Monday, December 31, 2018

Today -100: December 31, 1918: The masses must learn how to use power by using power

French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau wins a vote of confidence after explaining that France adheres to a “balance of power” strategy.

The German Communist Party (KPD) is founded. Rosa Luxemburg gives a long speech, as was the custom. She calls for a revolutionary mass struggle by the proletariat to undermine the Ebert-Scheidemann government.  “We must build from below upward, until the workers’ and soldiers’ councils gather so much strength that the overthrow of the Ebert-Scheidemann or any similar government will be merely the final act in the drama. For us the conquest of power will not be effected at one blow. It will be a progressive act, for we shall progressively occupy all the positions of the capitalist state, defending tooth and nail each one that we seize.” “The masses must learn how to use power by using power. There is no other way.”

German PM Friedrich Ebert has gotten the backing of the People’s Commissioners and the Central Council to crack down with force on “all attempts at lawlessness in every form.” The meeting is followed by the resignation of the left-wing Independent Socialist members of the cabinet.

US Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels says the US needs to strengthen its position at the peace conference and “realize her destiny as a leader of democratic impulse” by approving a really big naval ship-building program, bringing the navy up to the size of Britain’s. He also wants 250,000 men in the Navy, increased pay, and promotion by merit rather than seniority.

Rumor of the Day -100: Prussian monarchist military officers have kidnapped ex-prince Wilhelm, the 12-year-old grandson of the former kaiser, because they regard him as King of Prussia and hope to rally Germans around him. Total horseshit.

Headline of the Day -100:

"The former Emperor is suffering from nervousness, which does not make intercourse with him easy."

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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Today -100: December 30, 1918: Of genocides, fighting Bolshevism, and pilots

The Turkish government is talking about holding courts-martial for those (few bad apples) responsible for the Armenian massacres. Armenians in the US protest that the Turks can’t be trusted to investigate themselves.

The NYT complains that the Allies aren’t creating a unified command to fight the Russian Bolsheviks. “The Allies can fight Bolshevism now, before its teeth have grown, and run the risk of having the cruder minds among their soldiers debauched by the argument that ignorance should rule knowledge; or they can wait until Bolshevism has spread that argument through the cruder minds not only of their armies but of their whole populations, and then fight it with their morale thus impaired.”

French Foreign Minister Stephen Pichon says that Allied military intervention in Russia is actually defensive, to prevent the Bolsheviks invading Ukraine, the Caucasus and western Siberia.

A German pilot, Christian Donhauser, claims that it was he who shot down and killed Theodore Roosevelt’s son Quentin. This may or may not be true. Donhauser, the article notes, weighs 94 pounds, not counting the Iron Cross he received for shooting down something like 30 planes. He hopes to emigrate to the US and fly planes here but instead will die in a plane crash in a couple of weeks.

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Saturday, December 29, 2018

Today -100: December 29, 1918: Of British elections, death tolls, and whither Ludendorff?

Berlin Rumors: Ebert has fallen and been replaced by Liebknecht.

The British general election was held two weeks ago but the vote counts are being released now because they were waiting for ballots from soldiers and sailors to trickle in from around the world. It’s a complicated election in that Conservatives and Liberals (well, most of them) fought under a “Coalition” label, not competing with each other. So, of the 707 seats in the House of Commons, 478 will be held by Coalition MPs, nearly 3/4 of whom are Tories. Lloyd George, an ostensible Liberal, will now be presiding over a basically Conservative government. Awkwaaaaaard. The Liberal Party has split, with 28 non-Coalition Liberal MPs headed by former Prime Minister Asquith, who loses his East Fife seat to Sir Alexander Sprot, which is exactly the name you’d expect a Tory colonel to have, as have most other Liberal former Cabinet members. The once great Liberal Party of Gladstone and Palmerston is basically done. Labour has 63 MPs, up from 42, and is now the de facto opposition party, increasingly absorbing former Liberal voters. However, future Labour prime minister Ramsay MacDonald, a pacifist, loses his seat, as does current Labour Party leader and pacifist Arthur Henderson. Sinn Féin sweeps Ireland outside of the North (and de Valera defeats Irish Nationalist leader John Dillon), winning 73 seats which they will not take up for obvious reasons (if nothing else, there’s a loyalty oath to the king they’d have to take). One of those Sinn Féiners is the Countess Constance Markievicz, who wins in Dublin, the only woman elected, garnering 66% of the vote without campaigning (she’s kind of in prison). 13 other woman candidates, including Christabel Pankhurst, Women’s Freedom League leader Charlotte Despard, and several other prominent suffragists, lose. (Note: my figures come from David Butler’s British Political Facts. Wikipedia differs.)

With estimates in from every country, the death toll from the Great War is estimated at 5,936,504 (that’s way too low).

Woodrow Wilson celebrates his 62nd birthday in London. The king gives him a set of books. I wonder what books?

Ridiculous Rumor of the Day -100: Former head of the German Army Erich Ludendorff has been hired by Lenin to head the Soviet Army.

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Friday, December 28, 2018

Today -100: December 28, 1918: Of military interventions, perms, Red Christmases, illegal birds, and Spanish Flu

The Allies will, after all, send troops to southern Russia and Ukraine, but not on a large scale. The Soviet government again asks the Allies to name peace terms, and is again ignored, because the Allies don’t recognize them as the government of Russia.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Siberia is going to look back on this year’s yearbook and CRINGE.

