new front
from scratch. It's like building a new home. It was now move in ready. They move back into it and there are railroads bringing supplies up to the back. Would Ludendorff did. Was wrong. Foot the ally he stole a night march. He seize the initiative. He changed their plans for now. One thousand eight hundred and seventeen without knowing what their plans were. He simply figured. If I do this, all the planning they've been doing for months will be obsolete they're planning to have me twenty miles closer to Paris than I am. If you were an allied general. How would you deal with this problem and, if you said, don't want to deal with this problem, but this looks like an impenetrable nightmare that just you in league with those
military thinkers at the time who were known as easterners. These people who thought attacking on the western front was insane look at the defenses. Who would do that? The prime minister of Britain, Lloyd George, is one of these guys. Here's. The thing, though you can always find generals and military commanders who, no matter how impossible the military task looks, will be optimistic about explaining to you how their plan will overcome it. After all, people don't get those jobs by explaining how they can't overcome the enemy's defenses. We told you earlier that the french sack their military leader that they've had since the beginning, war. She also shot for a and they sort of you know kick him upstairs and before they do, they have another one of those yearly meetings where all the allies, the Russians in the British.
French and all the other allies they get together and they have this meeting and they try to coordinate next year's military plans so that when the British and the french attack western front. The Russians, at the same time, attack on the east and the Italians attack in the south and everybody's pushin, pushing in multiple directions once forcing the Germans too. You know maybe break somewhere. I mean the central powers at this point. Like an egg as soon as you can break into anyone of their Sides- EAST West N. South I mean you feel like the war would be over, but they're all holding steady But most commanders are looking at the western front and say, but nothing is as steady is that must we attack it? Will the French had always believed? Yes, you must, and course they're a little biased, because the Germans are on their soil and they would like to see them pushed off when Joseph Jafra is asked in late, one thousand nine hundred and sixteen at the big me
What are we going to do in nineteen? Seventeen? What's the plan Shaffer tells them his plan. Is the repetition of the psalm, the battle that was just wrapping up the battle that was so horrible for british and even for french forces. Going to where the Germans down in in in a several months, long battle that forces them to throw in the last of their resources. French politicians were horrified by this. The last thing they wanted is about a like that because, as far as they were concerned, how do but you know that it wouldn't be the french nation. True in all their resources in man. This is part of the reason John forgot kicked upstairs. The french politicians had enough. Just like british politicians, they were starting to do the unthinkable in terms of nineteenth century attitudes. They were starting to interfere with military decisions because they were losing faith that the people making the military decisions had the right priorities. The politicians were
worried about the casualty totals one of the big criticisms, especially from the soldiers in the field, is that the generals weren't the guy, who gets the job as the main allied military commander in one thousand nine hundred and seventeen we met earlier is a guy named Robert needs out and gets this job because he guy out there optimistic about victory. Remember generals do not get hired promising to not overcome the enemy's defenses, so there's an ingrown bias in the whole process, but Robert Nivelle tells french leadership when he takes over, but you don't have to have another battle of the Somme. You don't have to have a grinding months, long battle. You can have a lightning bolt sort of hammer stroke, but the just ends the war. Or in forty eight hours now, it sounds crazy? Doesn't there were a bunch of french
general, some of whom Nouvelle leapfrogged over they were guys who We deserve the job at least three, maybe four more than Neville. But Neville was this he's a charmer and he's he's one of these people that win. Anyone over here winning over these jealous generals. He leapfrog, but there's a lot of petitions that are are sold with valves and some of them aren't even french Nouvelle. Has this great advantage over the other French in a military leaders. He speaks English. He speaks a perfectly speech without an accent to mother's English, so he's a charmer to begin with kind of a salesman, but people like him. He doesn't feel slimy or sleazy uhm, he's sort of an optimist and he goes over to Brittany wins over. Even the arch easterner, Lloyd, George, those explain to the British exactly how this plan to rupture the enemy lines will work and
involves creating a reserve of like two thousand seven hundred and twenty eight divisions that are going to be like the spider in the web and as soon as the Germans are held, in certain places in weekend and then this twenty seven divisions will go, get him and it's going to take forty eight hours and like any good salesman off sort of a money back guarantee Guarantee in this deal on the guarantee that Naval tells everybody is if it doesn't in forty eight hours will call it off after that. Now that's a promise to get rid of the part of the Battles, that's most troubling to people who care about dead people. A lot of the dead people If you have just tragic first days like the battle of the Somme right in the battle of the frontiers, a lot of the deaths happened because these battles go on for months in the map to after forty eight hours, if you had a chance to see, is it working or not, working call it off. It's not working that takes are the risk out of it, and you can see why politicians would like that plan a lot more than just a job for saying. Let's have another four
five months, long battle- the problem is in hindsight, is every nose. Nouvelle was working on a on an idea that might not have been tenable. Never made his name at the battle of Verdun at the very last stages of it when the Germans were being pushed back in the other direction. There's a lot of historical debate over whether or not anything nevele did was effective, but even if it was affective it active in a very, very low level to all of a sudden, be the military leader in charge of not just all of France's forces but kind of Britain's forces to him. He will clash. Novell will clash with Britain's Commander Douglas Haig. They do not like each other. The egos of generals are proverbial anyway, and these two guys will fight and will create between Britain and France's allies. Nonetheless, novellas the most powerful, commander on the western front. He's never commanded forces like this. His first real problem happens. When the Germans pull this in operation,
fabric and disappear, and it reminds me the british getting away at Gallipoli and fooling the Turks so that the Turks didn't know that they'd left. You know the Germans just kind of pulled back from this giant salient and wait for the British to find out there gone when I the way it starts by the way it starts with, with the british looking out over there trenches and seeing the german trenches being shelled, and then I think, the realization that the german trench isn't that they're facing off against, the shelled by Germans and it's a germ. Artillery blowing up the trenches in the everything of value in it and then destroying the trenches. So the British can't move up into them and use them and then, of course, the probing it must have been Erie they were like single Germans, left behind a shooter rifle off every now and then just keep the allied armies from pursuing too closely, but once it was clear that the Germans were pulling
back you know miles and miles. Churchill had said like fifty miles every place, I rinse it more like twenty at the farthest, but none the less to pull That far means your military maps are all different. The place that the hammer blow in nevels. Offensive was going to fall. Is the place Ludendorff just vacated? Ok, so as Ludendorff, probably intended. You got to change your plans, don't you the condition the ground, the change and you Val said. I don't have to change my plans. This all helps my goal, and this is where everything starts to fall apart in this plan, and yet at the same time you can see how These are such huge affairs involving so many months of preparation, so much momentum that, even if you find out here at the beginning of the of the battle that things have changed, there's a momentum that you can't really even stop. In this case, everything starts going wrong for an available for the whole battle starts. Nonetheless, before Knievel's part of the battle starts.
The campaign that sort of a diversionary campaign designed to the Germans, move away from where Knievel is going to attack starts. That's the part of this campaign that involves the british and the dominion forces. It happens next to the french position at a place called Iris and at this battle for at least a few days, everyone gets a chance to see exactly how you would go about striking defenses as invincible as the Germans. An it looks, a lot like world war. Two- and you know several historians have pointed out that by the end of the first World WAR, the armies are proto. Second, world war armies. There are certain battles, though, during the war, where you can say aah ha, there is,
big step forward towards that Second World WAR 20th century in a style of fighting. That's what the battle of the rice is known for now, in the grand scheme of things, as we said, this is the spring offensive. This is what the allies do. Every year right, the weather gets good in spring. We launch an offensive. The British in the launch one together where they launch one in tandem. The Italians do, as we said when they launch him everywhere, the Russians. This is the big spring offensive. The british part is these sort of diversion, as we said, an yet they're, going to pull this off initially. So well they're, going to show everyone what 20th century combined arms warfare looks like including aircraft. The amount of coordination, though that has to come off correctly, to make this work is stunning and it can't be contained, but for the short period of time they are able to make it work. The british show you that.
Modern, combined arms warfare can devastate these static, defenses. Here's the way historian Peter Hart describes the many things that were starting to come together. That could be only Edit Rawson how Cyantific and modern 20th century this profess The farms is really becoming. He writes quote. Many lessons have been learned from the psalm Hillary was at the heart of the plans, and the royal artillery had come a long way since one thousand nine hundred and fifteen the thousands on thousands of new recruits had learned their trade. Well, the Gund attachments, the layer, the Ncos. The officers were all now wedded into efficient batteries that were capable of increasingly sophisticated and complex bombardments the guns themselves were now plentiful and there were vast numbers of medium and heavy artillery pieces joining the masses of ordinary eighteen pounder and four one slash two inch howitzer field artillery advances in technology and science also
bind to give a greater understanding of the mechanics of a shell in flight and the measure. Adjustments caused by different meteorological conditions. Accuracy was improving and advent of the one hundred and six fuse meant that shells would burst instantaneously on the slightest contact which made clear barbed wire. A great deal, similar smoke, Those were also now routinely incorporated into the garage is to try to mask the attacking infantry from german defenders, gashes those were a key part of the barrage and they were visually dramatic than the clouds of gas released from cylinders, but they were far easier to deploy and much more predictable in their effects. Progress in the linked tasks of photographic work an artillery observation allowed targets to be identified and then destroyed by indirect fire new techniques of flash spotting and sound aging also assisted in locating the exact positions of german batteries and quote the amount of coordination, though that has to come off correctly. To make this stuff
is astounding and it shouldn't be surprising that it usually doesn't. What makes a Ross different is that in some cases it did at the battle of our us. Take, for example, the creeping garage. The creeping barrage is a fantastic military innovation in the trying to make it work before this battle. In this battle. They got it right. In this battle. They were able for awhile to create a protective explosive force field around british troops. The way it was, You would get a ton of guns anywhere from several hundred to more than a thousand firing giant cannon aids. Front of your advancing forces creating a wall of explosions in front of them, and you Coordinated everybody would have there been watches. Nice to the troops will be told: okay in the first twenty, if you were to move a hundred yards forward and
this time the barrage will shift another hundred yards in front of you. So this is all worked out so that you know the protective barrage supposed to keep the troops safe as the as they advanced The enemy, and the very last step, of course, is the barrage, will land right on the enemy and then it will lift at the last second in the enemy will look up in the british forces will be right there standing in front of them. Having march the whole way with a giant explosive force field, protecting them. As you might imagine, coordination is critical. You screwed up in one of two things happens. The better thing is that the Raj, gets way ahead of the troops and they're exposed to all the machine gunfire and all the stuff the barrage was supposed to protect them from that's the good part. That's the best outcome. The worst outcome is that the barrage is short and that giant explosive wall that supposed to protect you from the enemy instead decimates you when it works, it's fantastic at the battle of r us, it works initially.
