Saturday, November 11, 2006
November 11 Armistice Day
On this day, 88 years ago, at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the month, World War One- the Great War- finally ended.
It marked the end of Europe, millions of young men (and women) were killed, maimed, brutalized by that conflict, not to mention the billions of dollars wasted on armaments, medical supplies, and other resources needed to fuel the conflict.
What sparked it off was a spark in the powder keg of interlocking military alliances. Once one side mobilized, the other side did- then their allies, and their allies' allies... and so on.
Initially, the armies were stuck using Napoleonic tactics- ie massed infantry frontal attacks- which against the modern rifle and machine gun- led to sheer slaughter for the attackers.
After awhile, both sides- the Axis led by the Germans, and the Allied forces led by the French- bogged down to a static line of trenches and fortifications.
The Generals who placed themselves far away from the front lines in plush headquarters- knew about bugger all about the conditions at the front.
Literally, they were sending thousands of young men to die in the mud and barbed wire every day. There really was no bloody way that the poor buggers could get far- esp when they had orders to simply stand up and march across the battlefield. The French soldiers were even using red pants- offering the Germans their asses as prime targets.
The Allied forces in the end won- because the Germans didn't know how to fight a war of attrition and blockade. Although, the Germans defeated the Russians in the East and arranged a good settlement there- the Germans threw away their chances by launching a massive attack against the Allied forces in 1918. The Germans were already starved of resources and food due to the British naval blockade. But their Generals were convinced that one big push would secure them victory.
The Americans had already joined the war- bringing with them millions of fresh troops and plenty of urgently needed supplies.
Neither could the German submarines defeat the Allied convoys and prevent the Americans from getting through.
The Germans could have kept on fighting in 1919, but they were way too exhausted. They thought that signing an armistice would help but I think they goofed up. The Germans thought that they would be agreeing to favorable terms set by the American President Woodrow Wilson. Instead, they got the vengenful French and British who wanted to make the Germans pay for the millions of lives killed during the war.
The Germans were real dickheads. They can dish it out- like how they brutally treated France - by annexing enemy territories and imposing a massive financial indemnity (1870 Franco-Prussian War). But they can't take it. They lost. They refused to accept it. They felt cheated. So it took them yet another catastrophic war (WWII) where they were TOTALLY DEFEATED to realize their error.