Friday, May 31, 2019

Today -100: May 31, 1919: If you don’t do so at Versailles, you shall do so in Berlin

Lloyd George: “We say to the Germans: ‘Gentlemen, you must sign. If you don’t do so at Versailles, you shall do so in Berlin.’”

The Yugoslavs are set to attack Austrian troops who are on the wrong side of the demarcation line.

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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Today -100: May 30, 1919: Of lindies, Americanization, and unnecessary heroin

New York hotelier Raymond Orteig offers a $25,000 prize for the first non-stop New York-Paris by an aviator from an Allied nation. It will go to Charles Lindbergh in 1927.

The Socialist Party (US) expels 25,000 Slavs it accuses of being Bolsheviks.

Headline of the Day -100: 

The NY State Reconstruction Commission’s Educational Committee recommends, among other things, compulsory English classes for people over 18 who are illiterate in English. “Americanization,” a term frequently bandied about these days -100, is often used synonymously with teaching the English language.

The NYC Mayor’s Committee on Public Welfare discusses drugs. District Attorney Edward Swann says he’s been informed that there is no need for heroin and that only a small amount of cocaine is medically necessary.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Today -100: May 29, 1919: Of escapes, crown jewels, fight-less motors, aptonyms, mad ex-kings, pogroms, and disgusting Magyars

Earlier this month, rigged courts-martial in Germany convicted Lt. Kurt Vogel, one of the soldiers involved in the murders of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, a sacrificial lamb to give an appearance of fairness to a system that let off everyone else involved. Vogel, who was sentenced to 2 years for “failure of discipline and abuse of power,” escapes with the aid of a “Lt. Lindemann,” who presents Moabit Prison with fake transfer papers. Lindemann is actually Wilhelm Canaris, later Hitler’s spy-master, later still executed after conspiring to assassinate Hitler. Vogel flees to the Netherlands. He will later be pardoned by Hitler.

An inventory of the former Austrian emperor’s imperial jewels finds that many have been substituted with fakes.

At a dinner in London in honor of Harry Hawker, whose trans-Atlantic flight attempt failed, he makes fun of the successful American flight, noting it had ships stationed “every twenty yards,” which just “shows you have no fight in your motor.” The Royal Navy has gotten criticism for not giving him the sort of support the Americans got, but he says a chain of ships would have shown a lack of faith in the airplane. You know, the airplane that crapped out in the middle of the Atlantic.

Ads throughout today’s paper from manufacturers of the spark plugs, oil, varnish, etc used in the NC-4.

Germany’s counter-proposal to the peace terms includes a demand that any loss of territories should only follow referenda in those territories and that Germany be allowed to join the League and run its old colonies as mandates. Oh, and other things that they know will never happen. The Allies are preparing to re-establish the naval blockade of Germany if it refuses to sign.

Democrats are increasingly saying that if the Republican Senate rejects the League of Nations, Wilson will have to run for a third term.

The former King Ludwig III of Bavaria is going mad, like pretty much every previous Mad King of Bavaria. He fled the country in February, scared that the Hungarian Revolution would spread to Bavaria, but now believes Bavaria won the war, so naturally he wants to return in triumph.

Ignace Jan Paderewski, the Polish prime minister, lies that there hasn’t been a single pogrom in Poland. He blames all reports of pogroms on Germany, which he says is preparing to invade.

Headline of the Day -100: 

“The Hungarian revolution has deeply disappointed Russia, for which Béla Kun is most of all to blame,” Lenin says. Also, Moscow is the only center of world revolution and everybody should obey it.

In Lamar, Missouri, one Jay Lych is lynched. Lynch was white and had just been sentenced to life for killing a sheriff and his son.

Five black churches, 2 black schools, and a lodge hall are simultaneously set on fire in Putnam County, Georgia by the Ku Klux Klan. Which is about to be a thing again.

Former president Taft responds to Sen. James Reed’s claim that the League of Nations would be a “colored League.” In fact, Taft says, the white races would always have unquestioned ascendancy. After all, India and South Africa’s representation will be determined by whites...

