If you’re a long time follower of this blog, you may remember Dennis Cross’ frequent re- posts from his blog “Centennial Countdown to the Great War”. This was a condensed news report covering events every month from 1911 to 1920, as viewed from a 21st Century perspective.
Norway was a brand-new country in 1914 – it had been only nine years since the nation was spun off from Sweden. Small in population and economically insignificant, Norway sat on the sidelines while the great powers of the day went to total war. How easy was it for Norway to remain neutral? Andrew McKay has this to say:
Most of us have become familiar with the concept of a Jihad. On November 14th, 1914, the influential religious leader of the Ottoman Caliphate known as the Sheikh-ul-Islam, declared a Jihad, urging all Muslims to rise up and defend the Ottoman Empire, a protector of Islam, against its enemies Britain, France, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro:
Today protective headgear is ubiquitous in American industry. This dates from 1919, when recently discharged 1st Lt. E.W. Bullard devised the first “Hard Boiled Hat”, patterned after the Doughboy’s M1917 ‘Brodie’ pattern helmets. Bullard’s hats were somewhat different from the WW1 helmets but, as the photograph above shows, many others were virtually identical. You can read all about this by clicking here.
In March of 1919, President Wilson’s top advisor ‘Col.’ Edward House authorized William C. Bullitt (1891 – 1967), who was a minor U.S. diplomat attached to the American delegation to the Paris Peace Conference, to lead an eclectic committee to make a clandestine visit to Russia. Their charge was to attempt to negotiate a treaty between the U.S. and the Bolshevik government, end Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War, lift the Allied blockade of that country, and allow the Allies to withdraw their troops from Russia. Bullitt received a proposal from the Bolshevik government that would have realized all these goals (and more, if the Bolsheviks could be trusted to repay war debt), but the Allied leaders at the Paris Peace Conference were unwilling to accept the offer. The British, in particular, were not inclined to strike any deals with Communists.
The ‘battle’ over the site of Sgt. Alvin York’s heroic deeds on October 8th, 1918 continues. Recently the research of ret. Col. Douglas Mastriano, Ph. D, has been called into question, with at least one critic accusing him of academic fraud. Mastriano, the driving force behind The Sgt. York Discovery Project, is an historian who frequently appears on CSPAN and has lectured at the U.S. World War One Museum in Kansas City as recently as 2018. If you don’t know much about Sgt. York you can read his story by clicking here, and if you’re not familiar with the saga of the searches for the site you can read more about that by clicking here. To read more about the latest news, including the accusation of academic fraud, you can click here.
Catherine II (1729-1796), Empress of Russia, who is popularly remembered as “Catherine the Great”, undertook a large settlement program where Germans wishing to flee from the shifting borders, petty wars and religious disputes of the 18th century in Central Europe would be welcomed to set up colonies in the lower Volga River valley. These settlers were allowed to keep their language, religion, culture and communal associations. Religious-based groups, such as the Mennonites and the Moravians, took advantage of this.
Non-secular, charitable fund-raising in the U.S. prior to World War One consisted largely of pennies put in cups or cans. Beginning with the massive effort led by Herbert Hoover’s Commission for Relief in Belgium the nation was introduced to large-scale secular charity.
This organization, headed by future President Herbert Hoover, was dedicated to delivering humanitarian aid to Belgium. The Schlieffen Plan, which the Germans were following in 1914, had made no provision for the administration of either occupied Belgium or France. Without the intervention of these Americans, catastrophe would have resulted. You can read a detailed article about this by clicking here.