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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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Today -100: November 21, 1918: Of POWs, Bolshevik plots, and larceny

Germany has been simply releasing British prisoners, without food or transportation, leaving them to make their own ways back, so Britain is threatening to “take this into account in any question of revictualing Germany or satisfying the requirements of the German population.”

Hundreds arrested in Vienna for a supposed Bolshevik revolutionary plot.

Vermont Governor Horace Graham (R) is indicted for larceny and embezzling funds when he was state auditor.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Today -100: November 20, 1918: Of innocents abroad, starving emperors, demobilization, and civil liberties

Pres. Wilson seems to now plan to be in Europe longer than the two weeks that was first suggested. He says he can do all his presidenting from abroad, sending vetoes by cable and getting the texts of bills by courier via trans-Atlantic dispatch boat, which is like the world’s most expensive pdf. There isn’t much experience of a president being out of the country for an extended period; Roosevelt was the first to leave the country at all during his term of office. They’re saying there’s no need to delegate any of his powers to Vice President Whatsisname. Congress has agreed to delay finalizing legislation until he gets back.

Headline of the Day -100: 

They’ve had to lay off most of the servants at their castle. How does this not make you weep bitter tears, you monsters?

Joseph F. Smith, president of the Mormon church, dies at 80. He was the nephew of the original Joseph Smith. He also served in the Utah territorial and state legislatures, was president of the failed state constitutional convention of 1882 and president of Brigham Young University. He leaves behind 5 wives (not counting his first wife, who was his under-aged cousin and divorced him) and 32 living children (13 others are already dead).

German demobilization/evacuation is going... well, it’s going. Soldiers in Belgium are selling their weapons to Belgian civilians, including machine guns and the occasional airplane.

The Justice Dept warns not to contribute to “so-called ‘civil liberties’” organizations like the National Civil Liberties Bureau because it might be used by other, anti-war groups. The NCLB denies this and also charges, in a letter to the War Dept, that conscientious objectors in the military prison at Fort Leavenworth are being mistreated. The War Dept, lying, denies this.

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Monday, November 19, 2018

Today -100: November 19, 1918: Of guests, prohibition, and red flags

Former kaiser Wilhelm Hohenzollern is already thinking about going back to Germany. Which must be a relief to Count Bentinck, who didn’t offer to put him up but was asked to by the Dutch government. When Willy arrived Bentinck asked how long he was going to stay and Willy said, “That depends upon the Dutch government,” which is just what you want to hear from a house guest.

Wilson says he will go the peace conference, at least for the start of it, because discussing things via cable is just so impersonal.

The Senate passes “wartime” prohibition, effective until the end of demobilization.

NYC Mayor John Hylan orders the police to pull down any red flags, which he calls “emblematic of unbridled license and an insignia for law hating and anarchy” and to disperse unauthorized gatherings.

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Sunday, November 18, 2018

Today -100: November 18, 1918: Of flu, abdications, grand dukes in a well, and race riots

The Census Bureau says that Spanish Flu killed more Americans than the war did. Indeed, the number of influenza deaths just in army camps nearly matched the number of soldiers killed. Philadelphia and Baltimore had it the worst.

Germany’s political parties are splitting apart and re-forming in exciting new combinations. A Republican Party is expected to form (if it did it wasn’t under that name) from the Progressives and the left-wing of the National Liberals. And the Spartacus group is forming what will eventually be the German Communist Party (KPD).

In the Red Flag (Berlin), Rosa Luxemburg writes that rumors are being spread about the Spartacists having killed 200 army officers, attacking the royal stables, etc etc in order to prepare the public for an anti-Spartacist pogrom.

More abdications in German principalities: Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (he also has British titles: he’s a prince, an earl, a duke and a baron, but he’ll lose those titles next year as well. He won’t get another title until he becomes an obergruppenführer in the Brownshirts). Also Grand Duke Friedrich “Fritz” II of Baden and Duke Bernhard III of Saxe-Meiningen.

Headline of the Day -100:

Is this 1) Just the sort of thing the Whites would make up? 2) Just the sort of thing the Reds would do? 3) An homage to the old nursery rhyme “Five grand dukes down a well?” It’s true, actually!

There is agitation in Luxembourg for Grand Duchess Marie-Adélaïde to abdicate because of her perceived closeness to the Germans while the country was occupied. Some Luxembourgers want the country annexed by France. M-A is demanding a referendum before she abdicates. She will be forced out in a couple of months in favor of her sister Charlotte, and then there’ll be a referendum.

A race riot in Winston-Salem, North Carolina results in 5 or more deaths: 3 blacks, a spectator and a fireman. A mob tried to storm the jail, going after a black prisoner. They shot one, but later heard that he wasn’t the right black prisoner (I think he actually was), so they came back later in the day, overcame the fire department’s hoses and the Home Guard, but couldn’t find the prisoner. Gov. Thomas Bickett is sending in a tank battalion. 

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Saturday, November 17, 2018

Today -100: November 17, 1918: Of coalitions, abdications, delegations, and stout women

British Prime Minister Lloyd George proposes that the wartime coalition in Parliament continue in next month’s general election and beyond. He says the problems facing the country are just as difficult as the war, and require non-party solutions. He wants imperial tariff preferences, which the Tories will like, and postponing Irish Home Rule “until he condition of Ireland makes it possible,” which the Tories will also like. There isn’t a lot of Lloyd George’s Liberalism left. LG slags off the Labour Party for withdrawing from the coalition government.

Prince Adolf II of Schaumburg-Lippe abdicates. The NYT says King Ludwig III of Bavaria also abdicated but it is wrong. It also says Queen Maria Theresa has died but it is wrong.

The Senate is discussing whether Wilson should submit the names of the delegation to the peace conference to the Senate for approval. He isn’t obligated to do so, but some of them think it would be nice if he did.

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Friday, November 16, 2018

Today -100: November 16, 1918: Of moral revolutions, peace conferences, and thirsty thirsty princes

Former French prime minister Léon Bourgeois, who is in charge of French preparation for the League of Nations, says Germany must undergo a “moral revolution” before being allowed in.

The Allies, who had been inclined to hold off the peace conference until the political situation in Germany and elsewhere settled down, are instead now planning to start quickly to create a more stable environment for food operations to prevent famine. Which rather assumes that negotiations won’t drag on for months. In the US, in addition to the question of whether Wilson will attend in person is that of whether Congress will be represented, as it was in the conference that ended the Spanish-American War.

Headline of the Day -100: 

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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Today -100: November 15, 1918: The place of the President is here

The German government, a coalition of Socialists and Independent Socialists (SPD, USPD), confiscates the property of the Prussian crown. New elections soon, with universal suffrage for both sexes over 20 (it’s interesting that there’s almost no public discussion of the introduction of women’s suffrage. The pre-war suffrage movement was pretty small and quiet in Germany). Censorship is abolished.

The US also abolishes censorship.

Ex-Kaiser Willy is semi-interned by the Dutch in the undistinguished (if you ask me) castle of Count Bentinck.

Prince Friedrich I of Waldock and Pyrmont and Duke Eduard of Anhalt are reported to have abdicated, which is quite a trick for the latter, since he died two months ago. It’s his 17-year-old son Joachim Ernst who abdicated, or actually his uncle, acting as regent, abdicated on his behalf. Joachim Ernst will die in 1947 in the prison camp the Soviet NKVD established at Buchenwald.

There is talk of Woodrow Wilson going to Europe to participate in the peace conference. The NYT finds that other newspapers are mostly against the idea, as is the NYT: “The place of the President is here”. Furthermore, negotiating is beneath the dignity of his office (Fun Historical Fact: the office of the president had dignity in Ye Olde Times): “We are accustomed to feel that when the President speaks he speaks with authority. It is not quite the thing that he should engage in argument”. There’s a fine line between authority and arrogance. We’ll see on which side of that line Wilson chooses to stand. (Spoiler Alert: the same side he always stands on).

Parliamentary elections are called in Britain for next month.

Anti-Jewish riots with the occasional murder in Poland, as was the custom.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Today -100: November 14, 1918: Of premature anschlusses, non-flights, and abdications

The State Council of German Austria says German Austria is now part of Germany. I think some other countries might want to weigh in on that one. There is some question about whether Bavaria will declare itself independent from Germany.

Ex-Kaiser-Now-Herr Wilhelm Hohenzollern says his leaving Germany was not a “flight,” he just wanted to assist the new socialist government by removing the embarrassments his presence would cause. Isn’t that helpful of him?

Grand Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach and Prince Leopold IV of Lippe-Detmold abdicate.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Today -100: November 13, 1918: Germany has completed her revolution

Emperor Karl of Austria-Hungary abdicates. “Filled with an unalterable love for my peoples I will not, with my person, be a hindrance to their free development.”

There are (false) reports that German Crown Prince Wilhelm is dead, possibly shot.

Germany asks – begs, really – for peace talks to be sped up, because Germany is facing famine.