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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Today -100: May 28, 1919: We are safely on the other side of the pond

The US Navy seaplane NC-4, piloted by Lt. Commander Albert Cushing Read, makes the first trans-Atlantic flight, arriving in Portugal, hurrah. It took more than 3 weeks, with several stops along the way (including waiting in the Azores for storms to pass), which disqualifies it from the Daily Mail’s £10,000 prize. The plane radios back “We are safely on the other side of the pond.” (When did people start referring to the Atlantic as “the pond”?)

Petrograd has supposedly been captured by “Chinese, Lett and Finnish Reds,” according to a report that is contradicted by another one right below it, like a choose-your-own-adventure.

For the second time this month a mob, largely consisting of former soldiers & sailors, attacks the Yale University campus, whose gates are locked, in reprisal for some remarks about soldiers (or possibly about the 102 Regiment Brass Band) allegedly made by students in a dorm overlooking a parade.

Headline of the Day -100:  

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Monday, May 27, 2019

Today -100: May 27, 1919: A mere scrap of paper will never bear my signature

Count von Brockdorff-Rantzau, head of the German peace delegation, says the peace terms would mean “perpetual famine and unemployment.” He calls them “a sentence of death.” Dude, it’s either death or perpetual, it can’t be both, that’s just science.

There are pogroms against Jews in Ukraine now as well as Poland.

Sen. James Reed (D-Missouri) denounces the League of Nations as a “colored league” in which the white races would be out-voted. How, he asks, can senators from Southern states which stripped black people of the vote support a League in which Liberia and Haiti would sit as equals with the United States? Indeed, how can senators from Western states which support bans on Asiatic immigration? Reed’s speech lasts three long hours.

A volcano in central Java erupts, killing or injuring 16,000.

The Tarrant Trabor, a triplane designed during the war as a bomber, now gets its first test flight. This six-engine, 20-ton monstrosity is the largest plane in the world.

But not for long.

Both pilots die as a result of the crash.

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Sunday, May 26, 2019

Today -100: May 26, 1919: Of unknown fats and unnecessary parades

NYT Index Typo of the Day:

Rude. Hawker and Grieve are found. Their plane was forced into a water landing mid-Atlantic, and they were rescued 90 minutes later by a Danish steamer without a wireless. Eight destroyers were out looking for them. The Daily Mail will give them a £5,000 consolation prize.

The Fifth Avenue (NY) Association and the Merchants’ Association combine to fight the scourge of “unnecessary parades” on their fair boulevard.

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Saturday, May 25, 2019

Today -100: May 25, 1919: Of Sopwiths, Dews of Death, and hotbeds of Bolshevik agitation

Hawker & Grieve’s plane is still missing. Did it go down in a cyclone?

At the very end of the war, the US had developed (we are now told) a poison gas called Lewisite, aka The Dew of Death. 10 planes dropping the stuff could have wiped out all life in Berlin, animal and vegetable, supposedly, but the war ended before it could be tried.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Stoopid epidemic.

I haven’t really been following the Lawrence, Massachusetts strike that just ended after 3 months, but the Sunday NYT has a long article of it and how Lawrence was “plunged into a hotbed of Bolshevik agitation” even though mill-owners would have happily given wage increases voluntarily, even without a strike.

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Friday, May 24, 2019

Today -100: May 24, 1919: A hybrid between a French Revolution and an oriental despotism

Hawker & Grieve’s plane is still missing.

The California Legislature votes to turn the Los Angeles Normal School into the second branch of the University of California (Berkeley’s the first). It will open in downtown in the next academic year, later moving to Westwood (chosen over the Palos Verdes Peninsula, which later got a Trump golf course as consolation prize).

Prohibition is due to begin July 1st. Not the prohibition mandated by the 18th Amendment, the wartime one enacted for wartime agricultural needs when they thought the war would still be going on in 1919. But a federal judge grants an injunction against the ban including beer under 2.75% alcohol, which the brewers claim is not intoxicating. The government says it is.

The Allies respond to German complaints about the peace terms, saying everybody has it bad so why should you get off lightly, especially since the war was all your fault.

Headline of the Day -100: 

The debate is on a resolution demanding the State Dept release the full text of the treaty. Hiram Johnson (R-Cal.) thinks they’re trying to conceal something. Gilbert Hitchcock (D-Neb.) points out that the treaty is still being negotiated and hasn’t been signed yet. Lawrence Sherman (R-Ill.) says the League would reduce the US to a vassal state and accuses Wilson’s administration of being full of socialists and being “a hybrid between a French Revolution and an oriental despotism. History would forget the reign of Caligula in the excesses and follies of the American Government operated under the League of Nations interpreted by President Wilson and Colonel House.”

For the first time, at least in the US, a dirigible lands on a rooftop, in Cleveland. Only takes seven tries.

Headline of the Day -100: 

The Mexican state, not a dog. Probably.

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Thursday, May 23, 2019

Today -100: May 23, 1919: Of Sopwiths, locksmiths, pogroms, and behaviourists

Hawker & Grieve’s plane is still missing.

Irish Sinn Féin leaders inform the Peace Conference that Ireland will not be bound by the signatures of the British delegation.

The NYT claims the Budapest Reds are executing dozens of counter-revolutionaries under sentences passed by a revolutionary tribunal headed by a 22-year-old former locksmith.

Polish organizations in the US deny that there are pogroms back home. Maybe some Bolsheviks were put up against a wall and shot, and maybe the Bolsheviks all happened to be Jews, but...

A Dr. John B. Watson, chair of the psych department at Johns Hopkins, addresses the International Kindergarten Union, saying “The mother who cuddles and kisses her child when he cries should be punishable by law.” Watson, who will be fired by Johns Hopkins next year for cuddling and kissing one of his students, will raise his own children according to his behaviorist precepts. Three of them will attempt suicide, one successfully.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Today -100: May 22, 1919: Live and Never Die

Hawker & Grieve’s plane is still missing.

Jews in New York hold parades and a meeting at Madison Square Garden, many in the audience being Jewish members of the military in uniform, calling for an end to pogroms in Poland and for Poland to be banned from the League of Nations if it doesn’t knock it off.

23 members of a negro cult called Live and Never Die, about which I haven’t been able to find out much of anything, are on hunger strike in jail and are refusing to discuss the murder of one of its members, apparently in a fight for control of the cult. Fortunately, the hunger strike, now in its 4th day, isn’t dangerous because they can never die, apparently, it’s right there in the name. Two years from now Live and Never Die’s leader D.D. Murphy will be shot dead by police, which is just confusing.

The House of Representatives passes the women’s suffrage amendment to the Constitution 304-89, the opposition consisting of New England Republicans, Southern Democrats, and douchebags.

The Allies promise Admiral Kolchak

that they will recognize his regime as the sole legitimate Russian government when he has established stability with an elected Assembly, free speech, etc. In other words, never.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Today -100: May 21, 1919: The butler did it

Hawker & Grieve’s plane is still missing.

Woodrow Wilson sends his State of the Union Address (I think that’s what this is; they didn’t call them that yet) to Congress by cable, which is a first. An uninteresting first, but a first. Nothing particularly interesting in the address, either, although his sojourn in Europe does seem to have him spelling labour with a u.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Richard von Krebs, who killed a New Jersey farmer and his wife in 1914, was committed as criminally insane, and escaped in 1917. Since then he has been working for prominent New Yorkers including a lawyer, who says he’s an excellent butler. Krebs was evidently once Theodore Roosevelt’s father’s butler and, when young, an under-servant in Kaiser Wilhelm’s household. And he once gave testimony that convicted two men of a murder they did not commit (which was discovered before they could be executed). Anyway, they’ve re-captured him.

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Monday, May 20, 2019

Today -100: May 20, 1919: Of Sopwiths, committees on committees, and irony

Now it’s the Sopwith piloted by Brits Harry Hawker and Mackenzie Grieve which goes missing. Unlike the US planes, they doesn’t have friendly warships trailing along to rescue them if they get in trouble. Which they have.

The 66th Congress meets, and refuses to seat Victor Berger, Socialist of Wisconsin. The Republican majority in the Senate is only 2, and is having trouble keeping Progressive Republicans in line, which is playing out in a dispute over which Progressives will sit on the Committee on Committees, the ones the Progressives chose or the ones Henry Cabot Lodge chose for them.

The Presbyterians endorse the League of Nations.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Oh no, their greatest weakness!

For some reason the Allies have decided not to publish the peace terms in full.