The British Admiralty denies a rumor that it threatened to take action against Bolshevism in the German fleet, including sinking any ship flying a red flag.

The German sailors in Berlin will be permitted to keep their guard jobs if they promise not to revolt against the government again, in an “eleventh hour compromise [that] apparently saved Berlin from an Extremist Christmas today.” (Soon Germans will be using the term “Red Christmas.”)

Headline of the Day -100:  

Oh good, Germans LOVE rules. Pershing’s rules on Germans in the US-occupied territory includes registration of everyone over 12, travel and alcohol regulations, and censorship of the press, the mail, and theaters. Phone calls outside the occupied zone are banned, as are carrier pigeons (owners of said birds must give a description of them to the military commander). Photography is banned.

The German government appoints two guys to negotiate with Herbert Hoover over food relief, but he tells them to go to hell (his words) because they were part of the occupation regime in Belgium.

454 new Spanish Flu cases in Boston yesterday, a record. 36 deaths.

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Thursday, December 27, 2018

Today -100: December 27, 1918: Of delegates, depressed Russians, and zeppelins

There will be 27 nations represented at the peace conference, either combatants in the Great War or new countries that exist because of the Great War. No neutrals.

Belgium adopts universal suffrage for the next elections (including women).

Germany: the Spartacus Group’s Karl Liebknecht is expected to declare the overthrow of Ebert’s government tomorrow. Ebert orders troops in Berlin to hold themselves in readiness. Various buildings are being seized by both sides and there are skirmishes. This all started when a bunch of (Spartacist?) naval reservists doing guard duty in various public buildings were disbanded but refused to go. Soldiers sent on the 24th to oust them were defeated and left Berlin.

Headline of the Day -100:

Germany’s war zeppelins will be converted, or so we are told, into merchant ships plying the route between Hamburg and New York.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Today -100: December 26, 1918: All they want for Christmas...

Various Russian exiles, such as former prime minister Prince Lvov, are hanging around the peace talks in Paris, without official status but evidently being treated as if they represented a future, post-Bolshevik Russia. They’re pushing the Allies to intervene militarily in Russia with a large force, but aren’t making much headway.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Today -100: December 25, 1918: Of pyres and serums

Headline of the Day -100: 

A rare NYT story about the Spanish Flu outside of the US. 1/7th of the population of the capital Papeete is dead. “The disease has virtually wiped out the elder generation of Tahitians, noted for their hospitality and charm.”

Boston health authorities will start treating Spanish Flu victims with a serum derived from the blood of people who’ve been “cured” of the flu. Horlick’s Malted Milk, which is again advertising itself as a treatment for Spanish Flu, is probably not much less effective and definitely much more delicious.

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Monday, December 24, 2018

Today -100: December 24, 1918: A very Hohenzollern Christmas

The German government refuses to allow former kaiser Wilhelm’s former court chaplain to go to the Netherlands for his Christmas Eve ceremonies. So Willy will just give the sermon himself. He doesn’t want any gifts. He supposedly helped cut down some Christmas trees on the estate of Count Bentinck, whose opinion on the felling of his trees for a German Xmas tradition is not recorded. All Bentinck’s friends declined invitations to hear the sermon, but his servants aren’t being given a choice. Their opinion is also not recorded.

Germany supposedly sends a bunch of soldiers to Posen, to challenge the Polish claim to that area and prevent them holding elections.

Theodore Roosevelt won’t be going to the peace conference.  Not that anyone invited him.

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Sunday, December 23, 2018

Today -100: December 23, 1918: Terrifying novelties are the worst kind, especially terrifying novelties of a most intricate character

Sweden refuses Estonia’s request for military assistance against the Russian invasion.

British Munitions Minister Winston Churchill says Germany is just lucky the war ended when it did, because Britain had a bunch of new weapons it was just about to use, “terrifying novelties, some of a most intricate character.”

All food restrictions are lifted in the US, but rules against profiteering will continue to be enforced for the time being.

The state of Prussia is annoyed that Poland is holding elections on territory that both P’s claim. Prussia tells the people in those areas that voting will be construed as high treason and acceptance of office will be criminally chargeable as impersonation of an official.

Woodrow Wilson visits wounded American soldiers in France. He asks one soldier with wounds in his legs why no one in the hospital has wounds in the upper part of their body. Because soldiers with those wounds “have gone on,” he’s told. He also visits wounded French soldiers at their hospital, but he doesn’t speak French.

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Saturday, December 22, 2018

Today -100: December 22, 1918: A great wave of moral flatulence moving through the world

Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge (R-Mass.), speaking in the Senate, says 5 of Wilson’s 14 Points should be put aside for now, including freedom of the seas, banning secret diplomacy, and of course the League of Nations, while the Allies focus on the task of kicking Germany while it’s down and making sure it doesn’t get up again (I’m paraphrasing).

Woodrow Wilson, in Paris, says “There is a great wave of moral force moving through the world”. And,

Czech President Tomáš Masaryk cancels an order deporting Jews.

Some group of Armenians declares Armenia independent.

Arts critic James Huneker says Sergei Rachmaninoff “raised the roof” in his performance at Carnegie Hall. His fans "surged toward Serge in serried masses," but couldn’t induce him to play the Prelude in C Sharp Minor. He played some of his stuff and some Chopin, Mozart and Beethoven. Huneker finds him “a cerebral, not an emotional, artist.”

