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: