BBC : Use of language on historical events.

IvoShandor

Well-known member
Joined
May 18, 2009
Messages
7,332
Twitter
yes
Austro-Hungarian Army in July 1914

36,000 Officers
414,000 NCOs and troops
87,000 horses (estimate)
1,200 artillery pieces

Wikipedia
True enough. Buit they were'nt fighting on the Western Front. There it was just the Germans.
Same as the Second World War. People don't say "Axis" troops were defeated in the battle of the Falaise Pocket or at the Battle of Midway.
Austria, parts of Poland, parts of what we now call France.
The Germans didn't count Alsations and Poles as being "allies" . They were part of the German unitary state at the time, in the Deutsches Heer, just as Irish troops in the trenches were part of the British army.
 
Last edited:


McTell

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 16, 2012
Messages
7,767
Twitter
No
It was just the germans on the western front. The allies even included a portuguese division.
 

Malcolm Redfellow

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 29, 2009
Messages
4,612
Website
redfellow.blogspot.com
Twitter
mredfellow
It was just the germans on the western front. The allies even included a portuguese division.
I hadn't appreciated that, until I ran into a memorial in the Algarve: it may have been the one in Lagos:
Whereupon I started looking for them. The grandest seems to be the one in Avenida da Liberdade, Lisbon, right outside the Spanish Embassy. There's a fine one outside the Church of St Pierre in La Couture, Pas-de-Calais. From that, and the Portuguese enclaves in the war cemeteries, I was assuming the Portuguese Expeditionary Force attached themselves to the BEF.

I didn't immediately see why Portuguese were involved, and why they chose the Allied side. So I went looking. And it seems to be an intriguing story.

Before the outbreak of hostilities, the British and Germans were conniving to carve up Angola. From the point-of-view of the Germans, that would be a natural extension of Deutsch-Südwestafrika. Come late-1914 the Deutsch-Südwestafrika locals (it was the largest settlement of German colonists world-wide) were feeling their oats, and started stirring troubles for the Portuguese in Angola. In October the Portuguese sent a military detachment to winkle the Germans out of the Kionga Triangle (a small pocket between the Rowuma river and the sea). Meanwhile South African troops were having a go at Deutsch-Südwestafrika.

There matters festered until the British suggested the Portuguese should impound Austro-Hungarian and German ships in Portuguese ports. First Germany (9th March 1916) and then the Austro-Hungarian Empire (15th March 1916) took umbrage, and declared war on Portugal. The Portuguese were invited into the Allies' discussions of what ensued post-War, and received the OK to keep that Kionga Triangle. The British then invited the Portuguese to become fully implicated, and the Corpo Expedicionário Português began training, first in the home country, then on Salisbury Plain, and so to take responsibility for seven miles of the British sector near Béthune. After April 1917 Portuguese are engaged in the Front Line — taking 35% casualties at the Lys Offensive.

On the other hand, on at least three occasions German U-boats attacked Funchal in Madeira.
 

Cai

Well-known member
Joined
May 30, 2004
Messages
8,168
Nothing to do with the Beeb, but if you say that the Welsh are 'loquacious, dissemblers, immoral liars, stunted, bigoted, dark, ugly, pugnacious little trolls' the Sunday Times allows you to keep your job for the rest of your life.

But if you suggest that Jewish folk are disinclined to sell their labour cheaply yourself being shoved at sword point overboard within hours by precisely the same publication.
 

LookWhoItIs

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 1, 2017
Messages
1,702
I hadn't appreciated that, until I ran into a memorial in the Algarve: it may have been the one in Lagos:
Whereupon I started looking for them. The grandest seems to be the one in Avenida da Liberdade, Lisbon, right outside the Spanish Embassy. There's a fine one outside the Church of St Pierre in La Couture, Pas-de-Calais. From that, and the Portuguese enclaves in the war cemeteries, I was assuming the Portuguese Expeditionary Force attached themselves to the BEF.

