Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sorry Minister, it was the Germans who started WWI / "Express" U.K. June 12, 2013

Express U.K.
By: Stephen Pollard
British troops during the First World War

You might well think that one of the more pointlessly obvious questions you've ever been asked.

The Nazis - the Germans - invaded Poland and, because they then failed to meet the ultimatum we had set them to withdraw, we were at war.

There is no conceivable logic by which the war can be said to have been started by any nation other than Germany.

But here's an experiment.

Grab a pen.

Write down the same question and post it off to Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary.

You should get a one word answer back: Germany.
But if Mrs. Miller's behaviour this week is anything to go by, you won't.

You'll just get a lot of waffle. Because no matter how clear the facts might be the one thing Mrs. Miller will not do is blame the Germans.

For anything. Ever.

God forbid we ever say or do anything that might upset a German.

This week Mrs. Miller revealed Government plans for next year's centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

There will be candlelit vigils across the country and a service at Westminster Abbey, with a final candle extinguished at 11pm - the exact time when our 1914 ultimatum to Germany passed.

Every state school will be able to send children to the battlefields.

It's all very appropriate. But at the foundation of the plans there is a huge hole.

The answer to that same question - who started it? - is as black and white for the First World War as it is for the Second.

It's exactly the same answer: Germany.

In 1914 Germany under the Kaiser was seeking domination of Europe. It was a very different form of domination to Hitler's but it was equally unambiguous.

But you'll look in vain in any of the plans, in any of Mrs Miller's statements this week when announcing the events, for one simple statement of fact: that Germany was to blame for the war.

Intellectually feeble, politically puerile and diplomatically craven, Mrs. Miller's deliberate refusal to say that Germany started the First World War is an embarrassment to this country.

It is, apparently, important that we are "not judgmental" and "strike the right tone" between national pride and recognition of the sacrifice of soldiers.

For some reason Mrs. Miller seems to think that stating historical fact, which carries with it a form of judgment, is the same as a deliberate and gratuitous insult to one of our closest current allies. Nonsense.

Germany today is a very different nation from Germany in 1939.

And Germany in 1939 was different from Germany in 1914.

U.K. Culture Secretary Maria Miller

Today Germany is a democratic, peace-loving ally. We may have our differences but they are settled through politics and diplomacy.

It is not just embarrassing for Mrs Miller to behave as if stating cold historical facts about Germany in 1914 is insulting to modern Germany.

It actually is an insult to modern Germany - it implies that nothing has changed and that the three Germanys of 1914, 1939 and 2013 are no different.

It suggests that if blame is attached for world wars in 1914 - and presumably 1939 - then blame also attaches to Germany in 2013.

Germany will not be marking 1914, or any of the war anniversaries, as we will.

Both world wars are a stain of shame on a great nation and modern Germany knows that.

It long ago came to terms with its abhorrent past.

And to judge from Mrs Miller's antics Germany has come to terms with its past far more satisfactorily than our own governing class has understood it.

It is not the Germans who are demanding that we are ambivalent in our response to next year's anniversary.

It is our own Government.

Six million brave young men served in the armed forces in the First World War. An almost incomprehensible 800,000 died.

That's more than double the number who died in the Second World War.

They did not die in vain and they did not die in a futile war.

They died for a noble cause - keeping Europe free.

Yet the myth has taken hold that it was all a pointless slaughter.

The popularity of war poets such as Wilfred Owen and Rupert Brooke started the idea. But programmes such as Blackadder have firmly imprinted that notion on the national consciousness.

Goons like General Melchett and Captain Darling are taken as symbolising the whole tragic farce.

Yet the veterans themselves thought nothing of the kind. They would honour their fallen comrades on Armistice Day.

They did not do so in embarrassment but with pride, pride in the sacrifice they made in an honourable cause worth celebrating.

Our own Government is now so historically ignorant and so craven in its approach to international relations that it refuses to do anything which might apportion blame.

I would not even be surprised to see Mrs. Miller apologise for the war, so at sea does she seem to be.

What an insult her behaviour is to the memory of those who died.

In a sense it is unfair to single out Mrs Miller, who will almost certainly be booted out of the Cabinet in next month's reshuffle.

She is merely a representative of the bigger problem - that the entire Government is gripped by politically correct "non-judgmentalism".

A "non-judgmental" commemoration of 1914 means only one thing: an insult to those who laid down their lives.


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1 comment:

Stephen Wynn said...

The Kaiser started WW1, stupported by the Reichstag, which is clear from the debate in the Reichstag on 4th August 1914: