Sunday, March 31, 2019

Today -100: March 31, 1919: Of debses, vaccines, and corridors

Toledo, Ohio officials bar Eugene Debs from giving his scheduled speech at Memorial Hall. The excluded crowd storms the Hall, although Debs is actually sick in bed in Cleveland at the time. 75 are arrested but later released.

The Prussian state government says that in distributing food received from abroad, it will prioritize industrial regions – except those with ongoing general strikes.

The vaccine against the Spanish Flu that New York cops were forced to get has incapacitated something like 1,200 of them. And is presumably also of no use against Spanish Flu.

Supposedly some time ago Japan offered France to wipe out Bolshevism in Russia in return for French Indochina.

The Allies are demanding that Polish troops be allowed to transit through Danzig, but Germany is resisting because it thinks they’ll actually try to claim the port for Poland.

This seems like as good a time as any to show you the only piece of Nazi propaganda I own. It decries the Danzig Corridor and the envelope it was sent in has a “Freie Staat Danzig” stamp. It was mailed from Germany on August 15, 1939 (and arrived after the war started) to a business in Brooklyn at which a relative of mine was employed, presumably because they had a NY phone book and the business had a German (actually German-Jewish) name.

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Saturday, March 30, 2019

Today -100: March 30, 1919: No man is more innocent of this war than I

Headline of the Day -100: 

Former kaiser Wilhelm II says he’d rather kill himself than be put on trial, because it would be sooooo undignified. He admits to some youthful mistakes, but the war was totally the fault of the Russians. “I have made mistakes, but no man is more innocent of this war than I.”

Gen. Edmund Allenby tells Egyptian notables that he intends to use repression to bring order to Egypt (as is the custom), and it’s up to them to reduce the suffering he’ll be inflicting on the Egyptian people.

The end of the war prevented the adoption of physicist Robert Goddard’s new weapon, a rocket with a 200-mile range (Goddard was working on a bunch of things that could have been used in the war, including an early version of the bazooka).

A sign the war is over: the baking of fresh pastry is now permitted in France.

Supposedly the Allies have demanded the resignation of the new Hungarian soviet government and new elections supervised by Allied troops.

Raoul Villain, belatedly tried for murdering French Socialist leader Jean Jaurès just before the war began, is acquitted. His lawyer asked for the acquittal “In the name of victory, which is now filling our hearts with joy.”

20 Sinn Féin prisoners escape from Mountjoy Prison in Dublin, including J. J. Walsh, who was elected to the British Parliament in the  general election. They had a rope ladder.

Speaking of death-defying feats, the combined Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey, the “world’s first super-circus,” opens in Madison Square Garden. All the elephants, aerialists, bears riding bicycles, horseback riders, freaks, and, presumably, clowns, you can stand, although the NYT fails to say anything about the clowns.

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Friday, March 29, 2019

Today -100: March 29, 1919: It is the unquestionable right of every enlightened people to govern themselves

Headlines of the Day -100: 

Gen. Charles Mangin has been summoned to meet Clemenceau, and rumor says it’s to lead Allied forces against the Bolsheviks. However the US and Britain think the French plan wouldn’t work and would be a bit too much like a, you know, war, to go over well back home.

The peace deal, it turns out, isn’t quite as close as everyone thought. France decides to up its demands, and now wants to annex the Saar Valley. The US and Britain earlier rejected this demand, but France is reformulating it as not an annexation per se but, given the Saar’s many coal mines, part of Germany’s reparations. The US and Britain are not impressed by this logic.

Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, pointing out that the Espionage Act will become inoperative when peace is declared (Spoiler Alert: he’s wrong there because the Espionage Act is still in effect), says there will need to be new legislation to deal with “dangerous alien enemies,” 2,000 of whom are currently interned (in a program overseen by J. Edgar Hoover).

The NYT Irish reporter interviews escaped prisoner and Sinn Féin leader Éamon de Valera. “It is the unquestionable right of every enlightened people to govern themselves.” I could really do without that “enlightened.” He’s pretty sure there won’t be any Irish civil war after independence, so that’s okay then.

Headline of the Day -100:  

Sure, why not, whatever.

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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Today -100: March 28, 1919: Of covenants, vital policies, brightened Germans, and assassinations

The draft of the League of Nations covenant is finished. They finally figured out that they can’t come back to it after the peace treaty is signed, since the treaty will require Germany to turn over its colonies to become League of Nations mandates, so there has to be a League of Nations, that’s just science.

The US delegation is still sounding everyone out about possibly proposing an amendment in support of the Monroe Doctrine, which many back home are demanding, though the people demanding it are mostly just trying to torpedo the US joining the League.

And the Japanese are still pressing their anti-racial-discrimination amendment. Australian Prime Minister Billy Hughes comes out strongly in favor of racial discrimination, which he calls “a policy vital to the existence and ideals of Australia.” Points for racist honesty, I guess. “If the League is able to compel a State to amend its immigration, naturalization, and franchise laws, there remains to the State only the shadow of sovereignty.” He says the people of the US Pacific Coast probably feel the same way (i.e., support the Asian immigration ban).

Headline of the Day -100:


Theodore Roosevelt Jr. asks a group of parents of soldiers and sailors to stop their campaign to nominate him for vice president in 1920 (for some reason he doesn’t just remind them that he’s 31, too young to run).

Albanian Provisional Vice President Prênk Bib Doda, a long-time fighter for Albanian independence, who the NYT says is “on friendly terms with Italy,” is ambushed and killed on the highway by what the Times thinks is a band loyal to Provisional President Essad Pasha, but which was actually paid by Italy.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Today -100: March 27, 1919: Of leagues, blockades, disorders, and pickles

The National American Woman’s Suffrage Association forms a non-partisan league of women voters, but can’t decide on a name for it. It will be bi-cameral, with a House of Voters representing the states that already have women’s suffrage, and a House of Delegates for the rest.

Italy lifts its blockade of the Adriatic.

France really wants the Allies to send troops, maybe 500,000 of them, to Hungary to repress Bolshevism there.

Hungarian Rumors of the Day -100: Count Károlyi has been 1) arrested, or 2) assassinated. No and no.

The New York Legislature creates a committee to investigate Bolshevism in the state.

The plan now is to combine all the peace treaties to end the Great War into a single treaty. Which is a little tricky since the US never declared war on Bulgaria and Turkey. They’re looking for a loophole.

Chicago Mayor “Big Bill” Thompson (R) has been using libel lawsuits to cow opposition to him in next month’s mayoral election, including a $500,000 suit against the Chicago Tribune for publishing comments against him made by various people. The Trib responds by pointing out all Thompson’s “seditious” (i.e., anti-war) statements, his refusal to invite the French and British missions to Chicago, calling Chicago the “sixth German city of the world” and so on. Thompson files a new suit against officers of the Robert M. Sweitzer Non-Partisan League for its statements about him (Sweitzer is the Democratic candidate for mayor).

Headline of the Day -100: 

Yeah, NYT, definitely prioritize the property damage over the 69 dead Egyptians. It says, “The disorders in Cairo were checked with the least possible employment of force.”

An Australian has entered the race for the Daily Mail’s £10,000 prize for the first trans-Atlantic flight. I assume he’s a plucky underdog because his name is Sydney Pickles. A British dirigible may also compete, if it can be finished in time.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Today -100: March 26, 1919: Of natural results, seditionaries, exiles, and vampires

Count Károlyi explains his government’s resignation: “What has happened is a natural result of the blindness and ill-will with which it was sought to assassinate Hungary” (meaning the independence of nationalities like the Czechs previously subjected to Hungarian rule within the Austro-Hungarian Empire). He says Hungary can only be saved by the Internationale. The organization, not the song.

Hungarian Rumors of the Day -100: “It is said that rumors that Hungary has declared war on Rumania, Czechoslovakia, and Jugoslavia are extremely doubtful.” Rumors that former prime minister Sándor Wekerle has been arrested are actually true.

The Spanish government responds to a general strike in Barcelona by declaring martial law throughout Spain.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Which isn’t as fun a headline as Honor Butt Seditionary would have been. This is W.F. Dunn, fined £5,000 for sedition, who wins the Democratic primary for mayor of Butte. He will lose the general election.

British Secretary of State for War Winston Churchill says all of Egypt is in revolt and asks soldiers about to be demobilized to stay on. He’s resisting efforts in Parliament to end conscription.

Austria’s former emperor Charles has finally gone into exile, in Switzerland. However he still hasn’t abdicated or renounced the throne for his family.

A Palm Beach hotel is considering a plan for Prohibition: airplanes ferrying patrons to Nassau to drink.

Disappointing Headline of the Day -100:  

Sadly, not actual vampires (but you knew that; vampires do not show up on film, that’s just science). A Newark police judge wants to photograph arrested prostitutes (I assume that’s who we’re talking about) for, er, identification purposes, yeah that’s it, identification purposes.

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Monday, March 25, 2019

Today -100: March 25, 1919: Of plane trips, cunning plans, and Danzig

US Navy seaplanes will join the race to be the first plane to cross the Atlantic, although they presumably won’t be competing for the Daily Mail’s £10,000 prize.

US and British authorities think Hungary’s adoption of Bolshevism is actually just a ploy to get out of onerous peace terms by threatening Europe with anarchy and chaos, probably concocted in a conspiracy with Germany and Austria and maybe Russia, because they’re all sneaky like that.

The Austrian Central Workers’ Soviet declines the Hungarian communists’ suggestion that they create a soviet-style government in Austria, pointing out that Austria at present relies on the Allies for food.

German Chancellor Friedrich Ebert says Germany won’t sign a peace treaty that gives Danzig to Poland.

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Sunday, March 24, 2019

Today -100: March 24, 1919: Of soviet republics, French sufferings, and covenant lies

Last week the Allies occupied much of Hungary with French, Czech and Romanian troops to prevent a Bolshevik republic being established. So Count Károlyi’s government resigns and Béla Kun, who was a political prisoner literally a day ago, declares the establishment of the “Hungarian Soviet Republic,” which in turn declares a dictatorship of the proletariat exercised through workers’, soldiers’ and peasants’ soviets, and which may or may not have declared war on the Entente (presumably with Russian help). Kun will be Hungary’s new foreign minister (commissar) but is actually in charge. The government suggests that Austrian and German workers also break off relations with the Paris Peace Conference. Also, there’s a newspaper compositors’ strike, so there are no newspapers being printed in Budapest, which doesn’t help the confusion.

Headline of the Day -100: 

The NYT complains that many of the objections to the League of Nations covenant, such as the claim of Sen. Philander Knox (a former secretary of state, no less) that the League’s Executive Council could order the US into a war against its will: “Its assailants pervert its meaning, strangely, monstrously, and rail at the document for what it does not say, was never intended to say.”

An ad for the Christian Herald asks

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Saturday, March 23, 2019

Today -100: March 23, 1919: Of emperors, fascists, subways, and straw

Austria again tells former Emperor Charles that he should leave the country, and he again ignores them.

Benito Mussolini founds the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento.

Staten Island demands a subway connection to Manhattan. Manhattan does not demand a subway connection to Staten Island.

Geneva puts in its bid to host the League of Nations headquarters, offering a nice château, the Palais d'Egmont, and a park and everything.

Fashion Headline of the Day -100: 

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Friday, March 22, 2019

Today -100: March 22, 1919: Such a thing is to be expected at the beginning of a campaign

50 pro-League of Nations Democratic state legislators in Missouri challenge anti-League of Nations U.S. Sen. James Reed (also D): they’ll resign and run for re-election on their views on the League if he does the same. Reed calls this “some more of their stuff to embarrass me.”

The State Department warns a US syndicate that owns a large swathe of land in Baja California, including harbors, not to go ahead with plans to sell it to the Japanese.

Italy threatens to pull out of the Peace Conference unless it gets the city of Fiume instead of Yugoslavia.

Los Angeles Mayor Frederick Woodman is indicted for taking a bribe from “negro politicians” George S. Brown and George Henderson (also indicted) for protection for gambling, booze and brothels. Woodman says “Such a thing is to be expected at the beginning of a campaign” (the mayoral primary is in May).

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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Today -100: March 21, 1919: Of noses, divorces, and suffrage

Headline of the Day -100:

A Chicago Tribune reporter gets close enough to his subject to overhear the aforementioned royal schnozz-honking, but not close enough to ask Willy any questions. He's nevertheless determined to somehow get a story out of the incident. He does raise the possibility that Willy isn’t being allowed to give interviews less for what he might say than because a reporter might break the illusions his entourage are cultivating in the Will-ster that Germany is going to call him back to the throne at any moment.

The 1916 US census shows that 9% of marriages are now ending in divorce. The lowest divorce rates are in South Carolina (which has had no legal provision for divorce since 1878, which sounds like an interesting story), DC, North Carolina and... New York. The highest rates are in Nevada, Montana and Oregon.

The Vermont legislature fails to override Gov. Percival Clement’s veto of a bill allowing women to vote for president.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Today -100: March 20, 1919: Of bourgeois disinfection, stiffness sickness, and enlightened rule from the outside

Russia Rumor of the Day -100: a Menshevik revolution in Petrograd.

Oh lord, here’s another one: typhoid fever is rampant in Petrograd, but the Bolsheviks forbid disinfection as “bourgeois.”

Starvation in Vienna has given rise to a “stiffness sickness.” Also, they’re eating their dogs.

A NYT editorial on the independence movements in Egypt and Korea says “Whether a people has the divine right to misgovern itself is a matter on which opinions will be held according to political theory; but in the present situation of a closely interrelated world a people which wants to rule itself may justifiably be asked to give some proof that it knows how to do it.” Of recently freed nations, the Czechs and the Poles seem to be able to run efficient governments, the Times says, but it’s less sure about the Ukrainians. And it’s pretty sure the Egyptian lower classes don’t want to be ruled by the Egyptian nationalists. Since self-rule  might lead to anarchy, the “world interest... may at present best be served by a continuance of enlightened rule from the outside, with gradual progress toward native self-government.”

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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Today -100: March 19, 1919: Of plane trips and immoderate demands which cannot possibly be entertained

More pilots are hoping to be the first to cross the Atlantic and win a £10,000 prize offered by the Daily Mail. The excellently named Harry Hawker’s Sopwith is being shipped to Newfoundland for the flight. Hawker thinks the flight should take 19½ hours and his plane can stay in the air for 25 hours at 100 mph (and can theoretically float), so he should be fine.

There has been nationalist rioting in Egypt. Early in the year, some nationalist leaders asked to be allowed to go to London to make a case to the government for Egyptian autonomy. The Egyptian Prime Minister Hussein Rushdi Pasha and the education minister said they wanted to go too. The British told them no useful purpose would be served by nationalists coming to “advance immoderate demands which not possibly be entertained,” but the ministers could come. Instead, they resigned. Things escalated and the colonial authorities have exiled 4 nationalist leaders to Malta.

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Monday, March 18, 2019

Today -100: March 18, 1919: Of plane trips, covenants, pretzels, and dead trees

French Lt. Jean-Pierre Fontan will attempt the first trans-Atlantic flight, starting in Dakar, Senegal and heading for Brazil, 1,700 miles away, by way of the Cape Verde Islands and the St. Paul Rocks.

And two-way wireless telephonic communication between two airplanes has been made for I guess the first time.

The Peace Conference plans to ignore Japan’s call for a provision in the League of Nations Covenant against racial equality, even if this means Japan doesn’t join the League. In all the fuss over this, the provision on religious equality also gets dropped. Sorry, Jews.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Bit of a linguistic mistake, really. They just had a hankering for some pretzels.

The lower house of the West Virginia Legislature passes a resolution against the US joining the League of Nations.

Headline of the Day -100:  

Some of the logs are made into souvenirs to commemorate the momentous occasion.

False death reports in today’s paper: 

1) German Gen. Friedrich Sixt von Armin (1851-1936), supposedly beaten to death by peasants after he shot at them while they were gathering firewood on his property.

2) The last emperor of Korea (1874-1926), deposed by the Japanese, who supposedly committed suicide when the Japanese tried to marry off his son to a Japanese princess.

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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Today -100: March 17, 1919: Of Zapatas and Spartacists

Mexican government troops push Zapata’s forces out of the state of Morelos.

The NYT, while still claiming without providing any evidence that Russia was behind the German Spartacist movement, notes that the atrocity stories spread about the Spartacists, which are now known to have been false and disseminated by knowingly the military, has caused a backlash in popular opinion against the military’s lethal reign of terror. Summary executions are still going on.

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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Today -100: March 16, 1919: Of food

Germany has agreed to the take-it-or-leave-it offer by which it will receive food in exchange for giving up merchant ships as well as future production of potash, coal etc. While Britain still denies that its continuing blockade of Germany, preventing the importation of food, is somehow linked to starvation, the recent announcement that infant mortality has doubled has given rise to some embarrassment among the blockading countries, even France, a little.

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Friday, March 15, 2019

Today -100: March 15, 1919: Of disputed islands, garbled dispatches, lynchings, and trained dogs

The Peace Conference commission working on Italian-Greek border issues says the Dodecanese islands should properly go to Greece because their population is mostly Greek but that the 1915 treaty bribing Italy into the war still holds. US delegates objected that all such secret treaties became invalid when Wilson’s 14 Points were adopted.

The US delegation is also opposing German-Austrian Anschluss, which the NYT notes violates the US’s supposed commitment to national self-determination, but it adds that it was never clear if that principle was meant to apply to enemy nationalities.

The German military executes 220 rebels. With machine guns.

Japanese Ambassador to the US Viscount Ishii calls for the League of Nations constitution to include a ban on racial discrimination, although he does hasten to reassure the US that Japan will continue its agreement to restrict emigration. He doesn’t mention the current violent Japanese crackdown on Koreans who’d like to have their country back, and I doubt anyone bothers to ask him about it.

Richard Brenne, the editor of a German-language newspaper in Cleveland, is acquitted of the crime of garbling war dispatches.

A black man, Bud Johnson, is burned to death by a lynch mob in Castleberry, Florida for supposedly attacking a white woman.

The Belgian who during the occupation accepted Germany’s offer to be Chief Secretary of the Flemish Separatist Ministry is sentenced to 15 years hard labor.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Evidently when the Germans were occupying Belgium, they fined the owner of a fox terrier which was disrespectful to the Germans. Its owner, a hotelier, had taught it to crawl on its belly when asked what the Germans would have to do when the war is over.

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Thursday, March 14, 2019

Today -100: March 14, 1919: This stolen property would burn in their hands

German troops continue to use artillery and mine-throwers against Spartacist positions in the capital city, and are summarily executing prisoners.

German newspapers are angry at the proposed peace terms, including the Rhineland buffer state and Danzig being given to Poland. Of the latter, the Lokal-Anzeiger says, “This stolen property would burn in their hands.”

Wireless signals are sent from Britain to Australia, without a relay, 12,000 miles.

Authorities claim that the raid in New York City on Russian anarchists/Bolsheviks/whatever proved that there are at least 6,000 Russians in the US “closely banded together and solemnly pledged to the destruction of all government.” 4 of the 164 arrested were released, but will be picked up again if courts determine that the possession of the Little Red Book is grounds for deportation, which the US is currently arguing it should be in another case.

The NY Senate passes a bill, unanimously, to ban display of “the red flag of anarchy.”

The Ringling Brothers’ Circus and Barnum & Bailey announce a merger. The Ringling Brothers have owned B & B since 1907, but have run them as separate shows up until now.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Today -100: March 13, 1919: Of peasant workers, peace signings, and Beethoven

New York police raid the hq of the Union of Russian Peasant Workers of America and arrest 200 suspected radicals (164 or 187 according to later reports, which is a lot of peasant workers for, you know, New York City).

Whenever the peace treaty is to be signed, France will bar the German delegates from Paris, because that would mean providing protection for them, which France does not care to do.

The Society of Friends of Music cancels a concert tribute to the military after the secretaries of war and the navy withdraw their patronage because people objected to its inclusion of Beethoven, for fuck’s sake.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Today -100: March 12, 1919: Of kaiser-hanging, king-drowning, and trillions

The Peace Conference is debating whether ex-kaiser Willy Hohenzollern can be put on trial for starting the war. The US thinks he can’t be. Others realize that war is not actually a crime under international law. They may still go after some of Germany’s wartime military and political leaders for war crimes.

The former King Wilhelm of Württemberg nearly drowns, the NYT exaggerates, probably, in a scuffle when some German sailors seize his yacht on Lake Constance to use as a fishing boat.

Postmaster General Albert Burleson tells the Senate committee investigating Bolshevism that the IWW is carrying on a widespread propaganda effort mostly through the foreign-language press. He also says the Wobblies are really all Bolshevists, as do other witnesses who don’t understand Bolshevism or anarchism but are happy to lump all their ideological enemies together. Not a lot of subtlety in a Red Scare.

The NYT on the peace terms being worked out (which seem to consist mostly of reducing, then reducing again the size military Germany is permitted and the things it’s allowed to have – no u-boats, tanks, airplanes, etc): “The consideration of reparations has introduced the word ‘trillion’ in recognizing money, probably for the first time in any single financial operation, for, although millions and billions often have been used in war finance, no sum has yet been reached touching a trillion.”

The evidently-famous novelist Amelia Barr dies at 87. She turned to novel-writing in her 50’s, churning out 80 of them, including Jan Vedder’s Wife, She Loved a Sailor, The Maid of Maiden Lane, and The Strawberry Handkerchief.

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Monday, March 11, 2019

Today -100: March 11, 1919: Of operettas, espionage, and quarters

NYC Mayor Hylan forces the Lexington Avenue Theatre to “indefinitely postpone” the performance of the German operetta Der Vogelhändler, by threatening the theater’s license if there’s disorder. The theater may now go bankrupt, having hired a lot of singers. Its president bitterly notes that Wilson often said that the war was not against the German people, but it was... against German opera, maybe? At intervals during the day groups of soldiers or sailors show up to stop the opera, then go away again when cops tell them it has been stopped, although one group moves on to another theater they hear is performing a German-language play but leave apologetically when they find out it’s actually Yiddish.

The Supreme Court affirms Eugene Debs’s 10-year sentence under the Espionage Act, Oliver Wendell Holmes claiming that the Act does not unconstitutionally interfere with the exercise of free speech, while affirming his Schenck majority opinion that “a person may be convicted of a conspiracy to obstruct recruiting by words of persuasion.”

Headline of the Day -100: 

Atrocities that did not occur. So soldiers are just killing people on the streets of the capital now. Not that the Spartacists are non-violent, but are they throwing students into the river? cutting army officers’ hands off? killing 60 detectives? dropping bombs from airplanes? did a woman Spartacist really confess to killing 20 people? Or all the other things the German papers (including SPD ones) are claiming? As in 1914, fake atrocity propaganda is being used to justify real counter-atrocities.

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Sunday, March 10, 2019

Today -100: March 10, 1919: An act of local madness

The US Secret Service claims to have discovered a wartime German-Bolshevik plot for Germany and Russia to attack Poland simultaneously.

France blocks a deal whereby Germany would give up merchant ships in exchange for food, because it doesn’t want any German funding going to food that could go toward reparations. France’s idea was that the US should send food to Germany but not get paid until after all Germany’s reparations are paid. Eventually they gave in to a less dickish plan, by which the ships will bring American soldiers back to the US and then bring US food to Germany on the return trip.

More protests against the performance of a German operetta, Carl Zeller’s inoffensive Der Vogelhändler, with soldiers and sailors threatening that if Mayor Hylan doesn’t stop it, they will do so by force. Gov. Al Smith has already informed them that he can’t help because there is no law against performances in German. An obvious oversight. Big-time actor John Drew (uncle of the Barrymores) says “This season of German operetta is either an act of local madness, or else the inspiration of the whining German Government, half imperial and entirely hypocritical.”

The North Dakota Legislature, both houses of which are controlled by the Non-Partisan League, passed laws for state control of utilities, a state bank, state grain elevators and flour mills, financed by fairly progressive taxation.

Article in today’s NYT by historian Erez Manela on how Wilson failed Egyptian and other colonial peoples.

