Recently, I noticed a book in the possession of Aelianus, called ‘Dreadnought‘. Due to my recent Hornblower obsession (I really must get to that shoe-post-y series of trivial literature and television at some point), I was immediately intrigued. It turned out to be not about sailing ships (ba!) but about Britain and Germany, and the role of their navies, on the way towards the First World War.
Yet, when I opened the book, the passage I hit upon was extremely vivid, and Aelianus assured me it was representative for the book. This has turned out to be true so far; I am at 550 of 910 pages, and find it the perfect cross between reading a novel and reading serious stuff. In fact, it is rather like reading a novel, only that it has really happened.
It is entertaining, informative, and utterly shocking.
Shocking, because I start to realize how influenced my history teachers were by their Marxist-dominated studies, apparently.
Shocking even more because it seems to me that quite generally in Germany, East or West, the dreadfulness of the First World War is entirely shadowed by the supreme dreadfulness of the Second World War.
According to what I learnt at school, and according to what every rational person in Germany believes, the Second World War was something that would not have happened without particular (Hitler) and general madness in Germany.
The First World War, on the other hand, happened because (now this is what I learnt at school) basically every one of the protagonists had an interest in it happening (imperialism! bad, BAD, Imperialism!!), only no-one thought it would be that disastrous. Now I have only got to 1902 in the book, but from that it is quite obvious that within the more-or-less-moral concerto of diplomatic relations at the time, Germany quite certainly acted on the ‘less’ extreme of that gradient, throughout.
Though Aelinus tells me he shudders at thinking of what would have happened had there been an aliance between Britain and Germany at that point, I still do think that double-dealing, deceitfulness and hubris were even less conductive to European (and worldwide) happiness than a realization of ‘we are basically family, and that parliamentary monarchy thing you have going over there does not seem such a bad thing, probabably rather a better thing than our obsessively military absolutist culture’ would have done. But well. We will never know in this live, probably.
I mean, if, on reading such a book, you think that the ‘resignation’ of Bismarck was a thing that would make matters worse: things must be in a really, really bad state already. Poor, poor Germany, please really do pray for us!