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Nothing Quiet on the Western Front

by on June 28, 2020

Those of us who don’t know history are bound to repeat it, and I’m sure those of us who remember history are doomed to stand by and watch. The best we can do is to remember and remind ourselves of history in a valiant attempt to learn from the past.

There are striking parallels between the past and the present; this would be the case whether we remember history or forget history. The important part is whether the history we know is used to our advantage to not continue making the same mistakes over an over, or to improve the future by recognizing the past.

Austria-Hungary, 1914
from Britannica

One hundred and six years ago on this date – June 28 – Archduke Franz-Ferdinand of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was assassinated. As an immediate result, World War I (The “Great War,” or the “War to End all Wars”) began. As a concurrent result the lines of Europe and the Middle East were redrawn, and the isolationist policy of the United States ceased to exist.

The Archduke was in Austro-Hungarian province Boznia-Herzegovinia on June 28, 2014. He was sent there as inspector general of the imperial army by his father. The visit, the Brittanica says, was not a popular one. It was on the anniversary of a “black date in Serbian history: it was the anniversary of the Turkish victory over Serbia at the Battle of Kosovo in 1389. This fanned the flames of dissent among Serbian nationalists even further.” The neighboring kingdom of Serbia wanted the land of Bosnia.

One can almost hear the parallels between this and Trump’s decision not long ago to schedule a rally in Tulsa that was to happen on June 19 (Juneteenth) – the day that all black American slaves were told they were free. Although Trump surprisingly rescheduled his rally we can only speculate what would have happened if the Archduke had rescheduled or cancelled that visit.

Instead, we know that The War To End All Wars led to the Peace to End All Peace, and that world affairs were forever altered. The Great War and the Peace to End All Peace led to World War II, nuclear weapons, a Cold War, and technology and globalization we would never have experienced in the same way. All because the Archduke was assassinated, which itself was an act of ethnic strife.

History effects the present. Know the history and how we got here so that we can change the course of the present to effect the future in a way that some history does not have to repeat itself.

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