I didn't immediately see why Portuguese were involved, and why they chose the Allied side. So I went looking. And it seems to be an intriguing story.

Before the outbreak of hostilities, the British and Germans were conniving to carve up Angola. From the point-of-view of the Germans, that would be a natural extension of Deutsch-Südwestafrika. Come late-1914 the Deutsch-Südwestafrika locals (it was the largest settlement of German colonists world-wide) were feeling their oats, and started stirring troubles for the Portuguese in Angola. In October the Portuguese sent a military detachment to winkle the Germans out of the Kionga Triangle (a small pocket between the Rowuma river and the sea). Meanwhile South African troops were having a go at Deutsch-Südwestafrika.

There matters festered until the British suggested the Portuguese should impound Austro-Hungarian and German ships in Portuguese ports. First Germany (9th March 1916) and then the Austro-Hungarian Empire (15th March 1916) took umbrage, and declared war on Portugal. The Portuguese were invited into the Allies' discussions of what ensued post-War, and received the OK to keep that Kionga Triangle. The British then invited the Portuguese to become fully implicated, and the Corpo Expedicionário Português began training, first in the home country, then on Salisbury Plain, and so to take responsibility for seven miles of the British sector near Béthune. After April 1917 Portuguese are engaged in the Front Line — taking 35% casualties at the Lys Offensive.

On the other hand, on at least three occasions German U-boats attacked Funchal in Madeira.
More of the same then , the cannon fodder were been pushed over the top so the wealthy could carve up a piece of Africa with their equals.
 

McSlaggart

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 29, 2010
Messages
18,782
Hardly 'institutional bias'. Austrian troops did appear on the Western Front, and particularly so in the more 'settled' southern parts. At the time of Third Ypres (a.k.a. Passchendaele) the Austrians were heavily committed to their southern Fronts, especially facing Italy, and gearing up for the Caporetto Offensive (which came in October).
Why do you think they use the term "Germans" in light of what you just wrote?
 

McSlaggart

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 29, 2010
Messages
18,782
Because Indians, Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians would get mighty píssed off.
I would agree. The use of the term "German" in a modern context is misleading in and off itself. If you read All quite on the western front the people who was fighting would now not be classified as "German".
 

Dimples 77

Duplicate Account
Joined
May 9, 2012
Messages
19,060
Why do you think they use the term "Germans" in light of what you just wrote?
Because they were Germans?

Honestly, is this one of these examples of attributing new meanings to words that you've just come up with?
 

Dimples 77

Duplicate Account
Joined
May 9, 2012
Messages
19,060
That is why its misleading to use the term today.
What's misleading about it?

What would you rather call Germans?

"The German Empire consisted of 26 constituent territories, with most being ruled by royal families. This included four kingdoms, six grand duchies, five duchies (six before 1876), seven principalities, three free Hanseatic cities, and one imperial territory. Although Prussia became one of several kingdoms in the new realm, it contained most of its population and territory, thus remaining a powerhouse with a major say in imperial affairs. Its influence also helped define modern German culture."
 
Last edited:

Dimples 77

Duplicate Account
Joined
May 9, 2012
Messages
19,060
I would agree. The use of the term "German" in a modern context is misleading in and off itself. If you read All quite on the western front the people who was fighting would now not be classified as "German".
You're the one using the term "German" only in a modern context.

I've found this a lot with Irish nationalists - they are obsessed with describing everything using modern terms, as if things never changed during history. I put it down to the fact that Ireland is an island, and since the territory of the island can't be changed, that is what Irish nationalists declare "their" territory to be. Contrast that with most countries on continental Europe - the borders of most have changed, sometimes massively - over the centuries, but Irish nationalists want everything defined by the way things are today.

As for "All Quite (sic) On The Western Front" what is the problem? Some of the people described in it may not be described as German today (based on an assumption that they born on territory that is no longer part of Germany) but that's irrelevant. They were German then. Prussians are a great example of that. Are you really arguing that Prussians weren't German at that time because what was Prussia at that time ended up being split into parts of present-day Germany, Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Denmark, Belgium and the Czech Republic?
 

