WWI Celebrations: Revising History to Do It Again!

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The cost of war is counted in lives while the gains are counted in dollars.

The First Casualty of War is the Truth!

 

There is a conservative movement in France rewriting the history of World War One. These people say the Allies should have never accepted an Armistice and marched on to Berlin once the German 1918 offensive was broken, thanks to US intervention. They say this would have prevented World War Two. They made the 100th anniversary of the Armistice a celebration of the Generals. They claim the war was fought by “patriots for liberty.” They say we are wrong to measure the killing with today’s yard-stick.

Butcher Generals and Fake History

By promoting the butcher generals and refusing to admit WWI was an unnecessary war for profit and colonies, these historical revisionists are creating public opinion to do it all over again. It was the punitive Versailles Treaty that set the stage for World War Two and not the failure to invade Germany. Let’s look at some of the arguments briefly.

Americans are taught we entered the war  because, on May 7, 1915, the Germans sank the cruise ship, The Lusitania, killing 1,201 people, including 128 US citizens; a ship which was carrying arms and ammunition, and to fight for freedom. Washington had warned Americans not to sail on ships of the war’s belligerents.  But if the Lusitania was the reason, then why did it take two years for the US to declare war on Germany?

Liberty? What Liberty?

If the war was for liberty then why did the US pass the 1917 Espionage Act and the 1918 Sedition Act to punish, jail or even execute those opposed to going into the war? (click here) In fact, Americans were opposed to entering the European War despite the massive propaganda the British carried out in our country. (1)

And let’s not forget Woodrow Wilson campaigned in 1916 under the slogan, “Re-Elect The Man Who Will Keep Your Sons Out Of The War.” Despite a call on December 12,1916, from Germany and its allies to begin peace negotiations (click here), Wilson pushed through with his plans to go to war to save American banks and industrialists.

By 1917, the war did not look too good for Britain and France.  The two countries owed so much to American capitalists that, if they lost the war and defaulted on their debt, the US would have faced a major financial crisis. This is the real reason America went into the war.

The US was the largest creditor during the war, financing Britain to the tune of $7 billion, as much as the entire British stock before the war; France owed $3.7 billion and Italy $1 billion. Enormous amounts of money at the time. (click here) So much for US neutrality. France and Britain were just too big to fail.

Moreover, the Allies ignored Wilson’s Fourteen Points to prevent future wars which, among other things, called for colonial reform in the interests of the populations concerned, disarmament, and open, public diplomacy. (click here) Instead, the Allies imposed crushing reparations on Germany. In 1919, the British economist, John Maynard Keynes, published a book (click here)(and here) warning that the conditions imposed by the Versailles Treaty would destroy Europe (click here for more on Versailles Treaty). Keynes was right.

And what liberty are these people talking about? British workers couldn’t vote. French workers couldn’t strike without being shot by the Army. And liberty in the colonies looked more like totalitarian dictatorship than liberty; King Leopold of Belgium killed 20 million Congolese to get rich on rubber and build his rail road. (2) The French and the British were no better in their colonies. Great liberty indeed, not to mention the UK and France shared out among themselves German and Ottoman colonies and territories after the war.

Patriotism and Propaganda

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Under the guise of “patriotism” workers and farmers were sent to kill other workers and farmers to protect the interests of the one percent. Proof that soldiers realized they were being lied to and that the war was not in their interests can be seen through:

  • – Fraternization when they got the chance
  • – Mutinies and desertions
  • -The number of soldiers executed, especially of those advocating an end to the war.

The Russian Revolution came about when the troops just decided to walk home and stop fighting for the Czar, a cousin of the German Kaiser and the English King.

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“War is a massacre of people who don’t know each other, for the profit of those who do know each other but don’t  massacre each other.”

Which brings us to the point of marching on Berlin in 1918: Germany was in turmoil as people turned against the war and the aristocracy and risked a Bolshevik style Revolution which would have certainly been sparked by an Allied invasion. Soldiers and sailors were mutinying and turning their guns on their officers; workers were striking and setting up communist style self-government.

