January 18, 2014
Serbs worldwide thank London mayor Boris Johnson for opposing revisionism which blames Serbia for the Great War.
Earlier we reported a blog by Boris for the Daily Telegraph in which he defends the traditional view that the Great War was inevitable due to expansionist ambitions of Austro-Hungarian and German power-bases. Boris used the blog – coincidentally published on Serbian Christmas Eve – to mount an attack on the “intellectual dishonesty of the Left” which has in recent years sought to blame Serbia squarely for a war whose casualties numbered tens of millions. (A good example of this revisionism is this BBC site which teaches children that Serbia took “Turkey’s land” and was aiming next for Austro-Hungary.)
In his blog Boris says:
"It was Germany that pushed Austria to make war on Serbia. It was Germany that declared war on Russia, on August 1 1914. It was Germany that decided it was necessary to invade Luxembourg, and it was Germany that deployed the Schlieffen plan (devised in 1905, incidentally) and sent her troops smashing through neutral Belgium and into France."Members of the Diaspora Assembly have sent a letter to the charismatic and occasionally controversial London mayor to express our collective gratitude for his staunch defense of historical facts. UK delegates Željko Vraneš and Mirjana Lazić undoubtedly had an invisible hand in issuing the letter.
You can read the full letter here which we reprint below:
Dear Mr. Johnson,
I am writing to you on behalf of the Parliament of the Serbian Diaspora with respect to your views in the Telegraph on 6th January 2014, in which you admonish Tristram Hunt and the Labour Party, for attempting to exculpate the German involvement in the First World War and for passing at least a great part of the blame onto the Serbs for initiating the war.
The Parliament of the Serbian Diaspora, which represents millions of Serbs around the world, would like to offer its sincere thanks to you for your comments and conviction that well-known facts concerning the First World War should not be twisted, chopped or changed. A well known fact is that Serbia was on the side of the Allies in both World Wars.
Serbs as a nation have a rich tradition, which goes hand-in-hand with Christian religion and a cultural and historical heritage that at its very roots belongs to European civilisation. A century ago, the historical and socio-political position of Serbia was a very unenviable one – even, one could say, catastrophic. It had only just come out of two Balkan wars, depleted militarily and financially, so it is fair to say it was in need of a recuperative period of stability, help from its allies and, above all, a prolonged period in which peace reigned.
Attempts by some of today’s (pseudo)historians to hold Serbia responsible for the outbreak of the First World War are damaging, as they insult human dignity and contradict historical facts. We are witnessing a re-writing of the historical facts that are adjusted to the balance of power, not the power of facts. The explanation and twisting of the facts do not reflect truth; however they correspond to the political interests of today.
Mr. Johnson, you say in the aforementioned article in the Telegraph that “it’s more important than ever that we treat the truth with respect”. Because of this we would like to draw your attention to another well hidden fact: as early as in May 1913 – a year before the First World War – there was a letter by General Oskar Potiorek, the Governor of the annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina, that very clearly pinpoints the expansionist aims of the Austro-Hungarian Empire with regard to Serbia and the Balkans.
We wholeheartedly agree that today Germany is “a wonderful, peaceful, democratic country; one of our most important global friends and partners” but this doesn’t mean that we should befuddle the facts.
Once again we would like to extend our appreciation of your words in defence of and striving for the truth.
Chairman of the Parliament of the Serbian Diaspora
Mayor of London Boris Johnson
WHAT THE MAYOR OF LONDON, BORIS JOHNSON, WROTE AND WAS PUBLISHED IN:
The Telegraph-UK on January 6, 2014
One of the reasons I am a Conservative is that, in the end, I just can’t stand the intellectual dishonesty of the Left. In my late teens I found I had come to hate the way Lefties always seemed to be trying to cover up embarrassing facts about human nature, or to refuse to express simple truths – and I disliked the pious way in which they took offence, and tried to shoosh you into silence, if you blurted such a truth.
Let me give you a current example of this type of proposition. It is a sad but undeniable fact that the First World War – in all its murderous horror – was overwhelmingly the result of German expansionism and aggression. That is a truism that has recently been restated by Max Hastings, in an excellent book, and that has been echoed by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary. I believe that analysis to be basically correct, and that it is all the more important, in this centenary year, that we remember it.
