Tuesday, August 5, 2014

On the 100th Anniversary of the Beginning of the First World War, 1914-1918

A powerful statement from the Grand Duchess Maria to the Russian people. To quote:
My dear countrymen,

A century has passed since the day when the world was plunged into the first-ever global war, which took the lives of more than 22 million people and caused terrible suffering and destruction. The war brought an end to four European empires and established a new system of international relations.

But if Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire fell as a result of their defeat in a war they began, the fate of the Russian Empire was even more bitter and inscrutable.
Our government did everything in its power to halt the escalation of the conflict caused by the villainous assassination in Sarajevo of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Unfortunately, all its efforts were in vain. Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia and amassed a large military force on the border with Russia. In order to assure the security of the nation, The Holy Royal Passion-Bearer Emperor Nicholas II ordered a general mobilization of Russia’s armed forces. Using Russia’s mobilization as an excuse, Germany then declared war on Russia on July 19/August 1, 1914.

Russia’s valiant Imperial Army and Navy, and the entire nation as a whole, rose to the defense of their native land from the invaders. Russia honored its treaty obligations to its allies in the Entente and did not abandon the nations and people who were counting on Russia’s protection. The hardships and defeats of the first phase of the war were in large measure overcome and offset, especially after August 1915, when the Emperor took personal command of the Army. The front lines were contained far from the capitals and from important population centers of the Empire. Behind our lines, there were many economic hardships that were brought on by the wartime conditions, but on the whole the standard of living remained at an acceptable level. At the beginning of 1917, the course of the First World War was shifting toward victory for the Entente; and Russia, which had made the most significant contribution toward the defeat of the Triple Alliance, was preparing to reap the rewards of its wartime sacrifices.

It was at that moment that our country was dealt a deathblow from within. Exploiting the Emperor’s absence from the capital to be at the front, opposition forces incited riots in the capital, along with murders of officers and policemen, and rampant and wanton violence. A criminal alliance of groups of self-serving politicians and military leaders who had violated their oath, together set in motion a sequence of events that led to a national tragedy—revolution. In the midst of this foreign war, the Emperor—the Anointed of God, the Head of State, the Supreme Commander—was isolated and under enormous pressure from his commanders at the front to abdicate his throne. The leaders of the revolution convinced the Emperor’s brother, Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich, to delay accepting the throne until a Constituent Assembly could be convened and decide the form of the future government of Russia. And thus was broken the staff of the ancient Russian state.

Of course, pre-Revolutionary Russia had its share of serious social and political problems, and the people had legitimate cause for complaint. But one can only see the attempt to resolve these problems by overthrowing the legitimate government, especially during wartime, as nothing other than sheer madness.

Events followed the course they do in all revolutions. The nation, having been deprived of its historic symbols, slipped into turmoil, which only served to strengthen the extreme terrorist parties. The radicalization of politics led to the ouster from the government of moderate and liberal revolutionaries, and to the seizure of power by far more extremist parties, which openly sought the defeat of their country in the war and whose slogans called for the transformation of the war from a struggle against foreign enemies to a civil war—the most horrific, fruitless, and destructive kind of war.

The Revolution plunged our country into bloody chaos and brought to naught all our military victories and rendered pointless all our many sacrifices. (Read more.)

1 comment:

julygirl said...

....and everything changed. Excellent synopsis of events.