I Guerra Mundial

Las lecciones perdidas de la Primera Guerra Mundial

Pasaron 100 años desde que terminó la Primera Guerra Mundial, y el centenario fue conmemorado este mes con grandes pompas en Australia, Canadá, Francia y el Reino Unido. Alemania envió autoridades de alto nivel a Francia para la ocasión, reafirmando así la reconciliación entre los dos países. Pero el hecho de que la reconciliación franco-alemana no ocurriera hasta que Europa hubiera sufrido otra guerra devastadora demuestra lo frágil que puede ser la paz, especialmente cuando los líderes políticos son tan miopes como suelen ser.

El historiador de Cambridge Christopher Clark correctamente tituló Sonámbulos su libro de 2012 sobre los orígenes de la Primera Guerra Mundial.…  Seguir leyendo »

Guerra para acabar con las guerras

El pasado domingo se produjo en París la mayor concentración de jefes de Estado o de Gobierno reunidos en Europa en las últimas décadas. Aunque quizá la ceremonia más conmovedora celebrada ese mismo día fuera la que tuvo lugar en Londres, en la Abadía de Westminster, con la presencia de la reina de Inglaterra y del presidente de la República de Alemania, para conmemorar el centenario de la firma del armisticio que puso fin a la Primera Guerra Mundial. Pero volviendo al evento en el Arco de Triunfo de la capital francesa, unos 70 mandatarios se citaron ante la tumba del soldado desconocido para expresar su rechazo a una guerra mundial tan extensa y tan sangrienta que llegó a llamarse, en inglés y en francés, simplemente la Gran Guerra.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nunca una paz trajo tantos desastres. Es cierto que el armisticio con el que concluyó la I Guerra Mundial, cuyo centenario se conmemoró el domingo, detuvo los combates —aunque solo en el frente occidental— y envió a casa a millones de soldados, muchos de ellos con heridas, físicas y psicológicas, de las que no se recuperarían nunca. Los gueules cassées, los jetas rotas, los soldados desfigurados, se convirtieron en el icono de una guerra tan atroz que estaba destinada a acabar con todas las guerras, pero también del destino que esperaba a muchos de los antiguos combatientes: la miseria y un mundo que apenas reconocían.…  Seguir leyendo »

On the 11th day of the 11th month and at the 11th hour — the moment at which the armistice ending World War I was declared a century ago — the leaders of the nations that once murdered one another during that brutal conflict gathered in Paris. That was expected. The surprise was the degree to which a formal occasion so brilliantly exposed the relationships between former allies and former opponents today.

The British prime minister, Theresa May, was not there. She chose to attend a ceremony in London, led by Prince Charles, in front of a memorial to Britain’s war dead.…  Seguir leyendo »

The First World War ended 100 years ago today. Scholars have long debated its causes and effects. Yet surprisingly few have explored why the war lasted four long and bloody years. Could it have ended sooner?

In fact, largely forgotten is how Germany and the United States issued peace overtures in December 1916. Had these overtures been successful, they could have spared countless lives and have helped Europe escape the financial ruin and deep-seated animosity that produced World War II. Unfortunately, the Entente — Britain, France and Russia — dismissed both offers, and the fighting continued. In our Security Studies article, we show that honor influenced their decision to forgo peace.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman cycles past an installation with thousands of poppy flowers at Koenigsplatz in Munich on Nov. 3 as Europe prepares to mark the centenary of the ending of World War I. (Reuters)

At 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918, war ended on Europe’s Western Front. More than a month earlier, German leaders requested a pause to negotiate a peace settlement, and after weeks of back-and-forth negotiations, the Entente, led by Britain and France, and the United States granted an armistice.

The guns fell silent in an apparent anticlimax, with German territory unconquered and an army that, if unwilling to fight for Belgium and France, wasn’t unable to defend its homeland.

For anyone listening to Allied leaders in the final years of the war, the armistice might have come as a shock. British Prime Minister David Lloyd George had insisted as far back as 1916 that “the fight must be to the finish — to a knockout.”

Why did the Entente and the Americans grant an armistice to a Germany that was finally, after years of attrition, out of reserves and on the run?…  Seguir leyendo »

A Reims, mardi, jour de l'inauguration du monument aux Héros de l'armée noire, reproduction de celui détruit en 1940.

L’histoire est en France une chose curieuse, qui vient en permanence interpeller le présent et la politique… Mardi a eu lieu, au cœur de la Champagne, à Reims, une cérémonie d’inauguration du monument aux Héros de l’armée noire en présence des présidents du Mali et de la France. Au-delà de la célébration de la geste de ces combattants noirs dans la guerre de 14-18, c’est en fait, en arrière-plan, une leçon d’histoire que nous offre ce centenaire.

«L’itinérance mémorielle» d’Emmanuel Macron, qui l’a conduit jusqu’à Reims, au pied du monument des Héros de l’armée noire, a été essentielle : elle montre que nous pouvons dorénavant écrire autrement nos histoires communes tout en gardant la fierté de nos histoires singulières.…  Seguir leyendo »

Celebrating the end of World War I in London.CreditCreditUniversal History Archive/UIG, via Getty Images

On Nov. 11, 1918, a delegation of German representatives, not entirely sure that they represented their crumbling government, made their way through the forest of Compiègne toward a group of Allied officers. There, inside railroad car 2419D, they signed the armistice that brought World War I to a close.

It was the moment the entire world had longed for ever since lurching into war four years earlier. Both sides promised a quick victory before settling into a ghastly stalemate. Political leaders gave grandiloquent speeches about the purpose of the war. The young men in the trenches grew numb to their bombast.…  Seguir leyendo »

Bombardment

Four years ago, I went to war. Like many of the people whose stories I followed in my daily “live-tweets” on World War I, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. What began as an impulsive decision to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of Austrian Archduke Ferdinand’s death at the hands of a Serbian assassin, in June 1914, snowballed into a blood-soaked odyssey that took me—figuratively and literally—from the rolling hills of northern France, to the desert wastes of Arabia, to the rocky crags of the Italian Alps, to the steel turret of a rebel cruiser moored within range of the czar’s Winter Palace in St.…  Seguir leyendo »

Le 11 novembre, la France commémorera les 100 ans de l’armistice signé en 1918. Depuis 2011 dans la pratique et 2012 dans la loi, ce jour est aussi celui de l’hommage rendu à tous les militaires morts pour la France, y compris en opérations extérieures, et leurs noms peuvent être portés sur les monuments aux morts des communes. En 2011 également, a été décidée l’érection d’un monument spécifique aux morts en opérations extérieures, dont l’inauguration devrait enfin avoir lieu en 2019.

Ce tournant s’est produit alors que l’année 2011 a été la plus meurtrière pour l’armée française engagée en Afghanistan, avec 26 soldats défunts, dont 21 « morts pour la France ».…  Seguir leyendo »

Egon Schiele - Levitation

En un cuadro de 1915 conocido como Levitación o Los ciegos, Egon Schiele presenta la desoladora escena de dos hombres que se elevan desde una tierra fragmentada hacia un lugar desconocido, verosímilmente el vacío. Uno de ellos parece muerto. Los ojos de ambos se dirigen fijos hacia el frente, configurando una imagen espectral. Es algo que se repite en otras obras de Schiele del tiempo de la guerra: La madre con los dos hijos lleva la muerte en el rostro e incluso en Las dos mujeres sentadas, de 1918, la mirada frontal sugiere algo inexorable.

Schiele no es cronista de guerra, pero sí testigo de una era trágica que culmina a fines de octubre de 1918.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ninety-nine years ago today, the world was a year out from an armistice that would bring (some of) the fighting to an end in the first truly global conflict. The United States commemorates Nov. 11 as Veterans Day, but in Europe it’s Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I, and four years of bloody fighting.

On Nov. 11, 1917, the Central Powers, led by Germany and Austria-Hungary, appeared to hold the strategic advantage. Russia — part of the Triple Entente with France and Britain — was on the verge of a defeat that would gut the population, production and territory of its western empire.…  Seguir leyendo »

One hundred years ago today, Congress voted to enter what was then the largest and bloodiest war in history. Four days earlier, President Woodrow Wilson had sought to unite a sharply divided populace with a stirring claim that the nation “is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured.” The war lasted only another year and a half, but in that time, an astounding 117,000 American soldiers were killed and 202,000 wounded.