Prince Heinrich XXVII of Reuß abdicates. Reuß is a place. Two of them, actually, German micro-states. Every male in both their ruling houses is named Heinrich and has been since 1200 or so.  One branch of the family numbers its Heinrichs up to 100 and then starts over, the other branch starts over every century. And the numbering is across the entire family, not father->son->grandson. So this is Heinrich XXVII, son of Heinrich XIV, father of Heinrichs XL, XLIII and XLV.

German Chancellor Friedrich Ebert says “Germany has completed her revolution.” Oh, he hopes. He says Prince Maximilian has handed over the government to him; in fact, “the people had already elected me as chancellor by their elementary will.” Whatever that means.

The NYT considers what should be done with ex-kaiser Wilhelm, “this man of altogether unspeakable sin,” “this incomparable malefactor.” It thinks he shouldn’t be executed but left alive to suffer the humiliation of his fall from kaiserdom. “He knows that earth’s millions detest him, loathe him, hate him with a hatred never before visited upon mortal man.”

Russian composer/conductor Sergei Rachmaninov, who fled Russia last year, arrives in New York, where he’s greeted by Prokofiev. He will remain in the US until his death in 1943.

The US plans to demobilize the 4 million members of the military only as and when civilian jobs open up for them.

The last issue of the British trench newspaper The Wipers Times next month refers to being demobilized (which etymonline says isn’t being called “demobbed” quite yet) as being given “the order of the bowler hat.” The last 2 issues (now renamed The Better Times) don’t have specific dates so here are two pieces from the penultimate issue:

A letter: “Dear Sir. – I hear that the people who joined early are going to be demobilised first. I think this is very unjust. Surely those who joined first were much more eager to join the Army than we who were combed out later. As they were more eager to join, it must have been because they liked it. Therefore they should be demobilised much later than we who joined up reluctantly.”

And excerpts from a poem titled “Cease Fire”:
“Oofs!! Compree, eggs?”
Will you e’er forget the jargon? Will these four years pass away
Till their memory is but an ugly dream?
Yet I would not lose the friends one found when life was less worth while
Than I had thought that life could ever seem.
“Hostilities cease at 11 a.m.!”
Though these words marked hours which hist’ry well may hold divide the world
And the centuries in half by all they mean,
Yet our brains could not conceive it, and the Column plodded on–
You cannot blot out years as from a screen!
‘Tis the small things make one’s world up,
and the greatest slither by,
‘Tis “the canteen’s closed” “late rations”
make you curse;
What do emperors and empires going bust
concern you when
The mud and rain and filth are getting worse?
There’s a phrase in a part of that poem I didn’t quote which is worth separating out: “while greedy Belgium laps up blood.”

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Monday, November 12, 2018

Today -100: November 12, 1918: We made the broom that swept the Hohenzollerns out

Woodrow Wilson addresses a joint session of Congress: “The war thus comes to an end; for, having accepted these terms of armistice, it will be impossible for the German command to renew it.”

He enumerates those terms: The armistice to last 30 days, extendable. Germany to withdraw its troops from all occupied territories (including Russia)(and Alsace-Lorraine) within 14 days, preferably without looting, please and thank you. The return to occupied countries of their prisoners and hostages. Surrender of various war materials including specified numbers of ships, u-boats, planes, machine guns, as well as non-materials including 150,000 railway cars, etc. Abandonment of the treaties forced on Romania and Russia. Etc etc etc.

Wilson: “Armed imperialism such as the men conceived who were but yesterday the masters of Germany is at an end, its illicit ambitions engulfed in black disaster. Who will now seek to revive it?” Don’t ask questions you don’t want the answer to, Woodrow. He admits he has no idea what form of government may take hold in Germany and that this makes things a little tricky. But, “I am confident that the nations that have learned the discipline of freedom and that have settled with self-possession to its ordered practice are now about to make conquest of the world by the sheer power of example and of friendly helpfulness.”

Allied troops continued to fight the war right up until armistice, with some new advances ordered that morning, even though the armistice was signed at 5:10 a.m. and the time of armistice was well known. A lot of people died for no particular reason before 11:00. Gen. Pershing will tell Congress a year from now that no one had informed him that the armistice was about to be signed, which is nonsense. Messages informing US units that the war would end at 11:00 failed to give any orders about what to do in the meantime, and different commanders made different decisions. Some wanted to be able to claim that their unit fired the last shots of the war.  There were 11,000 casualties on all sides on November 11th before 11:00, more than on D-Day.