Tacoma City Council decrees that, when dancing, the man may only put one arm around his partner, while the woman may put her hand on the man’s arm, not his shoulder or back. THE TACOMA CITY COUNCIL HAS DECREED IT!

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Friday, December 21, 2018

Today -100: December 21, 1918: Thank heaven Berlin is not Germany

King Victor Emmanuel of Italy is visiting France, and all the French politicians speaking at his events are making a point of saying that Italy “spontaneously” entered the war in 1915. In reality, Italy negotiated a large bribe for itself in territory and other stuff that the Allies now really don’t feel were justified by Italy’s meager military contribution. Also, it was one of those embarrassing secret treaties. Also, Yugoslavia is objecting loudly to the idea of Italy getting territory which it thinks is properly Jugoslav. Italy is saying it won’t demobilize its army because it might have to go to war with Yugoslavia (which is not technically that country’s name yet, but that’s what I’m going with).

Germany: the Soldiers’ and Workers’ Councils vote to hold National Assembly elections on January 19th and to ask the Allies to withdraw from occupied parts of Germany so elections can be held there. The far left (Independent Socialists, Spartacists) would have preferred to postpone elections. The SPD’s Philipp Scheidemann warns the Councils that they should disband and go home because they’re just making it easy for their enemies on the left, the Bolsheviks, to take over, which would be even worse for Germany than for Russia because Germany has so much more to destroy. “Thank heaven,” he says, “Berlin is not Germany.”

Headline of the Day -100:

That would be Major General Joseph Dickman, the American general in charge of the occupation of some of Germany, who tells newspapers not to complain about conditions in the occupied zone or criticize the US or the Allies or their militaries. The US forces are also arresting demobbed German soldiers still wearing uniforms.

A lynch mob takes 4 black people (2 of them women) from the Shubata, Mississippi jail and hangs them from a bridge over the Chickasahay. They supposedly killed a dentist one of the women “had trouble with.”

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Thursday, December 20, 2018

Today -100: December 20, 1918: Because nothing says “every British instinct of honour and humanity” like sending in the army to kill people

The London Times estimates that 6 million people have died of the Spanish Flu worldwide. The NYT, which has barely noticed that the pandemic affected other countries (has it ever mentioned its spread in India, for example? I’m not sure), finds this story worthy of 2 paragraphs on page 24.

The French (except for the socialists) would like the peace conference to consider more war, in the form of intervention in Russia to exterminate Bolshevism. They cite the need for a Russia strong enough to hold back the Teuton hordes. They’re not sure they’ll be able to convince Wilson.

And British Secretary of War Viscount Milner says that the Allies intervened militarily in Russia because of a “debt of honour” to the Czech troops fighting the Bolsheviks. He admits that the Great War, the initial reason for the intervention, is done and dusted, but because “in the course of this allied intervention thousands of Russians have taken up arms and fought on the side of the Allies,” there’s now another debt of honor to those guys. “It would be an abominable betrayal, contrary to  every British instinct of honour and humanity.”

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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Today -100: December 19, 1918: Of undead czars, gratificiation of the lust for revenge, and child labor

The late Czar Nicholas II’s mother Maria Feodorovna, currently living in the Crimea but soon to escape back to her native Denmark, has been getting letters from someone claiming to be him; she is convinced they are real and Nicholas is still alive.

Poland broke relations with Germany last week. Germany’s ambassador, Count Harry Kessler – the “Red Count” – making a diplomatic exit from the country, blames journalists from the Saturday Evening Post, who he says “came to Warsaw with large sums of money to intrigue against us,” and the French, who are using Poles “for the gratification of their lust for revenge”. TheSaturday Evening Post denies that the men Kessler named work for the paper.

Germany is also unhappy that the Poles are organizing elections to the Polish Parliament in regions claimed by both Germany and Poland.

The US Senate adopts a 10% tax on the profits of products produced by child labor. This is an attempted end-run around the Supreme Court decision overturning a law banning inter-state commerce in the products of child labor. The vote is 50-12, all 12 being Southern Democrats.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Today -100: December 18, 1918: Puzzled by Russia

Supposedly the Bolsheviks are getting ready to abandon Petrograd.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Specifically, about which of the self-proclaimed governments actually speaks for Russia. Not the Bolsheviks, obviously, that would never do, but the various White factions are too divided to be credible.

A British squadron in the Gulf of Finland bombards Russian Red Army forces in Estonia. Did I forget to mention Russia invaded Estonia? And Lithuania?

While I’ve largely given up on trying to follow the intra-mural scuffles in the German far left, especially as interpreted by the NYT, it’s worth noting that of the 450 delegates at the Central Congress of Delegates from Soldiers’ and Workers’ Councils now meeting in Berlin, just 3 are women.

The first American Jewish Congress meets in Philadelphia and calls for the Peace Conference to recognize Palestine as a Jewish commonwealth under British trusteeship.  It will send delegates to the conference to request that recognition of new or enlarged states be conditioned on their adoption of a Jewish Bill of Rights including equal rights, no restrictions on language, no blue laws, etc.

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Monday, December 17, 2018

Today -100: December 17, 1918: I did not want to come to this dump in the first place

Pres. Wilson commutes the death sentence imposed on Priv. Solomon Losofsky of Newark, who said on arriving at Camp Dix, “I did not want to come to this dump in the first place and I have no respect for the flag or the country.”

Pres. Wilson is made a citizen of Paris, receiving a gold medal, a beret, and a baguette to commemorate the occasion. Or whatever the stereotypes about the French were  in 1918.

The Portuguese government takes advantage of the assassination of President Sidónio Pais to arrest the leaders of the opposition parties, as was the custom.

It’s rumored that Pope Benedict will wander outside the precincts of the Vatican, which all popes have refused to do since 1871 to protest Italy’s refusal to recognize the Vatican as a separate state (the Church also orders Catholics not to participate in Italian politics). I could be wrong, but I don’t think any pope does leave the Vatican until the Concordat with Mussolini.

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Sunday, December 16, 2018

Today -100: December 16, 1918: Of assassinations and mobs of Dutch women

Portuguese President Sidónio Pais is assassinated in a Lisbon train station, just over a year after he took power in a military coup. The NYT reports, wrongly, that his assassin is killed by an angry crowd. They do beat him up. He will be placed in an asylum, where he will die in 1946.

Wishful Thinking Headline of the Day -100: 

Headline of the Day -100:  

We’ve all been there, ammiright guys?

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Saturday, December 15, 2018

Today -100: December 15, 1918: Of armistices and overstaying guests

The armistice is extended for a month. The Allies reserve the right to occupy the neutral zone on the German side of the Rhine.

Dutch Prime Minister Ruys de Beerenbrouck tells Parliament that the government did not know in advance that ex-kaiser Wilhelm was going to cross into the Netherlands, and really would have preferred him to choose somewhere else, but he didn’t and there’s such a thing as asylum and.... The PM is pretty wishy-washy about what the kaiser’s future might be. Reading between the lines, it all depends on how much pressure other countries put on the Netherlands.

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Friday, December 14, 2018

Today -100: December 14, 1918: Of uniforms, overstaying guests, teaching turkeys, and bumpuses

The War Department will allow discharged soldiers to keep their uniforms. The previous plan was to require them to return the uniforms within 3 months.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Headline of the Day -100:  

The country, not the bird. Evidently this is being suggested by various British people, including former foreign secretary Viscount Grey. Presumably it’s one of many schemes to keep the US engaged with the world and not withdraw back into itself.

British Prime Minister David Lloyd George says that the peace conference will be a failure and a sham if conscription is not abolished everywhere. Britain, of course, intends to maintain a huge navy to continue its dominance over the oceans. They’re very wary of the 2nd of Wilson’s 14 Points, freedom of the seas.

Headline of the Day -100:  

For I am... President Bumpus of Tufts!

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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Today -100: December 13, 1918: Of Spanish Flu, trials, and red flags

NYC Health Commissioner Royal Copeland (he’s a homeopathist, you know) doesn’t think. Oh, sorry, NYC Health Commissioner Royal Copeland doesn’t think the Spanish Flu will recur in New York. He thinks every New Yorker has already been exposed to the germ (he thinks it’s a germ). He’s just back from the American Public Health Association meeting in Chicago, where public health professionals completely failed to come to any agreement on how to fight influenza.

The German government decides not to oppose Willy Hohenzollern being put on trial by the Allies (this story may be bullshit).

The (German) Spartacus Group’s newspaper The Red Flag warns radicals to be ready, warns that returning troops will be used in Berlin against the revolution. They’re not wrong.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Today -100: December 12, 1918: Germany should pay to the utmost limit of her capacity

British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, campaigning, says the war bill which the Allies will present to Germany (not including the US, which doesn’t want any indemnities from Germany, according to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels) is $120 billion. That’s considerably more than the entire wealth of Germany, so it will only be required to “pay to the utmost limit of her capacity.” “The first consideration in the minds of the Allies will be the interests of the people upon whom the Germans have made war, and not in the interests of the German people who have made war and have been guilty of that crime.” Ah, collective guilt and collective punishment, always the best foundations for a lasting peace. France will also be demanding the return of the indemnity it was forced to pay after the Franco-Prussian War, with interest, naturally.

Page 13 Headline of the Day -100:

Headline of the Day -100:

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Today -100: December 11, 1918: Of suicides, national security, and Transylvania

The Leipzig Tageblatt says former kaiser Wilhelm tried to kill himself (doesn’t say how) but was stopped by one of his retinue, which has now been reduced to a pitiful 18.

The House of Representatives orders an investigation of the National Security League and other groups which attacked the loyalty of members of Congress during the last elections. The League failed to file campaign expense accounts.

I guess the NYT missed this, but on the 1st Transylvania’s National Assembly declared the union of Transylvania (formerly a province of Hungary in the Austro-Hungarian Empire) and Romania. Transylvanian Socialists only agreed after Romania introduced universal male suffrage and banned garlic.

I thought I’d be able to write about Transylvania without making a stupid vampire joke, but I was wrong.

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Today -100: December 10, 1918: Of mobs in terror, and red flags

Headline of the Day -100: 

Germany is kind of a mess right now. Evidently the executive of the Soldiers’ and Workers’ Council has been arrested, possibly not on orders of the government. Allegedly there’s a counter-revolution beginning in Potsdam.
There are rumors of violent crackdowns, rumors that the Spartacists will name Karl Liebknecht president of Germany, etc. Also, too, how many “Spartacus group”s are there, anyway?

The Serb, Croat and Slovenian bits that declared independence from Austria-Hungary officially announce their plans to join with Serbia, and now they’d like Italy’s troops to get the hell out, please and thank you.

It is now illegal to display a red flag in Chicago.

