The kerfluffle over the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand has set Europe aflame! Will this madness spread to the entire world?
What a mess! To attempt to summarize this amazing cluster of alliances and enmities that are happening here, Austria declared war on Serbia, so Russia declared war on Austria, so Germany declared war on Russia, so France declared war on Germany, so Germany invaded Belgium, who just wanted to be left alone, so Great Britain declared war on Germany and managed to piss off the Ottomans who threw in their lot with Germany & Austria! And meanwhile the ever-mercurial Italy is sitting on the sidelines, apparently holding out for the best offer.
So far, with their end-run through Belgium, Germany looks likely to repeat their lighting victory of the Franco-Prussian War from your pappy's time. There seems to be a running fight in the Marne valley as the Kaiser's boys and the French troops race to outflank one another. Folks are starting to dig in for the moment as some of these new weapons of war, like machine guns and quick-fire cannons, seem to be making quite a mess of the poor SOBs in the fields. Casualties are horrendous!
Meanwhile in the east the Russians seem to be overrunning Prussia and Hungary with waves upon waves of ill-equipped soldiers. Both sides are saying the war should be over by Christmas, though, so with luck this stupid slaughter won't last forever.
The stakes are high, though, as whoever winds up on top should be able to pretty much dictate terms in Europe for the next century. This could easily degenerate into the type of mess we thought everyone had left behind after Napoleon.
Here in America we're thankfully mostly spared the immediate violence, though ethnic tensions between those of English or French or Russian background and those with German or Austro-Hungarian background are increasing, and the Kaiser's U-boats are making their presence felt on the high seas. It's only a matter of time before some fallout happens there. Already, eager young American men are flocking to their old world nations' armies or running off to Canada to join the fight.
While I certainly have my complaints about the Virginia Klan-lover who runs the Land of the Free (damn it, Teddy, come back to us!), at least he's promising to keep us out of that mess!
While the nations of Europe are all in a patriotic tizzy at the moment, I wonder how long that will last given the horrendous casualty rates we're starting to see. In the mean time, at least, everyone is cheering themselves up with some gay little tunes and patriotic marches, and seeing as how this is the Record Cabaret I guess I should quit yappin' and start playing some music.
As we here at the Cabaret declare our neutrality in this mess, we'll introduce you to a couple of the patriotic songs on both sides, namely a high-spirited march from the British called Your King and Country Need You, sung by the fabulous Helen Clark. This one is getting the Tommies-to-be queuing up at recruitment centres all around the Empire.
Meanwhile the Kaiser's boys are marching to a rousing tune called Hoch der Kaiser! or "Up with the Emperor!" This has Fritz on the march filled with the exact same dreams of God and Emperor and Country that fuel Tommy.
So let's hear them now in the spirit for which they are, and perhaps lament the horrors that lie behind the glorious facade.
First, representing the Entente, Your King and Country Need You!
Now, in counterpoint, representing the Central Powers, Hoch der Kaiser!
Very rousing, yea? You're probably picturing all the soldiers marching off to war singing this. Well, in truth their songs are rather more personal and poignant. For example, the Tommies have started picking up a little Irish ditty, probably from their Irish comrades in arms, called It's a Long Way to Tipperary.
Are the soldiers singing about King and Country too? Of course, particularly when the Generals are around. But in private they sing about what really matters: their homes and those whom they love.
Let's dwell on that while we have a toast to the brave young men off to go where no man should ever have to go.
Old Pal Cocktail:
Stir over ice & strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Recruitment posters from historymad.stmaryscollegehull.co.uk (UK image) and pintrest (Germany image)