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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Today -100: May 19, 1919: Do not go home and tell the people the war is over

More planes join the trans-Atlantic race.

The US Navy’s NC-1 seaplane, which had to be abandoned, is not salvageable, and the NC-3 disappears in the fog and is out of communication, the fate of its crew unknown. Which just leaves the NC-4.

Henry Morgenthau, the former US ambassador to Turkey who helped expose the Armenian Genocide, says in a speech to soldiers that the US will be involved in another European war in 15 or 20 years. That’s just crazy talk. “Do not go home and tell the people the war is over,” he tells them.

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Saturday, May 18, 2019

Today -100: May 18, 1919: I think there will be a great fight over the treaty

Those Daring Young Men in Their Flying Machines Update: The US Navy’s NC-1 is ditched at sea, its crew picked up by a steamship, and the NC-3 is missing in the fog, but the NC-4 makes it to the Azores.

The Berlin City Council orders all paintings, busts, lithographs of the Hohenzollerns removed from all city buildings, schools, etc.

Finland asks permission from the Allies to invade and capture Petrograd, please and thank you.

W. E. Kellar, who was tarred and feathered and run out of Luling, Texas (home of the annual Watermelon Thump and birthplace of Star Trek actor Michael Dorn, sez Wikipedia) in 1918 for being insufficiently supportive of the war, wins $50,000 in damages from 11 Lulinghoovians.

The wife of Dr. George David Scott of NYC is suing for divorce on the grounds that he “offended her susceptibilities and inflicted mental anguish” on her by talking German to her. He denies this.

Sen. Warren G. Harding (R-Ohio), asked what the new Republican Congress will do, says it will repeal Wilson’s extraordinary war powers, stop the trend toward government ownership, reduce taxes and cut government spending, restore railroads to private hands, protective tariffs, and, of course, “I think there will be a great fight over the treaty.”

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Friday, May 17, 2019

Today -100: May 17, 1919: Of revolutions and flushing

The NYT has information from “a particularly reliable source,” a source “absolutely above suspicion,” that the German government decided to foment a Bolshevik revolution in Belgium, because reasons.

Residents of the Murray Hill neighborhood of Flushing, Queens are angry that the local postmaster is negotiating to sell a piece of land to developers who intend to build a negro-only apartment building.

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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Today -100: May 16, 1919: Of aeroplanes, libel, and the devil’s work

The trans-Atlantic race is more interesting to the NYT than the prospects of the treaty to end World War I.

Henry Ford’s libel suit against the Chicago Tribune will evidently try to prove that the paper’s campaign for military preparedness in the period before US entry into WW I was actually intended to help Germany by getting the US into a war with Mexico instead of Germany.

Mathias Erzberger, head of the German Armistice Commission, calls the peace terms “the devil’s work” and says that under them Germany would have less freedom than Egypt.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Today -100: May 15, 1919: Of blimps and war guilt

Did I mention that blimps are entering the race to the first trans-Atlantic aerial crossing? Well, now I have.

The Germans are giving the Allies notes objecting to various parts of the peace terms. They are, for example, perfectly willing to pay reparations but not to acknowledge sole war guilt.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Today -100: May 14, 1919: Of mocking religion, making America safe, anarchists, making Poles, and ceasefires

Headline of the Day -100: 

Oh noez! Reuters says that in Ekaterinodar Bolsheviks performed a mock marriage between an old priest and a horse, with the church choir forced to sing.

New NAACP slogan: “To Make America Safe for Americans.”

Henry Ford’s libel suit against the Chicago Tribune has begun, or at least a rather drawn-out jury-selection process. The editorial he’s suing over was titled “Ford Is an Anarchist.” Because nothing says anarchism like an automobile factory assembly line. 

Ethnic Germans in Upper Silesia are demanding the German government send them arms so they can resist “those who would make them Polish.”

NYC Mayor John Hylan denies ordering cops to keep his commute path clear of traffic, and calls on the police commissioner to cut down on reckless driving.

Lenin rejects the offer of a commission to feed Russia, which would feed Russia – in exchange for a ceasefire. So does the White regime. See, and you didn’t think they could agree on anything.

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Monday, May 13, 2019

Today -100: May 13, 1919: Of goats, monstrous documents, and air strikes

24 cops are ordered deployed to keep other cars from getting in the way of NYC Mayor John Hylan’s morning and evening commute as he crosses the Williamsburg or Manhattan Bridge (he lives in Brooklyn, like the hipster he is). Evidently a sugar truck failed to get out of hizzoner’s way as fast as he thought it should. Hylan is also on a crusade to get goats out of Flatbush or at least make their owners keep them on a leash.

Austrian Foreign Minister Otto Bauer says the “small German Austria” intended by the Peace Conference (which just finalized Austria’s future borders) can’t survive without merging with Germany.

And over 80% of the population of the Austrian state of Voralberg vote to join Switzerland. Won’t happen.

German Prez Friedrich Ebert tells the AP: “Germany has seized and unfurled a new banner on which are inscribed President Wilson’s 14 Points, which the president apparently has deserted.” He calls the peace terms a “monstrous document” without precedent (Brest-Litovsk, anyone?).

Some Afghan tribes invaded British India, which responds by dropping bombs on Afghanistan from airplanes, as is the custom. Secretary of War Chuchill’s idea, no doubt.

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Sunday, May 12, 2019

Today -100: May 12, 1919: Of treaties, plebiscites, invasions, and drownings

The Spartacists in Berlin demand the German government sign the peace terms, which makes them pretty much the only Germans doing so.

Denmark is annoyed a the provision in the peace terms for plebiscites in northern and southern Schleswig, worried that the southern province, which is lousy with Germans, might want to join with Denmark. (Spoiler Alert: it won’t)

Finland is preparing to invade Russia.

Rumors say that Russian government troops are in mutiny and that they drowned a bunch of commissars, including Trotsky’s secretary.

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Saturday, May 11, 2019

Today -100: May 11, 1919: Anyone for tennis?

I’m officially bored with the trans-Atlantic aeroplane race.

A shooting in a Charleston, South Carolina pool room leads to several hours of clashes between local blacks and white sailors, in which at least 6 are killed.

German President Friedrich Ebert says the peace terms suck and would “deliver German labor to foreign capitalism for the indignity of wage slavery and the permanent fettering of the young German republic by the Entente’s imperialism” in this “peace of violence.” Germany’s counter-offer will be a proposal for “a peace of right on the basis of a lasting peace of the nations.”

Gen. Douglas MacArthur is named superintendent of West Point.

BREAKING: Czar Nicholas and all the Romanovs are still alive!

Yugoslavia sends a memorandum to the Peace Conference laying out the historical, ethnological, strategic, and economic reasons why Dalmatia – and all of Dalmatia – should totally go to Yugoslavia.

The American Legion objects to Wilson’s pardons of conscientious objectors and demands the deporation of aliens who evaded the draft.

Headline of the Day -100: 

I love that “Irrational Lawn Tennis Association” typo nearly as much as the mellifluous phrase “tennis with Teutons.” The US tennis association is following similar moves by the British and French associations.

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Friday, May 10, 2019

Today -100: May 10, 1919: If these are the peace terms, then America can go to hell!

Germans are especially upset about being forced to give up Upper Silesia to Poland and to allow the kaiser to be put on trial. Gen. Ludendorff’s only remark to the press: “If these are the peace terms, then America can go to hell!” The German government calls for the suspension of public amusements and of all plays except those that “correspond to the seriousness of these grievous days.” Newspapers are referring to the treaty as “an instrument of robbery,” “a peace of annihilation,” and “the graveside of right.” All of which would be excellent names for rock bands. Chancellor Philipp Scheidemann says the government “must discuss this document of hatred and madness with sobriety.”

Belgium, which should know better than to remind people of its record as a colonial power when it’s trying to play on world sympathy, formally objects to the League of Nations mandate for German East Africa (Tanzania) going to Britain rather than, say, Belgium.

The British military occupy Mansion House, the official residence of the Lord Mayor of Dublin. The current lord mayor since 1917 is Sínn Feiner Laurence O’Neill and he’s been holding SF meetings there.

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Thursday, May 09, 2019

Today -100: May 9, 1919: Stunned

Headline of the Day -100: 

A Lawrence, Mass. trolley is dynamited, presumably to prevent scabs being brought in during a mill strike.

