After four months of horrible deaths, more than 200,000 at Ypres alone, on the eve of Advent, Pope Benedict appealed to the warring parties that they should “cease the clang of arms while Christendom celebrates the Feast of the world’s Redemption.”
That was December, 1914. Would that the Patriarchs voiced such a plea today.
The Great War began with Austria attacking Serbia after the murder of the Austrian Archduke and his wife, Sophia. Long standing provocations by Serbia stood in the background.
Seeking to avert a larger war, the allies of Serbia and Austria sought to mediate preventative measures. Czar Nicholas of Russia and Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany (and King George of England) were cousins and long standing friends since childhood, being grandsons of Queen Victoria.
In a flurry of correspondence, known as the Willy-Nicky Telegrams, they sought to avoid a wider war. [They signed the letters with their childhood nicknames.]
On 28 July, Vienna declared war on Serbia.
On 29 July, in a telegram to Willy, Nicky noted the “indignation” of his public over the invasion of their ally, Serbia.
“I shall be overwhelmed by the pressure forced upon me and be forced to take extreme measures which will lead to war.”
He asked Willy to act as a mediator. Willy perceptively feared “involving Europe in the most horrible war she has ever known.”
“I fully understand how difficult it is for you and your government to face the drift of your public opinion.”
The Kaiser felt the same pressures.
On 30 July, Willy noted that in the face of military mobilizations, “my role as mediator…will be endangered if not ruined.”
On 31 July, following the mobilization of Russian troops, Willy complained, “my mediation has been made almost illusory.”
“Responsibilities for the safety of my empire force preventative measures of defense upon me.”
Nicky’s telegram stated, “It is technically impossible to stop our military preparations…[they are] obligatory…my troops shall not make any provocative action. I give you my solemn word on that.”
On 1 August, Germany declared war on Russia.
On 3 August, Germany declared war on France
On 4 August, King George declared war on Germany. The war to end all wars was underway.
World War I started as two close friends desperately tried to avoid a wider war as public sentiment and bureaucratic powers worked against them. Today, there are no good actors. Propaganda drives public sentiment. This horrendous propaganda pushed by the American main stream media has nothing to counterbalance the bi-partisan war mongers. There are no clues that our politicians even know the basic history (link) behind this tragedy.
Where will lead today’s sabre rattling? Prime Minister Boris Johnson with the American neocons firmly behind him, scuttled the peace negotiations in April. He promised more war machines and money. The U.S. goal of “bleeding Putin” (to quote a friend in Europe) as President Biden stated his desire for “regime change” in Russia, all point to disaster ahead.