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Sunday, December 09, 2018

Today -100: December 9, 1918: Of khaki kandidates, batons, just reparations, and vanquished victors

14 women are standing for the British Parliament in the general election. There are also 256 soldiers, from 19 generals down to a private, in what will be known as the “khaki election.”

Gen. Philippe Pétain is promoted to Marshal of France. A baton comes with that. I’m not sure what he’s supposed to do with it, but I have a few suggestions...

The NYT accuses separatists in the Rhineland and Westphalia of trying to split up the German empire “in the hope of bilking the Allies of their just reparation.”

Headline of the Day -100: 

“Vanquished victors,” the Germans are calling themselves, in this start of the Dolchstoßlegende.

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Saturday, December 08, 2018

Today -100: December 8, 1918: Kill Liebknecht wherever you meet him

The Netherlands will extradite Willy Hohenzollern and the former crown prince if the Allies insist (don’t know how official this story really is), but suggests instead that they be exiled to one of the Dutch colonies.

Posters mysteriously appear in Berlin advising readers to “Kill Liebknecht wherever you meet him; he is your and your country’s worst enemy.”

Article That Raises More Questions Than It Answers of the Day -100:

Also: no one wants your uncleaned hair, probably.

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Friday, December 07, 2018

Today -100: December 7, 1918: Of crowns, reparations, tied-up men, apoplexy, and straight dickermans

German/Prussian Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm finally renounces his crowns. Prussia withdraws the Hohenzollerns’ immunity from the law.

Britain will present Germany with a bill for £8 billion in reparations. France is still doing the math on its bill.

In the German state of Brunswick, the president is evidently a clothes-mender, the vice president a professional juggler, and the education minister a semi-literate woman.

Headline of the Day -100: 

As punishment, not for fetishistic sex – at least that was the story they were going with. Secretary of War Newton Baker says this type of punishment used to be useful in “breaking” prisoners of “the usual military type,” but now there are stronger-willed political prisoners (I assume he means conscientious objectors) and punishments against them have... escalated.

Headline of the Day -100:  

Because if there’s anyone whose cause of death will be “apoplexy,” it’s a prominent lawyer named Luther Laflin Kellogg, while playing golf.

Also in the obits, I was trying to decide if there was anything funny about Major Straight. Reading further, I see his full name is Willard Dickerman Straight. So no, nothing funny about that name, not at all.

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Thursday, December 06, 2018

Today -100: December 6, 1918: Of war crimes, well-tried and well-deserved supremacy, martial law, and rubber heads

Germany’s Ebert government is undecided on the fate of the former kaiser. They’re still reading documents related to the start of the war to determine whether those “responsible” for the war should be put on trial.

Winston Churchill says the British delegates to the peace conference will demand abolition of conscription in Europe. And that Britain will ignore any peace arrangement that limits the size of its navy and threatens “its well-tried and well-deserved supremacy.”

The French government says it won’t lift martial law in France, even though the war is, like, over, because of Bolshevik propaganda.

Headline of the Day -100: 

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Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Today -100: December 5, 1918: Of coupons, food, and kings

One result of the Liberals and Tories fighting the British general election as a Coalition is that many MPs are running unopposed, including 69 coupon candidates (those given the “coupon” of approval to run under the Coalition banner) and, fighting for the 105 Irish seats, 22 Sinn Feiners including future Irish president Éamon de Valera.

Yesterday there were rumors of a conspiracy to bring back Kaiser Wilhelm; today’s rumors, which are a bit more likely, are of a Bolshevik uprising led by Karl Liebknecht. Liebknecht’s Spartacus Group’s The Red Flag complains that Woodrow Wilson, representing international capitalism, has made the delivery of food relief to Germany conditional on the maintenance of “order.” Still, I’m not sure how popular the message “Any attempt to send food to Germany must be opposed as a capitalistic effort to beat Bolshevist aims” will be with hungry Germans.

Evidently Kaiser Wilhelm initially planned to abdicate as kaiser but not as king of Prussia.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Today -100: December 4, 1918: I have not renounced anything and I have not signed any document whatever

Germany’s former crown prince Frederick Wilhelm insists he’s still crown prince: “I have not renounced anything and I have not signed any document whatever.” But he says if Germany declares itself a republic (it has, dude), he’d be happy to return and take up a job as a simple factory worker. He says he had nothing to do with the decision to go to war. According to the AP reporter who interviewed him in Holland, “The Prince is living a very simple life now. He strolls about the island, chats with peasants, and is learning the Dutch language from a small boy.” According to the crown prince, “My hovercraft is full of eels.”

George Bernard Shaw is running for Parliament as a Labour candidate.

Former Women’s Social and Political Union (now the Women's Party) leader Christabel Pankhurst is also running, for Smethwick (near Birmingham). Lloyd George and Bonar Law prevail on the previous Coalition candidate in the constituency, Major Thompson (whose first name is evidently lost to history), to step aside. She’ll be beaten narrowly by the candidate of the Labour Party, which she will accuse during the campaign of Bolshevism; Labour will respond that it works for social reform without breaking windows or setting post boxes on fire (irrelevant side note: British post boxes were introduced by the novelist Anthony Trollope in his day job).

Theodore Roosevelt attacks Wilson’s State of the Union speech. He says if the American people have expressed any opinion on the 14 Points it was to reject them at the ballot box last month, and he denies that the Army was fighting for them: “Why, there was not one American soldier in a thousand that ever heard of them. The American Army was fighting to smash Germany.” Of the Points, he’s especially critical of freedom of the seas. “The British must, of course, keep the colonies they have conquered.” Of course.

