Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Countdown to War. Day 5, 2 July: 1914 – year of peace?

One hundred years ago today, on Thursday 2 July 1914, Britain was undergoing a heatwave. In London, temperatures reached 90 Fahrenheit (or 32 Celsius as the Continentals, who always want to be different, called it). 

And, as Martin’s crew discovered from the Manchester Guardian, there were other hotspots around the world. One article reported on “the cruelties committed on Greeks in Asia Minor” by their Turkish rulers. Or was it the other way round? Neither side was behaving well, it seemed, as a piece about “Balkan charges and counter-charges” made clear:

For some time past the Anglo-Hellenic League, the Ottoman Association, and other English bodies pledged to the support of the Moslem or Christian Balkan races have been bandying charges of atrocity which have made it clear that the aftermath of war have left the Balkans in an appalling state. Responsibility for this is attributed, in large measure, to the Christian races in the letter that we publish from Miss Durham – an eye-witness of both the Balkan wars; while an English gentleman travelling in the Aegean islands brings serious charges against the Turks.

A plague on both your houses, then. Six of one and half a dozen of the other. Pots and kettles.

Meanwhile, the dust still hadn’t settled after the assassinations in Sarajevo. It had emerged that the Archduke and his wife had never stood a chance of leaving alive:

Persons connected with the suite of the Archduke ... are reported as saying that the plot against the Archduke was so widely extended that it was impossible for him to leave Bosnia alive. They declare that under the luncheon table prepared for the Archduke and Duchess after their return from the Town Hall at noon were found two clockwork bombs. Another similar bomb was found in the chimney of the room.

Arrest of Gavrilo Princip, author of the Sarajevo murders
Four days later, disturbances were still going on in the region
There had also been “Disorders in many towns”:

Demonstrations were made yesterday at Konyitza (Herzegovina) by the Mussulman and Catholic inhabitants. There were also anti-Servian disturbances, during which the windows of several Servian houses were broken... 

Demonstrations took place at Livno (Bosnia), where several Servian shops and Servian schools were attacked...

At Zavidovitz (Bosnia) the day before yesterday a crowd of Mussulmans and Catholics assembled before the Servian club. Through a window was seen a portrait of King Peter of Servia hanging on a wall. The crowd broke into the building and demolished the furniture. The police dispersed the mob.

At least there was one place where the communities had shown their ability to rise above their differences:

In Banyaluka (Bosnia) great memorial ceremonies took place, in which Servian national societies participated.

Some, it seemed, appreciated peace. 

As did ordinary citizens in Britain and North America. Preparations for peace celebrations were under way, since 24 December 1914 would be the centenary of the signing of the Treaty of Ghent and the end of war between Britain and the United States. The Guardian picked up a piece from the Daily Chronicle:

The decision of the House of Representatives at Washington against a grant of money to promote the celebration of the centenary of the Treaty of Ghent should not discourage the supporters of the movement who represent the leading men of all parties in the United States, England and Canada. The movement did not originate in official quarters, it has been spontaneous and popular, and while it would add to its completeness for it to receive official recognition, it will not militate against its success if it remains of a voluntary character. The War of 1812 was ended not by the action of legislators, politicians, or diplomatists, but by the force of public opinion.

That was encouraging. The year 1914 could end, despite the many troubles in the world, under the sign of peace. A peace demanded on both sides of the Atlantic 
by peoples who had understood the futility of war. An idea with an attractive ring to it.


Anonymous said...

Lu et approuvé.


David Beeson said...

Message bien reçu. Et apprécié

Awoogamuffin said...

This blog is bringing to mind half-remembered In Our Time episodes. The treaty of Berlin and the Anglo-American war of 1812 among them. Mainly I remember that I listened to the episodes, but none of their contents...

David Beeson said...

Strikes me that the key facts to remember are that the War of 1812 ended, as one would expect, in 1814, and the Congress of Berlin naturally handed Belgium a huge chunk of Africa