Still, most Americans know little about why the United States fought in World War I, or why it mattered.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nearly three years after the start of what was then called “The Great War,” the United States entered World War I with a congressional declaration of war against Germany on April 6, 1917. Until then, President Woodrow Wilson had maintained a policy of non-intervention, and a strong antiwar sentiment had swept the U.S. as casualties mounted on the battlefields across Europe and beyond. But the growing threat of a powerful German navy and its fleet of submarines attacking American shipping, plus evidence that Germany was trying to draw Mexico to its side, persuaded Wilson to join forces with Great Britain and France.…  Seguir leyendo »

«La civilización avanza lentamente» –escribe Morand en sus Diarios– «y después, en ocho horas retrocede ocho siglos». El 25 de diciembre de 1914, ante el pasmo de sus respectivos Estados Mayores, soldados británicos, franceses y alemanes abandonaron sus trincheras para intercambiar prisioneros, víveres, pitillos, algún dulce. Era la célebre Tregua de Navidad de la Gran Guerra y allí se cantaron villancicos y no dejaron de improvisarse partidos de fútbol. Justo un año después, en la Nochebuena de 1915, un sargento británico avanzaba hacia las líneas enemigas para confraternizar con la tropa alemana. Esta vez cayó abatido –un balazo– en la tierra de nadie.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the summer of 1916, a young Oxford academic embarked for France as a second lieutenant in the British Expeditionary Force. The Great War, as World War I was known, was only half-done, but already its industrial carnage had no parallel in European history.

“Junior officers were being killed off, a dozen a minute,” recalled J. R. R. Tolkien. “Parting from my wife,” he wrote, doubting that he would survive the trenches, “was like a death.”

The 24-year-old Tolkien arrived in time to take part in the Battle of the Somme, a campaign intended to break the stalemate between the Allies and Central Powers.…  Seguir leyendo »

The British offensive on the Somme began on July 1, 1916. After 20 weeks, they had advanced six miles. The German line retreated, but was not broken. The horrifying casualties were shared equally between the two sides: 300,000 men died. Bloodier battles would come in 1918, but on the first day of the Somme the British Army suffered its greatest daily loss: 19,000 killed.

Coming at the mid-point of World War I, the Battle of the Somme is often taken to exemplify the stupidity of the war on the western front. But this terrible experience took place at a unique moment, defined by two facts.…  Seguir leyendo »

French troops under shellfire during the Battle of Verdun. Credit General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

One hundred years ago, on Feb. 21, 1916, 1,200 German artillery pieces began firing on French positions around Verdun, the ancient fortress town on the Meuse River in eastern France.

It was the middle of World War I , and the fighting all along the Western Front that ran between the Channel and the Alps had settled into a static confrontation of men, planes and guns — guns, above all. That day the Germans dropped a million shells onto the forts, forests and ravines around Verdun, and in the 10 months that followed, 60 million more would fall in the area.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘On Remembrance Sunday, Jeremy Corbyn has already been compelled to promise his nervous parliamentary party that he will not be sporting a white poppy.’ Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

When I read yesterday that Jeremy Corbyn could not see “what there is to commemorate about the first world war”, I thought at once of my great-uncle Jack Arnot. A mining engineer who joined up early in the conflict and was a sergeant in the Northumberland Fusiliers, he was shot at the Somme in 1916, and died after 30 days struggling for life. That seems worth commemorating to me, if not to the Labour leader.

I am sure that Corbyn’s allies will point out that his remarks were made in April 2013, more than two years before he succeeded Ed Miliband, and that they were inspired precisely by a sense of outrage at the “mass slaughter of millions of young men on the western front and all the other places” and that the true target of his invective was the Cameron regime.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Great War was supposed to have been over by Christmas. Instead, by the end of 1914, it had become a voracious monster, beyond the control of politicians, commanders and kings. All that was terrible in the world was contained within that monster, a beast feeding on nations. Yet beneath the carnage, a tiny flicker of humanity still glowed. One hundred days ago tomorrow, Christmas Day, 1914, that humanity provided a moment of warmth that would live forever.

The Christmas Truce, with its famous football match, is one event from the Great War that almost everyone knows about. Our remembrance has been stimulated by the extra attention paid to the War during this centenary year and by the remarkably accurate Sainsbury’s advert.…  Seguir leyendo »