15 December 2013

European Anarchy & Chaos after World War II

From Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II, by Keith Lowe (St. Martin's, 2012), Kindle Loc. 125-57, 168-79, 186-96:
It is little wonder that those who write about the postwar era – historians, statesmen and economists alike – often portray it as a time when Europe rose like a phoenix from the ashes of destruction. According to this point of view, the conclusion of the war marked not only the end of repression and violence, but also the spiritual, moral and economic rebirth of the whole continent. The Germans call the months after the war Stunde nul (‘Zero Hour’) – the implication being that it was a time when the slate was wiped clean, and history allowed to start again.

But it does not take much imagination to see that this is a decidedly rosy view of postwar history. To begin with, the war did not simply stop with Hitler’s defeat. A conflict on the scale of the Second World War, with all the smaller civil disputes that it encompassed, took months, if not years, to come to a halt, and the end came at different times in different parts of Europe. In Sicily and the south of Italy, for example, it was as good as over in the autumn of 1943. In France, for most civilians, it ended a year later, in the autumn of 1944. In parts of eastern Europe, by contrast, the violence continued long after VE Day. Tito’s troops were still fighting German units in Yugoslavia until at least 15 May 1945. Civil wars, which were first ignited by Nazi involvement, continued to rage in Greece, Yugoslavia and Poland for several years after the main war was over; and in Ukraine and the Baltic States nationalist partisans continued fighting Soviet troops until well into the 1950s.

Some Poles contend that the Second World War did not really end until even more recently: since the conflict officially began with the invasion of their country by both the Nazis and the Soviets, it was not over until the last Soviet tank left the country in 1989. Many in the Baltic countries feel the same way: in 2005 the presidents of Estonia and Lithuania refused to visit Moscow to celebrate the 60th anniversary of VE Day, on the grounds that, for their countries at least, liberation had not arrived until the early 1990s. When one factors in the Cold War, which was effectively a state of perpetual conflict between eastern and western Europe, and several national uprisings against Soviet dominance, then the claim that the postwar years were an era of unbroken peace seems hopelessly overstated.

Equally dubious is the idea of Stunde nul. There was certainly no wiping of the slate, no matter how hard German statesmen might have wished for one. In the aftermath of the war waves of vengeance and retribution washed over every sphere of European life. Nations were stripped of territory and assets, governments and institutions underwent purges, and whole communities were terrorized because of what they were perceived to have done during the war. Some of the worst vengeance was meted out on individuals. German civilians all over Europe were beaten, arrested, used as slave labour or simply murdered. Soldiers and policemen who had collaborated with the Nazis were arrested and tortured. Women who had slept with German soldiers were stripped, shaved and paraded through the streets covered in tar. German, Hungarian and Austrian women were raped in their millions. Far from wiping the slate clean, the aftermath of the war merely propagated grievances between communities and between nations, many of which are still alive today.

Neither did the end of the war signify the birth of a new era of ethnic harmony in Europe. Indeed, in some parts of Europe, ethnic tensions actually became worse. Jews continued to be victimized, just as they had been during the war itself. Minorities everywhere became political targets once again, and in some areas this led to atrocities that were just as repugnant as those committed by the Nazis. The aftermath of the war also saw the logical conclusion of all the Nazis’ efforts to categorize and segregate different races. Between 1945 and 1947 tens of millions of men, women and children were expelled from their countries in some of the biggest acts of ethnic cleansing the world has ever seen. This is a subject that is rarely discussed by admirers of the ‘European miracle’, and even more rarely understood: even those who are aware of the expulsions of Germans know little about the similar expulsions of other minorities across eastern Europe. The cultural diversity that was once such an integral part of the European landscape before, and even during, the war was not dealt its final death-blow until after the war was over.


The story of Europe in the immediate postwar period is therefore not primarily one of reconstruction and rehabilitation – it is firstly a story of the descent into anarchy. This is a history that has never properly been written. Dozens of excellent books describe events in individual countries – especially in Germany – but they do so at the expense of the larger picture: the same themes occur again and again throughout the continent. There are one or two histories, like Tony Judt’s Postwar, that take in a broader view of the continent as a whole – however, they do so over a much larger timescale, and so are obliged to summarize the events of the immediate postwar years in just a few chapters. To my knowledge there is no book in any language that describes the whole continent – east and west – in detail during this crucial and turbulent time.

This book is a partial attempt to rectify this situation. It shall not, as so many other books have done, seek to explain how the continent eventually rose from the ashes and attempted to rebuild itself physically, economically and morally. It will not concentrate on the Nuremberg trials, or the Marshall Plan, or any of the other attempts to heal the wounds that had been created by the war. Instead it is concerned with the period before such attempts at rehabilitation were even a possibility, when most of Europe was still extremely volatile, and violence could flare up once again at the slightest provocation. In a sense it is attempting the impossible – to describe chaos. It will do so by picking out different elements in that chaos, and by suggesting ways in which these were linked by common themes.


One of my main aims in writing this book was to break away from the narrow Western view that tends to dominate most writing on the period. For decades books about the aftermath of the war have focused on events in western Europe, largely because information about the east was not readily available, even in eastern Europe itself. Since the break-up of the Soviet Union and its satellite states this information has become more available, but it still tends to be obscure, and generally appears only in academic books and journals, often only in the language of the originator. So while much pioneering work has been done by Polish, Czech or Hungarian writers it has remained accessible only in Polish, Czech or Hungarian. It has also remained, largely, in the hands of academics – which brings me to another purpose of this book: to bring the period to life for the general reader.

My final, and perhaps most important, purpose is to clear a path through the labyrinth of myths that have been propagated about the aftermath of the war. Many of the ‘massacres’ I have investigated turn out, on closer inspection, to be far less dramatic than they are usually portrayed. Equally, some quite astonishing atrocities have been hushed up, or simply lost in the sweep of other historical events. While it might be impossible to earth the exact truth behind some of these incidents, it is at least possible to remove some of the untruths.

07 December 2013

Media Bullshit in World War I, 1914

From Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War, by Max Hastings (Knopf, 2013), Kindle Loc. 8795-8835:
Those who suppose the modern media uniquely prone to hyperbole, fantasy and deceit should consider the madness of rumour and invention that overtook the world’s press in 1914. The Daily Mail published a detailed account of an entirely fictional naval victory. ‘If damaging rumours start,’ wrote Dr Eugen Lampe in Ljubljana early in September 1914, ‘they spread at immense speed. If two people meet on the street, they ask each other: Any news? Nobody knows anything. But there are people who always choose to believe and broadcast the worst. For a week, the atmosphere has been extremely tense. Families, whose husbands and sons are in the army, mourn, pray and tremble. They fight to get at newspapers. Then they whisper: there are none of our casualties on the list of wounded. They do not want to tell us! There are so many that they cannot record all of them!’

Few of the journalists called upon to write about the war had any knowledge of military matters, and their ignorance showed. The introduction of trench warfare was at first greeted in the French press as a cowardly innovation by the Germans, who were mocked as ‘moles’. Many papers talked up the enemy’s weakness, flagging morale and food shortages. Austrian cities were said to be pleading with the Italians to save them from looming famine, while Germany was allegedly struggling in vain to recruit Italians to replace mobilised factory workers. Late in September The Times produced a wildly exaggerated calculation, based on the casualty lists, showing that the BEF had lost 40 per cent of its officers in a month of fighting. Ludwig Wittgenstein, aboard a Vistula picket boat, wrote on 25 October: ‘Yesterday evening a silly report came that Paris had fallen. At first I was delighted, until I realised the story could not be true. These fantasy reports are always a bad sign. If there was genuine good news, such nonsenses would not be necessary.’ Five days later, he eagerly scanned a German newspaper, and feared the worst after recognising the vacuity of its content: ‘No good news – which means the same as bad news!’

Meanwhile in France, on 19 August l’Eclaireur of Nice announced a fictitious clash between the Royal Navy and the High Seas Fleet in the North Sea, in which the British had allegedly lost sixteen dreadnoughts including Iron Duke, Lion and Superb. French newspapers were especially enthusiastic about publishing reports concerning the German Crown Prince, an army commander in the field. On 5 August he was the victim of an assassination attempt in Berlin; on the 15th seriously wounded on the French front and removed to hospital; on the 24th subject to another assassination attempt; on 4 September he committed suicide, though he was resurrected on 18 October to be wounded again; on the 20th his wife was watching over his death bed; but on 3 November he was certified insane. None of these stories contained the smallest element of truth.

L’Action française informed the public that the Maggi dairies and Kub shop chains were in reality intelligence centres manned by Prussian officers who had become naturalised Frenchmen in anticipation of war; radio transmitters were concealed in every dairy, and Maggi milk was infused with poison. These reports caused mobs to storm the premises of these perfectly innocent, though foreign-owned, businesses. Among the most preposterous myths to be widely broadcast was that of ‘turpinite’, a new super-explosive supposedly invented by the chemist Eugène Turpin, which would effortlessly extinguish German troops in their trenches. The French satirical magazine Le Canard enchaîné was founded at around this time, as a reaction to the deceits perpetrated in the traditional press.

Some of the shortcomings of newspapers were no fault of their own, but instead the consequence of governments’ refusal to provide facts or allow correspondents to visit the front. In Britain Col. Repington complained that censorship was being abused ‘as a cloak to cover all political, naval and military mistakes’. It was undoubtedly true that the system was exploited to sustain public morale much more than to conceal operational secrets from the enemy. In France, after the Marne the General Staff began to provide a thin dripfeed of information to the press, but the damage was already done: a credibility gap had opened which was never entirely closed. French journalists – and, before long, their readers – became chronically sceptical about all official pronouncements.

French soldiers in the field referred contemptuously to the ‘bourrage de crâne’, literally ‘skull-stuffing’, but properly ‘bullshit’, which made up the content of the newspapers that reached them. Maurice Barrès of l’Echo de Paris became notorious for his enthusiasm for the war, which prompted the impassioned pacifist Romain Rolland to dub him ‘the nightingale of carnage’. Poilus, rejecting the conventional press, turned instead to trench newspapers which soldiers wrote and copied for each other, or to Swiss titles when obtainable. Philosopher Alain Emile-Auguste Chartier, now a soldier, wrote on 25 November: ‘The Journal de Genève is eagerly seized upon here and officers make cuttings from it; the military reports are admirable and everyone agrees that our papers seem ridiculous by comparison.’

02 December 2013

The Role of Horses in World War I

From Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War, by Max Hastings (Knopf, 2013), Kindle Loc. 10368-10389:
The British took 53,000 horses to France in 1914, and other armies used them in like proportion. The official historians noted: ‘The enormous wastage from animal casualties of a modern war was under-estimated.’ The BEF’s horses and mules suffered an annual mortality rate of 29 per cent, with over 13,000 dead in France and Flanders before New Year 1915 from disease or enemy action. Alexander Johnston reckoned that on the march to the Aisne he passed a dead horse every two hundred yards: ‘poor brutes, they have a terrible time of it’. Many such casualties – shot, crippled or ridden to exhaustion – were drawn from the 165,000 hunters and plough horses purchased for the British Army in the first twelve days of war. In September the retreating Germans threw down spiked metal caltrops, or ‘crows’ feet’, to cripple pursuing cavalry. These frequently achieved their purpose, especially when compounded by French housewives’ practice of tossing stove ashes onto rural tracks without removing nails and other old iron.

Many horses fell victim to incompetent or brutal handling. Vets catalogued examples of mistreatment by ignorant riders and grooms: artillery drivers ‘chucking’ horses in the mouth [yanking back on the reins]; cavalry wantonly neglecting to feed or water their mounts; men galloping horses on paved roads without urgent need; riders ignoring saddlesores. Cavalry remount depots were formed at Ormskirk, Swaythling and Shirehampton, and beside each was a veterinary hospital capable of tending a thousand four-legged patients. Army stables at Pitt Corner camp near Winchester at one time held more than 3,000 sick and injured animals.

Meanwhile heavy plough horses, conscripted against expert advice, proved quite unsuitable for the artillery role for which they were earmarked. The official historians noted: ‘Veterinary officers … foresaw their weakness for military purposes, and anticipated the heavy loss which would ensue if they were indiscriminately employed in war … because of great susceptibility to disease, large food and watering requirements, and inability to stand forced marches.’ Heavy horses perished in thousands in France, partly because of the extreme vulnerability of their feet to wet weather. Both the French and the British made huge foreign purchases of replacements, but the right sort of animal was identified only after harsh experience. Many Canadian remounts died on the Atlantic passage, or soon after arriving in Britain. It was found that the most suitable stock were tough American country beasts from areas like the Dakotas, rather than barn-reared horses. By the war’s end, the British Army’s animal strength rose to 450,000; an estimated total of two million hapless horses and mules served on both sides of the Western Front. The Royal Army Veterinary Corps, which mustered just 360 personnel in 1914, numbered 28,000 four years later.

The Tsar's Army of Chaos, 1914

From Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War, by Max Hastings (Knopf, 2013), Kindle Loc. 5654-5669:
The long columns plodding forward into German territory filled observers with wonder at their exotic character and mingling of modern and primitive equipment. Many of the infantry lacked high boots. Supply arrangements were chaotic and inadequate, hampered by poor roads and few railways in their rear. The Russian army rejected howitzers as a ‘cowards’ weapon’, because they could be fired by men beyond sight of their enemies; for artillery support, they relied exclusively upon field guns. Communications were hampered by a shortage of radios, and commanders were obliged to signal in plain language, because each corps used a different cipher. The invaders owned a total of just twenty-five telephones and eighty miles of wire. The cavalry were trained to act chiefly as mounted infantry, filling gaps between corps, and made little attempt to fulfil the vital reconnaissance role. Most of Russia’s few available aircraft had been sent to Galicia, and those in East Prussia were temporarily grounded for lack of fuel.

In 1910 German writer Heino von Basedow described his impressions of the Tsar’s army in terms which reflected widespread foreign opinion: ‘The Russian soldier is impulsive as a child. He is easily excited by rabble-rousers (towards revolt) but equally readily restored to submission.’ Basedow was amazed by the careless culture of the Tsar’s soldiers, symbolised by the rakish angle at which each man wore his cap. An NCO calling ‘ras-dwa’ at the front of a marching column in hopes of maintaining its step and precision could not prevent a man in the rear rank from casually munching an apple. Soldiers supposedly marching at attention would nonetheless raise an unfailing hand to cross themselves when they passed a church or roadside icon. Meanwhile a grenadier might seat himself on a roadside marker and hawk his platoon’s bread to all comers. Such a way of soldiering did not inspire German respect. Alfred Knox noted the same casualness on the battlefield, where he was astonished to see Russian artillerymen sleeping huddled against their gunshields, minutes before they were due to open fire.

27 November 2013

Global Causes of the Singapore Mutiny of 1915

Heather Streets-Salter brings a lot of fascinating historical threads together in The Local Was Global: The Singapore Mutiny of 1915, in Journal of World History 24 (2013): 539-576 (Project MUSE subscription required). Here is her summary of the mutiny:
On the early afternoon of 15 February, about half of the 850 soldiers in the 5th Light Infantry had risen against their British officers while loading ammunition at the Alexandra regimental barracks. After firing shots to signal the start of the mutiny, the rebels split into three groups. The first headed straight for a German POW camp at Tanglin—where the officers and men of the German ship Emden, which had been sunk off the coast of Malaya, were being held—and released the prisoners, in the process killing fourteen British and Indian officers and men. The second headed toward the center of Singapore, killing six soldiers and civilians along the way. The third proceeded to the barracks of the Malay States Guides artillery unit, where they attempted to force the soldiers there to join them. At various points along the way, this third group killed ten British civilians—nine men and one woman.

As news of the mutiny spread in Singapore, panic broke out among the Europeans. They realized with horror that a significant portion of the only regular army regiment garrisoned for the defense of Singapore was now in open rebellion, which of course meant that the colony was almost completely undefended. A year earlier there had been a British regiment—the King’s Own Light Infantry—stationed there, but those troops had been shipped back to Europe at the start of the war in 1914. There was a civilian volunteer force (the Singapore Volunteer Corps, or SVC), which in August 1914 was composed of about 450 Malay and Chinese men but no European corps. In any case, the SVC troops were not well trained. At the outbreak of the war a European infantry corps, called the Singapore Volunteer Rifles, was formed, but since all of the men who joined were professionals with full-time positions, their training had been sporadic. Finally, Singapore maintained a police force of about 1,200 strong, which was comprised of Malay, Chinese, and Indian men who were not trained to routinely carry arms. The only contingent of the police who were trained in the use of arms was a group of about 220 Sikhs. In any case it was Chinese New Year, and thus nearly all of the Chinese volunteers and police were in the midst of celebrating. There were no regular Malay regiments, partly because British authorities disparaged the military potential of Malay men and partly because officials had long been confident that troops from the vast Indian Army would more than suffice for defending Singapore. So when the 5th Light Infantry—ironically called the “Loyal 5th” for their role in suppressing the Indian Revolt of 1857—mutinied on 15 February, the colony appeared to be in real danger.
And here are some of the global threads she weaves together:
Prior to being sent back to Malaya, however, a corporal in the [Malay States] Guides persuaded Kasim Mansur, a pro-German Indian nationalist merchant living in Singapore, to write a letter to the Turkish consul at Rangoon indicating that the Guides were ready to turn against the British, and asking the Turkish authorities to send a warship to Singapore to support them. The letter was intercepted by British authorities in Rangoon, and on 23 January 1915 Mansur was arrested in Singapore....

Moreover, statements made by individuals within the Guides clearly demonstrate that they conceived their discontent not only in terms of local, individual problems within the regiment, but also in terms of global events outside the immediate orbit of Singapore. One of the most important of these was the fate of the Japanese ship Komagata Maru. The ship had been chartered in early 1914 by an Indian man, Gurdit Singh, to carry 376 Indian passengers (of whom 340 were Sikhs and 24 Muslim) from Hong Kong to Vancouver, with the purpose of deliberately challenging Canadian laws restricting Indian immigration. However, once the ship arrived in the port of Vancouver it was not allowed to dock, nor were its passengers allowed to disembark. The passengers were forced to wait on board ship for two months in difficult conditions while their fate was decided, only to discover at the end that the entire ship had been ordered back to India. The ship left Vancouver under escort by the Canadian military on 23 July 1914. When it finally reached Calcutta on 26 September, the outraged and weary passengers tousled with British authorities, who were intent on treating them as prisoners. The altercation resulted in gunfire by the authorities, during which nineteen of the Indians on board were killed.

The Komagata Maru incident galvanized anti-British sentiment among many Indians around the world, particularly Sikhs and Punjabis. Soldiers in the Indian army were particularly outraged, since many of the potential settlers aboard the ship had served in the army themselves. News of the Komagata Maru easily reached the Malay States Guides, who informed their officers that the treatment of Sikhs and other Punjabis on the ship indicated that the colonial government did not hold the service of Indians in high regard and that they therefore were not willing to sacrifice their lives abroad....

The likelihood that the events of the Komagata Maru helped sow the seeds of discontent among Indian sepoys in Singapore was greatly enhanced by the actions of individuals associated with a radical Indian nationalist movement known as Ghadar. The movement itself began in 1913 with Indian expatriates in California—many of them Sikhs from the Punjab—who had come to the western coast of North America in the early years of the twentieth century to escape conditions of poverty. In both the United States and Canada, however, these expatriates experienced increasingly hostile discrimination, not only at the state level but also from white communities....

Ghadar activists did not just send literature from North America: they also sent people. The specific purpose of Ghadar agents was no less than to foment revolution in India and to overthrow colonial rule, using whatever means possible. Beginning in September and October 1914—just months before the Singapore Mutiny—Ghadarites left San Francisco for India and the Far East. Specific target areas included Hong Kong, the Malay States, Rangoon, and Singapore—each of which had Indian Army garrisons that Ghadarites were eager to penetrate....

We know that German agents in the United States did offer material support for the Ghadarites, including the transport of Ghadar propaganda from San Francisco to points east. In recognition of their shared program of British destruction, the Ghadar paper explicitly and regularly exhorted Indians to support Germany in any way possible during the war. On 18 August 1914, an article titled “O Hindus, Help the Germans” encouraged Indians to take the opportunity of Britain’s weakness to mutiny....

In addition to appealing to Indian sepoys’ potential sense of exploitation as colonized Indians more generally, both the Germans and the Ghadarites made special efforts to appeal to Indian Muslims—especially after the Ottoman Empire’s entrance into the war on the side of Germany in November 1914. Indeed, Germans, Turks, and Ghadarites worked together in a self-conscious program of encouraging disloyalty among the Allies’ Muslim subjects—of which the largest population in the world was Indian. Upon entering the war, the Ottomans declared the liberation of occupied Muslim lands as a specific war aim. Almost immediately, on 11 November 1914, the Ottoman sultan extracted from the highest religious authority in his empire a declaration of jihad, in which all loyal Muslims were to fight on behalf of their religion against the Allied infidels....

News spread through these propaganda channels that Kaiser Wilhelm had converted to Islam and that large segments of the German population had converted as well. That these or similar efforts had an impact on at least some men of the 5th Light Infantry can be gauged by several letters intercepted by the censor in the days surrounding the mutiny. As Lance Naik Fateh Mohammed wrote to his father in the Punjab: “The Germans have become Mohammedans. Haji Mahmood William Kaiser and his daughter has married the heir to the Turkish throne, who is to succeed after the Sultan. Many of the German subjects and army have embraced Mohammedism. Please God that the religion of the Germans (Mohammedism) may be promoted or raised on high.”

23 November 2013

Antarctic Cuisine: Skua Piles

From Hoosh: Roast Penguin, Scurvy Day, and Other Stories of Antarctic Cuisine, by Jason C. Anthony (U. Nebraska Press, 2012), p. 185:
Skua piles, named for the kleptoparasitic gull, are a USAP tradition and the clearest sign that we are a transient community. Simply put, departing people leave behind their excess stuff in a heap near their dorm recycling area, and arriving people grab what they need for their season. If you're in the right place at the right time, you can find anythings: homemade bookshelves, insulated work clothes, flannel sheets, half-filled shampoo bottles or, less usefully, broken pencils, used batteries, and sex toys. Skua piles are so fundamental to the local culture that "skua" is as common a verb as it is a multipurpose noun. Stuff is skuaed, the wise go skuaing, and so on. Much of the food is condiments people are too lazy to return to the galley or odd items that no one really wants to eat but are unwilling to throw away. I saw the same can of fiddlehead ferns from Maine disappear and reappear over several years. Dusty jars of nearly flavorless spices that I twice claimed, never used, and returned years ago may still be snatched excitedly each summer by a desperate home-cooker. But again, anything is possible in the skua piles; I have stumbled upon rafts of cooking supplies and a new electric teakettle that someone didn't feel like mailing home, as well as quick-cook oats, rice, and other staples there for the taking.

19 November 2013

U.S.-Japan Missionary Internationalism

Here's a nice bit of historical revisionism from Robert Shaffer, “A Missionary from the East to Western Pagans”: Kagawa Toyohiko’s 1936 U.S. Tour, in Journal of World History 24 (2013): 579-583 (Project MUSE subscription required):
In order to explain how World War II in the Pacific between the Americans and the Japanese became so infused with racial hatred, John Dower in 1986 characterized their prior interactions as a virtually unrelieved set of hostilities, misunderstandings, and worse. Walter LaFeber’s more narrowly political analysis showed some elements of sympathy at times between the two nations, though very few between 1920 and 1945, and he expressed clearly his thesis about such relations in his book’s title: The Clash. While compelling in many respects, and certainly influential, the perspectives of Dower and LaFeber downplay, especially for the interwar years, the respect that some people in each society had for those in the other. Recent historians have sought to fill in these gaps, bringing to light, for example, the enthusiasm with which Americans greeted the first ambassadors from Japan in 1860 as they toured the United States, and the respect that many American missionaries in Japan at the beginning of the twentieth century had for both Japanese tradition and its embrace of modernity. Although Kagawa’s 1936 visit could not forestall the growth of tensions between the two nations that soon led to World War II, this study demonstrates that a tradition of friendship persisted between elements of both nations within the more dominant atmosphere of mistrust and hatred.

World history as a discipline has been developing in tandem with the “internationalization of U.S. history,” an effort to show, among other things, how events and ideas that developed outside of the United States affected this nation. Daniel Rodgers, for example, has shown that many of the reforms in the United States from the Progressive Era and the New Deal developed first in Europe, and he explains how Americans traveling or working in Europe or meeting with European visitors adapted these ideas for implementation in the United States. Thomas Bender has extended geographically the study of such interconnections in reform movements to Asia and Latin America, but his treatment of the 1930s is merely suggestive. Kagawa’s economic reformism manifested itself by the mid 1930s primarily in building producers’ and consumers’ cooperatives in Japan, and the Protestants who sponsored his 1936 visit to the United States sought to use his knowledge and his prestige to stimulate the development of such co-ops in this nation. Thus, an analysis of his visit deepens our understanding of the interaction between American and foreign reform movements in the case of economic cooperatives, and highlights this oft-neglected effort during the Depression to fashion what its backers conceived of as a Christian economic order distinct from both capitalism and communism.

Kagawa’s visit to the United States also challenges us to look more closely at American involvement in missionary activity. In her recent survey of the historical literature on American overseas missionary activities, Dana Robert pointed to the interpretive sea change that occurred in the 1960s. By the end of that turbulent decade, she notes, “there was scarcely a work written on American Protestant missions that did not focus on their role in promoting imperialism.” However, Robert emphasizes that much of the most recent work, from the 1980s onward, sees “the significance of missions for American history … in international relationships,” in how indigenous peoples and religions shaped American Protestant mission work, and not just the other way around. In a study of the impact that American overseas missionaries had on U.S. society, Daniel Bays and Grant Wacker also reject the 1960s paradigm, suggesting that many missionaries spurred “self-reflection and self-criticism” about American society itself, and helped “their compatriots to see the United States as outsiders saw it.”

An examination of Kagawa’s under-studied U.S. tour corroborates the analyses of Robert, Bays, and Wacker that in some cases the missionary enterprise did not support American empire or the ideology that the United States and the West had the unquestioned right and obligation to inculcate religious truth and civilization on others. Indeed, this investigation reveals an instance in which American Protestants wanted their compatriots to learn from a foreigner—indeed, from someone from a predominantly non-Christian land—and from someone who had previously made well-publicized and highly critical comments about the United States. Those Americans responsible for planning Kagawa’s tour, including many with long experience as missionaries, had become what I have elsewhere called “critical internationalists”—Americans who believed that in order to engage productively with others a critical approach toward the American role in the world had become necessary. Thus, this study provides background for David Hollinger’s recent argument that ecumenical Protestantism in the United States, bolstered by its encounters with predominantly non-Christian peoples, became after 1945 an important proponent of anti-racist and multicultural perspectives in both the domestic and international spheres.

15 November 2013

Who Was Responsible for World War I?

From Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War, by Max Hastings (Knopf, 2013), Kindle Loc. 2486-2525:
Would any of the Entente Powers have acted differently had they known of the profound complicity of the Serbian army, though not the government, in the murder of Franz Ferdinand? Almost certainly not, because this was not why the Austrians and Germans acted, or their opponents reacted. The Russians simply considered the extinction of a small Slav state as an excessive and indeed intolerable punishment for the crime of Princip, and for that matter Apis. Unless France had swiftly declared its neutrality and surrendered its frontier fortresses as Germany demanded, its alliance with Russia would have caused Moltke to attack in the West. The British were entirely unmoved by Serbia’s impending fate, and acted only in response to the German violation of Belgian neutrality and the threat to France. The various participants in what would soon become the Great War had very different motives for belligerence, and objectives with little in common. Three conflicts – that in the Balkans over East European issues, the continental struggle to determine whether German dominance should prevail, and the German challenge to British global naval mastery – accomplished a metamorphosis into a single over-arching one. Other issues, mostly involving land grabs, would become overlaid when other nations – notably Japan, Turkey and Italy – joined the struggle.

Many people in Britain have argued through the past century that the price of participation in the war was so appalling that no purpose could conceivably justify it; more than a few blame Sir Edward Grey for willing Britain’s involvement. But, granted Germany’s determination to dominate Europe and the likely consequences of such hegemony for Britain, would the foreign secretary have acted responsibly if he had taken no steps designed to avert such an outcome? Lloyd George in his memoirs advanced a further popular argument against the conflict, laying blame upon the soldiers he hated: ‘Had it not been for the professional zeal and haste with which the military staffs set in motion the plans which had already been agreed between them, the negotiations between the governments, which at that time had hardly begun, might well have continued, and war could, and probably would, have been averted.’ This was nonsense. What happened was not ‘war by accident’, but war by ill-conceived Austrian design, with German support.

Today, as in 1914, any judgement about the necessity for British entry must be influenced by an assessment of the character of Kaiser Wilhelm II’s empire. It seems frivolous to suggest, as do a few modern sensationalists, that a German victory would merely have created, half a century earlier, an entity resembling the European Union. Even if the Kaiser’s regime cannot be equated with that of the Nazis, its policies could scarcely be characterised as enlightened. Dominance was its purpose, achieved by peaceful means if possible, but by war if necessary. The Germans’ paranoia caused them to interpret as a hostile act any attempt to check or question their international assertiveness. Moreover, throughout the July crisis they, like the Austrians, consistently lied about their intentions and actions. By contrast, whatever the shortcomings of British conduct, the Asquith government told the truth as it saw this, to both its allies and its prospective foes.

The Kaiserreich’s record abroad was inhumane even by contemporary standards. It mandated in advance and applauded after the event the 1904–07 genocide of the Herero and Namaqua peoples of German South-West Africa, an enormity far beyond the scope of any British colonial misdeed. German behaviour during the 1914 invasion of Belgium and France, including large-scale massacres of civilians endorsed at the highest level, cannot be compared with what took place in the Second World War, because there was no genocidal intent, but it conveyed a profoundly disturbing image of the character of the regime that aspired to rule Europe.

It seems mistaken to suppose that neutrality in 1914 would have yielded a happy outcome for the British Empire. The authoritarian and acquisitive instincts of Germany’s leadership would scarcely have been moderated by triumph on the battlefield. The Kaiser’s regime did not enter the war with a grand plan for world domination, but its leaders were in no doubt that they required huge booty as a reward for the victory they anticipated. Bethmann Hollweg drafted a personal list of demands on 9 September 1914, when Berlin saw victory within its grasp. ‘The aim of the war,’ he wrote, ‘is to provide us with [security] guarantees, from east to west, for the foreseeable future, through the enfeeblement of our adversaries.’

France was to cede to Germany the Briey iron deposits; Belfort; a coastal strip from Dunkirk to Boulogne; the western slope of the Vosges mountains. Her strategic fortresses were to be demolished. Just as after 1870, cash reparations would be exacted sufficient to ensure that ‘France is incapable of spending considerable sums on armaments for the next eighteen to twenty years’. Elsewhere, Luxembourg would be annexed outright; Belgium and Holland transformed into vassal states; Russia’s borders drastically shrunken; a vast colonial empire created in central Africa; a German economic union extending from Scandinavia to Turkey.

08 November 2013

World War I's Deadliest Day: 22 August 1914

From Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War, by Max Hastings (Knopf, 2013), Kindle Loc. 4060-4087:
On that same dreadful 22nd [of August 1914], the French Fourth Army advanced up a forest road through the Ardennes which led through the village of Bellefontaine. One regiment, led by Charles Mangin, headed onwards until, as they approached Tertigny, the Germans opened fire from neighbouring woodland. Bitter fighting followed; Mangin led a bayonet charge, while street fighting developed in Bellefontaine, which came under heavy shellfire. That evening, French survivors retired to the edge of the forest, having lost eight company commanders and more than a third of the regiment. France had always planned to exploit its colonial mercenaries to make good its shortfall of white manpower. Mangin wrote in a deplorable book he published in 1910, La Force noir: ‘In future battles these primitives, for whom life counts so little and whose young blood flows so ardently, as if eager to be shed, will certainly display the old “French fury” and will reinvigorate it if necessary.’ Now that war had come, Moroccans, Senegalese and Algerians were indeed hurled foremost into its flames. By 1918, France’s black soldiers had suffered a death rate three times higher than that of their white comrades, because they were so often selected for suicidal tasks.

One of the first of these fell to the 3rd Colonial Infantry Division. On 22 August its units advanced in column through the village of Rossignol, and thence up a narrow road into the Forêt d’Anlier. The French had made no attempt to reconnoitre: horse, foot and guns merely marched into the midst of the woodland, led by the Chasseurs d’Afrique, nicknamed ‘les marsouins’ – ‘porpoises’, because of an old naval connection. Germans already deployed among the trees waited patiently until the entire division was committed, then unleashed a torment of fire which, within the space of a few minutes, shattered the formation. Trapped on the narrow road, horses, men, carts and guns milled in chaos, until the fortunate contrived to surrender. The division lost 228 officers and 10,272 other ranks, including 3,800 men taken prisoner; two generals were killed, one wounded and captured. Indeed, almost all the French commanders perished: among the divisional artillery, only a single officer survived.

This massacre was achieved solely by rifle and machine-gun fire, for artillery was useless in the dense woodland. After the war, a memorial was erected by the father of one of the dead, Lt. Paul Feunette. The grieving parent never forgave himself, because he had responded to his son’s pre-war sowing of wild oats by insisting that he should join the Chasseurs d’Afrique ‘to sort him out’. After the French retreated, the Germans conducted another orgy of violence against civilians, murdering 122 people in Rossignol on 26 August.

The fighting on this one day, the 22nd, cost the French army 27,000 men killed, in addition to wounded and missing in proportion. This was a much larger loss than the British suffered on 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, which is often wrongly cited as the First World War’s high-blood-mark. Other advances upon Longwy and Neufchâteau were shattered in similar fashion to those further south. The casualties in August 1914 were not merely statistically more terrible, but dealt the French army a blow from which it never fully recovered – it is remarkable that it recovered at all. Fourth Army commander Langle de Cary observed laconically to Joffre: ‘On the whole, results hardly satisfactory.’ More than a few senior officers lost offspring: both Foch’s only son and his son-in-law perished. The C-in-C urged a renewal of the assault, but Langle ignored him and withdrew.

Contrasting Colors of War in 1914

From Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War, by Max Hastings (Knopf, 2013), Kindle Loc. 3659-3676:
Throughout the first fortnight of August, under brilliant skies the armies of France, Germany, Belgium and Britain marched from their detrainment points towards collisions with the enemy amid golden cornfields and wondering peasant spectators. Millions of men traversed many miles each day, some on foot, others on horses or carts, a few in primitive motor vehicles. ‘The dust clung to our hair, eyebrows and beards,’ wrote Paul Lintier on the 14th, ‘and by the time a column of Paris motor buses had gone by us, we were as white as the road itself,’ for relatively few of France’s highways were metalled. Each German corps, accompanied by 2,400 wagons and 14,000 horses, filled twelve miles of road.

While the German and British armies had adopted uniforms of grey-green and khaki respectively, the French and Belgians retained the brilliant hues of the nineteenth century. Fantastically, the soldiers of France advanced towards the enemy’s fire beneath regimental colours, to the music of drums and trumpets. More than a few French headstones of 1914 bear the succinct inscription after a man’s name, ‘clarion’ – ‘trumpeter’. Many units deployed in action full bands, and some officers affected white gloves. All the belligerents were led into action by commanders armed with swords and mounted on chargers.

From September onwards, the armies burrowed deep into the earth, but the dominant characteristic of the August battles in France and Belgium was that the motions of infantry, cavalry and artillery were alike readily visible. Masses of men advanced against devastatingly powerful modern armaments in the same fashion as warriors since ancient times. The consequences were unsurprising, save to some generals. On 22 August 1914 the French army suffered casualties on a scale never thereafter in the war surpassed by any nation in a single day. Its commander-in-chief, Gen. Joseph Joffre, orchestrated a series of battles which, to a spectator, resembled those of the nineteenth century in all respects save the dearth of military genius. The conviction of French senior soldiers that spirit alone – ‘cran’ – could overcome firepower was responsible for rendering more than a quarter of a million of their young countrymen casualties inside three weeks. The Germans lost almost one-third as many – their own dying time came later.

04 November 2013

Wittgenstein Goes to War, 1914

From Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War, by Max Hastings (Knopf, 2013), Kindle Loc. 3015-3026, 8391-8395, 8680-8683:
In Paris, artist Paul Maze reported to the Invalides to volunteer for the army, only to discover that no more men were being immediately accepted. A hoary old sergeant dismissed the crestfallen youth with the words, ‘Why worry? You’ll get all you want before the end.’ Maze, who was bilingual, joined the disembarking British Expeditionary Force at Le Havre as an interpreter, and eventually became a decorated officer. Many young men in all countries, especially artists and writers, were less enthusiastic than curious about the prospect of seeing a battlefield.

Viennese-born Ludwig Wittgenstein, who was twenty-five, at first saw it as offering an escape from his own tortured philosophical confusions and uncertainties, intensified by study at Cambridge under Bertrand Russell. He volunteered for military service, and recorded in his coded diary delight at the civilised reception he received. ‘Will I be able to work now??’ he asked himself on 9 August. ‘I am curious about my future life! The military authorities in Vienna were extraordinarily civil. Officials who had to deal with thousands of men every day answered my questions politely and at length. Such things cheer me up enormously; they remind me of the way things are done in England.’ Within days, however, Wittgenstein’s spirits sagged. Dispatched to serve as a searchlight operator aboard the picket boat Goplana on the Vistula, he found the company of ordinary sailors not merely unwelcome, but repellent: ‘The crew are miserable pigs! They display no enthusiasm, unbelievable brutishness, stupidity and wickedness! So it is untrue that a shared great cause (the war) ennobles humanity.’...

Some civilians, especially academics, strove to keep open lines of communication with their peers in enemy countries: this was thought a civilised gesture, emphasising the universality of European culture. In October 1914 Maynard Keynes sent a letter to Ludwig Wittgenstein via neutral Norway, asking the Austrian about the possibility that he might provide a scholarship for a Cambridge logician after the war. Wittgenstein, who was rich, had earlier shown himself a generous benefactor, but now he was crewing a Vistula picket boat. He reacted crossly to receiving a mere business proposal from an old friend 'at such a time as this'....

Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote on 25 October: 'I feel ever more strongly the awful tragedy of our – the German race's – predicament. It seems to me as good as certain that we cannot prevail against England. The English – the best race in the world – can't lose. But we can lose and will lose, if not this year then next. The idea that our race should be beaten distresses me terribly because I am completely and utterly German!'

02 November 2013

Antarctic Cuisine: Aerovodka and Gristle

From Hoosh: Roast Penguin, Scurvy Day, and Other Stories of Antarctic Cuisine, by Jason C. Anthony (U. Nebraska Press, 2012), pp. 146-148:
One of the exchange scientists who spent a year on a Soviet base [in Antarctica] was glaciologist Charles Swithinbank. At Novolazarevskaya with the 1963–65 Ninth Soviet Antarctic Expedition, he lived a very different life than he used to in England. As Swithinbank relates in Vodka on Ice, he learned while sailing south on a Soviet ship that his diet would be impoverished in both quality and variety. "Apart from feast days," he wrote bluntly, "the food was not good." Cabbage soup (borscht or shchi, depending on the type of cabbage), ragout, and compote ("an insipid rust-colored liquid with a faint taste of boiled apples") became distressingly familiar. The quality of the beef was quite poor, all gristle and bone. Soviet cattle, he learned, fed on sparse grass.

Although the meat was poor, the butter was excellent. So was the black bread. And those feast days really were exceptional. Swithinbank sobered up after a New Year's celebration full of black and red caviar, pickled herring, pickled mushrooms, sausage, crabmeat, and more. A May Day feast included roast chicken, crab salad, ham, salmon, smoked salmon and sturgeon caviar, apples, oranges, champagne, brandy, and orange juice stoked with airplane de-icing fluid.

Toasts drunk with de-icing fluid, called "aerovodka" by the Russians, were not restricted to holidays. At Molodezhnaya base, where Swithinbank visited en route to Novolazarevskaya, he noted that there was a more frequent aviator's tradition: "On landing back at base after a long flight, it was the duty of the navigator to drain a litre of fluid from the aircraft's de-icing system. Unlike some de-icing fluids, this was pure alcohol (ethanol). Once indoors, it was served to the aircrew and passengers." One observer of a similar U.S. Antartic Program habit—drinking a rocket fuel known as JATO (jet-fuel assisted take-off)—equated the practice to that of a "warrior culture drinking blood."

At Novolazarevskaya, the dining room was the community social center. One long table fit them all. Here he spent his year of good company, good science, and terrible food. The cook, Ivan Miximovish Sharikov, had spent over thirteen years in the polar regions as a weather observer. "The oldest, tallest, baldest, and humblest man" on staff, Ivan took on the cook's role at Novolazerevskaya when no weather job was available. For him, as for all Soviet Antarctic staff, the pay was irresistible, since he earned five times what he might make in Russia. Ivan was not much of a cook, though to be fair he had little to work with—much of the better meat left by the previous year's crew had gone to rot. Ivan was stuck making borcht, shchi, fish soup with bones, boiled potatoes, and lots of ragout, to Swithinbank's dismay. Ivan's ragout, he wrote, consisted "of stewed gristle with chips of bone, generally served with macaroni. Aside from the gristle, far, and bone, the amount of lean meat remaining could be held on a teaspoon."

Ivan at least made a reliable porridge to swallow with the bread and butter each morning. Occasional treats included caviar, sauerkraut, and cheese. Cucumbers and tomatoes grew in window boxes, and ice cream was made from milk powder and freshly drifted snow. Each Russian expedition member also received a monthly five-hundred-gram chocolate ration but married men saved it for their wives, whom they had left behind for a very long time.

After an end-of-year inventory revealed more than one hundred missing bottles of vodka, champagne, and eau de cologne from Novolazarevskaya's liquor stock, Ivan the cook confessed. He had a habit of taking walks alone after dinner, but Swithinbank "had assumed that it was to get a breath of fresh air as an antidote to the heat of the kitchen." The eau de cologne was, for some Russians, an "esteemed substitute" when they ran out of vodka.

When Swithinbank returned to England, he had trouble adjusting back to his old diet. Meat, fish, and cheese made him ill. He eventually found a doctor with a good memory of World War II who diagnosed him with prisoner-of-war syndrome. After a year of high-carb meals garnished with stringy meat, Swithinbank's body could no longer absorb high-protein English food. "The solution," he wrote, "was simply to wean me slowly from the Russian diet."

01 November 2013

Russian Economic Success before 1914

From Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War, by Max Hastings (Knopf, 2013), Kindle Loc. 757-815:
Russia boomed in the last years before Armageddon, to the dismay of its German and Austrian enemies. After 1917, its new Bolshevik rulers forged a myth of Tsarist industrial failure. In reality, the Russian economy had become the fourth largest in the world, growing at almost 10 per cent annually. The country’s 1913 national income was almost as large as that of Britain, 171 per cent of France’s, 83.5 per cent of Germany’s, albeit distributed among a much larger population – the Tsar ruled two hundred million people to the Kaiser’s sixty-five million.Russia had the largest agricultural production in Europe, growing as much grain as Britain, France and Germany combined. After several good harvests, the state’s revenues were soaring. In 1910, European Russia had only one-tenth the railway density of Britain or Germany, but thereafter this increased rapidly, funded by French loans. Russian production of iron, steel, coal and cotton goods matched that of France, though still lagging far behind Germany’s and Britain’s.

Most Russians were conspicuously better off than they had been at the end of the previous century: per-capita incomes rose 56 per cent between 1898 and 1913. With an expansion of schools, literacy doubled in the same period, to something near 40 per cent, while infant mortality and the overall death rate fell steeply. There was a growing business class, though this had little influence on government, still dominated by the landowning aristocracy. Russian high life exercised a fascination for Western Europeans. That genteel British magazine The Lady portrayed Nicholas II’s empire in romantic and even gushing terms: ‘this vast country with its great cities and arid steppes and extremes of riches and poverty, captures the imagination. Not a few Englishmen and Englishwomen have succumbed to its fascinations and made it their home, and English people, generally speaking, are liked and welcomed by Russians. One learns that the girls of the richer classes are brought up very carefully. They are kept under strict control in the nursery and the schoolroom, live a simple, healthy life, are well taught several languages including English and French … with the result that they are well-educated, interesting, graceful, and have a pleasing, reposeful manner.’

It was certainly true that Europe’s other royal and noble fraternities mingled on easy terms with their Russian counterparts, who were as much at home in Paris, Biarritz and London as in St Petersburg. But the Tsarist regime, and the supremely hedonistic aristocracy behind it, faced acute domestic tensions. Whatever the Hapsburg Empire’s difficulties in managing its ethnic minorities, the Romanov Empire’s were worse: enforced Russification, especially of language, was bitterly resisted in Finland, Poland, the Baltic states and Muslim regions of the Caucasus. Moreover Russia faced massive turmoil created by disaffected industrial workers. In 1910 the country suffered just 222 stoppages, all attributed by the police to economic rather than political factors. By 1913 this tally had swelled to 2,404 strikes, 1,034 of them branded as political; in the following year there were 3,534, of which 2,565 were deemed political. Baron Nikolai Wrangel observed presciently: ‘We are on the verge of events, the like of which the world has not seen since the time of the barbarian invasions. Soon everything that constitutes our lives will strike the world as useless. A period of barbarism is about to begin and it will last for decades.’

Nicholas II was a sensitive man, more rational than the Kaiser if no more intelligent. Having seen the 1905 Russo-Japanese war – which Wilhelm incited him to fight – provoke a revolution at home, the Tsar understood that a general European conflict would be disastrous for most, if not all, of the participants. But he cherished a naïve faith in the common interests of the emperors’ trade union, supposing that he and Wilhelm enjoyed a personal understanding, and were alike committed to peace. He was contradictorily influenced, however, by Russia’s recent humiliations – in 1905 by Japan’s forces, in 1908 by Austrian diplomacy when the Hapsburgs summarily annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina. The latter especially rankled. In January 1914 the Tsar sternly declared to former French foreign minister Théophile Delcassé: ‘We shall not let ourselves be trampled upon.’

A conscientious ruler, Nicholas saw all foreign dispatches and telegrams; many military intelligence reports bear his personal mark. But his imagination was limited: he existed in an almost divine seclusion from his people, served by ministers of varying degrees of incompetence, committed to sustaining authoritarian rule. An assured paternalist, on rural visits he was deluded about the monarchy’s popularity by glimpses of cheering peasantry, with whom he never seriously engaged. He believed that revolutionary and even reformist sentiment was confined to Jews, students, landless peasants and some industrial workers. The Kaiser would not have dared to act as arbitrarily as did the tsar in scorning the will of the people: when the Duma voted against funding four battleships for the Baltic Fleet, Nicholas shrugged and ordered that they should be built anyway. Even the views of the 215-member State Council, dominated by the nobility and landowners, carried limited weight.

If no European government displayed much cohesion in 1914, Nicholas II’s administration was conspicuously ramshackle. Lord Lansdowne observed caustically of the ruler’s weak character: ‘the only way to deal with the Tsar is to be the last to leave his room’. Nicholas’s most important political counsellor was Sergei Sazonov, the foreign minister. Fifty-three years old and a member of the minor nobility, he had travelled widely in Europe, serving in Russia’s London embassy, where he developed a morbid suspiciousness about British designs. He had now led the foreign ministry for four years. His department – known for its location as the Choristers’ Bridge, just as its French counterpart was the Quai d’Orsay – spoke scarcely at all to the Ministry of War or to its chief, Vladimir Sukhomlinov; meanwhile the latter knew almost nothing about international affairs.

Russian statesmen were divided between easterners and westerners. Some favoured a new emphasis on Russian Asia and exploitation of its mineral resources. The diplomat Baron Rosen urged the Tsar that his empire had no interests in Europe save its borders, and certainly none worth a war. But Rosen was mocked by other royal advisers as ‘not a proper Russian’. Nicholas’s personal respect and even sympathy for Germany caused him to direct most of his emotional hostility towards Austria-Hungary. Though not committed to pan-Slavism, he was determined to assert the legitimacy of Russian influence in the Balkans. It remains a focus of keen dispute how far such an assumption was morally or politically justifiable.

Russia’s intelligentsia as a matter of course detested and despised the imperial regime. Captain Langlois, a French expert on the Tsarist Empire, wrote in 1913 that ‘Russian youth, unfortunately supported or even incited by its teachers, adopted anti-military and even anti-patriotic sentiments which we can scarcely imagine.’ When war came, the cynicism of the educated class was evidenced by its many sons who evaded military service. Russian literature produced no Kipling to sing the praises of empire. Lack of self-belief, coupled to nationalistic aggressiveness, has always been a prominent contradiction in the Russian character. Nicholas’s thoughtful subjects were conscious of their country’s repeated failures in wars – against the British, French, Turks, Japanese. The last represented the first occasion in modern history when a European nation was defeated by an Asiatic one, which worsened the humiliation. In 1876 the foreign minister Prince Gorchakov told a colleague gloomily: ‘we are a great, powerless country’.

29 October 2013

South Slavic Nationalism before 1914

From Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War, by Max Hastings (Knopf, 2013), Kindle Loc. 838-871:
The south Slavs lived in four different states – the Hapsburg Empire, Serbia, Montenegro and Bulgaria – under eight different systems of government. Their impassioned nationalism imposed a dreadful blood forfeit: about 16 per cent of the entire population, almost two million men, women and children, perished violently in the six years of struggle that preceded Armistice Day 1918. Serbia fought two Balkan wars, in 1912 and 1913, to increase its size and power by seizing loose fragments of the Ottoman Empire. In 1912 the Russian foreign minister declared that a Serb–Bulgarian triumph over the Turks would be the worst outcome of the First Balkan War, because it would empower the local states to turn their aggressive instincts from Islamism, against Germanism: ‘In this event one … must prepare for a great and decisive general European war.’ Yet the Serbs and Bulgarians indeed triumphed in that conflict; a subsequent Serb–Romanian victory in the Second Balkan War – a squabble over the spoils of the First – made matters worse. Serbia doubled its territory by incorporating Macedonia and Kosovo. Serbians burst with pride, ambition and over-confidence. Wars seemed to work well for them.

In June 1914 the Russian minister in Belgrade, the dedicated pan-Slavist Nikolai Hartwig, was believed actively to desire an armed clash between Serbia and Austria, though St Petersburg almost certainly did not. The Russian ambassador in Constantinople complained that Hartwig, a former newspaper columnist, ‘shows the activity of an irresponsible journalist’. Serbia was a young country wrested from the Ottoman Empire only in 1878, which now clung to the south-eastern frontier of the Hapsburg Empire like some malevolent growth. Western statesmen regarded the place with impatience and suspicion. Its self-assertiveness, its popular catchphrase ‘Where a Serb dwells, there is Serbia,’ estabilised the Balkans. Europe’s chancelleries were irritated by its ‘little Serbia’, proud-victim culture. Serbs treated their own minority subjects, especially Muslims, with conspicuous and often murderous brutality. Every continental power recognised that the Serbs could achieve their ambition to enfold in their own polity two million brethren still under Hapsburg rule only at the cost of bringing down Franz Joseph’s empire.

Just four and a half million Serbs occupied 87,300 square kilometres of rich rural regions and barren mountains, a smaller country than Romania or Greece. Four-fifths of them lived off the land, and the country retained an exotic oriental legacy from its long subjection to the Ottomans. Such industries as it had were agriculturally based – flour and sawmills, sugar refineries, tobacco. ‘Within little more than two days’ rail from [London],’ wrote an enthusiastic pre-war British traveller, ‘there lies an undeveloped country of extraordinary fertility and potential wealth, possessing a history more wonderful than any fairy tale, and a race of heroes and patriots who may one day set Europe by the ears … I know no country which can offer so general an impression of beauty, so decided an aroma of the Middle Ages. The whole atmosphere is that of a thrilling romance. Conversation is larded with accounts of hairbreadth ’scapes and deeds of chivalry … Every stranger is welcome, and an Englishman more than any.’

Others saw Serbia in much less roseate hues: the country exemplified the Balkan tradition of domestic violence, regime change by murder. On the night of 11 June 1903, a group of young Serb officers fell upon the tyrannical King Alexander and his hated Queen Draga by candlelight in the private apartments of their palace: the bodies were later found in the garden, riddled with bullets and mutilated. Among the assassins was Dragutin Dimitrijević, who became the ‘Apis’ of the Sarajevo conspiracy: he was wounded in a clash with the royal guards, which earned him the status of a national hero. When King Peter returned from a long exile in Switzerland to take the throne of a notional constitutional monarchy, Serbia continued to seethe with factionalism. Peter had two sons: the elder, Djordje, educated in Russia, was a violent playboy who was forced to relinquish his claim to the throne after a 1908 scandal in which he kicked his butler to death. His brother Alexander, who became the royal heir, was suspected of attempting to poison Djordje. The Serb royal family provided no template for peaceful co-existence, and the army wielded as much power as that of a modern African statelet.

25 October 2013

World War I Postwar Revisionism

From Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War, by Max Hastings (Knopf, 2013), Kindle Loc. 181-228:
In today’s Britain, there is a widespread belief that the war was so horrendous that the merits of the rival belligerents’ causes scarcely matter – the Blackadder take on history, if you like. This seems mistaken, even if one does not entirely share Cicero’s view that the causes of events are more important than the events themselves. That wise historian Kenneth O. Morgan, neither a conservative nor a revisionist, delivered a 1996 lecture about the cultural legacy of the twentieth century’s two global disasters, in which he argued that ‘the history of the First World War was hijacked in the 1920s by the critics’. Foremost among these was Maynard Keynes, an impassioned German sympathiser who castigated the supposed injustice and folly of the 1919 Versailles Treaty, without offering a moment’s speculation about what sort of peace Europe would have had if a victorious Kaiserreich and its allies had been making it. The contrast is striking, and wildly overdone, between the revulsion of the British people following World War I, and their triumphalism after 1945. I am among those who reject the notion that the conflict of 1914–18 belonged to a different moral order from that of 1939–45. If Britain had stood aside while the Central Powers prevailed on the continent, its interests would have been directly threatened by a Germany whose appetite for dominance would assuredly have been enlarged by victory.

The seventeenth-century diarist John Aubrey wrote: ‘About 1647, I went to see Parson Stump out of curiosity to see his Manuscripts, whereof I had seen some in my childhood; but by that time they were lost and disperst; his sons were gunners and souldiers, and scoured their gunnes with them.’ All historians face such disappointments, but the contrary phenomenon also afflicts students of 1914: there is an embarrassment of material in many languages, and much of it is suspect or downright corrupt. Almost all the leading actors in varying degree falsified the record about their own roles; much archival material was destroyed, not merely by carelessness but often because it was deemed injurious to the reputations of nations or individuals. From 1919 onwards Germany’s leaders, in pursuit of political advantage, strove to shape a record that might exonerate their country from war guilt, systematically eliminating embarrassing evidence. Some Serbs, Russians and Frenchmen did likewise.

Moreover, because so many statesmen and soldiers changed their minds several times during the years preceding 1914, their public and private words can be deployed to support a wide range of alternative judgements about their convictions and intentions. An academic once described oceanography as ‘a creative activity undertaken by individuals who are … gratifying their own curiosity. They are trying to find meaningful patterns in the research data, their own as well as other people’s, and far more frequently than one might suppose, the interpretation is frankly speculative.’ The same is true about the study of history in general, and that of 1914 in particular.

Scholarly argument about responsibility for the war has raged through decades and several distinct phases. A view gained acceptance in the 1920s and thereafter, influenced by a widespread belief that the 1919 Versailles Treaty imposed unduly harsh terms upon Germany, that all the European powers shared blame. Then Luigi Albertini’s seminal work The Origins of the War of 1914 appeared in Italy in 1942 and in Britain in 1953, laying the foundations for many subsequent studies, especially in its emphasis on German responsibility. In 1967 Fritz Fischer published another ground-breaking book, Germany’s Aims in the First World War, arguing that the Kaiserreich must bear the burden of guilt, because documentary evidence showed the country’s leadership bent upon launching a European war before Russia’s accelerating development and armament precipitated a seismic shift in strategic advantage.

At first, Fischer’s compatriots responded with outrage. They were members of the generation which reluctantly accepted a necessity to shoulder responsibility for the Second World War; now, here was Fischer insisting that his own nation should also bear the guilt for the First. It was too much, and his academic brethren fell upon him. The bitterness of Germany’s ‘Fischer controversy’ has never been matched by any comparable historical debate in Britain or the United States. When the dust settled, however, a remarkable consensus emerged that, with nuanced reservations, Fischer was right.

But in the past three decades, different aspects of his thesis have been energetically challenged by writers on both sides of the Atlantic. Among the most impressive contributions was that of Georges-Henri Soutou, in his 1989 work L’Or et le sang. Soutou did not address the causes of the conflict, but instead the rival war aims of the allies and the Central Powers, convincingly showing that rather than entering the conflict with a coherent plan for world domination, the Germans made up their objectives as they went along. Some other historians have ploughed more contentious furrows. Sean McMeekin wrote in 2011: ‘The war of 1914 was Russia’s war even more than it was Germany’s.’ Samuel Williamson told a March 2012 seminar at Washington’s Wilson Center that the theory of explicit German guilt is no longer tenable. Niall Ferguson places a heavy responsibility on British foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey. Christopher Clark argues that Austria was entitled to exact military retribution for the murder of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand upon Serbia, which was effectively a rogue state. Meanwhile John Rohl, magisterial historian of the Kaiser and his court, remains unwavering in his view that there was ‘crucial evidence of intentionality on Germany’s part’.