Millions more would have died because Germans would have fought much harder on their own territory and for their own class interests than they did in France for the interests of their ruling class. There is also a good chance Trotsky would have sent Russian troops to help the German insurrection. (3)

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French execute a mutineer.

French soldiers would have mutinied and the French people revolted once they knew their ruling class had refused a ceasefire. Europe was on the brink of generalized working class insurrection. From the standpoint of the Bourgeoisie, marching on Berlin would have been suicidal.

 

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“Enemies” Fraternize, Christmas 1914

This is why we can measure the butchery of 1914-1918 by today’s standards because the people then had made it clear they did not want “your fucking war!” The generals’s calculations were simple: ‘how many more men can I afford to lose compared to my adversary?’ These generals never paid for their wanton murder of canon-fodder but soldiers who refused the meat grinder were shot. Celebrating the generals is in itself a crime against humanity and an apology for mass murder.

The 100th Anniversary celebration in Paris on November 11, 2018, should boil the blood of anybody who believes human life matters more than the banker’s profits.

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  1. For British pro-war propaganda in America, and also the role of the financiers from the Rothschild family, see Phillip Knightley, The First Casualty, notably po 85, 129-131 (2004 edition) Niall Ferguson, The Pity Of War, 1998, which has large sections on economics, propaganda and on the role of the Rothschild Family. Hitler sites the efficacy of British WWI propaganda and proposes to use it as a model in his book, Mein Kampf.
  2. See Adam Hochschild, King Leopold’s Ghost, Mariner Books, 1998.
  3. Trotsky believed that the only way to save the Bolshevik Revolution was by spreading it to other, more advanced industrial countries with a large working class. Germany was his primary center of attention in 1918.
  4. This is a short excerpt from a France 24 debate where I clash with Historical Revisionists. You can see the whole program on line:

     

 

3 Comments

  1. It is certainly correct to comment on what might have happened in response to revisionist history as to what might have happened. To say simply that the US entered the war to protect the interests of Wall Street is revisionist itself. There were a myriad of complicated issues, particularly Wilson’s desire to play negotiator without involving a pitifully unprepared American army and a quarter of the US population with German roots, as motivators to stay out.. The direct causes of American intervention, of course, were the Zimmermann Telegram and Germany’s decision to re-initiate unrestricted submarine warfare on any ship that entered the War Zone. This was, naturally, a response to Britain’s blockade policy that declared virtually any cargo going to Germany ‘war material’ in order to starve the German people and force their surrender.
    Wilson’s Fourteen Points were indeed ultimately cast aside by Britain and France during the treaty negotiations. One can only conjecture what would have occurred had Wilson not suffered a stroke and been forced to return to the U.S., leaving the woefully unprepared and bewildered Anglophile Colonel House in his stead (Wilson was much like the current US president who finds little use for career diplomats). Ultimately, Wilson’s health, congresses boredom and wartime propaganda that featured all Germans as murderous animals doomed American influence in the treatment of post-war Germany.
    It has become a cliche to say the ‘victors write the history’. Yet in this case, it is both victors and vanquished. The Germans with their ‘stab in the back’ mantra and the allies with their portrayal of their generals as newly minted exceptional heroes. Petain and Foch, the brilliant team that defeated the German beast. Haig, whose patient strategy finally led the way to allied victory. And Pershing, whose tactics of the bayonet, open warfare and American elan saved the world for democracy. Baloney. Ignorant, arrogant murderers all. The real truth? The soldiers that were left in the allied armies were just worn out and the millions of Americans coming into theatre were just impossible to stop. Finally, there were too many holes in the dike to plug.
    Some industrialists and moneymakers did well from the war, but not in the long term and far from them all. European industry was ruined. Just ten years after the treaty was signed, Wall Street crashed wiping out billions in profits. It was the next world war that started the cycle of real profiteering once again. And so it goes.

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  2. World war one was a bloddy schlacht organised by the imperialist powers fighting among themselves to obtain ever greater gains. The immediate objective of the Brits, French and US (and various minor) imperialists was to prevent Germany getting ahead. Inter-imperialist war was how Lenin and the communists saw it. They opposed the war and called for fraternisation among the fightingmen, mostly peasants and some industrial workers. Germany lost nearly 2 million young men, prols and plebs, France lost just over a million, Russia left well over a million dead on the battlefields.