Hindenburg hands over command of the German army to the revolutionary People’s Government, supposedly.

One German king (Friedrich August III of Saxony) and two grand dukes (Frederick Augustus II of Oldenburg and Friedrich Franz IV of Mecklenburg-Schwerin) are out. Hesse-Darmstadt declares itself a free socialist republic.

People celebrate the end of the war. Not, the NYT thinks, quite as enthusiastically as they celebrated the false armistice news last Thursday, but still pretty fucking enthusiastically. Schools and places of work closed, mostly because no one showed up.

The kaiser is burned in effigy. Lots of burning effigies. Municipal Judge William Wadhams announces that the former Kaiser Wilhelm is a fugitive from justice and orders a bench warrant for his arrest. Soldiers and sailors in Newport News, Virginia destroy street cars, break windows, raid restaurants and set fires to, you know, celebrate. There’s a small riot in Harlem when a cop tries to arrest black soldiers & sailors engaging in similar “alcoholic patriotism.” The people who are really pissed off are the hotels, which could have made a fortune from the celebrations but for the waiters’ strike.

The Netherlands is not exactly thrilled that Willy has chosen their country as his new home, and may intern him. In a nice château.

Theodore Roosevelt celebrates by checking into Roosevelt Hospital with “lumbago.”

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Sunday, November 11, 2018

I blogged about it 100 years later

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Today -100: November 11, 1918: On the 11th hour of the 11th day...

Headline of the Day -100: 

Kaiser Wilhelm and Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm go into exile in Holland.

King Wilhelm II of Württemberg abdicates (no he doesn’t, but never mind).  The kings of Bavaria and Saxony probably will soon, the NYT says (Ludwig of Bavaria fled but didn’t actually abdicate; I don’t think he ever actually did). Hesse-Darmstadt declares itself a republic.

Revolutionaries are trying to set up a German People’s Government while Friedrich Ebert tries to establish a Social Democratic one. In a fight with army officers, the revolutionaries shell the “Cockchafer” Barracks (hi, disappointed Google searchers!). The Workers’ and Soldiers’ Council of Berlin declares a general strike. Ebert says his government’s job will be to “preserve the German people from civil war and famine”. He appeals to officials, who he assumes with good reason are mostly right-wing: “I know it will be difficult for some to work with the new men who have taken charge of the empire, but I appeal to their love of the people. Lack of organization would in this heavy time mean anarchy in Germany and the surrender of the country to tremendous misery.”

The NYT celebrates “The Overthrow of Autocracy.” “Autocracy dies with the Hohenzollern,” it says. Autocracy-lovers “were fools not to see and understand that the world long ago had outgrown them. They sought to perpetuate in Western lands an Oriental form of government, fit only for the ignorant and superstitious.” It goes on to bitch about the aftermath of The Overthrow of Autocracy: “There are omens of evil in the character of the revolt. The red flag is everywhere, the Bolshevist spirit rages, there is a general strike, and in place of government we see Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Councils... That virus of the proletariat pestilence with which the Imperial Government infected Russia at the cost of millions of marks now courses through German veins. A Socialist is made Chancellor... the German insurgents set out upon the road that leads to the tyranny of one class over all others, that ends inevitably in social disorganization, the horror of indiscriminate murder and ruin, until reason and law resume their sway.”

A Polish republic is proclaimed.

Gen. Rudolf Gaida of the Czechoslovak Legions fighting the Bolsheviks in Siberia makes an urgent appeal for assistance. He wants a $100,000 Interallied Siberian Winter Tobacco Fund because they have NOTHING TO SMOKE!

Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (NY) asks for the captured German colonies in Africa to be turned over to the natives. 

Now Playing: Little Women, actually filmed in Louisa May Alcott’s home. The NYT gives it a mixed review. The acting is “satisfactory” but with “too much conscious posing” and there are too many inter-titles.  It is not the first movie to be made from the book. The film is now lost.

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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Today -100: November 10, 1918: Willy out

Kaiser Wilhelm abdicates as emperor of Germany and king of Prussia. Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm renounces the thrones. Ernest Augustus, Duke of Brunswick, Wilhelm’s son-in-law, abdicates as well.

Friedrich Ebert of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) will be chancellor.

Independent Socialist journalist (and author of the 1892 “Psychopathia Spiritualis”) Kurt Eisner, fresh out of prison, declares Bavaria a republic called the People’s State of Bavaria, with himself as premier. Which is a surprise to those who were told that he killed himself in prison in April.

Wilson is sending Herbert Hoover to Europe to organize food for the liberated areas.

In the mean time, Hoover’s Food Administration asks Americans to give up “fourth meals” – afternoon teas, theater suppers. It says club lunches and the like should take the place of a meal rather than be an additional meal.

Recommended: BBC documentary “WW I: The Final Hours,” available on the iPlayer and wherever those of us outside the UK go on the web to watch BBC documentaries. Watch it while ingesting your fourth meal.

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Friday, November 09, 2018

Today -100: November 9, 1918: Oops

The United Press Association admits that there was no armistice Thursday, after 24 hours of stubbornly asserting that there was. They’re blaming Rear Adm. Henry Wilson for the false information, and the censors for delaying a second story saying the first was unconfirmed.

Pres. Wilson announces that when there is an actual armistice, he will certainly mention the fact.

Marshal Foch gives the German representatives (who at one point were forced to wear blindfolds) the armistice terms, and 72 hours in which to accept them (most of which will be used up sending a courier back & forth). He refuses to suspend hostilities in the interim, which is just dickish.

The Socialists in the German Reichstag threaten to quit the government unless Kaiser Wilhelm abdicates and Crown Prince Frederick Wilhelm renounces the throne. Wilhelm refuses, because that would lead to anarchy, anarchy I tell you!

Bavaria’s Diet deposes King Ludwig III, who flees to Salzburg. The Wittelsbach dynasty had ruled Bavaria since 1180, which everyone agrees is quite long enough.

Prince Maximilian of Baden resigns as chancellor of Germany.

The Kiel mutineers take most of the ships of the German navy out for a cruise, capturing the ports of Hamburg, Bremen etc. The commander-in-chief of the navy, who happens to be Kaiser Wilhelm’s brother Heinrich, flees from Kiel as mutineers shoot at his car.

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Thursday, November 08, 2018

Today -100: November 8, 1918: Wild with joy

Headlines of the Day -100: 

The United Press Association wire service spreads the news of an armistice in the hundreds of afternoon papers it services. There is no armistice. Evidently UP mistook a temporary ceasefire, called in a small section of the front line to allow the German armistice delegates to cross over, for the end of the war. The censors didn’t stop them transmitting the story, because their job is to prevent military secrets being printed, not false stories. Despite getting a denial of any armistice from the State Department, the UP is standing by its story “until we are proved wrong.” Hawkins of the New York office points out that UP sometimes gets news, like the landing of US marines at Vera Cruz in 1914, before the government does.

So it’s party time on the streets of New York (and a whole bunch of other places). “More soldiers were kissed yesterday in New York than on any other day in history.” A NYT editorial says, “It will never be said again that the American people do not know how to ‘celebrate’”. 1,500 women workers in the State Dept and War Dept gather in front of the White House, waving flags. Pres. Wilson and the first lady, no doubt with bewildered looks on their faces, appear on the portico and wave handkerchiefs.

Headline of the Day -100:  

Some people just do “peace” badly, beating up or killing Germans and suspected Germans. An iron worker in New Jersey, hassled because he’s wearing a yellow chrysanthemum, shoots his hassler (which isn’t a word, but should be) to death.

Headline of the Day -100:  

The NYT catches up with the Kiel mutiny. Which has spread to most of the German Navy.

Austrian soldiers are returning home (well, many of the POWs released by Italy are trying to enter Switzerland, where they hear there is food. And chocolate. Switzerland is not best pleased because it doesn’t want to share its chocolate. Why am I suddenly hungry?). The soldiers are plundering as they go (which may not mean more than taking food in a country which doesn’t have a lot of it), crowding the roads, and generally adding to the chaos.

Bavaria may be threatening that if there isn’t an armistice pronto it will unilaterally withdraw its troops from the war.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Today -100: November 7, 1918: The Kaiser should be sent to St. Helena

Germany’s armistice delegation arrives at the Allied lines.

Demonstrations are breaking out all over Germany calling for ending the war and/or ending the monarchy. There are posters in Berlin saying “The Kaiser should be sent to St. Helena” (you know, like Napoleon).

The Austrian archdukes are all fleeing to Switzerland. Empress Zita has rented a chateau on Lake Constance.

Italy is holding something like 1 million Austrian POWs. Some of that is because Austrian troops didn’t retreat after the armistice because nobody, um, told them about it.

Theodore Roosevelt says Republicans won both houses of Congress “on the unconditional surrender issue” and that “the entire pro-German and pacifist vote was behind the Wilson Democratic ticket”. He says the victory was more for “straight Americanism” than Republicanism, and many Democrats voted Republican for war reasons.