The race to be the first plane to cross the Atlantic has begun, finally, with two US Navy hydroplanes making the first leg, from Long Island to Halifax. Unfortunately, three planes started that journey, and no one knows where the third one is...

Oh, okay, it just had engine failure and had to make a water landing. Everyone’s fine.

Woodrow Wilson commutes the sentences of 50+ people who have spent more than a year in prison under the Espionage Act.

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Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Today -100: May 8, 1919: Such a confession in my mouth would be a lie

Headline of the Day -100:

The peace terms for Germany have been agreed upon. It’s the longest treaty ever. Germany will lose its colonies – Togoland, South West Africa, Tanganyika, Kamerun, German Samoa, etc –  1 million square miles and 15 million people, as well as Alsace-Lorraine. Saarland and Danzig will be internationalized, with a plebiscite in the former in a few years. It will lose territory to Poland, Denmark and Belgium (which feels short-changed). The German army will be restricted to 100,000 men, with no conscription, and the navy similarly reduced. Reparations including $5 billion or so in cash. Germany to agree to a trial of the kaiser. The NYT says, “It is a terrible punishment the German people and their mad rulers have brought upon themselves. Not only is their military power to be destroyed, but the military spirit will be crushed out of them by the stern but necessary conditions the nations impose. How great will be their moral and spiritual suffering we cannot know, for the world has its doubts about the German conscience.”

China won’t sign, in protest against Japan being awarded Germany’s rights in Shantung/Shandong. Japan orders China to ban a “national disgrace” meeting planned in Beijing.

Italy agrees to take over Fiume as a League of Nations mandate until 1923, at which time they’ll annex it fully. This is not precisely what will happen.

The US (following Britain and maybe France, I forget) recognizes Finland.

New York State bans the red flag.

Headline of the Day -100:  

Cruel aggressions would be a good name for a rock band. This is during the ceremony at which the peace terms are handed to the German delegates (although “cruel aggressions” doesn’t appear in the words quoted in the article). One of these delegates, Count Ulrich von Brockdorff-Rantazau, which is a name to conjure with, objects to the war-guilt clause: “It is demanded from us that we shall confess ourselves to be the only ones guilty in the war. Such a confession in my mouth would be a lie.” Without denying German responsibility for the war and the way in which it was fought, he points out other factors in the start of the war: the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, 50 years of imperialism by all European states, Russian mobilization, public opinion in all the countries that went to war etc. As to war crimes, they “may not be excusable, but they are committed in the struggle for victory and in the defense of national existence, and passions are aroused which make the conscience of people blunt.” He also wants Germany to be allowed to join the League of Nations. 

The French have a plane, the Farman Goliath, capable of carrying 25 passengers.

L. Frank Baum, author of 14 Oz books among others, dies at 62. What a world, what a world.

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Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Today -100: May 7, 1919: Of fiumes, 20-year armistices, and calm

Italian Prime Minister Vittorio Orlando, finding that after the Italian delegates stormed out of the peace talks the other Allies are just going ahead with arrangements to sign the peace treaty with Germany, is hastily returning to Paris, without having received any promise about Fiume.

The latest objection to the peace terms comes from Marshal Foch, who says France shouldn’t sign because French security requires holding the Rhineland in perpetuity instead of just 15 years. He will famously grumble, “This is not peace. It is an armistice for 20 years,” which is just crazy talk.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Because nothing says “calm” like people being hunted down and summarily shot. Hundreds killed, thousands arrested.

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Monday, May 06, 2019

Today -100: May 6, 1919: The very essence of the Hun spirit

The trans-Atlantic airplane race, though still waiting for better weather, has its first casualties, US Navy Ensign Hugh Adams and Chief Machinist's Mate Harold “Top” Corey in a plane crash over Rockaway Beach Naval Air Station. Another one of the planes is damaged by a fire on the ground.

At the National Conference on Lynching in Carnegie Hall, former NY governor & former Supreme Court justice Charles Evans Hughes calls lynching “the very essence of the Hun spirit.”

A moonshiner kills two revenooers in Oklahoma, as was the custom.

