Monday, January 28, 2013

Praising the Darkness / "Gray Falcon" January 24, 2013

Aleksandra's Note: The work of Nejbosa Malic is essential reading if one is interested in an honest, thus rare, perspective on the Great War of 1914-1918.


Aleksandra Rebic


The good folks at Britic (a British Serb magazine) kept in mind my warning about the likely revisionism of the Great War in the run-up to its centennial, and noticed this atrocity perpetrated by the BBC:

Bosnia 1908… Austria annexed Bosnia in the Balkans. This annoyed Serbia, which wanted to take over the area. Russia wanted to help Serbia, but had to back down.

Balkan Wars 1912-1913…Serbia and other countries in the Balkans conquered most of Turkey’s land in Europe. Serbia became a powerful country, and said Austria-Hungary was its next target.

Assassination of Franz Ferdinand 1914…The heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary was shot by Gavrilo Princip, a young Serb terrorist, in Sarajevo in Bosnia.

This is from the Beeb's "bitesize" study sheet for secondary school students (ages 14-16) taking their GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) tests. Bite-size, indeed - more like highly condensed, Grade A horse manure the kids are liable to choke on.

What is quoted above aren't so much distortions, as outright lies. The Balkans Alliance didn't "conquer" anyone's land, least of all Turkish, nor did Serbia ever say "Austria-Hungary was its next target" (though Austrian propaganda certainly did). And if Gavrilo Princip is a terrorist, then that word has lost all meaning.

It's bad enough that the Serbs and Russians are being cast as the villainous aggressors against the virtuous Turks, Austrians and Germans. The BBC obviously needs reminding, though, that these were the very Central Powers that Britain fought against in that war. Didn't anyone get the memo about the reason everyone wears a poppy on their lapels around November 11?

It is one thing to wish Britain had stayed out of the war (as Niall Ferguson does in "Pity of War"), but look at the questions the BBC is having the students ponder:

Think about the events that increased tension across Europe and the consequences of these events. Can you think which event(s):

1. Made the British public hate the Germans.

2. Made France think that Germany wanted to destroy its empire.

3. Showed that the British thought Germany wanted to challenge the British navy.

4. Made Austria-Hungary determined to destroy Serbia.

5. Made Russia determined to support the Serbs.

6. Made Austria-Hungary frightened of Serbia.

7. Made Britain think Germany wanted to destroy its empire.

8. Made Germany determined to stand up to France and Britain.

Take a second to parse the questions, the way they are phrased. Don't they generate an impression that the fault here was really with Britain and France, for being paranoid about Germany, and with Serbia and Russia for threatening the Austrians? That the Germans, Austrians and Turks were acting merely out of legitimate self-defense? Considering that the New York Times recently referred to the first Entente victory over the Central Powers as "infamous," this is dangerously close to crossing the lines of coincidence and happenstance, and seriously suggesting enemy action.

As European powers entered the war in August 1914, Sir Edward Grey famously said, "The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our time." Just as well he didn't live to see the day the British would actually praise the darkness.




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