Dimples 77

Duplicate Account
Joined
May 9, 2012
Messages
19,060
Some from parts of "Germany" that was handed to other countries.
Yes, and what's the problem with that?

They were German at the time, and the people there were ethnic Germans. And the "handing over to other countries" often resulted in massive population movements of these ethnic Germans.

It isn't as if these people started with no ethnicity and simply had a citizenship stamped on them depending on who held the territory at any particular point in time. They were ethnic Germans at that time, even if they got booted out of where they lived and ended up moving to what is now modern-day Germany after either WW1 or WW2.

I don't see what is so hard to understand about this.

Are you looking at today's map of Europe and saying to yourself something like "well all of those people from that book would be part of Russia or Poland today if they had been born in the last 20 years, so that makes them Russian or Polish instead of German"?

If so do you think that during the Battle of Passchendaele the Allies were taking on a mixture of Germans, Russians, Poles and others?
 

Malcolm Redfellow

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 29, 2009
Messages
4,612
Website
redfellow.blogspot.com
Twitter
mredfellow
The last dozen of so posts here make me reach for a book: Simon Winder's Germania. It's not quite a history. Nor is it a guidebook. It is highly personal, and opinionated. It is also enormous fun. The cover blurb makes a parallel with Bill Bryson; and I can see why. Even publishers don't quite know where the book belongs: its subtitles vary between continents, cultures and editions.

Winder starts with a contrast between English and Germans —
The Germans have invested far more in their ancient past than the English, who have always had a more restricted curiosity about their origins. The two nations share much of the same primeval ice-sheet, giving its melting as a clear start date (southern Germany was clear of ice, making it annoyingly different even in the Pleistocene era), but then we go our separate ways. Undeniably much of the national story of England’s origins is embarrassing. As a Roman colony Britannia was a hardship post and a bit of a joke. There has always been a last-ditch suggestion that the Romans may have left us at least the odd noble-browed, classically educated gene, but sheer lack of surviving information about the province shows the disregard in which its owners held it. As an obsessive fascination with the ancient past swept over Europe in the nineteenth century, British superiority complexes were simply not nourished much by such sorry stuff. And once the Romans left, Britain became a free-for-all, with wave upon wave of pleasure-seeking North Germans, Danes and Norwegians using it as a sort of chopping-board until the final ignominy of the Norman Conquest. In all this melee the figures of Arthur and Alfred bob up and down — the former invented by French poets, the latter a figure seen through so many layers of subsequent marauders that it is unclear whether modern England has any real link with him at all.

The very public and mortifying nature of England as a resort for axe-wielding immigrants has made its deep, early history almost unavailable to inspiring narrative except as a swirling and idiotic run-up to Magna Carta and then fast-forward to Macaulay’s enjoyable onward and upward. For the Germans, however, the deep past has had a corrosive and disastrous effect. There can be few stronger arguments for the damage that can be done by paying too much attention to history than how Germany has understood and taught its ancient past, however aesthetically pleasurable it can be in operas.
All history is misrepresentation, to some degree (though we do our best), in the same way that 'all property is theft' — and any historian to some extent expropriates the expropriator. So Winder starts with Tacitus, having just lifted his title therefrom, and casually noted that Tacitus' Germania descends from:
... a single copy being found in a Hessian abbey and sent to Rome in 1455, where its implications began to sink in. This book (far more full and interesting than Tacitus’ Agricola, with its description of Britannia) has been tugged apart phrase by phrase. Lifetimes were devoted to extracting every last piece of ambiguous information, initially by Italian humanists, who did so much unhelpful work fabricating the myth of the Ur-Germans in the forest, before then passing on this disastrous gift north of the Alps. The book’s existence is amazing – a seemingly well-informed, very precise account of what the Roman empire knew about the Germans, written in AD 100 or so and surviving, unlike many of Tacitus’ other works, in spite of fire, weather and the whims of monastic librarians and copyists, over almost thirteen centuries.
Winder then makes the point that others here miss, arguing both ways against the middle on the nature and extent of 'German-ness':
To Tacitus ‘Germania’ simply meant an arena of un-Roman people, split into numerous tribes, often at odds with one another and addicted to fighting and feasting. It is odd in many ways that modern Germans didn’t see Tacitus’ vision as endorsing permanent backwardness, disunity, inanition and chaotic drunkenness as badges of racial pride. Instead it was used to imply a coherence and value to a block of land which to its inner depths was German. It also endorsed the idea of Germany as a land of forest and personal freedom, albeit a personal freedom confusingly entangled in contradictory idylls about unquestioning obedience to local chieftains.