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Sunday, May 05, 2019

Today -100: May 5, 1919: Crushed

Headline of the Day -100: 

Gustav Landauer, the anarchist Commissioner of Enlightenment and Public Instruction in the Bavarian Soviet Republic (and director Mike Nichols’ grandfather), is arrested, beaten, and shot dead by government troops.

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Saturday, May 04, 2019

Today -100: May 4, 1919: Of soviet republics, the fall of Petrograd, stuff you shouldn’t send in the mails, and driving tests

The Allies are questioning whether the German envoys sent to sign the peace treaty will have the authority to speak for renegade Bavaria. To me, it sounds like they’re calling for the violent suppression of the Bavarian Soviet Republic (already in progress) as a condition for peace.

Rudolf Egelhofer, the 23-year-old commander of the Bavarian “Red Army,” is summarily executed in reprisal for the Reds’ execution of several hostages.

The German deputation to the Peace Conference will be fenced in to keep them wandering around Paris, after 2 German newspaper correspondents were found to have (gasp) gone to the theater.

Petrograd, according to “information believed to be trustworthy” by the ever-gullible NYT, has been captured by the Finns.

In response to the mail bombs, the federal and city authorities in New York claim to be investigating 2,000 radical agitators present in the city. Many are non-citizens and may be deported.

Speaking of mail bombs, a hand grenade is found in the post office in Boston, but it was safe (as safe as a live hand grenade can be anyway) and probably just some soldier’s souvenir.

The Auto Club lobbies NY Gov. Al Smith to veto a bill that would require driving tests only for drivers in New York City.

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Friday, May 03, 2019

Today -100: May 3, 1919: Of May day affrays, corsets, and vicious and corporate interests

Paris police claim 428 cops were injured on May Day. They also claim that the crowds were largely led by Russians and Spaniards.

4 radicals arrested in Boston on May Day are sentenced to 2 months for “taking part in an affray.” One of the arrested is William Sidis, 21, who entered Harvard at 11 and graduated at 16.

Some young boys steal hand grenades, phosphorus bombs, mortar shells – you know, souvenirs – from the evidently poorly guarded Army ammunition boxes in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, where they were part of an exhibition of trench warfare in support of a victory bond drive. Authorities are on the lookout for, you know, explosions.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue is pondering whether corsets are a luxury, subject to luxury tax, or underwear and thus an untaxed necessity.

Los Angeles Mayor Frederick Woodman is acquitted of taking bribes to protect gambling, booze and brothels. Woodman blames the prosecution on “vicious and corporate interests” who want to “prostitute” the city, which is maybe not the best word choice under the circumstances.

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Thursday, May 02, 2019

Today -100: May 2, 1919: May Day

May Day “riots” in Cleveland (a protest against the imprisonment of Eugene Debs) are suppressed by the police and military, including what must be the first use of tanks against US civilians (could have been worse: the US Army stationed machine-gun companies outside the city, but didn’t use them). One civilian is shot dead by a cop. It all kicked off when an army lieutenant ordered a soldier marching in the socialist May Day parade to stop carrying a red flag and the soldier refused. Soldiers and others destroy Socialist headquarters.

Police in Boston violently break up an unauthorized May Day parade. Ditto Detroit. Soldiers and sailors attack meetings in New York City.

Rather more May Day violence in Paris, much of it by the police. I don’t think any of the US police forces used actual sabers in crowd control.

China is pissed that the Peace Conference is giving the former German rights in Kiao-Chau and Shantung (Shandong) to Japan. Japan says it will totally give Shantung back... some time. Obviously, it would be an insult to Japan’s honor to demand an actual deadline, Japan says. It should be noted that the country being treated as the spoils of war, China, was on the Allied side.

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Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Today -100: May 1, 1919: We want Wilson’s Fourteen Points

Yesterday’s mail-bomb to former senator Thomas Hardwick is followed by 36 more, to Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, Seattle Mayor Ole Hanson, miscellaneous district attorneys and immigration officials, and others. The government thinks it’s Wobblies, based on the chosen targets. All the bombs are detected (some because they had insufficient postage) and made safe in the post office system.

The US Army occupying forces in Germany refuse a permit to the SPD for a May Day parade because there might be criticism of the peace terms, such as a banner saying “We want Wilson’s Fourteen Points.” The newspapers are censored in their discussions of the peace talks to prevent any criticism of the Allies.

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