That fact is, alas, not one that the modern Labour Party believes it is polite to mention. According to the party’s education spokesman, Tristram Hunt, it is “crass” and “ugly” to say any such thing. It was “shocking”, he said in an article in yesterday’s Observer, that we continued to have this unacceptable focus on a “militaristic Germany bent on warmongering and imperial aggression”.
He went on – in a piece that deserves a Nobel prize for Tripe – to mount what appeared to be a kind of cock-eyed exculpation of the Kaiser and his generals. He pointed the finger, mystifyingly, at the Serbs. He blamed the Russians. He blamed the Turks for failing to keep the Ottoman empire together, and at one stage he suggested that we were too hard on the bellicose Junker class. He claimed that “modern scholarship” now believes that we have “underplayed the internal opposition to the Kaiser’s ideas within the German establishment” – as if that made things any better.
Perhaps there was some more “internal opposition” to the Kaiser, as Hunt thinks. Whoever they were, these internal opponents, they weren’t much blooming use, were they? It was Germany that pushed Austria to make war on Serbia. It was Germany that declared war on Russia, on August 1 1914. It was Germany that decided it was necessary to invade Luxembourg, and it was Germany that deployed the Schlieffen plan (devised in 1905, incidentally) and sent her troops smashing through neutral Belgium and into France.
Why was it necessary to follow up some rumpus in Sarajevo by invading France, for heaven’s sake? It wasn’t. The driving force behind the carnage was the desire of the German regime to express Germany’s destiny as a great European power, and to acquire the prestige and international clout that went with having an empire. That is why Tirpitz kept increasing the size of the German fleet – in spite of British efforts to end the arms race. That’s why they tried to bully the French by sending a gunboat to Agadir in 1911.
That, in a nutshell, is why millions died in the trenches of the western front and elsewhere, 15 million in all. It was an even greater tragedy for Germany, and for the world, that within two decades of the end of that conflict there should arise another German leader who decided to revive what was essentially the same military/political objective – a massive expansion of German influence in Europe and beyond; and though Hitler was admittedly even more nasty and militaristic than the Kaiser, it was no coincidence that he used a very similar plan: first take out France and the Low Countries, then go for Russia.
In both wars, huge numbers of British people, military and civilian, lost their lives in the struggle to frustrate these deranged ambitions. They were, in essence, fighting on the right side, and it should not be forbidden to state that fact. The Second World War arose inexorably out of the first, and in both wars I am afraid the burden of responsibility lies overwhelmingly on German shoulders. That is a fact that we should not be forbidden from stating today – not just for the sake of the truth, but for the sake of Germany in 2014.
Hunt is guilty of talking total twaddle, but beneath his mushy-minded blether about “multiple histories” there is what he imagines is a kindly instinct. These wars were utterly horrific for the Germans as well as for everyone else, and the Germans today are very much our friends. He doesn’t want the 1914 commemorations to pander to xenophobia, or nationalism, or Kraut-bashing; and I am totally with him on that.
We all want to think of the Germans as they are today – a wonderful, peaceful, democratic country; one of our most important global friends and partners; a country with stunning technological attainments; a place of incomparable cultural richness and civilisation. What Hunt fails to understand – in his fastidious Lefty obfuscation of the truth – is that he is insulting the immense spiritual achievement of modern Germany.
The Germans are as they are today because they have been frank with themselves, and because over the past 60 years they have been agonisingly thorough in acknowledging the horror of what they did. They don’t try to brush it aside. They don’t blame the Serbs for the 1914-18 war. They don’t blame the Russians or the Turks. They know the price they paid for the militarism of the 20th century.
They don’t try to mitigate, palliate, or spread the blame for the conflict. They tried that in the Thirties, and they know that way lies madness. The Germans know the truth about the world wars, and their role. They have learnt, and they have changed. It would be a disaster if that truth became blurred today. I can hardly believe that the author of this fatuous Observer article is proposing to oversee the teaching of history in our schools.
If Tristram Hunt seriously denies that German militarism was at the root of the First World War, then he is not fit to do his job, either in opposition or in government, and should resign. If he does not deny that fact, he should issue a clarification now.
If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org