Sarajevo-born, I had crossed the Latin Bridge and unaware walked past a world famous corner thousand times, long before I went to any school. Later, I learned that the shot which unleashed the ugly beast of the First World War was fired from that fated corner. Franz Ferdinand was killed, and then all hell broke loose…
Fifty years later, I have heard the same old story at least fifty thousand times, weighing up pros and cons, what ifs, and so on, until here, at the left end of the world, I came across an old book by pure chance. Because it was given away for free, mixed in a tub with all kinds of other hardbacks that lay there dusty, as if waiting for a long forgotten bath.
WHY DON’T WE LEARN FROM HISTORY? It was written in light red, as if in fresh blood, over a “fired earth,” a terra cotta yellow ochre colored dust jacket.
I couldn’t refrain from picking up just that one book from the moldy pile. It was my favorite question, ever since another war broke out in my country, again wiping away thousands of innocent people.
I have read many different texts on that subject, WHY DON’T WE LEARN… But B.H. Liddell Hart had nailed it on the head, and I so wished we had his book included on our school shelf, instead of many others forced down our throats. I’m sure it would have stopped another bloodbath, or maybe not?
I’m just going to quote here one excerpt that sheds more light on killing of Franz, hopefully, for once, without the camera angle being slanted to one side. Perhaps some will disagree, as always, but I’m grateful for Mr. Hart’s valuable insight. I think it deserves to skim our surface once again…
THE GERMS OF WAR
…The irony of history, and the absurdity of the factors that determine it, was never more clearly shown than at that moment. The crisis arouse out of the murder of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria by a handful of young Slavs who had sought and received help from a Serbian secret society known as the “Black Hand.” They murdered the one man of influence in Austria who was potentially their friend and might have fulfilled their hopes.
The Austrian Government, while quite pleased at his removal, used it as an excuse for curbing Serbia. The Kaiser’s initial support of their high-handed treatment of Serbia seems to have been inspired by his royal indignation that royal blood should have been shed, together with his fear that if he advised moderation he would be reproached with weakness. When he saw war actually in sight he tried to back down–but it was then too late. And the Austrian Government, in turn, was afraid that if it showed hesitation it might subsequently forfeit Germany’s support. So it hastily declared war on Serbia, regardless of the risks of bringing on a general war.
The threat of Serbia was an affront to Russia, whose Government regarded that Slav country as its protégé. Having been already assured of France’s support, the Russian Government now decided to mobilize its forces on the Austrian frontier. But the military then intervened with the argument that it was technically impracticable to carry out such a partial mobilization, and they insisted on a general mobilization–embracing the German frontier also.
The military, with their “military reasons,” now to all intents took charge everywhere…
B.H. LIDELL HART
After reading this excerpt, the first question that popped up as if on an imaginary computer screen was:
Is this how wars happen? Governments are afraid of being reproached with weakness?
Crushed like a bug, I felt as if I ate some expired food, hoping I wouldn’t get sick.
It was not anymore about who’s right or wrong–it was about the powers that be and their endless chess game, as it were. And the scenario seemed pretty familiar, a century later. Pretty much the same big wigs are dealing with the Syrian Problem, lately.
Another natural pop-up that followed was:
Killing Ferdinand was like killing Kennedy…
I’m not comparing John and Franz here, as Franz was often seen as pompous and arrogant. But, as much as the Austrian Government was quite pleased at his removal, so were some members of the American Government at the removal of John. And to this day, one is not exactly sure as to who his killer was and from which secret society he received help, if any.
As far as THE GERMS OF WAR go, how they work and persist, according to Mr. Hart, it is pretty simple:
“The germs of war lie within ourselves.”
“…For Nelson’s portrayal of the boys in blue as blood crazed maniacs, who blow children’s brains out and behead women, shattered for ever one of America’s most enduring movie myths – that of the cavalry as good guys riding to the rescue – and rendered Soldier Blue one of the most radical films in the history of American cinema.”
As if by a conspiracy of fate, Faïk leaves Bosnia a few months before war breaks out. He ventures across three continents, and eventually reaches Australia, while the rest of his family winds up in Oregon.
In France, Faïk serves as an interpreter to Bosnian refugees who survived the Serb-run death camps. After the war, they are scattered around the world, relatively situated and brought back to “normalcy.” The hanging question one confronts is whether those people will ever be able to adapt to their new lives in their “third country.”