No matter – for the moment – which of these theses seems convincing or otherwise: suffice it to say there is no danger that controversy about 1914 will ever be stilled. Many alternative interpretations are possible, and all are speculative. The early twenty-first century has produced a plethora of fresh theories and imaginative reassessments of the July crisis, but remarkably little relevant and persuasive new documentary material. There is not and never will be a ‘definitive’ interpretation of the coming of war: each writer can only offer a personal view.

24 October 2013

Endemic European Terrorism before 1914

From Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War, by Max Hastings (Knopf, 2013), Kindle Loc. 433-456, 502-512:
The pre-1914 era was characterised by endemic acts of terrorism, especially in the Balkans, which were the butt of condescending British humour: a Punch joke had one anarchist asking another: ‘What time is it by your bomb?’ Saki penned a black-comic short story about an outrage – ‘The Easter Egg’. Both Joseph Conrad and Henry James wrote novels about terrorists....

For the Hapsburgs, such matters were commonplaces. Franz Joseph’s semi-estranged wife, the Empress Elisabeth, had been stabbed to death by an Italian anarchist while boarding a steamer at Geneva in 1898. Ten years later in Lemberg, a twenty-year-old Ukrainian student assassinated the governor of Galicia, Count Potocki, crying out, ‘This is your punishment for our sufferings.’ The judge at the trial of a Croat who shot at another Hapsburg grandee asked the terrorist, who had been born in Wisconsin, if he thought killing people was justified. The man replied: ‘In this case it is. It is the general opinion in America, and behind me are 500,000 American Croats. I am not the last among them … These actions against the lives of dignitaries are our only weapon.’ On 3 June 1908 Bogdan Žerajić, a young Bosnian, intended to shoot the Emperor in Mostar, but relented at the last moment. Instead he travelled to Sarajevo, fired several times at Gen. Marijan Varešanin, then – wrongly supposing that he had killed him – shot himself with his last bullet. It was later alleged, though never proven, that the Black Hand had provided the revolver. The Austrian police sawed off the terrorist’s head for preservation in their black museum.

In June 1912 a schoolboy shot at the governor of Croatia in Zagreb, missing his target but wounding a member of the imperial administration. In March 1914 the vicar-general of Transylvania was killed by a time-bomb sent through the post by Romanians. Yet Franz Ferdinand was capable of seeing the funny side of the threat: while watching military manoeuvres one day, his staff succumbed to panic when a dishevelled figure suddenly sprang from a bush clutching a large black object. The Archduke laughed heartily: ‘Oh, let him shoot me. That’s his job – he’s a court photographer. Let him make a living!’

There was nothing comic, however, about the obvious threat in Bosnia. The Austrian police had detected and frustrated several previous conspiracies. Gavrilo Princip was known to be associated with ‘anti-state activities’. Yet when he registered himself in Sarajevo as a new visitor, nothing was done to monitor his activities. Gen. Oskar Potiorek, governor of Bosnia, was responsible for security for the royal visit. The chief of his political department warned about the threat from the Young Bosnians, but Potiorek mocked the man ‘for having a fear of children’. Officials were later said to have devoted more energy to discussing dinner menus, and the correct temperature at which to serve the wines, than to the guest of honour’s safety. Official negligence alone gave Princip and his friends their chance....

Word of the death of the Archduke and his wife swept across the [Austro-Hungarian] Empire that day, and thereafter across Europe.... The [German] Kaiser was among the few men in Europe who personally liked Franz Ferdinand; he had lavished emotional capital upon their relationship., and was genuinely grieved by his passing.... But most of Europe received the news with equanimity, because acts of terrorism were so familiar.

Rapid Change before 1914

From Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War, by Max Hastings (Knopf, 2013), Kindle Loc. 554-577:
It is a conceit of our own times to suppose that we are obliged to live, and national leaderships to make decisions, amid unprecedentedly rapid change. Yet between 1900 and 1914, technological, social and political advances swept Europe and America on a scale unknown in any such previous timespan, the blink of an eye in human experience. Einstein promulgated his special theory of relativity. Marie Curie isolated radium and Leo Baekeland invented Bakelite, the first synthetic polymer. Telephones, gramophones, motor vehicles, cinema performances and electrified homes became commonplace among affluent people in the world’s richer societies. Mass-circulation newspapers soared to unprecedented social influence and political power.

In 1903 man first achieved powered flight; five years later, Ferdinand Count Zeppelin lyricised the mission to secure unrestricted passage across the skies, an increasingly plausible prospect: ‘Only therewith can the divine ancient command be fulfilled … [that] creation should be subjugated by mankind.’ At sea, following the 1906 launch of the Royal Navy’s Dreadnought, all capital ships lacking its heavy ordnance mounted in power-driven turrets became obsolete, unfit to join a fleet line of battle. The range at which squadrons expected to exchange fire, a few thousand yards when admirals were cadets, now stretched to tens of miles. Submarines were recognised as potent weapons. Ashore, while the American Civil War and not the First World War was the first great conflict of the industrial age, in the interval between the two the technology of destruction made dramatic advances: machine-guns achieved reliability and efficiency, artillery increased its killing power. It was realised that barbed wire could be employed to check the movements of soldiers as effectively as those of beasts. Much speculation about the future character of war was nonetheless mistaken. An anonymous 1908 article in the German publication Militär-Wochenblatt asserted that the 1904–05 Russo-Japanese experience in Manchuria ‘proved that even well-defended fortifications and entrenchments can be taken, even across open ground, by courage and cunning exploitation of terrain … The concept of states waging war to the point of absolute exhaustion is beyond the European cultural experience.’

Socialism became a major force in every continental state, while Liberalism entered historic decline. The revolt of women against statutory subjection emerged as a significant issue, especially in Britain. Across Europe real wages rose almost 50 per cent between 1890 and 1912, child mortality declined and nutrition greatly improved. But despite such advances – or, in accordance with de Tocqueville’s view that misery becomes less acceptable when no longer absolute, because of them – tens of millions of workers recoiled from the inequalities of society. Industries in Russia, France, Germany and Britain were convulsed by strikes, sometimes violent, which spread alarm and even terror among the ruling classes. In 1905 Russia experienced its first major revolution. Germany displaced France and Russia as the British Empire’s most plausible enemy. Britain, which had been the world’s first industrialised nation, saw its share of global manufacturing fall from one-third in 1870 to one-seventh in 1913.

19 October 2013

Legacy of the Birmingham Barons, 1964

From Southern League: A True Story of Baseball, Civil Rights, and the Deep South's Most Compelling Pennant Race, by Larry Colton (Hachette, 2013), Kindle Loc. 4817-4852:
[Paul] Lindblad was not a complicated man, just pure Midwestern stock. But as he thought back on the season and his teammates, he knew it had been something special: the grace and speed of Bert Campaneris, who’d risked his life to flee Fidel Castro’s Cuba… the power and determination of Tommie Reynolds, who two years earlier had filled out his last will and testament prior to hoisting his combat gear onto an army truck in Germany as the world waited on the precipice of ruin… the physical stamina of Hoss Bowlin, who grew up on an Arkansas tenant farm and spent much of the season hunched over in pain from having one of his testicles removed… the raw talent of Johnny Blue Moon Odom, who started the year washing dishes for the minimum wage at Macon’s Dempsey Hotel, where he was expected to use only the rear entrance… and the calm leadership skills of Haywood Sullivan, who grew up down the road in Dothan and knew all about the South’s history of lynchings and the hard-edged racial protocols but treated his players as equals.

Of course Lindblad hadn’t come to Birmingham to study family trees. In a sense, he and the rest of the team were poorly paid mercenaries, bringing to Birmingham their arsenal of skills and talent. They had applied those skills to winning ball games, and now it was time to move on. Other than Stanley Jones, none of them would stay around. They would all retreat, hurrying back to their hometowns, families, friends, and jobs in the warehouse for a buck twenty an hour. A few would return to Florida for Instructional League. From his time in Birmingham, Lindblad would preserve some newspaper clippings and a few Kodak moments taken by the apartment pool, but little else.

He was proud to have been part of Birmingham’s first integrated team. But sports had already provided a blueprint for breaking down barriers. For years black athletes had gotten white fans to suspend their prejudices in the name of team or national pride, as they had for Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens, and Joe Louis. Although these black athletes couldn’t belong to elite country clubs or send their children to the schools of their choice, their exploits on the playing fields and arenas had pulled down a few pickets of the fence guarding the house of bigotry. The Barons had just invited all the neighbors to join them in the backyard.

“See ya next spring,” said Lindblad, shaking Hoss’s hand.

“Now, don’t you be going and drinking out of any strange toilets,” replied Hoss.

“My biggest regret this whole year,” said Lindblad, “is not getting to see you in that grass skirt.”

“You can thank Mr. Finley for that.”

For the second-sacker named Lois, it was back to Paragould, Arkansas. His wife, Madelyn, had a job teaching school, but he wasn’t sure what he was going to do. Maybe take a few college classes. Maybe drive a school bus. In a few days, the disappointment of losing out to Lynchburg would subside. He would start thinking about where he would play next year. His slump at the end of the year had dropped his final average to .242, not exactly a punched ticket to move up, but he knew Sullivan liked the way he played the game. He led the team in games, at-bats, walks, and ugly scars. Maybe, if he was lucky, he’d get invited to the big-league training camp. That was the dream anyway.

Neither Lindblad nor Hoss, nor anyone else on the team, had volunteered to come to Birmingham—they’d been assigned by the baseball gods. Before the season started, none of them had said, You know, I think it’s deplorable what has happened in Birmingham this past year and I would like to go there and make a difference.

