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The current time is: 12/11/2017 6:30:03 AM
 (1914-1918) WWI Battles    
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BWilson

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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


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100 years
Posted on: 4/6/2017 3:54:04 AM
 100 years today, April 6, since the U.S. declaration of war on Germany.


Quote:
WHEREAS, The Imperial German Government has committed repeated acts of war against the people of the United States of America; therefore, be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the state of war between the United States and the Imperial German Government, which has thus been thrust upon the United States, is hereby formally declared; and that the President be, and he is hereby, authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the Government to carry on war against the Imperial German Government; and to bring the conflict to a successful termination all the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.


Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

Riaindevoy
Geelong, Australia
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E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1107

Re: 100 years
Posted on: 4/6/2017 4:37:17 AM
They then legislated to recruit to both the number of regiments authorised in the 1916 Defence Act and to the full wartime personnel establishment of those regiments, so companies went from ~65 men to something like 150 men.
---------------
Vegetarian: the ancient tribal word for the villiage idiot; who was too stupid to hunt, fish and ride!

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5681

Re: 100 years
Posted on: 4/6/2017 6:36:21 AM
Woodrow Wilson had brokered a deal with the Germans that would stop them from attacking passenger liners and would also permit crews of the merchant ships of belligerents to abandon ship before being sunk.

I do not understand the logic on the part of the Germans to abrogate that agreement and to announce that unrestricted submarine attacks would resume, at the end of Jan., 1917.

The Germans did suggest that the US was acting as a belligerent and therefore should be attacked at sea.

That declaration and the Mexican situation gave Wilson the ammunition needed to convince Congress to declare war.


So I wonder why the Germans decided to change their minds about submarine warfare and I also wonder what motivated Wilson to want to go to war after two and a half years of neutrality.

Cheers,

George

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5681

Re: 100 years
Posted on: 4/6/2017 6:45:49 AM
Also, the Germans claimed that the Americans were financing the war, through goods and services provided and that made them a legitimate target.

Were the German claims correct?

Cheers,

George

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2954

Re: 100 years
Posted on: 4/6/2017 8:29:24 AM
Hi George,

My Grand Father, John, was a Doughboy, & as far as the US financing it, does it really matter who picks up the tab,

if the meal is good!?

[Read More]

Regards,
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5681

Re: 100 years
Posted on: 4/6/2017 9:30:43 AM
Hi Dave. I'm not following your reasoning here.

I am wondering whether the Germans had any legitimate arguments that the US involvement in the business end of the war was grounds to declare America as a belligerent and therefore it's merchant ships and passenger ships were a target. It would seem to me that the Germans would have been better off in not antagonizing the sleeping giant in North America.

Does the financing matter? It does if the terms of repayment are onerous.

The video was interesting from a US perspective, in a jingoistic sort of way. It looked like a piece of propaganda to motivate the people at home to support the war but certainly it cannot be accepted as an assessment of the actual impact of US forces on the war and the results.

1919 would have been a year for the US to assert its growing power I believe.

Wilson made a statement that it was necessary to enter the war to, "make the world safe for democracy".

From what I have read of the man, he was opposed to war except as a last resort. He did not like what war could do to a democracy and the institutions and freedoms associated. He didn't like what war did to the psychology of the people of a nation, drawing on the baser instincts of humans in order to prosecute the war. People became hard and aggressive and bitter because of war. Wilson did not wish to see that happen to his people.

But in 1917, he had some kind of an epiphany and saw that it would be necessary to fight to protect democratic freedoms.

But why did he not recognize this moral imperative in 1914? I am not talking about the ability of the US to wage war in 1914. That was limited.

But I don't think that Wilson saw the war as a righteous endeavour in 1914. The other allies who declared war did see that they were protecting their countries and for the Commonwealth, the Empire, in 1914. They may have fooled themselves too but they felt compelled to fight to protect what was important to them.

The decisions that countries make as to whether to go to war or not and why, interest me.


Cheers,

George

OpanaPointer
St. Louis, MO, USA
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E-8 Master Sergeant
Posts: 519

Re: 100 years
Posted on: 4/6/2017 11:35:04 AM
If financing was a casus belli then any country that helped either side should have been given "enemy" status by the other side. I think Germany was against the US because of our tremendous (for the times) industrial base. The decision to go with unrestricted submarine warfare to interdict the flow of supplies from North America was made on basis that Germany could win the war before the US could get fully engaged. This was also Hitler's thinking later on.