The Allies are holding off on pressuring the Netherlands to hand over Willy Hohenzollern until Wilson arrives in Europe. They say extradition laws don’t even enter it, he should be treated as someone who doesn’t have the right to sanctuary, like a pirate or a slave trader. Meanwhile, a Catherine Callan Hayden of Chicago, whose father died on the Lusitania, applies for an arrest warrant against Willy for murder. “The only thing I object to,” she says, “is that hanging is the severest penalty which can be inflicted.”

The National War Labor Board decides that the best way to end the strike of male employees at the Cleveland Railway Company is to fire all its women employees.

Headline of the Day -100:

That’s a bit over-dramatic. Actually they mostly won’t sell stuff to Austria. Also, none of them will allow trains from what was the Austrian State Railroad to cross their new national borders in case they don’t get them back. Every country is also banning export of hard cash (they’re still using the old Austrian currency, presumably while they decide on quaint names for their new currencies).

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Monday, December 03, 2018

Today -100: December 3, 1918: Of private thoughts or purposes, vacant offices, pogroms, cyranos, ex-kings, and kangaroos

Before setting off for Europe, Pres. Wilson goes to Congress to deliver his State of the Union Address (still not called that). Doesn’t sound like much of a speech: praises soldiers and the American people for their work in the war, wants to reduce taxes but not to pre-war levels, something should be done about railroads but he doesn’t know what, says he isn’t going to the peace talks with any “private thought or purpose” and hopes for the support of Congress and the public. Most of Congress just sits grumpily during the speech.

Sen. Lawrence Sherman (R-Illinois) threatens to introduce a resolution declaring the office of president vacant, evidently permanently, when Wilson goes to Europe. A resolution introduced in the House by William Rodenberg (R-Ill.) would do the same but only while Wilson is out of the country. Sen. Albert Cummins (R-Iowa) proposes that a bipartisan Senate committee go to Paris (uninvited) to keep the Senate informed of all the doings.

The NYT, citing a “well-informed Pole,” says Józef Pilsudski is now the dictator of Poland, arresting Bolsheviks. The NYT’s Pole is indeed well-informed, about that anyway, but less informed is his description of the recent pogroms in Galicia as “fomented by agitators of suspicious origins,” as opposed to plain old anti-Semitic mobs, cops, and soldiers.

French playwright/poet Edmond Rostand, author of “Cyrano de Bergerac,” “Chantecler” and “Les Romanesques,” dies at 50 of the Spanish Flu (insert runny nose joke here).

The Montenegrin parliament, which is delightfully called the Skupshtina, deposes King Nikola, preparatory to merging the country into Serbia. Nick has ruled since 1860.

Belgium decides that damage and seizures of raw materials and machinery during the German occupation amounted to $1,200,112,000. They’ll be sending an invoice.

Frank Morrison, secretary of the American Federation of Labor, proposes that the US ban all immigration for 5 years.

I’ll spare you the ad on page 6 for The Edwin Chapp Shoe store, which asks the question, “Why Kangaroo For A Gentleman’s Shoe?”

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Sunday, December 02, 2018

Today -100: December 2, 1918: Against my will they sent me to Norway

The NYT says that the newly enfranchised British women will probably vote for Lloyd George because he’s the one politician they’ve heard of.

Former kaiser Willy Hohenzollern says the blame for the war is not his but that of his chancellor and foreign minister at the time, who sent him out of the country so they could scheme: “Against my will they sent me to Norway.”

The NYPD is getting an aviation division. Police planes could be used in case of fire, riot, whatever.

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Saturday, December 01, 2018

Today -100: December 1, 1918: Of happy Alsatians, the kaiser’s bed, and actual natural radium

Headline of the Day -100: 

Residents of Alsace-Lorraine are happy to be part of France again, which just pisses Germans off.

Iceland becomes mostly independent of Denmark. The NYT doesn’t notice.

Headline of the Day -100:  

Lithuania declares itself a republic.

William Howard Taft decides not to be the commissioner of baseball.

Ad of the Day -100:

Guaranteed to have “a definite quantity of Actual Natural Radium” – beware the fake stuff, which I believe is called I Can’t Believe It’s Not Radium – and to retain its radioactivity for at least 20 years, not unlike your glowing corpse. Contains no animal fat.

Douglas Fairbanks’s wife divorces him... ladies.

Sugar rationing over, the restrictions on Christmas candy are lifted.

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Friday, November 30, 2018

Today -100: November 30, 1918: I am not going to be a Bolshevist president

The names of the US commissioners to the peace conference are announced: Pres. Wilson (to be replaced later in the process by Secretary of War Newton Baker), Secretary of State Robert Lansing, Col. House, former ambassador to Italy and France Henry White, and Gen. Tasker Bliss. While White is a Republican, Republicans would rather have had a more important, more Republican, Republican, like Taft or Charles Evans Hughes or Elihu Root. There will also be 4 Harvard and 2 Yale professors in the party. What, no Princeton?

Vice President Whatsisname will remain in Washington while Wilson is out of the country. He says it’s just so someone’s there to greet the visiting Japanese prince, not to sign or veto legislation: “I am not going to be a Bolshevist president.”

The German government asks Wilhelm for an official abdication, gets it.