They were not social activists. They didn’t volunteer at soup kitchens or in school programs. Basically, they lived in their apartments, drove their Malibus, Bonnevilles, and Impalas to the ballpark, played the games, and then went home and watched Johnny Carson and got ready to do it all over again the next day. They did not carry signs to end Jim Crow. They did not march on City Hall. They did not speak out on the issues. Some of them didn’t know Bull Connor from Strom Thurmond… or care about either one of them.

They just showed up and played integrated baseball, which, according to Alf Van Hoose, was the way baseball was supposed to be played, even in Birmingham.

In 1964, the culture of minor-league baseball—or for that matter, the ethos of all sports—didn’t encourage the mixing of social justice and athletic competition.

It was supposed to be about what happened on the field. And Birmingham was better for it.

Haywood Sullivan at the Red Sox

From Southern League: A True Story of Baseball, Civil Rights, and the Deep South's Most Compelling Pennant Race, by Larry Colton (Hachette, 2013), Kindle Loc. 4869-4895:
In 1965, [Charlie] Finley fired his manager Mel McGaha and named [Haywood] Sullivan the [Kansas City] A’s newest manager. At thirty-four, he was the youngest skipper in the big leagues. His meteoric ascension had taken only a year.

He didn’t have any better luck than Finley’s previous managers, however, either in winning games with his inept team or in curtailing Finley’s constant meddling. When he got a call in the off-season from Tom Yawkey, the owner of the Boston Red Sox, offering him the position of vice president of player development, he said yes.

Over the next twenty-seven years, he would become the first person in the history of the major leagues to be a player, manager, general manager, and owner… and one of the most respected men in the game.

His time as general manager and owner, however, wasn’t without controversy. For years, the Red Sox faced repeated charges of racism, and Yawkey’s response to the team’s lack of black players didn’t help:
I have no feeling against colored people. I employ a lot of them in the South. But they are clannish, and when the story got around that we didn’t want Negroes they all decided to sign with some other club.
As general manager, Sullivan incurred the ire of Red Sox Nation for letting go of popular players such as Luis Tiant, Bernie Carbo, Fred Lynn, Carlton Fisk, and Bill “Spaceman” Lee. And it was under his watch that the Red Sox blew a fourteen-game lead and lost in a one-game play-off to the evil Yankees on Bucky Dent’s homer.

When Yawkey died in 1976, his widow loaned Sullivan a million dollars, and he became a third owner of the team. After he and Mrs. Yawkey survived an attempted coup by co-owner Buddy LeRoux, he took over running the team, and although the fans had grown increasingly impatient for a championship, he became one of the most respected owners in the game. He served on the Major League Executive Council, the committee that basically runs baseball. In 1981, he was named by the Sporting News as the top executive of the American League.

Around Fenway, Sullivan had a reputation for dignity and decency, treating the grounds crew and the ticket takers with the same respect he afforded his players and fellow American League owners. There was discussion among the other owners of naming him the league president.

Perhaps the criticism of Sullivan’s tenure as general manager–owner that stung the most was regarding his older son, Marc, the little boy whom Hoss and Tommie Reynolds used to push around the [Birmingham] Barons’ locker room in a laundry cart. In 1980, the Red Sox selected him in the second round of the draft. Some said his skills didn’t merit being drafted that high, and he’d been picked only because his father owned the team. Marc was good enough, however, to play parts of five years in the big leagues, mostly as a backup catcher, although his career .193 batting average did little to quiet the doubters.

In 1993, a year after the death of Mrs. Yawkey, Sullivan sold his share of the team and retired from baseball after five absorbing decades. He confessed to friends and family that as much as he loved the game, he no longer wanted to be part of the direction it was taking, with strikes, labor disputes, skyrocketing salaries, and agents and players who cared too little about the history and integrity of the game. According to the New York Times, he received $36 million for the sale.

06 October 2013

Wordcatcher Tales: kamoba, kamohikibori, nozokigoya

This summer, during our train trip around Shikoku, the Far Outliers got a chance to visit one of Japan's most famous gardens, Ritsurin ('Chestnut Woods') in Takamatsu. It's not on the official list of the three most beautiful landscape gardens—Kairakuen in Mito, Kenrokuen in Kanazawa, and Kourakuen in Okayama (all of which I've visited)—but it definitely belongs in the same class. Among its unique features is a large pond that used to be used for duck hunting. The untrimmed overgrowth around its edges offers cover for hunters to conceal themselves.

At one end of the pond, there is an artificial structure designed to enable large numbers of ducks to be captured with nets. Called the 鴨場 kamoba 'duck place', it consists of a 鴨引き堀 kamohikibori 'duck moat' with a 覗き小屋 nozokigoya 'peeping hut' (or 小覗き konozoki 'small peephole') at one end. The duckcatchers would duck down behind the raised banks along both sides of the duck moat waiting for the signal from the watcher in the duck blind, then leap up in unison and toss their nets over the ducks in the narrow ditch below.

I was familiar with the term 馬場 baba 'horse place', meaning 'race track, hippodrome' (as in Takadanobaba in Tokyo), but had not encountered the term kamoba 'duck place' before. Nor had I ever heard of people hunting animals within the grounds of any of the major landscape gardens in Japan. The bilingual sign explaining the purpose of the kamoba at Ritsurin translated nozokigoya as 'peeping hut' but could well have translated it as 'duck blind' (or 'hunting blind') in this instance.

01 October 2013

First National Baseball Congress in Wichita, 1935

From Color Blind: The Forgotten Team That Broke Baseball's Color Line, by Tom Dunkel (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2013), Kindle Loc. 2945-86:
In the nightcap, which dragged on till nearly 1 a.m., the Texas Centennials slipped by Stockton, California, 4–2. The Wichita Eagle sports department didn’t have much experience handling ethnic news, but muddled through. “The colored boys took a lead in the fourth,” the paper’s story said, but then “the Japs tied it in the sixth” only to watch helplessly as “the Texas colored club went in the fore again in the seventh” after Stockton’s center fielder collided with the flagpole, turning a long fly ball into an even longer triple and go-ahead run. Then came the hard part. The editors had to write a headline about a black team winning a ball game in Wichita. They’d never been called on to do that before. Could readers handle it? Was there a way to break the news to them gently? Under pressure, an Eagle wordsmith engineered a solution: Japanese Lose In Pitchers’ Battle Against Texans.

Grappling with issues of race was a Jayhawk tradition. Kansans fought what amounted to a guerrilla war (with wild-eyed John Brown emerging as the most notorious provocateur) over whether to enter the Union in 1861 as a slave or free state. The Free Staters prevailed, but that didn’t end discrimination. In 1906 Wichita implemented a segregated school system, adopting a kind of reverse busing policy: black children from majority-white neighborhoods were transported to all-black schools to prevent commingling. Most aspects of civic life were similarly regimented. Dockum Drug Store served as the National Baseball Congress box office. Blacks could buy tickets there for games, but they knew better than to sit down at the lunch counter and expect service. A black team had applied to play in the city’s adult baseball league in 1933, but the request was denied. Generally, black teams were confined to their own ball field on Twelfth and Mosely streets, although some were able to arrange pickup games with whites.

The public venue where blacks and whites interacted with the fewest restrictions was Lawrence Stadium. Up in the grandstand, seating was open to everyone. Down on the field, black teams competed in Hap Dumont’s Kansas state tournament and, now, the National. This had repercussions beyond the Wichita Eagle sports department. The desk clerk at the Hotel Broadview was thrown into a tizzy when Neil Churchill checked in late Tuesday night. Churchill had reserved eight rooms for a party of sixteen people. Only when the team walked through the front door of the hotel together did it become evident that eight of those would-be guests were . . . black men. Big black men standing in the lobby waiting for room keys. The desk clerk hemmed and hawed, refusing to register them. Churchill raised hell. The hotel manager came over and apologized, but there was nothing he could do: company policy, sir. For the first time, the Bismarck baseball team had to settle for separate accommodations. The white players, plus Churchill and trainer Roy McLeod, got to sleep in style at the Broadview. The black players went off searching for rooms in a black neighborhood on the northeast side of town.

Double Duty Radcliffe didn’t say anything to Churchill, but he actually preferred staying elsewhere. It would be far easier to sneak a lady, especially a white lady, into his room if that room were someplace other than in a snooty downtown hotel. Black ballplayers knew through the grapevine where a bed could be found in most sports towns. Radcliffe and Paige recalled a Miss Jones who ran a Wichita boardinghouse where they could crash for $3 a night, two home-cooked meals included. Radcliffe claimed that the fallback plan worked to perfection. He shacked up for the next two weeks with Juanita Baldinado, a half-Mexican dream girl. Double Duty promised to marry her someday, but of course he didn’t mean it and of course she probably knew that. He was an incorrigible hoochie-coochie man. And a flimflammer. “Double Dubious” Radcliffe. It’s certainly possible his tournament nights were, indeed, spent wrapped in the warm embrace of lovely Juanita. It’s also possible that he killed time reading the Wichita Eagle, front to back, alone in his room. One never knew with him. Radcliffe could simply have eaten Tex-Mex for dinner and fed his fantasies: a steak fajita became a sultry señorita.

Hotel snubs aside, it didn’t take long for race to become the talk of Dumont’s delicately balanced tournament. All of one day. The Eagle’s Pete Lightner rode that horse right out of the gate. He covered the National from start to finish and his columns became a running conversation with himself as much as with his readers. Lightner named four teams in attendance from the South—“the old South, Dixie”—as if he were listing bomb-making materials: Gadsden, Alabama; Rossville, Georgia; Shelby, North Carolina; and New Orleans, Louisiana. It looked to him as though Hap Dumont had a big problem in the offing: “To wit: How to run a tournament without having the southern boys clash with the colored teams.” Could they be kept at arm’s length? If not, could a truce be negotiated? Lightner had his doubts. Blacks and whites competed for the same trophy and the same prize money; there were no parallel separate-but-equal brackets. There could be only one winner.