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What would be the current conditions in the American South if the Confederacy had won the US Civil War?

January 6, 1911To my dear children—I have watched over you from your birth with a father’s loving care, and ever sought after your good. But the drums of war are beating now, as they once did when I was but a callow youth, and the terrible sound of trumpets calls to you as it once did to me. While I still serve my dear home city of Columbus, Mississippi as constable, my vigor fades. Man that is born of woman liveth but a little while, and all flesh is as grass; I do not know how much time I still have on this Earth. I write this account while my eyes are as yet not too dim to read, nor my hands too quivering to write it. I pray that you will take counsel from it, as in your younger days you took counsel from me not to steal apples from the tree in Mr. Cornell Franklin’s yard. (I trust I shall not have to use a peach switch to apply this counsel now.)Well do I recall the heady days of the spring of 1861, when news of secession set the state ablaze. So many of us young men—ah, so young we were! such dreams we had!—so many of us young men were all afire to enlist. It seemed that every stripling in Noxubee County flocked to the banner of the 19th Mississippi Infantry, and soon we had to turn recruits away. As if it were yesterday, I call to mind Colonel Mott’s voice barking present arms! order arms! ground arms! raise arms! fix bayonets! I grew heartily tired of forming line of battle, then right wheel or left wheel, into columns. Yet we grew into soldiers, and the day came for us to march forward to take the field. We did not march, at first; we traveled by rail to Richmond before we had to march. But we arrived too late for the Battle of Manassas, when our Southern brethren sent the Yankees running for home with their tails between their legs. We were rather put out at having missed the circus, and hoped awfully that we would ‘see the elephant’ soon, as the saying was in those days. Yet like good soldiers, we encamped and awaited the day of our baptism of fire.And then—such news! A lone assassin sympathetic to our cause had struck down both Lincoln and Hamlin at a ball! With one stroke the hated Yankees were decapitated; like a snake, they still writhed, but the mind that directed the slithering, and the fangs that dripped with venom—those were gone! Rumors flew through the camp—we would march on Washington—the Yankees were begging Jeff Davis for mercy—the old Union would be restored on our terms—the Yankees were at each other’s throats deciding who would be President—for the Constitution made no provision for what to do in the event that both the President and Vice-President were to die at once. Our mortal foes were crushed with scarcely a shot fired! Victory was ours!—and yet disappointment as well, for we’d had no chance to unsheath our own steel. All that we could do was await orders.As we later found out, the President pro tempore of the United States Senate, Solomon Ford, with the blessing of the Supreme Court, summoned the Electoral College back into session and bade them choose a new President. President Stephen A. Douglas was duly sworn in, and perhaps he would have carried on the fight, but our armies by this time were surrounding Washington, and the enemy generals were bitterly divided over the legitimacy of the new President, their Commander in Chief. Given the precarious nature of his position, Douglas could do little else: he agreed to an armistice, with peace talks to follow. The Treaty of Hagerstown was signed in the spring of 1862, and we young soldiers marched away to the rail depots for the long journey home to Mississippi. We were mustered out of service exactly one year after entering it.In August of 1862, we were abruptly called into service again. The Treaty had fixed the boundaries of the Confederacy along the northern borders of Arkansas and Tennessee. The USA had claimed Kentucky, Missouri, and Kansas as their soil, and the hated Republican Party had lost no time abolishing slavery there. The rich bottomlands of the Mississippi River were aflame, as men protecting their property clashed with bands of ruffians, while ‘Bleeding Kansas’ continued to bleed. Furthermore, while the Treaty had mandated that slaves captured on Union soil were to be returned to Confederate hands, in many areas this provision was not being enforced by corrupt Union sheriffs and local magistrates. Indeed, there were several parts of our own territory where the populace lacked enthusiasm for enforcing the laws concerning runaway slaves. The mountainous parts of our country—the Ozarks of Arkansas, the Piedmont of north Alabama and Tennessee, and the Appalachian Mountains from the Carolinas to western Virginia and onward into Union territory—were rife with persons who felt no pressing desire to support our peculiar institution, and the mountain valleys formed a conduit for slaves escaping to the North—in many cases onward to Canada. While we were a part of the Union, at least we could demand support for our property rights in Congress; once separated, we found no recourse.Our regiment was ordered to march to Arkansas and aid the State Guard there in capturing runaway slaves, as well as ensuring that the war in Missouri did not spill over into Arkansas. I believe there was hope that we might add Missouri to our dear Confederacy, for the flame of secession still burned in southern Missouri, and there were many that would have welcomed our fraternal aid. But Union troops savagely put down any hope of rebellion at the Battle of Rolla and the Battle of New Madrid. The parallel of thirty-six degrees, thirty minutes—that was to be our ne plus ultra. There is not much to tell of our service. We marched long and weary paths through the Ozark Mountains and bivouacked at the town of Calico Rock; we patrolled searching for Unionist sympathizers and runaway slaves, but found few enough of either one, as most people simply wished, as one old farmer I recall informed us, “t’be let ‘lone t’starve t’death in peace an’ quiet.” After six months, our terms were ended, and we were mustered out yet again. I returned to my beloved Noxubee County and soon married my beloved wife, your loving mother. Upon my father’s death, my elder brother inherited our land, and I moved my family to the city of Columbus, where I joined the constabulary.All seemed at peace for a while. Yankee farmers grumbled about the tolls we charged them on our rivers, but there was little they could do. The scuffles along the border slowly subsided, albeit not without bloodshed. Our proud new nation settled itself, and accepted the diplomatic recognition of the European powers, who remained eager to make acquaintance with our mighty ‘King Cotton.’Yet there was an unseen canker at our heart. Cotton requires fertile soil—and where cotton is grown continuously, the soil loses its fertility, little by little. We knew this, and we knew the remedies for it—of leaving fields fallow, or planting them periodically with clover or alfalfa, which wonderfully restore the soil and prepare it for the coming of ‘King Cotton’ again. We knew the need to dung and marl our fields, and to make a compost for our gardens. Yet many of our planters, though they knew of these remedies, were unable to enact them; they needed money, and growing cotton was the way to get it. Much of Virginia and the Carolinas were no longer suited for cultivating cotton or tobacco, or much of anything else. The planters of Virginia realized that their greatest profit lay in cultivating slaves, and selling them to those who were seeking fertile lands elsewhere. But by 1870, the Confederacy was beginning to run out of fertile lands.The proffered solution was to ‘Go west, young man!’, and indeed many hopeful planters set out to homestead lands in the Confederate West, in western Texas and the Territory of New Mexico. Unfortunately, the dryness of the climate proved poor for cotton cultivation. Yet the climate was not the worst of their problems. The Comanche nation ruled the western plains with fire and blood. Even before the formation of the Confederacy, they had driven settlement from western Texas. The state of Texas had complained that the United States was not sending enough assistance; well, now the United States was not disposed to send any assistance at all. Indeed, it was darkly whispered that the Yankees were arming the Comanche. Certainly the savages seemed to become increasingly proficient in the use of Springfield rifles over bows and arrows.At first, the Comanche would torture, kill, or enslave all persons on a farm or plantation that they raided—but they soon found out that any slaves that they captured were quite willing to show them where the farm’s foodstuffs and hidden valuables were kept, and willing to guide their bands of braves to nearby farms where the ‘pickings’ were rich. The Comanche soon grew willing to ally with the Negroes, and I was told that Negroes of uncommon strength and wits became accepted as warriors and chieftains within the tribe, learning their language and ways. With their strength swelling daily, and with looted money serving to purchase weapons through secret intermediaries, the Comanchería grew increasingly bold. Equally fierce tribes, notably the Apache and the Cheyenne, were impressed by the Comanche’s successes and formed alliances with them, perhaps sensing that here was the chance to end the white man’s threat to their lands. In June of 1874, a mixed band of Comanche, Cheyenne, and escaped Negroes smashed our fortifications in western Texas, wiping out the detachment at Adobe Walls with a savagery unprecedented in our history, frightening many Texans into fleeing eastward. This victory also allowed the Comanche communication with the Indians living in Oklahoma. The more civilized tribes had been allied with our nation since 1861—but even amongst them, large factions felt no particular love for the Confederacy and were willing to win a homeland by bloodshed and fire. Amongst the Cherokee and Choctaw there was wild talk of reclaiming their ancestral lands, or at least avenging their loss, as some of their elders still remembered with great bitterness. In May of 1875, allied Indian and Negro forces destroyed our line of fortifications from Fort Sill to Fort Stockton in coordinated attacks. With captured cannons, and—as we suspect—instruction in their use from the hated Yankees, or from Mexicans eager to humble the power that had seized their northern lands in 1847, the Indians swept eastward. The siege and the massacre of San Antonio de Bexar will long live in infamy. All those who heard the gore-drenched tale of what was done to the inhabitants could not bear the thought that they might suffer the same fate, and departed for the east as fast as they could. Raiding parties were seen doing deeds of blood as far east as Shreveport. The Texas militia fought bravely, but too often found themselves outnumbered and outgunned by foes who knew the land intimately, and who never engaged in a pitched battle unless victory was sure; they always seemed to strike exactly where our brave Texans were not.You may well be wondering why all our confederated states did not rise up as one, as we had done before, and sally forth to the aid of our Texas comrades. But recall how, even in the heady days of 1861 when all our zeal was for secession, the governor of Georgia refused at first to send his state’s militia outside of his own boundaries. Indeed, he denounced conscription as tyranny, subversive of the very rights of the states that the Confederacy had sworn to defend. His ideas had found favor in other state houses. Several governors pleaded that they could not send their ablest men to Texas without leaving the Negroes free of supervision and ripe for revolt or escape; others refused to contribute men without favorable concessions in other areas. Arkansas refused to send its men because of fear that the unrest in Oklahoma would spill across its own borders; Virginia feared that moving troops west would invite a Yankee thrust, especially in the western part of the state, which required a sizable military presence to stay pacified. In the end, a few states sent small forces. The brave defense of Seguin by the Louisiana Greys under the able command of elderly but undaunted Col. Kirby Smith will not soon be forgotten. Yet all was too little, too late. By 1877 the Confederacy was forced to negotiate with the surging Indian Confederation, and found to its surprise that the military might of the ‘savages’ was matched by the wisdom and skill of its negotiators; the administrative skills of the Civilized Tribes had merged with the ferocity of the Comanchería. The Confederacy was forced to recognize an independent state extending from the distant Colorado River all the way to the Brazos River, led by President William P. Ross, ably assisted by Generals Goyathlay, Henry Flipper, and Tuhuya Quahipu. The Indian Confederation has proved fractious, and the skills of several able governors and chiefs have not always kept the nation at peace with itself, but as yet it has managed to hold firm. It is believed that the Negroes and various Indian tribes are growing conscious of a new national unity. Treaties signed with the United States have generally kept their northern flank peaceful; the Confederation has relinquished its claim to Kansas in exchange for trade and, as we think, military support.So there we have the situation, and the Confederacy must seem in a right fix indeed. Westward expansion is blocked by the Comanche; thrusts northward are blocked by a strong Union military presence; slaves are escaping despite increased patrols to hunt them down; and the soil is growing increasingly impoverished, as bale after bale of our precious fertility is shipped to the mills of Manchester and Liverpool. Still, we continued on, and perhaps we might have continued on for some time—but we were brought low—though not by the savagery of the Comanches nor the oppression of Union arms. No, what brought us down—and this makes my blood boil to think of it—was a g—d— bug. They say it crossed the Rio Grande around 1892. It is, of course, the boll weevil, or as scientific men call it, Anthonomus grandis. The names that planters call it I must forbear to set down in writing. By 1902 it was ravaging the fields of Alabama and Mississippi. The one lifeline that had been holding up our entire Confederacy was fraying beyond its endurance. ‘King Cotton’ was revealed to be wearing nothing at all, though he marched as proudly as ever. We hoped for aid from Britain, but now that we had no cotton to sell, they proved uninterested in our plight; by this time they had developed enough cotton production in India that they really had no further need of us—a fact that they conveyed, with impeccable politeness as always, to our diplomatic envoys. Revenues plummeted; our richest planters defaulted on their loans and were forced to surrender their estates to the banks, who soon found out that the land was worthless thanks to years of unceasing cultivation. You remember the unrest that convulsed our land; the hunger that stalked Virginia; the riots in Charleston and Norfolk; the burning of Tupelo and Murfreesboro. Someone has said that men are always only three meals away from barbarism, and after playing my part in efforts to defend my beloved Columbus from mobs, I must agree. I finally received my ‘baptism of fire’—I finally ‘saw the elephant’—and found that I did not enjoy it as much as I thought I would in the heady days of 1861. In fact, it left me feeling utterly wretched. It is a fearful thing to shoot at one’s fellow men.Only one power was willing to extend aid. The United States government sent secret envoys to speak with our President about reunification. The Confederacy was to be ruled directly from Washington, until such time as new state governments could be formed; we would become a sort of colony. We were to formally abandon slavery and provide our slaves with the full rights of citizenship and grants of land to farm. This rather stuck in our craw, but—with so many of our slaves chancing it in the Indian Confederation or in the Union, and with our agricultural output so low, we had little choice. In exchange, we would receive food aid, as well as construction of new railways and factories. A Negro from Missouri who has somehow managed to receive an education in the sciences will be leading the effort to instruct his brethren in methods of farming that will replenish the exhausted soil. I never thought I would see the day that a Negro would have anything to teach our race, but having inspected my brother’s plantation, and seen the deeply eroded gullies cutting into the barren red clay dirt where once the fields were green and verdant, I must admit that if anyone can restore that land to producing anything of value, I would welcome his knowledge, be his skin never so dusky.I had often wondered why the United States had made no move to invade us. For fifty years they had guarded their border with us, constructing forts from Pennsylvania to Colorado—yet they had never attempted to invade. Now I suspect that they knew our fall was inevitable. The boll weevil only expedited what I fear was our unavoidable demise. Two weeks ago, President George Mason Lee concluded the Treaty of Union, by which the Confederacy shall dissolve. The cause that thrilled us so in 1861 has died from the world, and my heart is heavy for it. Yet I trust—as I must—that despite our sundering fifty years ago, we may once again remember our brotherhood and find a way to live together. I cannot see that we have any other choice.Yet even now, men who were babes in arms in 1861 are rallying the young to their cause. They mean to ride forth and repel the invaders, maintain their ancient liberties with the same might that they showed the entire world in 1861, glittering sabers unsheathed and bugles singing true. Indeed, men shouting the battle cry of “Avaunt Southrons!” and giving the old rebel yell have been conversing long with my son Charles (as I know from speaking with his dear wife May, who I believe has always had rather more sense than he has) and with his brethren. There is talk of raising the 19th Mississippi Infantry again and marching away beneath its old banner; talk of once again taking the fight to the Yankees and sending them running with their tails between their legs.My sons, you are the most precious things in my life, and if I had to lose all my worldly goods to ensure your safety and happiness, I would count it scarcely a loss at all. Do not listen to the d—d fools who speak of past glories that they themselves have never tasted. There are none so blind as those who will not see, and if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. Indeed, we are all of us already in the ditch. Listen not to those who believe that we can get ourselves out of it with more digging. The path ahead may require humility on our part; yet that is a Christian virtue, and though my heart is weighted down with grief, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. And I humbly pray His blessing upon us as we struggle to earn again the place that we were so quick to abandon in our pride and vainglory, half a century ago. Pray God that pride does not overtake us this time.May the Lord lift up the light of His countenance upon you, and give you peace, is ever my prayer for you.Your dear father,George Nathaniel SmithI wrote this in a sort of wave of inspiration over three hours, without going back and revising. I’m sure that the historians among us will find things to quibble with, and that’s fine; I had fun and thought the scenario wasn’t utterly impossible, but those more learned than I are free to suggest revisions. I hope someone likes this. We shall see.In the real world, George Nathaniel Smith was my great-great-grandfather, he did serve in the 19th Mississippi (and he fought in the eastern campaign, which he never got to do in the story), and he really did return home and serve as a policeman for his town of Columbus, Mississippi. His son Charles would have had a daughter about one and a half years old in early 1911; that was my grandmother.

Why did Christianity not help to defend Constantinople from the attack of the Turks?

It was Better to ask: “Why did not European CHRISTIANS help defend Constantinople from Turks in 1453 AD ?” (‘Christians’ are not ‘Christianity.’)Now for the answer.I presume the questioner is referring to the events of 1453 AD when Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II conquered the city of Constantinople, which ended the 1000-year-old Eastern Roman Empire, alias Byzantium.Like most dramatic events in history, the reasons were long-term.(1) Western and Eastern Christians after the Great Schism of 1054 AD.(2) Republic of Venice’s conflicts with Byzantine Empire and Fourth Crusade 1204 AD.(3) Internally weakened and conflict-ridden Western Europe (c.1315–c.1450).(4) Failure of the Last Crusade (1272).(5) Post-1204 psycho-social trauma that led to hatred of Western Christians and Muslims, excessive piety, magical hopes restoration of a lost golden-age, lack of reality perception, intolerance of innovations, brain drain.Let us examine these one by one.1054 AD. THE GREAT SCHISMTrouble was brewing for some decades between the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church based in Constantinople. The head of each church claimed being head of the world’s Christians. In 1054 AD, the Pope of Rome dramatically excommunicated the Pope (Patriarch) of Constantinople. The Papal bull was read publicly by an emissary from Rome while the Patriarch was saying Sunday high mass in Hagia Sophia in presence of the Emperor and all royalty. The humiliated Patriarch excommunicated the Roman Pope. Thereafter the relationship between the Eastern Christianity and Western Christianity kept deteriorating. But much worse was to come. Fast forward 150 years…2. 1204 AD (FOURTH CRUSADERS SACK CONSTANTINOPLE)Republic of Venice was Roman Catholic. Their maritime trade partners were Middle Eastern Muslims. Byzantine navy kept harassing Venetian trading ships and the latter sought to neutralize the powerful and arrogant Byzantines.In 1204 AD their chance came. It happened that the pan European army of the Fourth Crusade (1202–1204) who had set out to attack Egypt (and thereafter the Holy Land) assembled in Venice. But they had run out of cash. The wily Doge of Venice agreed to finance them on the condition that they changed their plans and sacked Constantinople instead! And they did, and collected huge booty from the immensely rich city.Venice scored much benefit from this in addition to part of the Crusader loot. The grateful Muslim world became their trusted allies for another 300 years. The Pope was horrified and excommunicated everyone he could think of. Months later, when rich offering began pour into Rome the Pope reconsidered. He eventually decided that God had acted in His mysterious way. It might have been God’s plan to unify the Christian world in this unusual manner. Excommunication fatwas were reversed. Constantinople became a Latin Christian city, which it remained for about 60 years. But the sustained opposition from the native Eastern Christians finally caused the Latin clergy to vacate Constantinople and the city returned to Eastern Orthodoxy.Above: 1204 AD. The Fourth Crusaders split. One faction sacks Constantinople and makes it a “Latin” city.Above: 1212 AD. How the Fourth Crusade freed Venice’s trading routes. (Source: The Penguin Atlas of Medieval History)3. POST-1204 DECLINE OF BYZANTINE EMPIRE:POLITICAL, ECONOMIC, PSYCHOLOGICAL & SPIRITUALBut the fraternal treachery caused long-term damage to the morale of the people of Constantinople. With enemies in the East and the West, they turned inward deeper into religiosity, rituals, and cultural pride. They did have a proud history of nearly 1000 years as a powerful empire. This pride may have accelerated their fall. Muslim armies could leisurely adopt “salami-strategy” (slice by slice) as the Byzantines prayed for God’s curses over them. Then came the Black Death in mid 14th century. By mid 15th century all land east of Bosporus and most of the Balkans to the West of the city were in Ottoman hands.Thus in 1453 AD, when Sultan Mehmet II laid siege to Constantinople the city had turned into a was proud and defiant sitting duck. The Christians in the city spent their days and nights in prayers and vigils. They conducted solemn processions within the walls bearing holy icons. They hung their most powerful religious icons and banners out from the city walls to make the Sultan take fright and lift the siege. God did not take notice.God Abandons Declining Societies Even If They are Pious.History has shown repeatedly that God does not help declining societies who hold on to their past. It does not help that such societies also tend to be very pious and God-fearing.There are sound reasons for this—formerly glorious civilizations, countries, societies, families and even individuals tend to be focused on their losses and live in the past. Their waking hours become occupied by reliving their former glories, keeping up external appearances, religious rituals, and belief systems. The tend to believe in conspiracy theories, magical thinking and see evil out to get them (because they are special, holy or chosen by God). Inability to deal with the present reality leads to further losses generating a spiral of losses, gripping illusions even more tightly, and so on. This situation is also accompanied by exodus of their smartest people who seek their fortunes elsewhere. All this was happening to Constantinople ever since the disaster of the Fourth Crusade. When a society suffers from several generations of such decline they also decline spiritually. Unknowingly, gradually, they cut themselves off from divine grace. I know, it is not their fault, but that is how it always happens.In 1453, when Mehmed II laid siege to the city, he did not have to wait long. He was generous in his victory. He did not damage the city’s precious cultural icons and ancient buildings. Hagia Sophia itself was respectfully maintained as before, except for the bare minimum paint-job to hide the Christian iconography. He also gave due consideration to the defeated Christians—from him they received a respect they never got from Europe for 400 years, which eventually led them to tolerate the Muslim takeover of their city. M-II’s reign remained relatively secular which helped Ottoman Empire to increase its influence in Europe as well.4. WHY DID EUROPEAN CHRISTIANS ABANDONCONSTANTINOPLE IN 1453?The first reason we have already discussed above — the mutual suspicion and hatred between Western and Eastern Christians. The second (equally important) reason was that Europe was deeply, deeply in trouble. Europeans were ending the most terrible century in their history.It began around 1315 AD with a bout of global cooling. This caused several years of famine. Extreme cold may have caused rats escaping the Asian Steppes and Siberian cold to travel south. By mid century Black Death killed off 30–50% of Europe’s population. (Europe, though almost in the same latitude as Central Asia, does not get as cold because of the Atlantic current known as the Blanket of Europe.) The Middle East was slightly less affected by the Black Death due to their warmer climate, partly due to the desert and barren regions.Climate change triggered famines and pandemics, as they always do, had caused internal wars within Europe, the worst of which was the Hundred Year War between England and France (1337–1453). Europeans even made one last Crusade which failed, and thereafter the Europeans abandoned plans to challenge the Muslim world. In addition, Constantinople, which had become a ghost of its former self, had little of value to the Westerners.EPILOGUE:1501 AD: HISTORY REPEATS:OTTOMAN SUNNIS VERSUS SAFVID SHIASWithin fifty years of occupying Constantinople, the eastern end of Ottoman Empire began to break off to Safvid Iranians. Ottomans would in the predicament faced by Byzantines 300 years earlier.Just like the Christians did, the Sunni and Shia Muslims were about to weaken each other.Initially this did not hurt the Ottomans who continued to expand for another century with confidence. A significant victory was their no-war treaty with French Empire (Sulaiman the Magnificent + Francis 1). This treaty was mutually beneficial and kept Europe divided. But Sulaiman underestimated the resistance of the rest of Europe and failed in his Siege of Vienna (1529). It was not a big loss in military terms. But it was a PR disaster. Suddenly Europeans realized that the great Ottoman Empire could be prevented from advancing into Europe if all Catholic countries stood together. So a “Holy Alliance” (sans France) was formed. The Alliance’s decisive victory in naval the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 increased European confidence. Meanwhile a literacy revolution was happening in Europe due to spread of printing technology. Due to ban on Arabic printing, the knowledge revolution did not spread to the Muslim world. Gradually European military technology eclipsed that of the Ottomans. The long-term decline of the Ottoman Empire began, via a series of wars known as “Ottoman Wars of Contraction”. (See The decline of the Ottoman Empire, 1566–1807).By 1700 AD Europeans were strong enough to crush Ottoman Empire even without the help of France. What held them back was the newly powerful Imperial Russia under Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, was greedily eyeing the Ottoman Empire because they believed they had a claim for it as the promoters of Eastern orthodoxy. Russians clearly wanted to annex the Middle East to restore Orthodox Christianity in the region.During their decline did the Ottomans turn inwards like the Byzantines did? Actually it was very mixed. Most Ottoman Sultans from 1600 to 1850 were progressive. They wanted to modernize their realm but they were held back by two powerful forces — the Ulema and the Janissaries. Thus the Empire saw periodic bursts of liberalism, increased freedom of minorities, always followed by a wave of religious orthodoxy wiping out the liberal gains. Finally the Ottoman elite too withdrew into their shells like Byzantines did. The same phenomenon: Golden Age thinking, nostalgia, religiosity and illiteracy of the masses prevented any sustained recovery. Crimean War, repeated rebellions from Balkans and Armenian Christians, and unsustainable defense expenditures bankrupted the Empire in 1875. Just like people, Empires too are unable to see clearly when they are failing. Thus the Ottomans made the disastrous decision to join the Axis powers in World War I. Treaty of Versailles divided the Middle East among the victorious powers Britain, France and Russia, which led to the birth of the fiercely secular and successful Republic of Turkey in 1922.LESSONS FOR TODAYNothing is permanent. Religions, ideologies, empires and civilizations rise and fall, and disappear. They behave like waves in the ocean rising and breaking, rising and breaking, each in its own way. But in all cases laws of economics — of demand and supply, fear and greed, reign supreme. Both religion and politics are subservient to economics — more accurately “behavioral economics,” which own Daniel Kahneman the nobel prize in economics.No use using moral judgment on religions,. Thus they cannot be measured by moral and ethical standards applicable to individual human beings. Even though empires are run by individuals, even the most powerful ones have little freedom to act morally (except in personal life). Empires are super-organisms with little or no free will. Leaders who decide to apply personal morality to international relations too often find themselves being cheated and mocked and attacked from within and without. This is what happened to Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, global moralist, and an embarrassing failure in international relations. Throughout human history, in the battle between God and Mammon, the latter has won.However, in one important way empires and religions are similar to individual human beings. When we get older, we are often unable to accept a decline one’s abilities nearing old age. Just like senior citizens with power refuse to make way for younger generation, countries, governments and religions also do the same. Heck, even scientific fraternities are not immune from fossilization, which made Max Planck quip, “Science progresses by a series of funerals.”Such rigidity—due to obsolete political ideologies buttressed by unshakeable religious belief and attendant emotions—is the major source of hatred and misery in the modern world. We need more funerals (or at least retire) of oligarchies.Who’s To Retire Next?American empire is past its prime. It’s time they stopped policing the world and settled down like the British did after World War II. Yet they are doing self-destructive things—increasing defense spending, raising border walls, glorifying racism, teaching science denial in schools, and toxic and eschatological religiosity, weakening the voices of intellectuals to speak out, choosing a tyrannical narcissist like Trump to lead them—are reminiscent of the self-destructive actions of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires in their own declining decades. The most toxic element in the decline of both Byzantine and Ottoman Empires was their fanatical religiosity, a trait shared by a significant proportion of Americans.So the lesson these inevitable cyclical changes in history teach us is that we must know when to stop holding on to deadwood. however painful, traumatic and unnatural it may feel.But what we learn from history is that we never learn from history. Thus humanity as a whole will never learn its lesson now.“It maybe that there is no hope for humanity as a whole,but there is hope for individual members in it.”(Eric Berne in Games People Play, speaking of “psychological autonomy.”Eric Berne was right. There is indeed hope for individual members of human race.Watch THE ENDING OF THE GREAT SCHISM.After 1,000 years, Pope Francis does the unthinkable—he asks Patriarch Bartholomew I to bless him and “the Church of Rome” during the Ecumenical Prayer service at the Patriarchal Church of St. George in Istanbul.Jesus would have approved this.

Is it true that Germany didn't start WWI?

Q. Is it true that Germany didn't start WWI?A. TN's answer to Which country attacked which country in World War I?Alliances:Austria-Hungary, Germany, Bulgaria and Ottoman EmpireRussia, Serbia, France, Belgium, Great Britain, Portugal, Romania, Montenegro and JapanFirst Blood:Austria-Hungary attacked Serbia (Belgrade bombardment)Germany attacked neutral Belgium (Siege of Liege)Russia attacked Germany and Austria-Hungary (East Prussia, Battle of Tannenberg)France attacked Alsace-Lorraine (Plan XVII)France and Great Britain attacked German Togo in West AfricaOttoman Empire attacked Russia (Odessa)Japan attacked German possessions in Far EastJuly Crisis : War Erupts1871 - Following the defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War, Germany is unified as an Imperial federation of states, led by the King of Prussia (Kaiser Wilhelm I). This spurs a new era of population growth and rapid industrialization. The Germans also forcibly annexed the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine from France.Kaiser Wilhelm II, ruler of Imperial Germany beginning in 1888. Oldest grandson of England's Queen Victoria, the Kaiser was a cousin to both King George V of England and Czar Nicholas II of Russia. As Germany's leader, Kaiser Wilhelm was obsessed with maintaining his popularity, and was erratic in his decision making--torn between advice of ministers, desire to be popular, and his fear of appearing weak-willed.Kaiser reviews his troops. A close look reveals the withered left arm he was born with. He overcame the psychological impact by embracing all things military, and always wore military uniform. He envisioned a German empire to rival Great Britain-- spurring intensive arms race between Germany and Britain that led to war in 1914 when he gave unconditional backing to Austria following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.1882 - Germany, Austria-Hungary (Hapsburg Empire) and Italy form the Triple Alliance.1891 - The Russian Empire and France form their own alliance in reaction to the Triple Alliance.1898 - Germany begins to build up its navy to challenge the British Navy's long-standing global supremacy.January 1902 - Britain and Japan form a naval alliance.April 1904 - The British reach a strategic agreement with France which includes mutual military support in the event of war.January 1905 - Troops of Russian Czar Nicholas II fire upon peaceful demonstrators in St. Petersburg killing hundreds in what comes to be known as Bloody Sunday.Bloody Sunday: The Unhappy History that Led to the Russian RevolutionCzar Nicholas II, ruler of the vast Russian Empire, populated by illiterate downcast peasants controlled by an insulated and arrogant elite--all the right ingredients for revolution, historically.Look-a-likes Czar Nicholas (on left) and his cousin King George of England--soon to be allies against their other cousin, Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany. Their grandmother, Queen Victoria, had dominated the royalty of old-world Europe throughout the 1800's. She presided as a level-headed matriarch, helping to preserve order among her powerful descendants. But upon her death in 1901, the royals were driven apart by pent up rivalries, pride and national ambition, a scenario that lead to the most destructive war the world had ever known, beginning in the summer of 1914.May 1905 - Russia suffers a military defeat at sea by newly industrialized Japan, thwarting Russia's territorial ambitions toward Manchuria and Korea.Russo-Japanese War | Causes, Summary, Map, & SignificanceOctober 1905 - Continuing political unrest in Russia, including a general strike, results in the creation of a national legislative assembly (Duma) by the Czar. How Tsar Nicholas II Attempted to Stave Off the Russian RevolutionFebruary 1906 - HMS Dreadnought is launched by Britain, marking the advent of a new class of big-gun battleships. The Germans follow suit and begin building similar battleships as an all-out arms race ensues between Germany and Britain.The 12-inch guns aboard the British Battleship HMS Dreadnought. Not long after the launch of the Dreadnought Class battleships, even bigger 15-inch guns that could fire up to 16 miles became the new standard.German Battleship Kaiser, launched in March 1911 and armed with ten 12-inch guns--marking the advent of the Kaiser Class size of German battleships to compete with Britain's Dreadnoughts. By the war's outbreak in 1914, Germany's naval fleet, with 25 battleships, was second largest in the world, outgunned only by Great Britain with its 43 battleships.August 1907 - The British reach a strategic agreement with Russia. Anglo-Russian Convention, Strategic Background to the Anglo-Russian Entente of August 1907October 1908 - Austria-Hungary, backed by Germany, annexes Bosnia-Herzegovina. Neighboring Serbia, with the backing of Russia, voices its objection in support of the Serbian minority living in Bosnia.Austria-Hungary annexes Bosnia-Herzegovina - Oct 06, 1908 - HISTORY.comMarch 1909 - Germany forces Russia to endorse the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary.1910 - Germany surpasses Britain as the leading manufacturing nation in Europe. The United States remains the world leader, surpassing all of the European manufacturing nations combined. How and when did Germany catch up to Great Britain and the US? Results from the official statistics, 1901-1960October 1912 - The Balkan War erupts in southern Europe as Serbia leads an attack by members of the Balkan League (Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece) against the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire to drive the Turks out of Europe.May 1913 - The Balkan War ends with the Turks driven out of southern Europe.A peace settlement is then drawn up by the major European powers that divides up the former Turkish areas in southern Europe among the Balkan League nations. However, the peace is short-lived as Bulgaria, desiring a bigger share, attacks neighboring Greece and Serbia. Romania then attacks Bulgaria along with the Turks. This Second Balkan War results in Bulgaria losing territory and the Serbians becoming emboldened, leaving the Balkan region of southern Europe politically unstable.1914June 28, 1914Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne, and his wife, visit Sarajevo in Bosnia. A bomb is thrown at their auto but misses. Undaunted, they continue their visit only to be shot and killed a short time later by a lone assassin. Believing the assassin to be a Serbian nationalist, the Austrians target their anger toward Serbia.Franz FerdinandJuly 23, 1914 - Austria-Hungary, with the backing of Germany, delivers an ultimatum to Serbia. The Serbs propose arbitration as a way to resolve dispute, but also begin mobilization of their troops.July 25, 1914 - Austria-Hungary severs diplomatic ties with Serbia and begins to mobilize its troops.July 26, 1914 - Britain attempts to organize a political conference among the major European powers to resolve the dispute between Austria-Hungary and Serbia. France and Italy agree to participate. Russia then agrees, but Germany refuses.July 28, 1914 - The Austro-Hungarian Empire declares war on Serbia.July 29, 1914 - Britain calls for international mediation to resolve the worsening crisis. Russia urges German restraint, but the Russians begin partial troop mobilization as a precaution. The Germans then warn Russia on its mobilization and begin to mobilize themselves.July 30, 1914 - Austrian warships bombard Belgrade, capital of Serbia.July 1914 - Austro-Hungarian warships (Monitors) bombard Belgrade, capital of Serbia. The Danube Flotilla fire the first military shots of the Great War.July 31, 1914 - Reacting to the Austrian attack on Serbia, Russia begins full mobilization of its troops. Germany demands that it stop.Mighty Russian Army--on paper, world's largest but beset by big obstacles including poor transportation system, equipment shortages, inadequate troop training, and poor quality officers. Below: Russian Army officers--a far cry from highly trained German counterparts. Most officers ascended based family lineage or connections to powerful people within Czar's regime. Many commanders had no practical military knowledge. Their troops, mainly illiterate peasants, would fight heroically , but could also succumb to group panic when things went wrong due to poor leadership.August 1, 1914 - Germany declares war on Russia. France and Belgium begin full mobilization.Lines form for French mobilization at Gare de Lyon train station in Paris. The initial call-up was a million men for the Army. Below: Near the Front, enthusiastic French troops exit their trains.World War 1 Propaganda MapAugust 3, 1914 - Germany declares war on France, and invades neutral Belgium. Britain then sends an ultimatum, rejected by the Germans, to withdraw from Belgium.Hats are raised in Berlin upon the announcement of Germany's declaration of war. Below: The Garde-Kürassier Regiment in Berlin departs for the Front.August 4, 1914 - Great Britain declares war on Germany. The declaration is binding on all Dominions within the British Empire including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and South Africa.The Great War: Canada found its identity in the trenches. During the 2nd Battle of Ypres and the Battle of Vimy Ridge, the Canadians and Newfoundlanders proved their worthiness over and over again.August 4, 1914 - U.S. proclaims neutrality in World War IPresident Woodrow Wilson declared that the United States would remain “impartial in thought as well as in action.” At the time, a vast majority of Americans approved of Wilson’s policy of strict U.S. neutrality. Official Papers - World War I Document Archive BYUAugust 4-16, 1914 - The Siege of Liege occurs as Germans attack the Belgian fortress city but meet resistance from Belgian troops inside the Liege Forts. The twelve forts surrounding the city are then bombarded into submission by German and Austrian howitzers using high explosive shells. Remaining Belgian troops then retreat northward toward Antwerp as the German westward advance continues.An Austrian siege gun in Belgium, used along with German howitzers to blast the LiegeBelgian reservists exit Gare de l'Ouest train station to report for duty. Below: Enthusiastic Belgians off to the front to face the world's most potent fighting force--the German Army.August 6, 1914 - The Austro-Hungarian Empire declares war on Russia.August 6, 1914 - French and British troops invade the German colony of Togo in West Africa. Twenty days later, the German governor there surrenders. Togoland Campaign.August 7, 1914 - The first British troops land in France. The 120,000 highly trained members of the regular British Army form the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) commanded by Field Marshal John French.British Expeditionary Force's preparations in Belgium. Douglas Haig (front centre) and his CommandersArrival of British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in FranceJohn Buchan 2: The Secret Elite’s Special Propaganda WeaponAugust 7-24, 1914 - The French desire to score a quick victory ignites the first major French-German action of the war. The French Army invades Alsace and Lorraine according to their master strategy known as Plan XVII. However, the French offensive is met by effective German counter-attacks using heavy artillery and machine-guns. The French suffer heavy casualties including 27,000 soldiers killed in a single day, the worst one-day death toll in the history of the French Army. The French then fall back toward Paris amid 300,000 total casualties.French attack of German provinces Alsace and Lorraine.August 8, 1914 - Britain enacts the Defence of the Realm Acts (DORA) granting unprecedented powers to the government to control the economy and daily life.August 12, 1914 - Great Britain and France declare war on Austria-Hungary. Serbia is invaded by Austria-Hungary.August 17, 1914 - Russia invades Germany, attacking into East Prussia, forcing the outnumbered Germans there to fall back. This marks the advent of the Eastern Front in Europe in which Russia will oppose Germany and Austria-Hungary.Woman giving flower to German soldier leaving for the front, Berlin August 1914.August 20, 1914 - German troops occupy undefended Brussels, capital of Belgium. Following this, the main German armies continue westward and invade France according to their master strategy known as the Schlieffen Plan. It calls for a giant counter-clockwise movement of German armies wheeling into France, swallowing up Paris, and then attacking the rear of the French armies concentrated in the Alsace-Lorraine area. Under the overall command of Helmuth von Moltke, Chief of the German General Staff, the Germans seek to achieve victory over France within six weeks and then focus on defeating Russia in the East before Russia's six-million-man army, the world's largest, can fully mobilize.August 23, 1914 - Japan declares war on Germany. The Japanese then prepare to assist the British in expelling the Germans from the Far East. German possessions in the South Pacific include a naval base on the coast of China, part of New Guinea, Samoa, and the Caroline, Marshall and Mariana Islands.Battle of TannenbergAugust 26, 1914 - On the Eastern Front, German troops in East Prussia under the new command of Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff oppose the Russian 2nd Army. Aided by aerial reconnaissance and the interception of uncoded Russian radio messages, the Germans effectively reposition their troops to counter the initial Russian advance. Five days later, after surrounding the Russians, the battle ends with a German victory and the capture of 125,000 Russians. Following this success, the Germans drive the Russians out of East Prussia with heavy casualties. The impressive victory elevates Hindenburg and Ludendorff to the status of heroes in Germany.German troops en route to East Prussia to fend off the invasion from the east by the Russian Army--an invasion launched although the Russians were not sufficiently mobilized. The Russians had responded to urgent appeals from France for action to divert German resources. This bought time for the French and British to better organize their defenses. Below: Russian soldiers on the Eastern Front take aim. Men in the second line do not have rifles, indicative of the serious equipment problems affecting the Russian Army from the start.A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Russia loses an army at the Battle of Tannenberg ( soldiers of the Russian 2nd Army after their defeat at the Battle of Tannenberg Getty ImagesAugust 30, 1914 - German possessions in the Far East are attacked as New Zealand troops occupy German Samoa. Three days later, Japanese forces land on the coast of China, preparing to attack the German naval base at Tsingtao (Qingdao). A month later, the Japanese begin their occupation of the Caroline, Marshall and Mariana Islands.The First Battle of the MarneOnly 33 days after declaring war on France, German forces had roared through Belgium and the French countryside to the gates of Paris. With the Eiffel Tower within sight of the enemy, it appeared that World War I would be a short fight. That all changed, however, at the First Battle of the Marne.September 5-12, 1914 - On the Western Front, Paris is saved as French and British troops disrupt the Schlieffen Plan by launching a major counter-offensive against the invading German armies to the east of Paris. Six hundred taxi cabs from the city help to move French troops to the Front. Aided by French aerial reconnaissance which reveals a gap has developed in the center of the whole German advance, the French and British exploit this weakness and press their advantage. The Germans then begin a strategic withdrawal northward as the Allies pursue. Each side repeatedly tries to outmaneuver the other and gain a tactical advantage as they move northward in what becomes known as the Race to the Sea.September 7, 1914 - In the Far East, a German naval squadron, commanded by Graf von Spee severs the British Pacific communications cable. Information Warfare in World War I.September 8, 1914 - The French government enacts nationwide State of War regulations which include total control over the economy and national security, strict censorship, and suspension of civil liberties.September 17, 1914 - On the Eastern Front, Austrian forces steadily retreat from the advancing Russian 3rd and 8th armies fighting in southern Poland and along the Russian-Austrian border. The Germans then send the newly formed 9th Army to halt the Russians. This marks the beginning of a pattern in which the Germans will aid the weaker Austro-Hungarian Army.Zeppelin