Wednesday, December 14, 2016

History: The Year is 1915

I've uploaded year 1915 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

War Made New and Terrifying -- A lot of people die through technology.

The Armenian Genocide -- A lot of people die the old fashioned way.

Notable Births -- Captain Midnight, Les Paul, and Frank Sinatra.

In Other News -- A prototype tank, "In Flanders Fields", and the KKK is reborn... in film... and later in reality.

War Made New and Terrifying

  • What in God's name are those things?! WHAT ARE THEY?!
--A German NCO in the midst of exploding shells. [1] [2]
  • This is not war. IT'S THE END OF THE WORLD!
--Indian-British solider in a letter to his father. [2]
The dead lay everywhere, in pieces or whole, rotting for days, or months. The smell cannot be described. It is death simply to raise your head above the trenches. Most men are wearing cloth hats. Helmets are just coming on line. Helmet or not, when the order comes, over the top you go, to live or die. That is frightening enough, but imagine that you are in the 2nd line, seeing what just happened to the first. The whistle sounds. It's your turn now. Death is the end of suffering. Shells arrive in waves. The battlefield is awash in metal and poison gas. By treaty, gas is forbidden, but millions are dead already... so... the Germans wait for the wind to be right (if such a word can be used) and pull the tops off the canisters. The gas creeps along the ground like the Angel of Death, claiming lives as it flows by. Some men run from the shelling. They call it "shell-shock". Later they will call it "battle fatigue," but the officers call it cowardice. Hundreds of soldiers are lined up and shot for desertion. No mercy. The French start rotating their troops out of the trenches, but how much more of this can the troops take? For those of us commanded to die, the whistle sounds. For king and country, over the top we go. [3] [4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The battles of World War 1 were actually much worse than I'm describing here. The Second Industrial Revolution brought more than prosperity. It created an infrastructure that allowed large armies to be fed, clothed, armed and rearmed to the point where the complete destruction of a nation became possible. Bureaucracies broke down under the strain. Economic collapse was imminent, but it just didn't matter. For them, there was no tomorrow... but we know that tomorrow came. What emerged was ugly, bitter, disillusioned and building up for a second round. The next time will be different. It always is. [5] [6]

The Armenian Genocide

The killing of Armenian Christians has been going on long before World War 1, but when the Ottoman Empire (mostly modern day Turkey) sides with Germany, it all comes to a head. Russia is at war with Germany and traditionally, Russia has been an ally to Armenia. A lot of Armenians have escaped the persecution by the Muslim Turks, and joined the Russian army. Now the Russians are sending their ethnic Armenian units to beat the tar out of the Turks. It feels good to the Armenians. The Turks? Not so much. One more background item: secret negotiations are in progress to carve up the Ottoman Empire after the war. It's called the Sykes–Picot (sikes PEE-ko) Agreement. Whether the Turks know the secret or not, they'd have to be idiots not to have guessed. So here we are. A large Armenian population exists within the borders of the Ottoman Empire. They look like a 5th column ready to join the Russians (because they are). As the war rages, the Turks decide to move the Armenians to Syria... millions of Armenians, on foot with whatever they can carry. If you are asking yourself, "How did they feed these people?", you have noticed one of the problems. The other problems are murder, rape, pillaging, and beheadings. The number of Armenians that will die is unknown, but figure around 600,000 for this year alone and 1.5 million over all. [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Was it intentional? It depend on what you mean by "intentional". The Ottomans of the time knew what would happen when they tried to move so many people at once. I'm leaving out a lot of the horror, but pictures exist, and credible, non-Armenian, non-Turkish witnesses reported on the death marches. It was a major catastrophe. Whether the death marches were organized specifically to kill off the Armenians is still debated. Look. I'm Jewish. Millions of my fellow Jews were murdered by Nazi Germany. They are sorry. I'm sorry. We are all F-ing sorry. Let's move past it now. We will not forget. Never that, but their sons didn't do it. Don't get me wrong. I'm watching the son carefully, but his sins are his own as are mine.

Notable Births

  • Richard Webb (Actor, best known as Captain Midnight. I actually met this guy... and he cared!) [13]
  • Les Paul (Musician and inventor of the solid-body electric guitar.) [14] [15]
  • Frank Sinatra (Singer and actor. I liked him in "Guys and Dolls" and "Von Ryan's Express".) [16]

In Other News

  • England produces "Little Willie," a prototype tank. It's not ready for prime time, but it's coming along. [17]
  • "In Flander Fields" is published. "In Flanders fields the poppies blow / Between the crosses, row on row..." [18]
  • "Birth of a Nation" is released. This film about the KKK will be screened at the White House. (That is, Woodrow Wilson, Democrat.) [19] [20] [21]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1915, Wikipedia.

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