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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