Former Austrian Emperor Charles is supposedly ordered to leave Austria. Also, he’s depressed; “He sits for hours at his desk staring vacantly.”

German employers, no longer fearing a socialist revolution quite so much, are reneging on the concessions they made to workers (especially the abolition of piece-work pay) at the start of the revolution. Naturally, there are now strikes. Unemployment is rising, in part due to no longer getting coal and other raw materials from Alsace-Lorraine and Silesia.

The Berlin press is attacking The People’s State of Bavaria’s socialist Prime Minister Kurt Eisner for undermining the unity of the empire (they’re still saying empire, I guess), for leaking those secret papers from the start of the war, and ffor being a, you know, Jew.

British Prime Minister Lloyd George tells an election meeting that Wilhelm should be tried. By what court he does not say, but I guess LG is campaigning on a “hang the kaiser” plank.

The Justice Dept is considering prosecuting Eugene Debs for a speech he gave in Toledo Wednesday in which he said that the common people of the US did not declare war and “all wars are wrong.” Debs’ supporters point out that he can hardly be interfering with the conduct of the war, which is over, dudes.

The Allies ask Herbert Hoover to be Director General of Relief, in charge of feeding Europe.

Headline of the Day -100: 

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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Today -100: November 29, 1918: Of court intrigues, pogroms, and lady delegates

“The New York Times correspondent can state authoritatively that since his arrival in Holland the ex-Kaiser has not ceased to endeavor to prove Germany guiltless in the war.” He asserts his lack of responsibility and blames “court intrigues.” At least he didn’t have a fucking Twitter account.

Last week there was a pogrom in Lemberg (aka Lvov, aka Lviv, aka Lwów), Poland, following the Polish expulsion of troops from Ukraine, which claims the region. Polish soldiers and civilians attacked the Jewish and Ukrainian quarters of the city. Dozens are killed, shops are looted, and houses burned, as was the custom. The Polish Information Bureau in NY denies there was any pogrom, saying it’s a story spread by Germans to bias the Allies against the creation of an independent Poland. It isn’t.

The New Jersey Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage writes to Pres. Wilson objecting to Carrie Chapman Catt’s proposal that there be at least one woman on the US delegation to the peace talks.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Today -100: November 28, 1918: Of Wilson’s disfavor, Spartacides, 20 bullet holes, and physical training

The White House is shipping 13 automobiles for Wilson and his party to use in France, because... France doesn’t have any cars?

Headline of the Day -100: 

The refusal of Adm. Beatty to receive three members of the Soldiers' Council as part of a German naval delegation is being taken as indicative of the Allies picking and choosing which forms of German governance to recognize. Moderates (including non-revolutionary socialists) are pushing for a quick constitutional convention to establish representative government (rather than the various councils) in Germany on a legitimate basis.

Why is the NYT referring to the Spartacus League as “Spartacides?”

Soldiers’ groups in Cologne offer a $20,000 reward for the former kaiser and crown prince, dead or alive.

Or is it actually “former” kaiser? It seems there are no official documents of his abdication in Germany.

Reporter Carl Ackerman ventures into Ekaterinburg to find out whether Czar Nicholas and his family were really executed there. “There is no evidence except some twenty bullet holes in the wall”. Which he discounts, but doesn’t say where he thinks the Romanovs are now. Alive and well and living in Argentina?

Transylvania has declared itself independent of Hungary. Hungary says no, but I don’t recall anyone asking them.

The US army transfers 40 shell-shocked soldiers to Fort Sheridan, where it will try to cure them with... “physical training.”

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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Today -100: November 27, 1918: Of unspoiled soldiers, temp presidents, extraditions, and ambassadorial jazz

Headline of the Day -100: 

European borders are totally up in the air. The Rhineland is talking about splitting from Germany as an independent country, as is Southern Germany (Bavaria and such).

Chile and Peru don’t go to war.

Former Attorney General George Wickersham says if Pres. Wilson leaves the country to attend the peace talks, Vice President Whatsisname might have to be sworn in because Wilson wouldn’t have the ability to veto a bill and therefore would be unable to discharge the duties of his office. VP Whatsisname responds that he would not “voluntarily” assume the office, although he says a court might order him to. And he doesn’t know what he’d do if asked to by a joint resolution of Congress. During the time Wilson will be away, Whatsisname was supposed to be touring the country for the League to Enforce Peace, but may decide that he needs to stay in Washington.

The British and French are trying to figure out how they can extradite Willy Hohenzollern from the Netherlands. The Dutch says it probably can’t extradite him without permission from Germany. In Germany, Karl Liebknecht’s paper The Red Flag calls for the former kaiser, along with the former crown prince and Bethmann-Hollweg, who was chancellor at the start of the war, to be put on trial by a revolutionary tribunal. The Bavarian government’s recent release of secret government papers from 1914 has made it clear that Germany – Bavarian Prime Minister Kurt Eisner would say Prussia – was more responsible for the Austrian policies that led to the war than was previously known.

A NYT editorial about the appointment of Rosika Schwimmer as Hungarian ambassador to Switzerland is, not surprisingly, rather dickish, delving into her association with Henry Ford’s Peace Ship. It says sarcastically that her appointment  “injected desirable ‘jazz’ into the stagnant art of diplomacy”. The term jazz probably refers here to energy, zippiness, its original meaning in baseball parlance, rather than the musical form, although that fairly new usage did appear in the paper in April.