They'll be a bunch of innovations that this battle another one again that's been tried before, but never quite like. This is whole batteries of machine guns will be used in what's called indirect fire, meaning they point them up to the sky so that the bullet send. Falling? You know right straight down on target. You could shoot over hills that way, not even what you're shooting at is one historian explained it. It's like huh, bring down an important piece of ground, they would have thought sins of machine gun bullets falling every second on some of these important road crossings and and what not all through this battle. One of the important elements of the start of the battle is that in so many of the troops that are going to initially rush, the german side are underground at the start of the battle. There's a lot of chalky ground in this part of France and like a lot of these battles. There will be a ton of digging. In fact, for months, the Germans and the British on both sides of had sort of a tunneling war and occasionally in a british tunnels toward the German.
And run into german tunnel is going the other way and they had these terrible gun fights in the dark underground. You know, like troglodyte fighting some sources say that the moment, the actual ground battle at a Ross started. Some these tunnels had gone up all the way to the german lines, but just a couple of feet, separated them from the trench lines that the second the battle started: the exploded charges in those those little walls of blue down in the Canadiens in a storm through the breaches it doesn't matter. What exactly happened, canadian storm Vimy Ridge, though, and took it on the first day, a ridge that untold numbers are Frenchman, had died, trying to take back in nineteen fifteen. It's a huge canadian victory. And the Germans were in terrible trouble for a short while at the battle of ours and by the way, it's not just Canadians, they get on credit and deservedly so, but there were Scott for example, up on the same hill dealing
all kinds of problems, and yet for the first twenty four hours it looked like Douglas Haig, the british command was going to have on his hands the long awaited much fantasized about in his head breakthrough through your writes in his diaries that it was a a moment and then and then lamented the fact that here this brand defense in depth system he'd come up with with all this work in all this money spent was apparently useless against these new bridge Combined arms tactics that was until he figured out that his commander on the scene, a guy named Falcon. Seventy something year, old guy hadn't, quite figured out what he was supposed to do with these new tactics. They were still waiting new, and he had done a bunch of things that were part of the old tactics he put all his guys for the most part way up front where they could be. You know taken by artillery more than two and a half million british shells by the way fired
in a shorter time than the battle of the Somme and then put his reserves that are supposed to be there to plug any holes. Fifteen those back too far to do anything in for a short period of time. It looked like the British were going to breakthrough at this battle and then just like all these other battles, it slows down once the troops advance beyond where their gunfire can help them, then the guns behind I have to move to, and that takes time and everybody gets tired and they in to wear out and while they are resting in rejuvenating themselves for the next push, the Germans are bringing up their reserves and the battle of Arras, with this wonderful first day in this capture of this important Vimy Ridge, turns into just another one of these bad and by the time, it's over more than a month later, you have like one hundred and fifty to british casualties and like a hundred and thirty thousand german ones, and by the way I found it interesting that the newer
history's numbers of the casualties. These battles is significantly higher than the older ones. I have some that say that, any five thousand British died at this battle is that's a big discrepancy in the numbers. None the less. The traditional numbers thrown out today are well over a hundred thousand for both sides. The the joy a over the knee was short lived, and what happened at this battle would happen at a bunch of other first world war battles. It shows the difference between how well the first stage, usually the first twenty four, maybe thirty six hours of these minutely exquisitely planned encounters go the part. That's all been rehearsed and train for for months and months and months goes great and you're able to make the coordination work. But then the next Jump and wherever you are in these battles is the part that becomes much more improvisational much more ad hoc. You can't have a plan. You know months
advance for what you do on the second day of the battle, 'cause you're not really sure. Where you're going to be the second day, you may have some, but that doesn't mean that's. What you're going to do and as many historians point out when you look at the next jumps in any of these, are Is they are so much more haphazard and all that coordination falls apart that you don't see the wonderful results that that months of preparation gave you for four or thirty six hours, and yet you can't break through these kinds of deep defenses in that short of a period of time, you would have to have that combined arms activity work as well as it did for the twenty four hours at a ras and be able to carry it through for a week or two, never the less. It was a near run thing it's gone down in history as a as a as a role we can counter, mostly for the Canadians, the largest endeavor they participated in out on the western front- and I always have to remind myself- you know you With this. In an almost
Field Marshall Type fashion. When you study this for military history, you see it the way. The generals often did these advancements on these maps. What worked and what didn't you know? The coordination question that the tech, side of war. You have to remember, though- and I was try to remind myself to the people on the ground. This is not so technical, Philip Gibbs was there. He was in the tunnels with the troops, as they came back from these encounters upon Vimy Ridge in places like that gives gives you a real feel for what it was like He writes quote: there were tunnels beneath the roster, which are many advanced to the german lines. And I went along them when one line of men was going into battle and another was coming back. Woon did some of them blind, bloody, vomiting, with the fumes of gas in their lungs, their steel, hats clinking as they groped past one another in
bolts on each side of these passages men played cards on barrels to the light of candles stuck in bottles or slept until their turn to fight with gas mask for their pillows. He says inside the citadel meaning of the city. There were long queues of Woon did men taking their turn to the surgeons, who were working in a deep crypt. High vaulted roof. One day there were three thousand of them: silent, patient, muddy blood bloodstain blind boys or men with smashed faces swapped in bloody rags, grope forward to the dark passages leading to the vault led by comrades, on the grass outside lay men with leg wounds and stomach wounds, and quote Norman Collins is an officer with the Scottish Fourth Seaforth Highlanders, and there there too and lens. Just tells the stories that remind you of the