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Saturday, March 09, 2019

Today -100: March 9, 1919: They are getting away with this German opera stuff

Headline of the Day -100: 

There have been growing protests over the scheduled performance of German opera – in German! – at the Lexington Avenue Theatre in New York. Der Rosenkavalier and the like. Now soldiers and sailors are threatening to wreck the theatre. Mayor Hylan refuses to intervene to prevent the opera. A marine says, “They told us not to fraternize with the Boches along the Rhine and here we get back to New York to find they are getting away with this German opera stuff.”

The Supreme War Council gives Herbert Hoover control of the railroads in all of the former Austrian Empire so he can get food relief through. Italy has been told to stop blockading food to Yugoslavia.

German troops crush the Spartacist strike in Berlin, using artillery, machine guns, gas and airplanes. You know, crowd control. Also, some of the unions have their demands met, so it’s very much carrots and artillery. Minister of Defense Gustav Noske issues an order for everyone caught fighting the government with a weapon to be immediately executed, responding to false rumors that Spartacists killed a bunch of cops.

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Friday, March 08, 2019

Today -100: March 8, 1919: Of mandates, ships, and pogroms

German government troops and Freikorps fight “reds” on the streets of Berlin, with many dead.

Albania, which is asking the Peace Conference for territories currently held by Greece, Serbia and Montenegro, says it’s willing for the United States to exercise a League of Nations mandate over the disputed territories for a year, I guess to organize plebiscites. There is zero chance of this happening.

“President Wilson is not in favor of taking the German Navy to sea and sinking it.” Meanwhile, negotiations break down over what to do with German merchant ships sequestered abroad during the war. The Allies suggest taking the ships in exchange for some food for Germany, which Germany rejects because it would only be a couple of weeks’ worth of food. France, you will be surprised to hear, is being particularly unhelpful in resolving the situation and allowing Germans to, you know, eat.

Reports of more pogroms of Jews in Eastern Galicia and the Ukraine.

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Thursday, March 07, 2019

Today -100: March 7, 1919: Of leagues and machine guns

Senators William Borah, James Reed and Charles Thomas open their campaign against the League of Nations. Borah calls for a national plebiscite. He says the League would protect the territorial integrity even of countries that don’t, I guess, deserve it, including if “Trotsky brings Russia into the League.”

Headline of the Day -100: 


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Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Today -100: March 6, 1919: There are giants in the sky

Austrian Foreign Minister Otto Bauer is negotiating terms for the union of Austria and Germany.

The German government claims the Spartacists tried to seize Königsberg in order to clear a route for Soviet Russian armies coming to their aid, but were thwarted by government troops.

Headline of the Day -100: 

The baseball team, not actual giants. They might travel on aeroplanes to Philadelphia to open the season.

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Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Today -100: March 5, 1919: His gluttony for the limelight is well known. Delicious, delicious limelight.

Giving a pro-League of Nations speech at the Met, Woodrow Wilson says criticism means nothing to him, because “there is no medium that will transmit them,” whatever that means. Demonstrating that spirit of flexibility and compromise for which he is known, Wilson wonders how the critics of the League “can live, and not live in the atmosphere of the world... and I cannot particularly imagine how they can be Americans and set up a doctrine of careful selfishness thought out in the last detail.” After being played onto the stage with “Over There,” he promises not to come back from France until the peace talks are over, over there.

The 65th Congress comes to an end, not having finished much of its business thanks to a filibuster by Senators Lawrence Sherman (R-Ill.), Joseph France (R-Maryland), and Robert La Follette (R-Wisc.). Lost bills include the General Deficiency Bill to pay old bills and fund the government’s control of the railroads; army and navy appropriations; repeal of daylight savings; a 4-year ban on immigration; prohibition enforcement; and a revised women’s suffrage constitutional amendment. Pres. Wilson says he won’t call a special session, because he’ll be back in France until June and “it is not in the interest of the right conduct of public affairs” for Congress to work while he’s not around to (cough) cooperate with them. Or, as Sen. George Moses (R-New Hampshire) puts it, “His gluttony for the limelight is well known” and his “dogged refusal to summon Congress, save when and as he pleases, is... due to his desire to monopolize the center of the international stage, and to close the only national forum available here for the voicing of opposition to the proposed constitution of the League of Nations.” It’s funny because it’s true.