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5681

Re: 100 years
Posted on: 4/6/2017 12:35:07 PM

Quote:
If financing was a casus belli then any country that helped either side should have been given "enemy" status by the other side. I think Germany was against the US because of our tremendous (for the times) industrial base. The decision to go with unrestricted submarine warfare to interdict the flow of supplies from North America was made on basis that Germany could win the war before the US could get fully engaged. This was also Hitler's thinking later on.
--OpanaPointer


J. P. Morgan had loaned a lot of money to Great Britain but had also loaned millions to Germany.

Was the US trading in goods and munitions with the Germans during the first two and half years of the war?

If so, then I am still perplexed at Germany's contention that the US was behaving as a belligerent and was not neutral.


With regard to the attacks on shipping, the US did not consider the few ships lost initially to be "overt" actions leading to war. There were only 10 US ships sunk in the period in which unrestricted sub warfare was declared.

That tune changed on Mar. 16 when a US ship went down with a loss of 6 Americans and others from a number of countries. The next day, two more went down and 7 and 11 Americans died.

That seemed to convince the neutrals that something had to be done.

brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major
Moderator


Posts: 1442

Re: 100 years
Posted on: 4/6/2017 6:09:23 PM
George, I'm not sure on this point, but I believe there were rather angry words between HM govt and US govt officials over America's right to trade with various European nations. At issue were laws of the sea and laws of free flow of goods. It revolved around this kind of thing: A ship could carry goods from Port A to Port B (say from Boston to Hamburg), as listed on a posted cargo manifest. Under British interdiction were goods listed on such manifests which constituted what the British defined as war materials. In effect, the British were demanding the right to board US (really, any neutral) ship and examine the cargo to determine it matched the manifest. To add to the difficulty, if a US ship sailed from Port A (Boston) to a neutral Port B (say, e.g., Stockholm), then the British were concerned about trans-shipping – of shipping war-related products to a Neutral, who might then ship them on the Germany.

The issue didn't come to blows, but there were IIRC some on-going tensions. In essence, the British demanded that all nations respect their blockade of Germany, while the US insisted such a demand impinged on their sovereign right to trade. I believe the US had naval law on their side, but believe the British had had past histories of American ships providing false manifests and undermining British war efforts (during the Seven Years' War) when they were still colonies.

A very similar issue arose at the outset of WW2, of course, with the shipment of ore from neutral Sweden through neutral (but recognized sovereign) Norwegian waters to Germany, and the use of Norway's neutral waters by German raiders. Great Britain and Norway were at serious loggerheads over these issues, and Norway (sorry, Kai, if you read this and take offense) was on a sufficient knife-edge politically that it could have ended up in a shooting war with Great Britain, if only to defend its neutrality. And once again, the Germans found a way to turn events around. They invaded Norway.

I'm not saying that the invasion of Norway was a stupid move, by the way, particularly with a neutral Sweden to the east and a Finland staunchly anti-Soviet even further east. I would argue that holding Denmark and Norway would be vital to Hitler's plans in Soviet Russia. In effect, the Baltic was sealed off. The northern route to Russia was no longer past a friendly coast. So even if Hitler's thrust into Western Europe didn't succeed (as it clearly did, spectacularly), he would have sealed off Russia from western European aid, and would have established a greatly expanded front line in the maritime war against Great Britain.

Cheers
Brian G
---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 686

Re: 100 years
Posted on: 4/6/2017 8:32:06 PM

Quote:
They then legislated to recruit to both the number of regiments authorised in the 1916 Defence Act and to the full wartime personnel establishment of those regiments, so companies went from ~65 men to something like 150 men.
--Riaindevoy


A U.S. rifle company had 256 men by August, 1917, although that would be cut back once casualties began to add up and replacements became hard to come by.
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 686

Re: 100 years
Posted on: 4/7/2017 9:39:30 AM
My impression is that Germany's assessment was that while resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare ran the very real risk of bringing the U.S. into the war as a belligerent, it had the potential to bring Britain and France to the peace table long before American troops could be a factor on the battlefield.
While we know it didn't turn out that way, when one considers how long it did take U.S. ground forces to engage in significant numbers (much less, skillfully and with adequate logistical support), was Germany's view that a window of opportunity was open all that unreasonable?
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

Lightning
Glasgow, UK
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class


Posts: 459

Re: 100 years
Posted on: 4/8/2017 4:03:19 AM
That's an interesting point, Jim. Certainly, we know that the British Isles were down to their last six weeks' worth of wheat in 1917; the convoy system staved off the imminent threat of real hunger. One wonders how the respective populations of Britain and France would have reacted to want of food and heavy casualties. I expect the war would have gone on regardless, a real and bitter fight to the death.

Cheers,

Colin
---------------
"There is no course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight to the end."

Riaindevoy
Geelong, Australia
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1107

Re: 100 years
Posted on: 4/8/2017 4:46:05 AM

Quote:

Quote:
They then legislated to recruit to both the number of regiments authorised in the 1916 Defence Act and to the full wartime personnel establishment of those regiments, so companies went from ~65 men to something like 150 men.
--Riaindevoy


A U.S. rifle company had 256 men by August, 1917, although that would be cut back once casualties began to add up and replacements became hard to come by.
--Jim Cameron


IIRC, and I don't have the exact numbers to hand, before the war peacetime companies in CONUS had 65 men, those in Hawaii, PI and Panama had ~72 and the full wartime establishment was ~150. At some later point US Army companies were made into the ~250 man size, I believe to be able to sustain their mass in the face of causalities etc. I believe the Marines took issue with this increase in size and wanted to retain the prewar ~150 man company, but eventually fell into line with the Army.
---------------
Vegetarian: the ancient tribal word for the villiage idiot; who was too stupid to hunt, fish and ride!

phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2593

Re: 100 years
Posted on: 4/8/2017 11:08:42 AM

Quote:
While we know it didn't turn out that way, when one considers how long it did take U.S. ground forces to engage in significant numbers (much less, skillfully and with adequate logistical support), was Germany's view that a window of opportunity was open all that unreasonable?
--Jim Cameron


Consider the predicament of the Allied powers : USA was going to take a long time before battlefield effectiveness was going to impinge ; even within the United States there were significant anti war cohorts, especially among German Americans. The crisis of morale in the French army was about to become all too apparent. Romania had been defeated very heavily. The Italians were vulnerable, too....within the year they were to experience an epic thrashing. British susceptibility to loss of mercantile marine tonnage was something ripe for exploitation. Above all, of course, the imminent collapse of Tsarist Russia was bound to open that window rather wide.

Yes, the fragility of the Allied camp was such as to justify German hopes.

Isabel Hull, however, maintains that Germany's reach was forever exceeding its grasp ; and that the wishful thinking and over reach was as apparent in unrestricted U boat warfare as it had been in the Schlieffen Plan.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3503

Re: 100 years
Posted on: 4/8/2017 1:52:19 PM
 Further timeline.

 The first U.S. troops reach France on 26 June 1917, 81 days after the declaration of war.

 U.S. troops of the First Division enter the trenches on October 21, 1917. The division takes its first casualties on November 2, 1917.

Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 686

Re: 100 years
Posted on: 4/8/2017 2:22:12 PM
I wonder if some of that overreach was a reflection of an expectation that the war would end not by way of an outright victory, although I suppose there may have been some hope of the BEF being forced to evacuate the continent, but by way of a more traditional armistice and negotiated peace treaty. An ascendant Germany, coming off a series of successful offensives, would be able to achieve enough concessions and reparations to be able to claim a victory.
As it turned out, Germany ended up being anything but ascendant, and the peace terms were imposed, not negotiated.
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 686

Re: 100 years
Posted on: 4/8/2017 2:29:52 PM

Quote:
 Further timeline.

 The first U.S. troops reach France on 26 June 1917, 81 days after the declaration of war.

 U.S. troops of the First Division enter the trenches on October 21, 1917. The division takes its first casualties on November 2, 1917.

Cheers

BW
--BWilson


Still, the First Division was something of a token presence at first, showing the flag, so to speak. It was really a regular division in name only, I'll trained and hastily assembled. The first significant commitment of U.S. troops to battle wouldn't be until well into 1918, and even then only as a part of Allied armies.
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major
Moderator


Posts: 1442

Re: 100 years
Posted on: 4/8/2017 7:24:35 PM

Quote:
While we know it didn't turn out that way, when one considers how long it did take U.S. ground forces to engage in significant numbers (much less, skillfully and with adequate logistical support), was Germany's view that a window of opportunity was open all that unreasonable?

While I agree you, Jim – as I do with Phil and Colin – I might suggest that while German strategic thinking might not be unreasonable, they were somewhat dillusional in assessing the positive gains of unrestricted submarine warfare against a neutral USA – however minimal that neutrality was by that point. Personally, I'm not comfortable with how accurately Germany had projected the impact of the entry of the US to battle. I sense a strong odor of desparation, and perhaps a belief that German civilian will would outlast that of Great Britain and France. Yes, Britain would enter a desparate year as 1917 progressed. Italy would eventually face catastrophe, as would Tsarist Russia. But those events were in the future. Germany clearly did not have the power to defeat France and Germany given the status quo at the end of 1916. Making French and English civilians hungrier might be a valid war aim (and don't forget the British were blockading for exactly that reason), but it doesn't become an effective weapon quickly. To add a potentially powerful enemy by increasing civilian shortages isn't a particularly logical decision, IMHO.


Quote:
I wonder if some of that overreach was a reflection of an expectation that the war would end not by way of an outright victory, although I suppose there may have been some hope of the BEF being forced to evacuate the continent, but by way of a more traditional armistice and negotiated peace treaty. An ascendant Germany, coming off a series of successful offensives, would be able to achieve enough concessions and reparations to be able to claim a victory.
As it turned out, Germany ended up being anything but ascendant, and the peace terms were imposed, not negotiated.

I think there were some hopes on both sides after Year 3 that the war could be ended by agreement rather than by defeat. The reality, sadly, seemed to be that the "butcher's bill" on both sides was too great to allow a negotiated peace rather than a military victory.

Had the Germans found themselves successful in bringing the war to a close, even if not through military victory, what would they have gained? In asking that, we have to think about Europe in 1917.01, or even 1917.06, but not 1918.01. The reasoning behind unrestricted warfare against ships of the US was based on, at latest, early 1917 realities. What concessions and reparations might they have gained? Parts of Northern France? Parts of various Eastern territories or regimes? What might Germany have had to concede? Hell, in the West Germany fought on enemy soil almost until the end. In the East, the Soviets did not actually gain much in their treaty. Had the war been settled before the Soviets could come to the table, I sense that is where Germany might have gained concessions. And that might have eased the impact of the British blockade. But at that time – in early 1917, does anybody on this forum honestly believe that the starvation of British or French civilians was sufficiently imminent to make it worthwhile to engage the fledgeling US as an enemy? I have so much trouble with this concept.

Without leaping into the whole Versailles issue, it seems that nearly all spheres of German political and civilian life in 1918 felt they had bargained an armistice with their enemies rather than suffered a defeat. The terms of the Versailles Treaty disabused them of that belief rather bluntly: Versailles did not represent a peace treaty but a social and political punishment. I know this argument is old-hat. But to date I've not found a better description of what happened, or at least one I am more comfortable with.

Cheers
Brian G

PS: Phil, you mention on Isabel Hull. I'm too long away from WW1 discussion: would you please send me some info on this person's contribution to the discussion?

Thnx
B

---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

scoucer
Berlin, Germany
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 1957

Re: 100 years
Posted on: 4/9/2017 7:40:53 AM

Quote:

Quote:
While we know it didn't turn out that way, when one considers how long it did take U.S. ground forces to engage in significant numbers (much less, skillfully and with adequate logistical support), was Germany's view that a window of opportunity was open all that unreasonable?
--Jim Cameron


Consider the predicament of the Allied powers : USA was going to take a long time before battlefield effectiveness was going to impinge ; even within the United States there were significant anti war cohorts, especially among German Americans. The crisis of morale in the French army was about to become all too apparent. Romania had been defeated very heavily. The Italians were vulnerable, too....within the year they were to experience an epic thrashing. British susceptibility to loss of mercantile marine tonnage was something ripe for exploitation. Above all, of course, the imminent collapse of Tsarist Russia was bound to open that window rather wide.

Yes, the fragility of the Allied camp was such as to justify German hopes.

Isabel Hull, however, maintains that Germany's reach was forever exceeding its grasp ; and that the wishful thinking and over reach was as apparent in unrestricted U boat warfare as it had been in the Schlieffen Plan.

Regards, Phil--phil andrade


Would agree Phil. Especially after Ludendorff had taken control from the pragmatic, realistic Falkenhayn. The basic problem with unrestricted submarine warfare after Feb. 1917. was that they had a small window and not enough U-boats.

Trevor
---------------
`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie

Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.

scoucer
Berlin, Germany
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 1957

Re: 100 years
Posted on: 4/9/2017 8:09:37 AM

Quote:
Isabel Hull, however, maintains that Germany's reach was forever exceeding its grasp ; and that the wishful thinking and over reach was as apparent in unrestricted U boat warfare as it had been in the Schlieffen Plan.

Regards, Phil--phil andrade


Phil,

I used to be very much in agreement with Hull and Fischer. " Absolute Destruction" I found excellent. I have, however, over the last 10 years reading , found that they don´t stand up. Over the last 10 years , there has been such a wealth of new research and evidence that I have had to change my mind.

Trevor
---------------
`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie

Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2593

Re: 100 years
Posted on: 4/9/2017 9:54:32 AM
Trevor,

Nine tenths of the way through Hull now : I find it hard going ....not an easy read, but compelling and seemingly authoritative .

Any clues as to the whys and wherefores of your change of mind ?


Regards , Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

scoucer
Berlin, Germany
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 1957

Re: 100 years
Posted on: 4/9/2017 5:45:48 PM

Quote:
Trevor,

Nine tenths of the way through Hull now : I find it hard going ....not an easy read, but compelling and seemingly authoritative .

Any clues as to the whys and wherefores of your change of mind ?


Regards , Phil--Phil andrade


Phil,

It was not an overnight thing. It took years and a lot of books. It´s like reading a lot about Gettysburg and the ACW, or the revolutionary war on MHO from people who know more. One sees things from different perspectives and slowly one gives up things one had believed - Gettysburg shoes.
I´ll write more when I can.

Trevor
---------------
`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie

Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5681

Re: 100 years
Posted on: 4/10/2017 1:08:06 PM
I posted this on the military media thread but what the heck, I'll do it here too.

For those who can receive PBS, tonight is the premier of "The Great War: American Experience"

This is the trailer:

[Read More]

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5681

Re: 100 years
Posted on: 4/11/2017 7:14:36 PM
I just watched episode one of the PBS series, "The Great War: American Experience".

Very interesting. This episode takes us from the immediate pre-war period to the actual declaration of war.

We learn a good deal about Woodrow Wilson and the American people. Wilson was a complex man. I was surprised that Teddy Roosevelt was critical of him and his pacifist and neutral ideals.

The peace movement is described well and especially the leadership of that movement among the women of the US.

The contrast between the people who are neutrals in the US and those Americans who are living in Europe is addressed. A good number of American men who were students studying in Europe or just tourists were eager to sign up with the French forces. They saw the war differently than the people at home.

I was surprised however, that totally ignored was the number of Americans who came north to enlist with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Just over 35, 000 US born soldiers enlisted and there may be more who were born in Canada but lived their lives in the US. Canada was not above establishing American Legions that would fight for the CEF but the US government asked Canada not to use that term, citing neutrality issues.

[Read More]


Politicians were initially quite aware of the voting power of the largest immigrant group in America, the Germans. But as the war progressed, it seems that German spies and supporters were engaging in acts of sabotage and that turned some Americans against them.

It was interesting to watch the growth of the "preparedness" movement which advocated improvements to the military. The pacifists were active throughout the war but support for the allies increased as the news of atrocities by Germans were described in US newspapers.


The production made use of old film and stills to enlighten us.

Anyway, an interesting piece of work and I learned quite a bit.

Looking forward to the next episode.


Cheers,

George

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