strange moral positions. These kinds of conflicts put you in Collins talks about the fact that they were actually shown to kill one of their own men on the battlefield because of the pain offering that they were in during, and this isn't specific to this battle. This happened. The battlefields throughout the first World WAR basically every army, you know they got caught in these conditions. These are human problems. The physics of humankind on the 20th century. Battlefields, the results are predictable, horrifying and pitiable. Collins right after such intense fighting, you always had men lying out in no man's land, probably with their test equals blown off and crying in agony and laying out there all night long in the dark in the rain it would never have survived, but you had a choice. They could die in agony or you could
mute them. You were shown how to do the thing very cleanly. You would take your forty, revolver and talk to the man and Neil behind him and, whilst you were talking pulled the trigger put a bullet through the in his head and immediately the whole front, skull came away and they were dead instantly. There was no pain about it, but it honestly say this that I never had the courage, because that's what it took. I never had the courage myself to shoot a wounded soldier. I carried out operation. Many times afterwards on animals, I could kill a pet dog, far better than a vet good, but I was never able to shoot a wounded soldier I probably should have my Auto Murray Dixon was Woon, did in the stomach and the attack in April. He was in great agony from what I was told. The this thing would have been to shoot him on the battlefield. Instead of that they took back to the hospital when he died days later, it's a trend, This thing to shoot a friend, even though he's in agony and I just didn't have the courage to do it most.
Died overnight, but of course they didn't thank you for it. I'm sure end quote: there are battles coming up with the numbers of people, who were either shot by their own men or begged to be will skyrocket, none the less. This battle was tough enough. The initial stages of relation at taking things like Vimy Ridge became nightmarish as the month went on and the casualties piled up before long. The British were suffering four thousand casualties a day Hey Ross and it was getting to the morale of the troops, gives tells a story about arriving on the scene right after a bunch of men, just behind the front had been blown up in their bath together in the bath is strewn with body.
It's in blood and he and a soldier. He knows it's down to talk about. You know how things are going and the soul There is clearly at the end of his rope as far as what he's willing to put up with he writes quote: few minutes before our meeting a shell had crashed into a bath close to their hut when men were washing themselves, the explosion filled the bath with blood and bits of flesh. The younger officers stared at me under the tilt forward of his steel hat and said hello, Gibbs I'd played chess with him at Groom's CAFE in Fleet Street in days before the war. I went back to his hut and had tea with him close to that bath, hoping we should not get cut up with the cake. End quote now: this battle, as I said, he's known for how wonderfully competent the inter and of all the different elements were to make this battle so effective. That snow the guy on the ground, sees it. Though. Game says that his friend he's having tea with says quote
I had heard before some harsh words about our general ship and staff work. Never anything so passionate, so violent. That Gunner officer his view of the It was summed up in the word murder. He raged against the impossible order sent down from headquarters against brutality with which men were left in the line week after week and against the monstrous above mobile futility of all our so called strategy his nerves were in rags, as I could see by the way in which his hand shook when he lighted one cigarette after another. His spirit was in a flame of revolt,
against the misery of his sleeplessness filth and imminent peril of death. End quote: if british reporter Phillip Gibbs thinks that that's a high level of discontent, and perhaps in the british Army, it is, he ought to see what's going on in the french army at about the same time. In France, a great drama is unfolding during this time period, because right before these offensives are scheduled, start, the french government falls an new political leaders take over a new president, a new war minister. All these civilian leaders have changed, and the a billion leaders have a very different attitude towards this offensive. That's about to start than the people they succeeded. This causes huge problems. The first thing
they are not big fans of Nivelle but join the club. There are lots of people who wonder why this guy got the top job when there were several superior figures really August people who could have gotten it, but an fallish people like that we're sitting in the wings and they gave it to a much more junior person. But but for political reasons I mean he fit that government in ways that were good for that last government, but now that last government was gone in the new one that comes into power would have rather at any one of those other people. What they don't, like? His plan is ideal for this great thunder assault with all this artillery. That's going to end the war in forty eight hours, they're not buying it. A lot of people are by the way a lot of people are drinking. The Robert Nivelle Kool aid and getting into this Domestic mood about this thunderbolt ending the war, but the new government's, pretty sure that that's not what's going to happen, and they've got some people who ought to know sending them messages warning them. There are
Military commanders in France were saying call this thing off the disaster, some of them are people who are actually subordinate to Niv Allen who have jobs to do in this coming offensive. That's scaring the government, as you might imagine. This is all part of this growing. Interference with politicians in the affairs of generals, and this is one of those times where there's sort of a face off a meeting is called. Between the new war minister, an nivelle in late March in the new war minister, wants to convince developed a call. This whole offensive off, and it almost impossible thing to do is we said earlier by the time you reach these stages, where you're just finishing the last touches. It's ready so it's taken months and months in the training in the rehearsals and the money spent and all this stuff, and now the government, just leaders who don't know anything about war, any general would think want to call it off. My reputation
relies. On the I mean, there's a lot of personal motives and the war here, have some good arguments. He tries to tell him look everything's changed since you first formulated this plan, wouldn't it just be prudent to reevaluate I mean the Germans back from their old positions to these new positions on the Siegfried Line and other places right, there's one big change, but not just that the war minister tries to make the case that all of these big events are happening right now. These trends, coming together, everything we've talked about on this program up to date, are coming to the four at the same time, in late March, when the war ministers Talkington avail about this, the United States is just about to in the war and everyone knows it. The russian Revolution has just happened. The submarines are about to enter into the month where they sink eight hundred and forty thousand tons of allied shipping there's a
