GLEN COVE, NY — World War I introduced many new
horrors into combat. Gas warfare is perhaps the most striking because
of the new types of injuries it inflicted. The machine gun was perfected,
and far too many died charging against machine guns in the vain hope
of moving the front line a few yards. The introduction of aerial bombing
brought a far greater potential for war on civilians. Submarine warfare,
invented by the Confederate Navy, was enhanced by the Germans and became
a new weapon of terror. The Germans abandoned many provisions of international
law, machine-gunned people in lifeboats, and marched through neutral
countries. This was the triumph of the positivist jurisprudence of
the German law schools.
Nicholas and Alexandra of Russia
and their five children were
murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918.
Blessed Charles (1887-1922) was Emperor
of Austria and King of
Hungary until he was forced into exile on an island as a result
of World War I. He was beatified by
Pope John Paul II in 2004.
William II (1859-1941)
was Germany's last
The war did not end with a spectacular victory on the battlefield.
Seizing the opportunity to stoke the fires of unrest in Russia, the
Germans let Lenin pass through their country en route to Russia. Lenin’s
eventual victory led to the murder of the German emperor’s cousin
Nicholas, the Czar of Russia, and the Czar’s wife and children.
The Italians turned the tide against Austria. The Blessed Charles IV,
who had become the new Austrian Emperor, tried to make a separate peace
for Austria, but the allies would not negotiate with him in good faith.
Finally, the Germans began losing on the Western front and an armistice
was successfully negotiated.
The old world created in 1815 with the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte
was gone completely. All of the major participants in the war entered
into a new era.
German Kaiser William II abdicated at the end of the war. The victorious
allies required Germany to pay such huge reparations for its role in
the war that its economy was ruined. It underwent a period of licentiousness
and corruption, followed by a tyranny, the massive destruction of World
War II, and years of division between the two eventual superpowers.
Austria not only lost all the other parts of its empire but even
a large area of German-speaking Austrians who were incorporated into
Italy. Eventually, the pro-Nazi elements of Austria imposed Nazi tyranny
on the whole country. Blessed Charles IV was exiled in poverty on the
island of Madeira at the end of the war.
Turkey was dismantled, and leadership of Islam passed from Turkey
to the Arabs, with hideous consequences we face today.
England lost a substantial portion of its brightest young men in
war. It came out of the war facing a new world order that was beginning
to despise colonialism, Britain’s greatest asset. Pacifist reaction
set in, and the Oxford Union voted never to fight for King and Country.
France suffered 1.4 million deaths in the war. After the war, its
Popular Front government introduced the socialist reforms that have
hampered France ever since. In World War II, the Germans took terrible
revenge on France.
Italy acquired some territory, including a German-speaking region
that is still a very unhappy minority. Italy was furious when the city
of Fiume was internationalized, but within a few years it simply marched
in and took it. Italy desperately wanted to be like other great powers
with colonies in Africa. Italy got its way while losing its reputation
in the world when it used toxic gas in independent African countries
as part of its effort to acquire colonies. Although Italy’s government
in the 1920s and 1930s (with one exception) did not kill people for
political dissent like Nazis or communists, it was far from benign.
It abused its dissident citizens through such practices as beating
them with clubs, giving them overdoses of laxatives, or confining them
to small villages.
Hungary was seized by communists at the end of the war, but they
were quickly driven out by Miklos Horthy, a Hungarian admiral in the
Austrian Navy. He established an authoritarian government that lasted
until Hungary was trapped between the Nazis and the Soviets in World
War II. After World War II, the country lived for two generations under
one of the most brutal communist governments of Europe.
Russia quickly went from World War I to one of the worst tyrannies
the world has ever seen.
Serbia got its Kingdom of Yugoslavia, which has now been dismantled
by the will of its many peoples who never wanted it.
The United States fared best of all. No majority could be found in
the United States Senate for any version of the great European treaty
designed to remake the world. We stayed out of the League of Nations
and effectively turned our backs on the Eastern Hemisphere. Perhaps
the greatest price we paid is that the American masses also turned
their backs on Western culture.
What of the people who started the war, the secret societies? They
fared well. They succeeded in destroying monarchies in Germany, Austria,
and Russia. They prospered between the two world wars in the United
States, England, and France.
Finally, what of the West as a whole? It replaced a largely free
and law-abiding world that existed before World War II -- in which
passports were seldom needed, English ladies could have tea in the
museums of Italy, people could travel in safety from Capetown to Cairo,
and good manners were required everywhere — with a world of violence,
tyranny, vulgarity, ignorance, and every sort of evil.
The Confederate Lawyer column is copyright © 2011
by Charles G. Mills and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, www.fgfBooks.com.
All rights reserved.
Charles G. Mills is the Judge Advocate or general counsel for the
New York State American Legion. He has forty years of experience in
many trial and appellate courts and has published several articles
about the law.
See his biographical sketch and additional columns here.
To sponsor the FGF E-Package, please send a tax-deductible donation
Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation
P.O. Box 1383
or donate online.