RaidSeptember 22, 1914 - The first-ever British air raid against Germany occurs as Zeppelin bases at Cologne and Düsseldorf are bombed. Strategic bombing during World War I - WikipediaFirst Battle of YpresOctober 19-November 22, 1914October 19, 1914 - Still hoping to score a quick victory in the West, the Germans launch a major attack on Ypres in Belgium. Despite heavy losses, British, French and Belgian troops fend off the attack and the Germans do not break through. During the battle, the Germans send waves of inexperienced 17 to 20-year-old volunteer soldiers, some fresh out of school. They advance shoulder-to-shoulder while singing patriotic songs only to be systematically gunned down in what the Germans themselves later call the "massacre of the innocents." By November, overall casualties will total 250,000 men, including nearly half of the British Regular Army.Portrait of the new German rulers of Belgium: from left--Count Harrach; Lt. Von Loebel; and Dr. Von Sandt, Civil Governor. Belgium's legitimate ruler, King Albert, had withdrawn toward Ypres along with his troops to fight the Germans alongside the British for the duration. Below: Belgians gaze at a German troop formation in historic Antwerp.October 29, 1914 - The Ottoman Empire (Turkey) enters the war on the side of the Germans as three warships shell the Russian port of Odessa. Three days later, Russia declares war on Turkey. Russian and Turkish troops then prepare for battle along the common border of the Russian Caucasus and the Ottoman Empire.Belligerents and Participants in World War One: The Ottoman EmpireOttoman Empire surprise raids against Russia’s Black Sea ports of Odessa, Sevastopol and Theodosia. Russia then declared war on the Ottoman Empire on November 3rd, which was followed by declarations from the other Allied nations the next day.October-November, 1914 - Germans and Austrians launch a combined offensive against the Russians on the Eastern Front. The German 9th Army targets Warsaw, Poland, but is opposed by six Russian armies and withdraws. The Austrians attack the Russians in Galicia (a province in northeast Austria) with indecisive results. However, the Russians fail to press their advantage at Warsaw and instead begin a split counter-offensive moving both southward against the Austrians in Galicia and northward toward Germany. The German 9th Army then regroups and cuts off the Russians at Lodz, Poland, halting their advance and forcing an eastward withdrawal by the Russians.Austro-Hungarian soldiers near Yaroslav in GaliciaNovember 1, 1914 - Austria invades Serbia. This is the third attempt to conquer the Serbs in retaliation for the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. This attempt fails like the two before it, at the hands of highly motivated Serbs fighting on their home ground. The Austrians withdraw in mid-December, after suffering over 220,000 casualties from the three failed invasions.Serbian artillery soldiers defending their frontier against Austro-Hungarian attackNovember 1, 1914 - The British Navy suffers its worst defeat in centuries during a sea battle in the Pacific. Two British ships, the Monmouth and Good Hope, are sunk with no survivors by a German squadron commanded by Vice Admiral Maximilian von Spee.German East Asiatic SquadronHMS Good Hope, Rear Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock's flagship, was destroyed by Admiral Graf Maximilian von Spee's squadron before it could fire a shot.November 3, 1914 - Kaiser Wilhelm appoints Erich von Falkenhayn as the new Chief of the German General Staff, replacing Helmuth von Moltke who is sacked due to the failure of the Schlieffen Plan.November 5, 1914 - France and Britain declare war on the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire.November 6, 1914 - In the Persian Gulf, a major British offensive begins as the 6th Indian Division invades Mesopotamia. The objective is to protect the oil pipeline from Persia. Two weeks later they capture the city of Basra.1914: The Battle for Basra | OUPblogNovember 7, 1914 - In the Far East, the German naval base at Tsingtao is captured by the Japanese, aided by a British and Indian battalion.Trench Warfare BeginsDecember 1914 - The Western Front in Europe stabilizes in the aftermath of the First Battle of Ypres as the Germans go on the defensive and transfer troops to the East to fight the Russians. The 450-mile-long Western Front stretches from the Channel Coast southward through Belgium and Eastern France into Switzerland. Troops from both sides construct opposing trench fortifications and dugouts protected by barbed wire, machine-gun nests, snipers, and mortars, with an in-between area called No Man's Land. The Eastern Front also sees its share of trenches as troops dig in after the Russians hold off the Germans in Poland and the Austrians hold off the Russians at Limanowa. The 600-mile Eastern Frontstretches from the Baltic Sea southward through East Prussia and Austria to the Carpathian Mountains. WW1: 1915 scriptBlood and Mud: A French Soldier’s WWI Memoir Vividly Describes Trench WarfareGerman machine gun on the Eastern Front, protected by trench and dense bands of barbed wire. Attacks on such positions invariably resulted in heavy losses among the attacking force.December 8, 1914 - The Battle of_the Falkland Islands occurs as British Navy warships destroy the German squadron of Admiral Graf von Spee in the South Atlantic off the coast of Argentina. Von Spee and two sons serving in his squadron are killed.The destruction of SMS Scharnhorst and Gneisenau at the Battle of the Falkland Islands, by W. L. Wyllie, 1915–18.The Battles of Coronel and the Falkland IslandsDecember 10, 1914 - The French begin a series of attacks along the Western Front against the Germans in the Artois region of northern France and Champagne in the south. Hampered by a lack of heavy artillery and muddy winter conditions, the French fail to make any significant gains and both offensives are soon suspended.December 16, 1914 - Britain suffers its first civilian casualties at home in the war as the German Navy bombards the coastal towns of Whitby, Hartlepool and Scarborough, killing 40 persons and wounding hundreds.'Remember Scarborough! Enlist now': WWI bombardment of seaside town which left 18 dead sparking enlistment campaignDecember 25, 1914 - A Christmas truce occurs between German and British soldiers in the trenches of northern France. All shooting stops as the soldiers exit their trenches, exchange gifts, sing carols and engage in a soccer game. This is the only Christmas truce of the war, as Allied commanders subsequently forbid fraternization with orders to shoot any violators.Christmas Truce of 1914WW1: 1915 scriptJanuary 1915. World War One is just five months old, and already around one million soldiers have fallen.A war that began in the Balkans has engulfed much of the world.The Central Powers: Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire, fight the Allies: Britain, France, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro, Belgium, and Japan.In Poland and the Baltic, the Russian army has suffered a string of massive defeats, but continues to battle German and Austro-Hungarian forces.Austro-Hungarian troops have also suffered huge losses, and are humiliated by their failure to defeat Serbia.In the Caucasus Mountains, Russian and Ottoman forces fight each other in freezing winter conditions.While on the Western Front, French, British and Belgian troops are dug in facing the Germans, in trenches stretching from the English Channel to Switzerland.19th January: As part of the world’s first strategic bombing campaign, Germany sends two giant airships, known as Zeppelins, to bomb Britain. They hit the ports of King's Lynn and Great Yarmouth, damaging houses and killing 4 civilians.24th January: At sea, at the Battle of Dogger Bank, the British navy sinks one German cruiser, but the rest of the German squadron escapes. Command of the seas has allowed Britain to impose a naval blockade of Germany, preventing vital supplies, including food, from reaching the country by sea.7th February: On the Eastern Front, German Field Marshal von Hindenburg launches a Winter Offensive, and inflicts another massive defeat on the Russian army at the Second Battle of Masurian Lakes. The Russians lose up to 200,000 men, half of them surrendering amid freezing winter