For WW1 & WW2 History Buffs

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Drakkith
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Four years ago, the youtube channel The Great War started producing weekly videos detailing the events of World War 1, as they happened, week by week, one-hundred years ago. Since then they've released hundreds of videos, including many about the weapons, equipment, tactics, and important persons in addition to the weekly release. I've watched nearly all of their videos and I enjoyed them greatly. There is so much about the war that I either misunderstood or had never heard of at all, and I highly recommend that anyone who thinks they might want to learn about one of the most terrible conflicts in human history give this series a look. The video below is the first episode of the series. Enjoy!


In addition, now that their main series on The Great War is coming to a close the folks over at that channel have recently started another series along the same vein for World War 2. It may not be the centennial anniversary of that conflict, but I think we can forgive them for not waiting another twenty years to start. If this new series is anything like the first (which it appears that it is) you'll likely learn a lot about the war. One of the main differences between this channel and most of the other media sources is the perspective of going through the war week by week, as if you're living through the war in real time. For example, in most places you'll read or hear, "On September 1st, 1939 the German Army invaded Poland, kicking off World War Two." But in this series it starts as, "On September 1st, 1939 the German Army invaded Poland, and the Polish-German War of 1939 had begun."

Perspective matters. :wink:

First episode of the series:
 

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  • #2
BillTre
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Looks really interesting @Drakkith.
I'll have to check it out.

I had an iPad app that presented a day by day, mostly text and picture, narration of the Civil War as it unfolded. Very little video in it. They had decent maps and a lot of background subjects also, as I recall.
I liked it.

Can you binge watch these series?
How many videos are there?
 
  • #3
Bandersnatch
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The WWI series was fantastic. It would have been very bingeable if not for the grim subject matter.
I was wondering what they were going to do after. Looks like another five years or great content is in stock. Thanks for the heads-up!
 
  • #4
Bandersnatch
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@BillTre - one for each week of the war, plus extras. So you're looking at ~200-ish ~10 minute episodes, and probably something like once again that many of extras (where they go on a tangent, answer viewer questions, etc.).
 
  • #5
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The video below is the first episode of the series. Enjoy!
Thanks, I will check it out!
Regarding the events leading up to WW1, which I personally find particularly interesting due to the different complications,
here's a dramatization that I enjoyed:

37 days (BBC), miniseries, 3 episodes (IMDB link)
Trailers:

BBC also got a page called 37 days: Countdown to World War One.
And here's a book which I enjoyed when I read it: Thirteen Days, The Road to the First World War (by Clive Ponting).
 
  • #6
mathwonk
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I know little of the actual brutal events of WW1, but I felt greatly enlightened by, and enjoyed, the fine book The Sleepwalkers, by Christopher Clark, explaining in great detail the many deviously plotted, some accidental, and tragically foolish sequences of events, i.e. treachery, deception, arrogance, intransigent nationalism and stupidity, that led up to that war.
 
  • #7
OmCheeto
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Never heard of the series before, nor have I ever had much of an interest in WWI.
Watched the first 36 weeks last night.
Wow.
By the middle of the second week, I was already thinking to myself; "Absolutely none of this makes any sense. These people are all crazy! This is not going to go well...."

They have so far, not disappointed me.

i.e. treachery, deception, arrogance, intransigent nationalism and stupidity, that led up to that war.
I could not have said it better. BTW, that pretty much describes the first 36 weeks of the war, also.

What I knew about WWI before:
  • Some Archduke got shot
  • There was a big war
  • It led to the Second World War

Looking forward to see how it ended.

ps. @Drakkith , PERFECT TIMING! Just finished watching ≈30 hours of geology/volcanology/earthquaky/etc videos from Central Washington University, and I was having a panic attack; "There's nothing left to watch!"
 
  • #8
mathwonk
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CWU? Are you an alum? I was in the math dept there from 1970-1974. My office was next to that of a geologist. As I recall the main application of geology I learned about was its value in locating oil reserves.

And I see now there are several links here on the immediate leadup to the war in the days and weeks before; the book I mentioned goes back years.
 
  • #9
pinball1970
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Four years ago, the youtube channel The Great War started producing weekly videos detailing the events of World War 1, as they happened, week by week, one-hundred years ago. Since then they've released hundreds of videos, including many about the weapons, equipment, tactics, and important persons in addition to the weekly release. I've watched nearly all of their videos and I enjoyed them greatly. There is so much about the war that I either misunderstood or had never heard of at all, and I highly recommend that anyone who thinks they might want to learn about one of the most terrible conflicts in human history give this series a look. The video below is the first episode of the series. Enjoy!


In addition, now that their main series on The Great War is coming to a close the folks over at that channel have recently started another series along the same vein for World War 2. It may not be the centennial anniversary of that conflict, but I think we can forgive them for not waiting another twenty years to start. If this new series is anything like the first (which it appears that it is) you'll likely learn a lot about the war. One of the main differences between this channel and most of the other media sources is the perspective of going through the war week by week, as if you're living through the war in real time. For example, in most places you'll read or hear, "On September 1st, 1939 the German Army invaded Poland, kicking off World War Two." But in this series it starts as, "On September 1st, 1939 the German Army invaded Poland, and the Polish-German War of 1939 had begun."

Perspective matters. :wink:

First episode of the series:
I will Defo check this out. "The world at War" 1973 is a brilliant series for WW2, not seen much on WW1
 
  • #10
Borg
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Never heard of the series before, nor have I ever had much of an interest in WWI.
Same here. I don't have the time to binge the WWI series but I will be catching the WWII episodes as they come out. I have read a lot about the second world war so I'll be looking forward to their weekly episodes. Thanks @Drakkith!
 
  • #11
pinball1970
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Same here. I don't have the time to binge the WWI series but I will be catching the WWII episodes as they come out. I have read a lot about the second world war so I'll be looking forward to their weekly episodes. Thanks @Drakkith!
There are also lot of one offs from WW2 in terms of docudramas and documentaries. Obviously most of it is pretty grim stuff and one springs to mind "Conspiracy" 2001 Kenneth Branagh. Brilliant and hideous at the same time because its very believable.
 
  • #12
mathwonk
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One historical fact I enjoyed learning in reading the Sleepwalkers, and looking at its maps, was about the changes in boundaries of countries due to wars. I had never realized this somewhat obvious phenomenon, that cities stay in the same place, often with the same names, for centuries, whereas countries shift their boundaries around due to wars regularly. So in some sense, the cities are the real long lasting entities and the countries are just lines they draw and redraw around the cities. Not having been interested in history i never knew this.
 
  • #13
OmCheeto
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CWU? Are you an alum?
Nah. I went to Portland State University.
I was in the math dept there from 1970-1974. My office was next to that of a geologist.
Then you might be interested in the Central Rocks - Geological Sciences series.
The host interviewed a lot of people. Some of whom you might recognize:
  • Richard Waitt
  • Don Ringe
  • Jim O'Connor
  • Jack Powell
  • Vic Baker
  • Astro Dorothy/ Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger
  • Charlie Rubin
  • Tim Melbourne
  • Tom Sisson
  • Pat Pringle
  • Brian Atwater
  • Rex Flake
  • Beth Pratt-Sit.
  • Jeff Lee
  • Lisa Ely
  • Winston Norrish
  • Karl L & Marty/ Karl Lillquist & Marty Kaatz
  • Wendy Bohrson
  • Jim Hinthorne
  • Susan Kaspari
  • Chris Mattinson
  • Cynthia Gardner
  • Dan Dzurisin
  • GPS & Geology/ Marcelo Santillan, Brad Woods, and Craig Scrivner
  • Meghan Miller
  • Wilfred Woods
  • Brian Atwater
  • Frank Ramos
  • Gene Kiver
  • Robert Bentley

As I recall the main application of geology I learned about was its value in locating oil reserves.
Several of the interviewees pointed that out.

And I see now there are several links here on the immediate leadup to the war in the days and weeks before; the book I mentioned goes back years.
After I finish this WWI series, I may go back and check that out.
 
  • #14
mathwonk
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thanks but i only knew the geology majors who took my math courses, and even those names escape me now.
 
  • #15
Borg
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There are also lot of one offs from WW2 in terms of docudramas and documentaries. Obviously most of it is pretty grim stuff and one springs to mind "Conspiracy" 2001 Kenneth Branagh. Brilliant and hideous at the same time because its very believable.
Seeing the word conspiracy in the title of a book is a quick way to get me to not read it. :oldwink:
My favorite WWII book is a first edition (early 80's) of the World Almanac of World War II that I've read at least 10 times cover to cover. The book is broken into three main sections - Chronology, Weapons and Equipment and Biographies. The chronology section covers what happened on a daily basis - very similar to the videos' weekly basis. It will be very interesting to see the differences in coverage between the two.
 