Spartacists seize the police hq in Berlin. The general strike’s demands include recognition of workers’ and soldiers’ councils (or soviets, if you will), reversal of the re-establishment of the military hierarchy, disbandment of the Freikorps, the creation of a Red Guard under the soviets, the release of all political prisoners, and trial by revolutionary tribunal of various Hohenzollerns and generals and whatnot.

Headline of the Day -100:

A Jewish delegation meets Polish President Józef Piłsudski and Prime Minister Paderewski to ask them to stop the pogroms. They both decline to do anything. Piłsudski says the Jews are hostile to Poland. Asked for proof of this, he says there is none but that’s the general feeling.

Headline of the Day -100:

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Monday, March 04, 2019

Today -100: March 4, 1919: A most fatal error for any people

British Prime Minister Lloyd George warns small nations (he doesn’t specify which small nations, but he has to have at least Belgium and Yugoslavia in mind) not to emulate the faults of large empires by annexing lands not their own: “This is a most fatal error for any people, great or small.”

Ignoring that advice, of course, is France. The current version of the Peace Conference’s map of the proposed French-German border is interesting. France will re-annex Alsace-Lorraine without the complication of asking its inhabitants their wishes. The Rhineland and the northern Saar region of Germany, important for coal and steel and, consequently, for providing raw material for the German military machine, are inconveniently too German in population for France to get away with annexing them, so it’s been suggested that they be made sort of neutral – “sterilized” is the word they’re using – with France taking their coal and steel while the inhabitants would be neither French nor German and would be represented in neither parliament but would also not be conscripted into either army.

37 Republican senators from the incoming Senate sign a resolution against the US joining the League of Nations unless certain changes are made. Signers include Henry Cabot Lodge, William Borah, Warren Harding, Hiram Johnson, and Reed Smoot. They didn’t ask Democratic senators to sign and indeed actively refused one or two who wanted to, so this is clearly more about the 1920 elections than the League. They also want a peace treaty signed before there is any consideration of the League. Considering the widespread belief that the continuance of the wartime blockade of Germany is starving that country into Bolshevism, this doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable.

British Secretary of War Winston Churchill asks Parliament to maintain an army of 2.5 million, since they might wind up having to occupy Germany if it doesn’t agree to the terms handed it.

The Supreme Court upholds (in Schenck v. United States) the convictions of socialists Charles Schenck and Elizabeth Baer under the Espionage Act for calling for resistance to conscription. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes writes that during wartime things that people might be permitted to speak “are such a hindrance to its effort that their utterance will not be endured so long as men fight, and no court could regard them as protected by any constitutional right.” The NYT misses the famous line in the ruling that “the most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre... The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger”.

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Sunday, March 03, 2019

Today -100: March 3, 1919: Every strike brings us a step nearer to the abyss

The NYT reports “The possible fall of the German Government,” beset as it is by strikes and soviets and Spartacists. The government issues a manifesto: “Every strike brings us a step nearer to the abyss. Only work can save us.”

Woodrow Wilson meets American Zionist leaders and expresses support for the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine.

Peace talks between Poland and the Ukraine fail.

Former French Prime Minister René Viviani says Paris is too close to the border, and since they can’t move Paris, they should move the border, that’s just science.

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Saturday, March 02, 2019

Today -100: March 2, 1919: Of republics, dynamiters, and statehoods

A Soviet republic is declared in Brunswick.

Headline of the Day -100: 

No answer having been forthcoming to the request Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner Félix Córdova Dávila made to Congress last month to say whether Puerto Rico can ever become a state, the island’s Legislature repeats the question. Puerto Rico’s Union and Republican parties agree that if it isn’t, they should work for independence.

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Friday, March 01, 2019

Today -100: March 1, 1919: Of mobilizations, train accidents, and writing history books

The Netherlands is mobilizing its army to fight off any attempt by Belgium to annex Dutch territory.

In 1917, 9,567 people were killed on railroads and 70,970 injured.

At a White House dinner for members of the DNC, Woodrow Wilson says he’s looking forward to writing some history books after March 3, 1921. In other words, he’s not running for a 3rd term.

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