The Night the Lights Went Out in Europe: August 3rd 1914

Friends of Padre Steve’s World

Another day at home taking care of my wife following her surgery. She is doing better which is good. We also had a dear friend, her daughter and grand-daughters visit last night on their way to Georgia. It was so wonderful to see her and talk about the good times we had when I was serving as Chaplain at Fort Indiantown Gap Pennsylvania back in 1997 and 1998.

Anyway, I am preparing some new material but thought in the interest of history to continue and re-post a third article that I wrote a year ago about the outbreak of World War One.

I think this is important, first because that war still shapes so much of the world that we live in. Likewise there are the diplomatic lessons decisions of leaders who brought about a war that was in none of their nation’s long term interests.

Then there are the lessons of the military planners on all sides who envisioned a short and glorious war in which they would vanquish their enemies and be home before the leaves fall. The same leaders seemed to ignore the history of the real first modern war, the American Civil War, discounted the technological advances that made war much more lethal, and did not adjust their tactics to those facts. The result was that on the Western front the Germans, British, French and Belgians lost about 670,000 in a period of about five weeks. In the east the Russians lost 320,000 troops and the Germans about 67,000 between August 17th and September 14th, while in Galicia the Russians eliminated a third of the Austrian forces facing them, some 320,000 troops for the loss of 225,000 soldiers, while in Serbia the Austrians, who brought about the war by their harsh demands on Serbia suffered about 225,000 casualties inflicting 170,000 on the Serbs, with no gain in territory. All told nearly 1.9 million men, killed, wounded, missing or captured in just over a month of combat.

On August 3rd 1914, the leaders of Europe went to war, and the lamps went out over Europe, and much of the world.

Have a great day and never forget.


Padre Steve+

Padre Steve's World...Musings of a Progressive Realist in Wonderland


Sir Edward Grey addressing the House of Commons 

The mobilization of millions of soldiers across Europe was moving rapidly as the sun set on the night of August 2nd 1914 when the German Ambassador to Belgium Klaus Bulow-Selaske delivered an ultimatum to the Belgian government. The ultimatum gave the Belgians 12 hours to decide if they would allow the German armies free passage through the country. The Belgians, treasuring their independence and led by a truly heroic leader, the young and humble King Albert refused the German ultimatum and vowed to fight.

The next morning the British House of Commons met and for the first time since 1893 every member was present, with many spectators in attendance, Britain’s participation in a war on the European Continent in nearly 100 years was being contemplated. Britain was divided between interventionists and non-interventionists, and the pressure was on the government.

The British Foreign…

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