going on and France is war. Minister tries to tell Nevada that listen, no one's going to hold you. I mean every Change- maybe we should reevaluate says, know It gets even more desperate as the offensive nears and presses him and he pulls the takeaway card. He says to the government. Either you back me on this or I resign and everything I It says that this is a crisis for the french government. At this point, for all sorts of internal reasons, it was likely to bring the government down if they fired nevele right before his offensive was supposed to take hold and everyone who bought into the optimism and drank the Kool aid. They had almost no choice in this confrontation between politicians and generals and the government backed down, but it was even worse than the government
Because the Germans knew all about Novell's plans in detail, two major incidents are one involving captured documents that never should have been anywhere near the front lines of the Germans got their hands on in a in a raid, and then the office true that they captured were able to find out more. The Germans knew all about the french plans and when they were going to take place in what was going to happen. And they had known in general. For months, air reconnaissance had told him I China fares are like giant supply dumps that go on for miles and miles and miles it's very difficult to keep the enemy from finding out about it. And in January the Germans had about nine divisions, opposite Novell's armies by the time the bells about to launch his attack. The Germans have forty eight and they're waiting, and it's a disaster historian holder her.
Writes quote after several delays due to foul weather knevel on 16th April unleashes artillery for nine days, and then what is infantry recharge in driving rain reports from agents and french pows had tipped Germans off to the coming offensive. Even the news of the offensive in the difficulty of the terrain, the Germans were able to halt the main attack before it got beyond their first line, whereas Nevele had forecast the penetration of seven or eight miles. On the opening day, the French rarely and more than one or two miles LAS were horrendous Annabelle had coldly predicted ten thousand casualties for the first day, the number was ten times greater after the war historical service of the french General staff placed casualties for the first four days of the offensive at thirty thousand killed
one hundred thousand wounded and four thousand missing end quote the story of what happened at this battle of nevells is a wonderful your demonstration of how many things can go wrong when you're, trying to synchronize everything so carefully start with the weather, just like at a week before the weather was bad. You know who has snow during the spring offensive, but that's what, french face sleet, snow rain, creating mud that slowed the progress of the infantry which had been calculated precisely to keep up with the explosive force field of the creeping barrage which this guy in the valley pioneered back in for done, but never on this kind of a scale and in this case the in a barrage. The force field got way ahead of the troops, exposing the troops to Joe
unbelievable amounts of machine gun fire. There's one part of this front where the French have to travel. For ever. I mean miles to take this. You know hide in the distance and and in in this ridge Dave. The Germans have cut all these little holes into the side of it. You know to to add to the ravines and the gorgeous and everything that are already in and they've stopped machine guns and every hole that you can fit into this hillside they've got about four thousand of them trained on this french Infantry trying to get across this space and at a ross- and here you know when you read the history by they sound like relatively productive first world war battles, because the soldiers actually take quite a bit more ground than they did in the earlier battles, but that's sort of deceiving because this is all part of the new german strategy. This defense in depth, where the Germans are supposed to fight to the death, all up on the front lines now and not give a ninja ground they're supposed to
right to reasonable degree and then retire to the next line of defense. So they're, letting the enemy have more ground they're, just killing or of them while they retreat. The French actually stumble in to these first line areas, an think that they're winning 'cause they're, just not finding that many Germans and then the germ. Open up on them from the second line positions. As you might imagine, a government It had been assured that they'll come This thing off in forty eight hours, you know, is going to I too, cash in on that guarantee they actually gave no next hey on his forty eight hour promise. Here's how a writer Gj Meyer describes the situation where the politician come to the general and tell him to call whole thing off. Now you get It wasn't going to be another song, you get
Indeed, we are going to win the war with this thunderbolt and here's. What Mayer writes quote on April 19th three days after the attack it's. The war minister intervened, trying to get in fail to stop the general who, in demanding approval of his grand plan, had promised to call it off if a breakthrough, we're not achieved within forty eight hours refused the next day. He found to his chagrin, however, that he had choice, but to pause. The divisions at the front were breaking down both their morale, an their supplies of ammunition, dangerously low late the day after that April, twenty first, a new phenomenon appeared. End quote. John Keegan among other historians, has gone to great lengths to point out how there's an accordion like a backup that begins once the time table is
held to strictly when the, when the front elements of these french forces get bogged down, everything behind it gets traffic jammed. We've quoted Louis bar toss. French corporal the story. Several times and bar tosses this battle, but he never sees anything. He gets stuck in one of these traffic jams and, as far She knows, something's going on a mile or two in front of him, but he doesn't ever get there to find out what it is. The soldiers who find out what it is, though, begin to react as one might imagine from the horror, and in this case the tip of the spear in one of these areas are french colonial troops. The story of what happened was related to british journalist. Philip Gibbs, who writes quote talking about the french Infantry here, gives talks about how the French were lured into the lightly defended first zone only to be attacked, The Germans, in the second zone of defense, he writes, quote they were to be allowed an easy walk through to their death trap. That is what happened: the French Infantry,
advancing with masses of black troops in the colonial core in the frontline of assault, all exam and inspired by a belief and victory swept through. Forward zone of the german defenses astonished and then disconcerted by the scarcity sermons until an annihilating barrage, fire droptop on them and smashed their human waves from French officers in nurses. I heard appalling tales of this tragedy. The death wail of the black troops froze the blood of the french with horror. Their own losses were immense in a bloody shambles. End quote: the french colonial soldiers which had been thrown into this disaster ran screaming back towards their own line, yelling piece down with the war death.