But in practice so many people have wandered back and forth across the area now called Germany during the thousand years between the Germania and the emergence of a sort of real medieval Germany that the tribes talked about by Tacitus cannot be called German in any but the vaguest sense. A famous example would be the marauding but astute Vandals who seem to have migrated from, very roughly, Silesia (now south-west Poland) all the way to Spain and then on to Africa around the end of the Roman empire, imprinting, through their violent antics, their name on several languages. Or the Burgundians, whose eventual territory between what became France and Germany marks one of the great fault lines in Europe’s geography, and who wandered through Central Europe, seemingly originating from an island off Sweden. We will never know how many of them there were, how much impact they had on the other tribes they carved up or intermarried with, indeed anything much at all. With the best research possible there are whole areas of Germany where the inhabitants and their tribal names remain more or less mysterious. Some of these people must have spoken a sort of proto-German, but only alongside numerous other tribes and any number of evil-smelling incomers carving their bearded ways through supposedly impenetrable forests: Huns from Central Asia, Goths from Sweden, swarms of Avars, Czechs and Sorbs coming into Central Europe from the East, each displacing further tribes, creating fresh societies, different religions, barely getting the hang of sedentary farming before being in turn pushed westward by yet further arrivals.
When we think of 'Germany' it is the stretch from Aachen in the west to Frankfurt-am-Oder in the East, Flensburg on the Baltic to the Bodensee in the Alps. Until 1944 we'd have had to include East Prussia, all the way to Tilsit (now Сове́тск in the Kaliningrad Oblast). As others here have noted, Alsace-Lorraine was conquered from the Holy Roman Empire (i.e. a proto-Germany) by Louis XIV and XV in their pursuit of 'natural boundaries', was snaffled back by Prussia in 1871 as Reichsland Elsaß-Lothringen, and after further toings-and froings returned to France as the Napoleonic départements of Haut-Rhin, Bas-Rhin and Moselle. Only gradually has French language supplanted the Germanic local dialect — and still not entirely. I'm old enough (just) to have heard the Saarland repeatedly in the news throughout the 1950s, until it was finally re-incorporated into the FDR. Britain, having purloined the island from Denmark, traded Heligoland for Zanzibar (to the great distress of Queen Victoria) and then bombed it horizontal after WW2. English school atlases changed 'German Ocean' to 'North Sea' about the same time as the Saxe-Coburg-Gothas rebranded as Windsors. It's all very flexible.

As of this month I'm going to have American-born grandchildren living in Basel, where they'll supermarket-shop across the border in Weil-am-Rhein, and where Europort Basel, the local airport, is in France, but has a exit along a dedicated Route Douanière directly in Switzerland. I'm expecting the teenage grand-daughter, an inveterate mall-rat, soon to be plotting a route down to the stores of Turin. Theresa May is wrong: one can today be a "citizen of the world" (provided one holds a proper national passport, and credit-cards).

Hey! Try Winder. You may like him. He's frothy, easy-reading, and very informative.
 
Last edited:


Popular Threads

Most Replies

Top