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Friday 7 February 2014

More Myths of World War 1

This being the year of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, it is unsurprising that the BBC is showing numerous programmes on the subject, but it IS surprising that, even a century later, the same old myths are being reiterated.

Last week I began watching Jeremy Paxman's documentary but had to turn it off after about fifteen minutes because it was so irksome to see the Kaiser being presented exactly as he was 100 years ago - even the same old propaganda poster was used to show him voraciously attempting to gobble up the whole of Europe. Edward Grey, on the other hand, was described as being in tears about the prospect of war...of course, it was all the Kaiser's fault.

Last night, in a marginally more balanced programme, the blame seemed to be placed on Queen Victoria's extended family ties and much was made of the Kaiser's erratic nature. It was mentioned that, while his cousins, George and Nicholas (the future King George and the future Tsar) holidayed in Denmark, the Kaiser was excluded. The Kaiser was excluded because it was a Danish family gathering and he was not connected to that branch of the family, not because it was deliberate attempt to cut him out.

Much was made, too, of the deformity of his arm, which undoubtedly did have a major impact on his character and his life, but not in such a way as to make him a warmonger.

Naturally, none of these programmes delves behind the scenes into the murky world of international bankers and arms dealers, or the newspaper proprietors who whipped up a frenzy and printed untrue accounts to stoke the self-righteous indignation of people on all sides, or the businessmen who were about to make a fortune from the slaughter of millions of misled people!   

Perhaps 100 years later, it is time to get to the real truth behind the war...and, one only need judge it by its fruits to discover who had the most to gain!!  


Tess said...

As with many things in life, it's easier to repeat 'propaganda' than it is to get underneath a subject and dig for the truth.

I was disappointed in Jeremy Paxman's program, and got tired of hearing Nicholas and Willy described as 'naive little boys' in the other.

Thank you for a wonderful post.


Christina said...

Thank you, Tess. It is amazing how talking-heads in safe little studies can dismiss these people so easily, isn't it? ''Naive little boys'?? I am sure that those who create these ideas could have done so much better were they in the position of Kaiser and the Tsar at that time...particularly if they were being manipulated by 'dark forces' intent on taking over their country's banks and natural resources!