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Monday, November 26, 2018

Today -100: November 26, 1918: Of black jacks, borders, and lady ambassadors

Some Republicans in Ohio start a campaign for Gen. Black Jack Pershing for president in 1920. The organizers claim not to know whether Pershing actually wants to be president.

A bunch of soldiers, sailors and marines try to storm a socialist meeting in Madison Square Garden, but are pushed back by mounted cops.

The French are discussing what the borders of Alsace-Lorraine should be, and they’re getting greedy, suggesting they should get back not just territory lost in 1870 but in 1815 as well.

Supposedly German Chancellor Friedrich Ebert gives up real power to the Soldiers’ and Workers’ Council.

Rosika Schwimmer, the Jewish Hungarian suffragist, active during the war in the international feminist anti-war movement, is appointed Hungarian ambassador to Switzerland, making her the first woman ambassador ever (depending on whether you count St. Catherine of Siena. Do you?).

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Sunday, November 25, 2018

Today -100: November 25, 1918: When any one is without food he is apt to do many unusual and violent things

Mrs Minnie Grinstead, a former lecturer for the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, is elected the first woman to enter the Kansas House of Representatives, in an election which sees her fellow Republicans take 113 out of 125 seats. 48 are farmers and 1 is a tombstone dealer. In her 6 years in the legislature, she will attempt to ban cigarettes in the state and will introduce a bill for court awards for injuries to women to go to them rather than their husbands. Neither will pass.

Headline of the Day -100:

In an AP interview, former Austrian emperor Charles says the Allies should start feeding the Austrians quickly, or risk Bolshevism: “The people here are fine, kind and patient, but when any one is without food he is apt to do many unusual and violent things.”

King Albert of Belgium, back in Brussels to a rapturous reception and only a few calls for a republic, calls for equal suffrage “for all men of the mature age required” (there was a system of plural voting in which educated or wealthy men’s votes counted 2 or 3 times). I think the mature age thing means he wants to keep the voting age at 25 (30 for the senate). Next year plural voting will be abolished and the male voting age lowered to 21; women will get the national franchise in 1948.

Taft says he’d accept the job as baseball commissioner only if  he’d be sole decider of law and fact in arbitration cases.

Headline of the Day -100:  

They’re pretty sure it’s a lion or panther that escaped from a circus.

Now Playing: “My Cousin,” starring Enrico Caruso in two roles as identical cousins, a poor sculptor and a big opera star, featuring Caruso singing (we’ll have to take their word for it) Pagliacci. Flicking through it on YouTube, I saw an intertitle that began “Mama mia, sir.”

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Saturday, November 24, 2018

Today -100: November 24, 1918: A fit country for heroes

Former president Taft has been offered the job of baseball commissioner. He’s thinking it over. Taft is a big baseball fan. When he was the governor of the Philippines, he introduced baseball and genocide to the natives.

Supposedly the Bolsheviks have executed 500 former army officers.

Woodrow Wilson is talking about nationalizing wifi wireless.

British Prime Minister David Lloyd George declares in an election address that the Liberal-Conservative coalition’s task will be “To make Britain a fit country for heroes to live in.” He plans a series of public works to prevent Britain falling into the post-war depression that most economists expect, including work on roads and canals, and housing and small farms or allotments for returning soldiers.

German Chancellor Friedrich Ebert tells Russia to recognize his government and stop calling for a dictatorship of the proletariat, please and thank you. The Central Soldiers’ and Workers’ Council has informed Ebert and the rest of the government that they are subject to the instructions of the Council.

Germany has 278 fewer kings & princes than it did at the beginning of the month. Cheers to the NYT for using “deposal” in the headline.

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Friday, November 23, 2018

Today -100: November 23, 1918: Of hoards of gold and Henry Ford’s definite ideas and ideals

200 sacks of former kaiser Willy Hohenzollern’s gold coins arrive in the Netherlands. It is not clear where it’s now being stored. It’s also not clear if he ever actually abdicated. NYT reporters are frantically making calculations trying to figure out how much real money 200 sacks of coins amounts to.

Secretary of the Treasury and Director-General of the Railroads William Gibbs McAdoo, Pres. Wilson’s son-in-law, resigns, because he wants to make more money. That’s the only reason he gives; his resignation letter complains of the “inadequate compensation” for cabinet officers and the “very burdensome cost of living in Washington.”

Henry Ford hands over the reins of Ford Motor to his son Edsel to devote himself to making The Dearborn Independent into a wide-circulation national newspaper so he can spread his “definite ideas and ideals.” Some of those ideas will be about The Jews.

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Thursday, November 22, 2018

Today -100: November 22, 1918: Of sea power, supreme governors, future dread, and house flus

Headline of the Day -100: 

Germany surrenders 9 battleships, 5 battle cruisers, 7 light cruisers & 50 destroyers. U-boats are also surrendering.

“Admiral” Alexander Kolchak (pictured below, probably)  becomes dictator of the anti-Bolshevik Provisional All-Russian Government in Omsk in a coup, although not one he started. He’s calling himself Supreme Governor now.

Headline of the Day -100:  

The last remaining German monarch-type standing, more or less, is Prince Friedrich of Waldeck-Pyrmont, who was deposed last week but refuses to abdicate. He is being held prisoner by a Soldiers’ Council until he does.

Woodrow Wilson’s chief advisor Col. House (who is neither a colonel nor a house) has the Spanish Flu.

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