Quotulatiousness

January 6, 2014

Boris Johnson – Germany started the war

Filed under: Europe, Germany, History, WW1 — Nicholas @ 08:29

In the Telegraph Boris Johnson is exasperated by recent comments that try to obscure or minimize the German role in starting the First World War:

It is a sad but undeniable fact that the First World War — in all its murderous horror — was overwhelmingly the result of German expansionism and aggression. That is a truism that has recently been restated by Max Hastings, in an excellent book, and that has been echoed by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary. I believe that analysis to be basically correct, and that it is all the more important, in this centenary year, that we remember it.

That fact is, alas, not one that the modern Labour Party believes it is polite to mention. According to the party’s education spokesman, Tristram Hunt, it is “crass” and “ugly” to say any such thing. It was “shocking”, he said in an article in yesterday’s Observer, that we continued to have this unacceptable focus on a “militaristic Germany bent on warmongering and imperial aggression”.

He went on — in a piece that deserves a Nobel prize for Tripe — to mount what appeared to be a kind of cock-eyed exculpation of the Kaiser and his generals. He pointed the finger, mystifyingly, at the Serbs. He blamed the Russians. He blamed the Turks for failing to keep the Ottoman empire together, and at one stage he suggested that we were too hard on the bellicose Junker class. He claimed that “modern scholarship” now believes that we have “underplayed the internal opposition to the Kaiser’s ideas within the German establishment” — as if that made things any better.

[…]

Hunt is guilty of talking total twaddle, but beneath his mushy-minded blether about “multiple histories” there is what he imagines is a kindly instinct. These wars were utterly horrific for the Germans as well as for everyone else, and the Germans today are very much our friends. He doesn’t want the 1914 commemorations to pander to xenophobia, or nationalism, or Kraut-bashing; and I am totally with him on that.

We all want to think of the Germans as they are today — a wonderful, peaceful, democratic country; one of our most important global friends and partners; a country with stunning technological attainments; a place of incomparable cultural richness and civilisation. What Hunt fails to understand — in his fastidious Lefty obfuscation of the truth — is that he is insulting the immense spiritual achievement of modern Germany.

The Germans are as they are today because they have been frank with themselves, and because over the past 60 years they have been agonisingly thorough in acknowledging the horror of what they did. They don’t try to brush it aside. They don’t blame the Serbs for the 1914-18 war. They don’t blame the Russians or the Turks. They know the price they paid for the militarism of the 20th century.

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