Czechoslovakian leaders declares a republic, from a safe distance in Switzerland. Karel Kramář, a former political prisoner, is named prime minister (the NYT says president, but that’s Tomáš Masaryk).

There’s also a new Yugoslav/Jugoslav republic, but it won’t be around long.

Commercial Product That Has No Effect on Spanish Flu Being Promoted As Having An Effect on Spanish Flu of the Day -100:

If you think I’ve posted this before, that was actually an ad from a different malted milk company. Drink both, just to be sure.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Today -100: November 6, 1918: It seemed as natural as breathing

US elections were held yesterday. Republicans gain 25 House seats and 5 Senate seats, taking control of both houses.

In Wisconsin, Socialist candidate Victor Berger wins election to the House despite being under indictment under the Espionage Act, beating incumbent William H. Stafford (R). Berger will no doubt be welcomed into the House with open arms. Interestingly, the Wisconsin congressional delegation in the 66th Congress will be 10 Republicans, 0 Democrats, and 1 Socialist (or would be if they let Berger take his seat).

The one woman running for Congress, I believe, suffrage activist Anne Martin, running for the Senate in Nevada as an independent, gets 18% of the vote. Jeanette Rankin made that ill-fated attempt to move from the House to the Senate and lost her primary, so she’ll be out of the House, leaving no women in Congress.

In Michigan, Henry Ford loses the  Senate race to Republican Truman Handy Newberry, a former secretary of the Navy. He’ll be convicted in 1921 under the Federal Corrupt Practices Act for over-spending in this year’s primary and resign, although the Supreme Court will overturn his conviction because primaries aren’t elections.

Another interesting new senator: Medill McCormick (R-Illinois), coming over from the House. He will losing his re-election primary in 1924 and commit suicide as his term came to an end. His widow Ruth Hanna McCormick, daughter of Mark Hanna and a women’s suffrage activist, will be elected to Congress from Illinois in 1928. She will lose her re-election bid and marry Albert Simms of New Mexico, who also served one term in Congress at the same time as her and also lost his seat in 1930. Probably a better way to respond to losing an election than her first husband’s.

Referenda: Arizona criminalizes gambling and brothels and establishes the death penalty. Prohibition passes in Colorado, Florida, Wyoming, Nevada, Ohio, and Washington but fails in California, Minnesota, and Missouri. Nebraska restricts the franchise to full US citizens, as does South Dakota, in an amendment that also restricts it to people who have lived in the state for at least a year, but gives it to women. Oklahoma and Michigan also give women the vote, but Louisiana doesn’t, thanks to an overwhelming no vote in New Orleans. That makes 15 women’s suffrage states, with the right to vote for president in 6 more.

Two women are elected to the NY State Assembly, Ida Sammis (who, the story goes, used her official spittoon as a flower vase) and Mary Lilly. Women voted in New York for the first time. Mary Garrett Hay, president of the New York Equal Suffrage League, says after casting her first ever ballot, “It seemed as natural as breathing, and I felt as though I had always voted.”

Alfred E. Smith (D) defeats incumbent NY Gov. Charles Whitman.

The Allies agree to make peace based on Wilson’s 14 Points. So if you were wondering when they’d finally announce their peace aims, the answer is less than a week before the war ends.

French PM Georges Clemenceau warns that the war might not end as soon as people think. He says France could not have won without allies, singling out “Our ancestral enemies, the English, have become our indestructible friends.” Until Brexit anyway. Oh, and that time de Gaulle vetoed Britain joining the EEC.

Austrian Emperor Charles, the NYT says, refused to sign the armistice and turned over supreme command of the army to Field Marshal Arthur Arz von Straußenburg so he wouldn’t have to. In fact, Straußenburg wouldn’t do it either and refused the promotion, leaving the task to another field marshal. The State Council at Vienna issues an appeal to ethnic German soldiers to please stop just walking away from their posts.

Hungary will ask the Allies for a separate peace.

Russia would also like an armistice, but the Allies don’t recognize its Bolshevik government, so they’re ignoring its overtures.

The Poles take over Cracow. Polish troops are now fighting Ukrainians and Ruthenians.

Kaiser Wilhelm turns over 60 of his palaces – no, I don’t know how many palaces he has – to be hospitals and recreation homes for invalids.