To those who are responsible and all of a sudden the french army began to collapse. Traditionally, the Nivelle offensive is seen as the straw that breaks the camel's back for the french military and it's ironic that it would be that way. 'cause if it's just judged in relation all the other french battles. The development of is not terrible casualty bill is horrifying, but pretty normal for these big battles and remember, there's people being killed every day on so called quiet fronts I mean the british casual he's every week to what they call wastage. Living on the western front, with snipers and bombs and trench raids, and all that is five thousand people a week. So I mean even between the big battles, but in the big battles the numbers are astronomical by that The offense is not that bad and they did gain. You know D'Amato ground rules three miles in some places, but this was sold in,
with the different way the salesman Robert Nivelle sold. This, the thunderbolt that wins the war, everybody Have this last push of optimism and strength and resources and gumption, end the war, and then we can all go home in the sufferings over and a People drank the Kool aid and the crash after they drank the Kool aid was worse than if they never had the Kool aid at all. All that optimism, boomeranged back on well who started to try to re cast the marketing. Just you know twenty four hours into the conflict. He was no longer talking about war, winning thunderbolts. He was talking about hey, it's going very well. Mon gains in this sector in this sector and no one was buying the re crafting of the marketing strategy. The french government now has a wonderful little drama on it, and where it tries to get rid of Novell and he won't go quietly. They put put on who's very competent,
bottom earlier in the old job and they have a face off, and you see this wonderful again changing the guard between politicians. Trying to assert their authority. Over the generals in this pushing tag on who's, going to be the ultimate authority, the one in the politicians have in their favor is that they're concerned about casualties and the generals appear to not be concerned about casualties and the who are rising up in french units up and down the western front, are very concerned about casualties. The novella sensitive traditionally is what kicks off what are called the nineteen seventeen mutinies of the meetings in nineteen seventeen, that's a we term, and it makes it sound like one unit rebels and then the rebellions. You know transfers like how far up and down the front in and all these units are acting simultaneously. If that it happened, the war would have been over for France, we
do to stop a rebellion or a revolution when it's the army, that's rebelling. If that it happened, it would have been all over and the french government knew it and acted accordingly. Instead you have to imagine a burning roof with the embers everywhere. You know going off into the wind and landing all over the dry grass on the lawn, and you know his government is running around stamping out fires as they catch hold. I mean as many as six of these units a day were involved in, as I said what the French called acts of collect even discipline, which meant a whole wide range of things, sometimes getting drunk as an entire unit, and that was the end of that we're not going anywhere other times they just used to go up to the front one you know for decided to March on Paris and was talked out of that at the last minute and uh None of this was tied to the russian Revolution going on simultaneously, the French in the field saw
all of a sudden russian soldiers. Maybe we're going to get out of fighting this work is that somehow, with the people acted together to go after the people that were as Louis Bartow landed in slaving them. Louis Bartos Thomas socialist and who would have viewed these happenings in Petrograd in Russia. With great enthusiasm wrote this right around the times. The outbreaks of collective in discipline are happening in his arm, quote at this time, the russian Revolution broke out those slavic old years only yesterday and slaved and bent double under the weight of iron discipline, unknowingly marched off to massacres, like resigned slaves had thrown off their yokes proclaim their liberty and in housed piece on their masters. There hangman The whole world was stupefied petrified by this revolution. This collapse of the immense empire of the czars. These
has had repercussions on the western front and to route, the French ranks a end of revolt blue across almost all the regiments end quote,. But, as I said, it was an uneven sort of an affair. Sometimes it involved whole you it's large numbers of troops other times it was a decision made by single individuals alone that they just weren't going to have lives thrown into a meat grinder anymore historian, Eric Dorm Bros tries to give you a sense of the feeling when he writes quote already on day two of the Nivelle offensive. Seventy Soldiers of one regiment left their post and went to the rear and then, in thirty thousand infantrymen abandon the line, a junior officer recorded the scene at one train station receiving man who'd been rotated out of the line now Bros is quoting an eyewitness and the eyewitness to the troops getting away from the front during this rebellious
I'm says quote as soon as the train enters with what you would say, a horde of savages, all the doors open on both sides and men, flood out on the platforms, shouts, insults and threats fly in all direction death to the sure is at home, murderers and pigs, that they are long live the revolution down with the war. It's peace. We want etc now Bros picks up. The narrative quote the trouble spread sixty eight of one hundred and twelve divisions in the french army in June each reporting The five mutinous incidents, but no killing of officers, the file, demanded an end to further attacks. Pay in living conditions and more furloughs. End quote John Keegan and a couple of other historians have an interesting way of describing this. This act of rebellion, is breaking out almost spontaneously, although influenced by other breakouts, all across and up and down the western front. He says