    German was shorn of its colonies during world war one, chiefly in Africa, some in east Asia. The German finance capitalists (synonym: imperialists) then opted to build a new empire on the backs of the Soviet folk, dead or alive. In this they were backed by the imperialist elites of Britain, France, the US and others. For them, Germany constructing a new empire in the east meant knocking out those pesky prols and plebs who’d taken power in the Sov Union. Their ideas were also developing among the workers in Germany, France and elsewhere. Nazi literature (Mein Kampf, for one) was talking about a “Vernichtungskrieg” (war of extermination) against the Soviets. They and the other slavs were duly classed as inferior races. The Sovs were even called “Asiatic hordes”, threatening aryan superiority!

    Germany, like the other imperialist powers, desperately needed ever cheaper sources of food and minerals and near-slave labor to produce them. That was to counter what Marx called the “falling profit trend”. As capitalism matures, the surplus value produced by labor slides downwards, hauling the profit rate with it. To boost profits, the capitalists have to compress wages and non-wage incomes. That makes the raw materials and farm products (food mainly) cheaper and help boost the surplus-valued thus profits. Colonial conquests come in handy.

    About the line that the US, French, Brit and other elites should have marched their troops to Berlin to prevent nazism taking over there, well it’s hogwash. Throughout the 1930s, the Soviets tried to build an alliance with the Brits, French, and the US to culminate in a military strike attack on Germany. Well those “democrats” in Washington, London, Paris etc. laughed off the Soviet bid(1). They preferred the nazis crushing those pesky prols and plebs in the USSR.

    Of course, Soviet leaders harbored no illusions about their capitalist opponents, “democrats”, colonialists, nazis or other. They speeded by building agriculture, industry, the military. They even went for arts and sport! Helps construct society and socialism, see? They faced the nazi onslaught, resisted, lost 25 million people, got thousands of villages and hundreds of towns and cities flattened. And we’re not even talking physical injuries, mental traumatisms, highlighted in “western” writing but comtemptuously neglected when the Sovs, Chinese, North Koreans or others are concerned.

    Molotov, Soviet premier then foreign minister during the war, says (2) the Sovs lost 7 years of GDP during 4 years of nazi occupation. An occupation that was aided and abetted by French capitalists (major firms dove-tailed their operations with German war requirements), by US’ Wall Street financiers (check grandad Prescott Bush’s exploits), Standard Oil New Jersey (Rockefeller group), not forgetting GM and Ford, led by nazi sympathisers.

    German nazism was basically the extreme version of what other imperialist elites were up to in other parts of the world. Racial inequality was not invented in Germany. It was already there in France, Britain and elsewhere. It was pushed by the bourgeois elites, not by ordinary folks. The struggle of those ordinary folks to throw off oppression also means struggle to fight off irrational, unscientific, emotion-based ideologies forced on them. Here what Stalin says: “It is very likely that the war for the liberation of the Soviet land will result in ousting or destroying Hitler’s clique. We should welcome such an outcome. But it would be ridiculous to identify Hitler’s clique with the German people and the German State. History shows that Hitlers come and go, but the German people and the German State remain.”. Stalin said it in February 1942 in a Moscow besieged by German and other fascist troops, (3). Gotta have balls for that!

    (1) ‘1939: The Alliance That Never Was and the Coming of World War II’, Michael Jabara Carley, 1999.
    (2) ‘Molotov Remembers: Inside Kremin Politics’, Conversations with Felix Chuev, (English) 1993.
    (3) TEXT OF JOSEPH STALIN’S ORDER OF THE DAY ON THE 24TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE RED ARMY…..http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/policy/1942/420223a.html

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  3. Salil has it right. Before, during and after the war, the US was defending its loans to the Allies, the Tsar and the Menshiviks. Other considerations took a back seat. The most difficult decision Wilson had to make was to write off US loans to the Central Powers.

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