conditions.18th February: Germany retaliates against the British naval blockade with one of its own: it declares the waters around the British Isles to be a war zone, where its U-boats will attack Allied merchant ships without warning. Britain relies on imported food to feed its population. Germany plans to starve her into surrender.19th February: The British and French send warships to the Dardanelles, to threaten Constantinople, capital of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. They believe a show of force will quickly cause Turkey to surrender. They bombard Turkish shore-forts in the narrow straits, but three battleships are sunk by mines, and three more damaged. The attack is called off.10th March: On the Western Front, the British attack at Neuve Chapelle, but the advance is soon halted by German barbed wire and machineguns. British and Indian units suffer 11,000 casualties – about a quarter of the attacking force.Soldiers of the British Indian Army on the Western Front. Indian units played a major role in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, March 1915.22nd March: Russian forces fare better against Austria-Hungary: the city of Przemyśl falls after a four month siege, netting the Russians 100,000 prisoners. Austria-Hungary's total losses now reach two million.22nd April: At the Second Battle of Ypres, the Germans attack with poison gas for the first time on the Western Front. A cloud of lethal chlorine gas forces Allied troops to abandon their trenches, but the Germans don't have enough reserves ready to exploit the advantage. Soldiers on both sides are quickly supplied with crude gas-masks, as a chemical weapons arms-race begins.Belgian troops wearing early gas masks, 191524th April: The Ottoman Empire begins the systematic deportation and murder of ethnic Armenians living within its borders. The Armenians are a long-persecuted ethnic and religious minority, suspected of supporting Turkey's enemies. Tens of thousands of men, women and children are transported to the Syrian desert and left to die. In all, more than a million Armenians perish. The Allies condemn the events as 'a crime against humanity and civilisation', and promise to hold the perpetrators criminally responsible. To this day, the Turkish government disputes the death toll, and that these events constituted a 'genocide'.French troops try on early gas masks, pads soaked in neutralising chemicals.25th April: The Allies land ground troops at Gallipoli, including men of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, the ANZACs. Their goal is to take out the shore forts that are preventing Allied warships reaching Constantinople. But they immediately meet fierce Turkish resistance, and are pinned down close to the shore.2nd May: On the Eastern Front, a joint German / Austro-Hungarian offensive in Galicia breaks through Russian defences, recapturing Przemyśl and taking 100,000 prisoners. It is the beginning of a steady advance against Russian forces.A torpedo fired by the German submarine SMS U-20 streaks toward the Lusitania.Lusitania beginning her final plunge into the deep.7th May: At sea, the British passenger-liner Lusitania, sailing from New York to Liverpool, is torpedoed by a German U-boat off the coast of Ireland without warning. 1,198 passengers and crew perish, including 128 Americans. US President Woodrow Wilson and the American public are outraged. But Germany insists the liner was a fair target, as the British used her to carry military supplies.9th May: The Allies launch the Second Battle of Artois , in another effort to break through the German lines. The French make the main attack at Vimy Ridge, while the British launch supporting attacks at Aubers Ridge and Festubert. The Allies sustain 130,000 casualties, and advance just a few thousand yards.Fokker Eindecker I aircraftThat summer, above the Western Front, the Fokker Eindecker helps Germany win control of the air. It's one of the first aircraft with a machinegun able to fire forward through its propeller, thanks to a new invention known as interruptor gear. Allied aircraft losses mount rapidly, in what becomes known as the 'Fokker Scourge'.23rd May: Italy, swayed by British and French promises of territorial gains at Austro-Hungarian expense, joins the Allies, declaring war on Austria-Hungary, and later the Ottoman Empire and Germany. The Italian army makes its first assault against Austro-Hungarian positions along the Isonzo river, but is repulsed with heavy losses.Tsar Nicholas II (third from left) visits the front, while his cousin, the army's commander-in-chief Grand Duke Nicholas, looks on (far right).5th August: The Allies face a crisis on the Eastern Front. The Russians have begun a general retreat, abandoning Poland. German troops enter Warsaw on 5th August. Tsar Nicholas II dismisses the army's commander-in-chief, Grand Duke Nicholas, and takes personal command. It will prove disastrous for the Tsar, as he becomes more and more closely tied to Russian military defeat.6th August: At Gallipoli, the Allies land reinforcements at Suvla Bay, but neither they nor a series of fresh attacks by the ANZACs can break the deadlock. Conditions for both sides are terrible; troops are tormented not only by the enemy, but by heat, flies, and sickness.ANZACs on their way to Gallipoli, 1915.1st September: In the Atlantic, a German U-boat sinks the liner SS Arabic: 44 are lost, including three Americans. In response to further US warnings, Germany ends all attacks on passenger ships.The French Commander-in-Chief, Général Joffre, requested support for his Artois offensive from British units under Field Marshal Sir John French, Commander of the British Expeditionary Force. On 9 May 1915 the British launched in their front sector, more to the north, a pincer attack on Festubert, Neuve Chapelle, and Aubers Ridge.25th September: On the Western Front, the Allies mount their biggest offensive of the war so far, designed to smash through the front, and take pressure off their beleaguered Russian ally. The French attack in the Third Battle of Artois and Second Battle of Champagne; The British, with the help of poison gas, attack at Loos. Despite initial gains, the attacks soon get bogged down, with enormous losses on all sides.Third Battle of Artois was meant to complement the Second Battle of Champagne, a last attempt by French commander-in-chief Joffre to exploit the Allied numerical advantage over Germany before next winter .3rd October: Allied troops land at Salonika in Greece, to open a new front against the Central Powers, and bring aid to Serbia. But the Allies are too late. Bulgaria joins the Central Powers, and their joint offensive overruns Serbia in two months. That winter the remnants of the Serbian Army escape through the Albanian mountains. Their losses are horrific – by the end of the war a third of Serbia's army has been killed – the highest proportion of any nation.18th October: Fierce fighting continues on the Italian front, as Italian troops launch the Third and Fourth Battles of the Isonzo. Austro-Hungarian forces, though outnumbered, are dug in on the high ground, and impossible to dislodge.22nd November: In the Middle East, a British advance on Baghdad is blocked by Turkish forces at the Battle of Ctesiphon, 25 miles south of the city. The British withdraw to Kut, where they are besieged.The Allies at Battle of Ctesiphon: 22 November 1915 - 25 November 191520th December: The Allies abandon the Gallipoli campaign. 83,000 troops are secretly evacuated without alerting Turkish forces. Not a man is lost. It's one of the best executed plans of the war. But the campaign has cost both sides quarter of a million casualties.Austro-Hungarian machinegun team defending a mountain slope on the Italian front.1915 is a bad year for the Allies – enormous losses, for no tangible gains. But there is no talk of peace – instead all sides prepare for even bigger offensives in 1916, with new tactics developed from earlier failures. All sides still believe a decisive battlefield victory is within grasp. country struck first in World War I?  * Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on 28 July 1914, and shelled Belgrade the following day.  * The first major strike, however, was that by Germany, with an army of 3 million men against Belgium on 4 August 1914.

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