like a labor strike like the soldiers just decided that they weren't going to do so. Things anymore. He said it wasn't defeatism, it was defense ism. Meaning that these soldiers were not going to let the Germans come and invade France? They weren't going to abandon the line and they wouldn't stop but they weren't going to be involved in any more. These offensives were a hundred and thirty hundred forty hundred fiftieth of them were going to become casualties in a hopeless cause. Let's also remember that it didn't get to this point until the french he had suffered in three and a half years about as many killed is the United States has suffered in all its wars put together. How would you know stage today a nation of three hundred million France at about thirty nine or forty deal with one point: five or one point: seven million dead in four years. If you adjusted for population size
more like seven seven and a half million somewhere around there. Can you imagine, would you expect us to be hang on free for the rest of the century. In terms of military affairs. The French had some hearing damage because of this first world war. Anyone else would it's amazing. They got back on their feet. All it's also sort of a wonder for the allied cause that the Germans are unaware of this. Somehow it's it's have the novella fence of that everybody in Germany like talking about on the streets it so well known, and yet the French are He starts falling apart and rebelling, and the Germans don't know if you're, french high command, and you got your army. You know, starting to catch fire like a bunch of roof, Amber's that are falling on dry grass. What do you do to stop that? You got to be very careful. Don't you if you give up too much becomes like what the Russians are dealing with, where you can't even have the troops,
in order to run with a start electing their own little governing groups, and they do what they want can't have that. But if you down to get all tough on him, you might spread the revolution. It's a deft and terrible tightrope for the french government to walk This new military leader that takes over for Novell Baton Pathan, is considered to be sort of a soldier general, so that helps and he'll famously go around all these units. Speaking to them, and actually promising and delivering some of the reforms they want, for example, reforms on home leave food drink a bunch of things that he can manage to perk up in and take care of that help the troops you know griping on the front at the same time he has to show who still in charge. This is still a military laws are broken this must be maintained. The French started
down in July one thousand nine hundred and seventeen. They will court martial. Almost twenty. Four thousand soldiers for collective in discipline still issue about five hundred death sentence. Is they will actually carry out less than one hundred of them, but there's one thing: Pathan can't change. He cannot make army capable or willing or trustworthy to go on another major offensive. This is an army that has to regroup, be rebuilt, Refortify but I'm going to do a historically famous job of this, but it's going to take time in the mean time, The number one thing that he gives to his troops that they were asking for 'cause he's got no choice. Is that they're not going to be thrown into murderous hopeless offensives anytime soon? This leaves the western front, in any sort of offensive activity on it for the rest of nineteen, seventeen to the british alone, the british Commander Douglas Haig is fine. With that 'cause he has a plan
and he wanted to carry it out for some time and now that the French are not in his way. He casts his covered, his eye on Ypres and the belgian ports yet again Douglas Haig. The British, military leader launched the British to launch an attack on the german defenses in Belgium at Ypres, where there's already been two battles of Ypres in this war already. Now Hague's got a great army to do this with the british army in late, one thousand nine hundred and seventeen mid, one thousand nine hundred and seventeen is maybe the best army in the war. At this time, it's taken years for the british in tradition, you see power to build up a land power but July August, one thousand nine hundred and seventeen they've done a great job of doing just that and its millions strong in the British had a boutique army when this war started very, very fine and professional and volunteers, but but a boutique army what they have in nineteen. Seventy
I mean are a bunch of mostly conscripts, some volunteers, but mostly conscripts. They don't sing on their way to from battle anymore, like in nineteen fourteen after the song that all stop. These are a bunch of grim professionals who operate with deadly efficiency and have more of a morale that's hard to describe and they suffered a terrible in ordeal the year before the bomb the some terrible lost a lot of fantastic people, but back with even more artillery pieces here in nineteen seventeen, it's a great tool in the is Hagan. Haig wants to use it in Belgium against the Germans, but there are people that think that that's a stupid idea. An after several years of war when you've watched you know the same thing happen over and over again in all these battles, there are people that are going to push back when you're starting to see some of these political leaders start to question what the military is doing openly to their face and
We mentioned mention this earlier. I don't want to insinuate that this never happens. I mean Abraham Lincoln, for example, famously would argue with the civil war generals and they would resent it, but in some like Germany politician, in germany- do not interfere in military strategy, and they'd only just doing that in France, with the color So the Nivelle offensive right. It was the development of that sort of brought them in saying. Are you sure we want to do something like this again in Britain? You know I I think, is a modern person reading the story- and I think many of you probably thought the same thing you're wondering why it took this long. How many times can you lose hundreds of thousands of people in what appear to the nonmilitary I to be very similar kinds of attacks would be strange. If there weren't more people questioning this in Britain, there are led by the Prime Minister, Lloyd George, now George, to be fair,