German sailors mutiny at Kiel. They’ve been refusing orders (the Navy had an insane plan for a final battle at sea with the British) for a week or more, preventing ships from sailing. The mutiny expanded to soldiers in the area (soldiers sent to suppress the mutiny either joined it or were disarmed) and mutineers now control the town of Kiel. They’ve formed soldiers’ councils and are issuing demands (abolishing the salute, equal food between officers and men, abolition of the officers’ casinos, which was evidently a thing, recognition of the council, etc.). The German Revolution has begun.

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Monday, November 05, 2018

Today -100: November 5, 1918: Get ahead of Hungary

The Allies have agreed on the terms which will be presented to Germany.

Friedrich Adler, who assassinated Austrian Prime Minister Count Karl von Stürgkh a little over two years ago, is released from prison. His father Victor just became foreign minister last week (and will drop dead next week).

Germany complains about Allied air raids on towns in the Rhine, saying that Germany has been restricting its bombing raids to purely military targets since Oct. 1 and expected the same courtesy. The US says this is the first it’s heard of any change in German policy.

Hungary will hold a referendum in a month on whether to be a monarchy or a republic. Women will have the vote for that. Carrie Chapman Catt writes to the 4 states holding women’s suffrage referenda today, telling them to “get ahead of Hungary”.

The British Parliament passes the Second Reading of the bill allowing women to be elected to Parliament. Admiral of the Fleet Sir Hedworth Meux MP, says it’s a bad idea because the chamber is simply too crowded. Further,
Perhaps he will explain what class of women he wants. He certainly does not want the noblest class of women, the women who are producing children. It is just as well to speak plainly in these matters. We want as many children in this country as we can get. Why was Belgium destroyed? Why was Serbia overrun? Because there were not enough men to resist the invaders. ...
Admiral Sir Hedworth Meux MP, it should be noted, is married but has no children. He continues,
If there are to be women in this House, I hope to see the really nice ones, women around whom we shall see Members swarming like bees, women something of the noble character of the charming heroines of whom we read, like Rosalind, Imogene, or Portia.
There’s some discussion about letting women into the House of Lords too, but nah, maybe in 40 years or so.

Yesterday -100 poet-soldier Wilfred Owen was killed in action, at 25.

Dulce et Decorum est

     Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
     Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
     Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
     And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
     Men marched asleep.  Many had lost their boots,
     But limped on, blood-shod.  All went lame, all blind;
     Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
     Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

     Gas!  GAS!  Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
     Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
     But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
     And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime.—
     Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
     As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

     In all my dreams before my helpless sight
     He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

     If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
     Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
     And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
     His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin,
     If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
     Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
     Bitter as the cud
     Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
     My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
     To children ardent for some desperate glory,
     The old Lie:  Dulce et decorum est
     Pro patria mori.

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Sunday, November 04, 2018

Today -100: November 4, 1918: Lot of new countries all of a sudden

Austria-Hungary signs a truce with Italy. It’s a pretty abject surrender. Imagine having to surrender to... Italy.

Kaiser Wilhelm writes to Chancellor Prince Max accepting all the reforms that the Reichstag passed, including the loss of most of his power. Not a word about abdication, though he is said to be sending an awful lot of his possessions to Switzerland. Austrian Emperor Charles also plans to go to Switzerland. I picture them moving in together and hijinks ensuing:

“In November 1918, Charles I was asked to remove himself from his place of residence; that request came from his nation. Deep down, he knew she was right, but he also knew that some day he would return to her. With nowhere else to go...”

Obviously Charles is Felix and Wilhelm is Oscar.

I need a nap, because I can’t decide who’s Murray the Cop.

Emperor Charles releases all members of the Hungarian government from their oath of fealty to him, and Count Mihály Károlyi proclaims Hungary a republic. The republic’s first act is to order Hungarian troops to lay down their arms.

A Gen. Ikestranek attempts to overthrow the Czech National Council, but his (Hungarian) troops refuse to follow his orders.

Serbs recapture Belgrade. Most of the country is now Teuton-free.

Al Smith responds to NY Gov. Charles Whitman’s challenge to name the Whitman appointees he’s been saying he’d fire if elected governor: the Public Service Commission, the superintendent of highways, the conservation commissioner, the superintendent of public works....

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Saturday, November 03, 2018

Today -100: November 3, 1918: Of ruling peasants, abdications, indorsed women, subway wrecks, and insurance

Headline / Fake News of the Day -100:

Boris III has not in fact abdicated and peasants do not in fact rule Bulgaria. The NYT also thinks that Aleksandar Stamboliyski, a political prisoner until last month, is now prime minister. Wait a year.

