Sunday, March 20, 2011

Modern War, Modern Defeat, Modern Peace

The polyglot Austrian-Hungarian Empire

First off, I think it is important that you recall that Britain's King George V, Kaiser Wilhelm II, and Tsar Nicholas II were COUSINS. They were all grandsons of Queen Victoria of Great Britain. They also looked a lot alike.

After the Battle of Jutland, the Germans had few naval options. We'll spend some time looking at the age-old world of commerce raiding and how the Germans came to the game too late and in the wrong way during the First World War. Some old ways just couldn't be converted to modern means!

The BBC put together this excellent Flash map about the fighting during World War I on the Western Front. We're going to look at it today. 

One of the key problems with fighting WWI was that mobility technology hadn't caught up with firepower technology, at least on land. 
From "Since artillery support was not always at hand, German soldiers were provided with their own defensive capability and one form was the Mauser M1918, 13.2mm Anti-Tank Rifle. The large bolt-action rifle proved effective, although its horrendous recoil** was not well received by the troops who had to use it. Since Germany was late to develop tank technology, the Allies never adopted a comparable weapon of their own, but were quick to realize the need to have one as the tank was a certain future threat."

** my aside: you don't say?

Some casualty figures stolen from another website:

Mobilized            Dead         Wounded     Missing/PoW
Russia                12,000,000       1,700,000       4,950,000       2,500,000
Germany               11,000,000       1,773,700       4,216,058       1,152,800
Great Britain          8,904,467         908,371       2,090,212         191,652
France                 8,410,000       1,375,800       4,266,000         537,000
Austria-Hungary        7,800,000       1,200,000       3,620,000       2,200,000
Italy                  5,615,000         650,000         947,000         600,000
US                     4,355,000         126,000         234,300           4,526
Turkey                 2,850,000         325,000         400,000         250,000
Bulgaria               1,200,000          87,500         152,390          27,029
Japan                    800,000             300             907               3
Rumania                  750,000         335,706         120,000          80,000
Serbia                   707,343          45,000         133,148         152,958
Belgium                  267,000          13,716          44,686          34,659
Greece                   230,000           5,000          21,000           1,000
Portugal                 100,000           7,222          13,751          12,318
Montenegro                50,000           3,000          10,000           7,000
Some interesting statistics from the Canadian government on how casualty rates compared between the two world wars. 
In short, Canada on the above table would fit between Italy and Russia with 13.5% of soldiers killed in battle. 47.3% were wounded, which comes second only to France. Six out of every ten Canadians were killed or wounded in the Great War.

World War I memorial in East Angus, Quebec

Over 6.5 of every 10 soldiers from France were either wounded or killed in the First World War. This figure is 5.4 Germany and 5.9 for Austria-Hungary. One-Third of all British soldiers were killed or wounded. Only 8% of American soldiers shared this fate.

Because so many men were mobilized (and if you consider the shadow of civilian mobilization) you might consider how that would change the societies from which the combatants came.

Here is a link to a great film about the War Poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen

After the war (a prelude to a coming lecture.)

A great page on the early radio by the University of Virginia

A scene from Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times

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