is viewed by history very similarly to the way Woodrow Wilson is it's almost as though there's a good, Lloyd, George and there's an evil, Lloyd, George and you know, different histories were portray him differently, but taken at face. So you Lloyd, George, presents himself as the person who defend is the soldiers from the generals he It is, during this whole lead into whether or not hey get to have his belgian offensive quote, but cab us regard themselves as trustees for the fine fellows that constitute our army. There will face any dangers and do so without complaint, but they trust years of the nation to see that their lives are not needlessly thrown away and that they are not sacrificed. Gambles Campbell's to merely because those who are directing the war can think nothing better to do with the men under their command? It is therefore imperative that
or we embark upon a gigantic attack, which must necessarily entail the loss of scores of thousands of valuable lives and produce that sense of discouragement, which very well rush nations into premature piece that we should feel affair confidence. Such an attack has a reasonable chance of succeeding, gamble would be both a folly and a crime, and quote, I must confess, that to the modern observer, having just witnessed the several years previous of this war, you think to yourself when you hear something like that, it's about damn time but modern historians, wonder they wonder if Hague didn't have a pretty good feel for this thing and that the politicians were barking up the wrong tree, maybe for their own political purposes. Hague sure makes it look like, Lloyd. George doesn't know what he's talking about when he opens up
duration on June, seventh, one thousand nine hundred and seventeen to take this high ground that he needs to take before he can have his Ypres battle. It's called Messina Ridge, and the British had since one thousand nine hundred and fifteen been tunnel Under this eight miles of ridgelines and planting Expn, this is underneath the incredibly deep and complicated german defenses up there. They were in the so the British, went underneath them and the Germans knew they were doing some of this because they found one of them, but on June, seventh, one thousand nine hundred and seventeen when Hague decides he's going to take this high ground. He starts off his attack. By blowing up. Eight miles of ridgelines with these munitions there's more than a million pounds of explosives. Underneath those hills and when they blow up all within twenty eight seconds of each other, so Diddly. You could hear it in London, I've heard some people say it was heard in Ireland
It's thought to be the biggest man made explosion before nuclear weapons or atomic weapons, and it vape. Prize ten thousand Germans instantly, the second those minds are blown up the house. As british artillery pieces on the horizon, open fire on the same line of ridges and the british eighty thousand of them who come out of their trenches and an march tord that high ground have uh pretty darn easy time taking it by first World war standards, I'm gonna, we always throw that in because to the naked eye it still looks like a lot of people died, but my first were standards, that's a pretty darn good attack and, once again it seems to show that the British have found the secret sauce the magic formula of how the tanks and the artillery the aircraft and it all works together perfectly in boom, Massena Ridge taken for not that much loss of life seems like he knows what he's doing, but before he gets approval for this battle of a deeper he's, pulling up the guns he's getting ready, Lloyd, George and
take him into a back room and make him kind of do a Powerpoint presentation for in civilian leaders in Hague, sort of grits his teeth and does it and explains why it will be a good thing and Why why we should be doing this and why it should be a walk over? Did you see that wonderful, but we just fought, took missing a ridge. Hey will end up getting other generals and admirals to sort of saw with him against the political leadership there were, always politicians who sided with military thought there. The professionals you leave things to them for guys, like Churchill or low, George who were the ones question military leadership. They were in a very tough position. Can you imagine what risk they would have run if they had overruled all their military professionals and then two hundred thousand guys get killed in a battle which, by the way, is all. The default result of a lot of these battles, so you could pretty be assured that that would happen if it happened to the generals. Oh well, it just happened again to the generals.
Lloyd, George overruled all their generals and it happened because of him. You can be sure he would have been roasted so predictably arm Douglas Haig gets his offensive. He, Search by starting a military bombardment of the area right around July 15th July 20th, before the ground attack starts, the British will shoot almost four million Also, just show you how the progression is going a year. The psalm, we were all saucer eyed and so was the rest of the world at the time when the shut off a meal. Shells before they started that battle this when they're shooting off almost four million. You can see why Germany, concerned with finding I need to turn their entire country into a munitions. Factory, as we said, was the goal on July 31st, one thousand nine hundred and seventeen the EPR offensive starts
Very soon afterwards, so does the rain. It will be the rain that will give this battle. Its unique standout character and there are so many battles in the first World war that sound the same- that only a stand out, and it's always for some particular reason they become associated with something special. You know in a horrific way the most casualties are. The most shells are the this, or that I mean everyone knows we're done, is the great artillery meat, grinder offense The psalm is that horrible, tragic situation with maybe tragic incompetence. Bruestle off offensive in the east is known for its scope, passchendaele, which will be the british name for Third Ypres, is known for its mud and my doesn't sound like too terrible thing, but when you think about living outdoors and fighting mud makes a terrible situation worse, and I don't want to suggest that just because this is probably the worst mud. Anyone has ever fought in the first World war that
Mud has not been a problem for soldiers on other fronts. In another battles, it's been sort of the bane of the existence for people, especially in trenches, but no Where is the mod like? It is in Flanders, the you're fighting it described it as having a consistency of porridge or cheesecake there