There’s a lot of talk about Kaiser Wilhelm abdicating: some say he’s already decided to do it but is waiting for a good time to announce it, some that he’s stubbornly holding on for dear life, or he’ll abdicate in favor of his kid, or there’ll be a republic, etc etc. The Bavarian prime minister announces that if Willy does abdicate, the Bavarian royal family intends to claim the imperial throne (actually, Ludwig III will be out on his ass before the week is out, even before Wilhelm).

The New York gubernatorial race looks like being a squeaker. Both sides believe the women, voting in a state election for the first time, will swing it, but neither side has any uncertainty about which way.

Headline of the Day -100:  

Roosevelt endorses Sadie Kost to represent the Bronx in Congress. She will lose. Badly.

Supposedly, Norwegian life insurance companies were recently asked to underwrite a large policy on Austrian Emperor Charles, but they refused.

William Howard Taft, Master Prognosticator, says Germany will surrender within 6 months.

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Friday, November 02, 2018

Today -100: November 2, 1918: But without the Hapsburgs!

A subway train heading for Coney Island jumps the track and crashes into a concrete partition, killing 93 or more people. The executives of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company are ordered arrested. They had put an inexperienced man at the controls during a motormen strike after just 2 hours of training (also he was pulling a double shift and his kid had just died of Spanish Flu) and he took a curve way too fast. It didn’t help that the cars were old wooden ones. The driver and the execs will be tried for manslaughter, but acquitted.  (There’s an article, with pictures, in today’s paper. You know, today today).

Bosnia-Herzegovina quits Austria-Hungary and joins Serbia. Good luck with that, guys.

The first thing independent Czechoslovakia does is stop the export of food and coal to Germany and Austria.

In Vienna, one of the 3 presidents of the Provisional National Assembly for What’s Left of Austria After Everyone Else Has Fucked Off, Dr. Franz Dinghofer, tells a meeting that the national government will take over the administration tomorrow. “But without the Hapsburgs!” the crowd replies.

The 3 co-presidents, by the way, are Dinghofer, Seitz and Fink, which sounds like the characters in a Marx Brothers movie.

István Tisza, Hungary’s prime minister at the start of the war but not since June 1917, is assassinated by soldiers (or just men in military disguise?). In his villa, not while he was out walking as the NYT says.

NY Republicans complain about a fake pro-Gov.-Whitman-reelection postcard sent to women voters:

Former President Taft complains about Pres. Wilson calling for Democrats to be elected to Congress, which he says is “a demand for power during the next two years equal to that of the Hohenzollerns”. So he calls for Republicans to be elected to Congress “so that President Wilson would be held to an unconditional surrender by Germany and not be allowed to make a peace by negotiation.”

The Spectator (London) suggests that Germany’s colonies be handed over to the US. Imperialism loves company.

No he doesn’t. 

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Thursday, November 01, 2018

Today -100: November 1, 1918: Just in time for Thanksgiving

Turkey surrenders. In order to communicate that news to the British, they freed Maj. General Charles Townshend, who’s been held prisoner since the siege of Kut 2½ years ago, and sent him off as emissary. Rather than celebrating the surrender (I should remind you that the US and Turkey were never at war), the NYT gets snotty (as was the custom) about it, saying that abandoning its ally Germany “was to be expected from the known character of the Ottoman Empire”.

Yekaterina Breshkovskaya, the “Little Grandmother (Babushka) of the Russian Revolution,” is reported to have been executed for opposing the Bolsheviks (after spending 44 years in prison, with the occasional escape, for opposing the tsars). Nope. She will die in 1934 at 90.

Headline of the Day -100:

The Austrian governor flees back to Vienna.

Austria tells Italy that it’s willing to remove its troops from that country, but Italy says no, we’d rather drive you out, but thanks.

The NYT is a little unsure about this, but the Croatian parliament has also declared independence while announcing its intention to join the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, if only because their name is already in it. That state, which will be very short-lived, consists of the Slavic areas of Austria-Hungary. It will soon be absorbed, along with Montenegro, into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, which will eventually be called Yugoslavia, although its people are already being called Jugoslavs. I hope that’s clear, because Yugoslav history will never get any clearer. Hell, I can’t decide whether to spell it with the Y or the J, both of which were in use.

Ostend, Belgium celebrates its liberation by flying thousands of Belgian flags, many of which were bought just last week from a German peddler.

NYC Health Commissioner Royal Copeland, ever the optimist, says the Spanish Flu epidemic is now in the “mopping-up stage,” which is kind of gross. His main concern now: all the new orphans (the Spanish Flu hit adults harder than children).

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