This cartoon shows the German chancellor's
dogs of war chewing over the bones of Europe. The Reichskanzler in question is Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg, who
held the post from 1909 to 1917. Our cartoon shows Bethmann Hollweg in uniform.
He was never in the army, but did wear a general's uniform while about his
business in Berlin. Odd, to say the least, but in 1914 Germany, a military
uniform of some description was apparently de
rigeur if one was to be taken at all seriously.
Bethmannn Hollweg's diplomatic deceptions
in 1914 helped lead Europe to war. (His attempts beforehand to butter-up the
British had failed to convince.) Just as well the British spurned his advances,
because his so-called "September Programme" of 1914 revealed truly aggressive
expansionist plans in which a quick European war was to be followed by
grandiose victory demands.
These were the annexation of Luxembourg,
Belgium and parts of Northern France, including a generous slice of the Channel
coast. A fine of ten billion Reichsmarks was to be levied on France, along with
crippling war reparations. The French would be forced to disarm, and their
economy would be henceforth controlled by Germany. In the east, a new German
empire would be created from the westernmost parts of the Russian Empire, while
German Africa would be formed from French colonies and the Belgian Congo, and
positioned so as to rival British overseas possessions.
In the event things didn't quite turn out
that way, even after Adolf Hitler tried and failed to implement the plan a
In a very real sense, what we are
accustomed to call World War Two, is in reality just World War One Part Two.
While Edith Cavell was being shot and the
rest of Belgium trampled under invading jack boots, the Germans were
congratulating themselves on a job well done.
Once again, the man with the chicken on his
head, Wilhelm II, is playing superhero. Here he is riding about, pinning iron
crosses on wounded infantrymen while a Valkyrie looks on approvingly. According
to Norse mythology, it was the Valkyries who were supposed to do the riding
The job of the virgin Valkyries was to
choose among those who died in battle and bring the bravest to Valhalla. Most
of the time Valkyries went about disguised as swans and, should a Valkyrie ever
be spotted by a mortal without her disguise, then she herself would become
mortal and could not re-enter Valhalla. So this one appears to be well and
truly snookered, poor gal.
Can you believe that 100 years ago people
actually fell for this preposterous rubbish?
Edith Cavell was
a British nurse who was working in Belgium when the Great War began. When she
helped allied soldiers to escape from German-occupied territory, the Germans
took a dim view of it. She was tried by a military court and sentenced to be
shot by firing squad.
She was then,
with Teutonic inevitability, shot by firing squad. Well, by October 1915, the
Germans had shot so many innocent people in Belgium that shooting a genuinely
guilty one seemed quite reasonable. The rest of the world couldn't bring
themselves to agree, and Germany took one more step towards pariah-dom.
The medal on the
left of the picture is the Maidstone Medal, given Nurse Cavell for her service
in helping to halt an outbreak of typhoid in Kent, the worst ever in Britain.
The second medal Noble Readers will recognize from a previous blog as the
French Legion d'honneur. The medal on the right is the Belgian Civic Cross
By the way, her
name is usually mis-stressed - ca-VELL. It should be CA-vel, as in
"travel." Interested in reading more about WW1? Click here to get a copy of my latest novel, The Deadly Playground, 1914 http://smarturl.it/DPAmazon