  • #16
Drakkith
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By the middle of the second week, I was already thinking to myself; "Absolutely none of this makes any sense. These people are all crazy! This is not going to go well...."
An abridged version:

Austria-Hungary: "Ok Serbia. Some of your people assasinated our Archduke. Here are our terms to let us crack down on such violence. Agree or it's war."
Serbia: "Yeah, they've been kind of a pain. Let's have a look at your terms... Okay, most of these seem pretty acceptable. We'd just like to sit down with a few other countries and talk about one of them."
Austria-Hungary: "Unacceptable!" *declares war*
Everyone else in Europe: "Why!?" :H

ps. @Drakkith , PERFECT TIMING! Just finished watching ≈30 hours of geology/volcanology/earthquaky/etc videos from Central Washington University, and I was having a panic attack; "There's nothing left to watch!"
Glad to be of service!
 
  • #17
mathwonk
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there is a slightly different version in the book i read. the serbians denied any official involvement with the assassination, even though it was proved that it had been planned and funded by serbian military intelligence (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragutin_Dimitrijević); indeed they recruited, trained, and funded the participants; which is, at least today, proved beyond doubt. so the austrians claimed a right and obligation to retaliate but were restrained by other countries, especially with the connivance of the french official raymond poincare, who greatly feared the germans. Any retaliation by the austrians was obligated to be backed by the germans and the french feared destruction by same. So the role of the english became crucial. lord grey (of the famous tea blend) muddied the waters by assuring the french that england would join on their side if the germans acted, and simultaneously assured the germans that england would not intervene. the various alliances between other countries, russia, etc... became glue that pulled more actors in if any of several countries acted. Peace was hampered when a prominent voice favoring reason and peace suddenly died, and another diplomat who died of natural causes was rumored to have been murdered. all this is laid out in many original documents and letters, very entertaining to read, even in translation. the childish behavior of the leaders in russia and germany is particularly interesting in a head shaking way, (see "willy-nicky telegrams"). Some of the participants, especially monarchs, (i.e. Kaiser Wilhelm II and King George V and Tsar Nicolas's wife), were all grandchildren of queen victoria. i came away with the impression that serbia foremost, then france and england, perhaps russia, were largely to blame, as opposed to my assumptions going in.

quoting contemporary documents, he argues that poincare's remarks to the russians are in effect "denying in advance the credibility of any findings the austrians might produce in their enquiry into the background of the assassinations. It amounted to declaring that france did not and would not accept that the serbian government bore any responsibility whatsoever for the murders in sarajevo and that any demands made upon belgrade would be illegitimate.'" This was the basis for denying the austrians the right to make any ultimatum. Of course we know now, as in fact was already clear at the time, serbian military intelligence was entirely responsible for the murders.
 
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  • #18
mathwonk
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ironically, the reason extreme serbian nationalists chose to assassinate Ferdinand was that he was a relative "good guy" who wanted to ease the oppression of the subject serbs, since this would lessen the resentment the nationalists wanted to leverage to regain control. this group represented one that wished to regain the prominence that serbs had enjoyed centuries earlier over the maximum amount of territory. the interesting phenomenon mentioned above of the redrawing of national boundaries plays a role here: certain groups hark back to that point in history during which their own country enjoyed the maximum amount of territory and are only content if that same amount is regained in the present. they are apparently called (a new word for me) "irredentists".

of course everyone has a different opinion depending on exposure, bias, or in my case ignorance. i did like, and was influenced by, the book i mentioned especially for its ample use of original sources, just as i appreciate that in mathematics.
 
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  • #19
mathwonk
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the details of the assassination are also fascinating: ferdinand was missed on the first attempt, but insisted on going back to comfort his subjects who had been injured. His driver took the wrong turn, retracing his path over the ground where the assassin waited, having originally failed. Then the car turned out to have no reverse and stopped dead in front of the youngster with gun who finally succeeded in killing ferdinand and his wife. complete idiocy and tragic farce.
 
  • #20
pinball1970
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Seeing the word conspiracy in the title of a book is a quick way to get me to not read it. :oldwink:
My favorite WWII book is a first edition (early 80's) of the World Almanac of World War II that I've read at least 10 times cover to cover. The book is broken into three main sections - Chronology, Weapons and Equipment and Biographies. The chronology section covers what happened on a daily basis - very similar to the videos' weekly basis. It will be very interesting to see the differences in coverage between the two.

Re conspiracy
You know I did not even think of that! Unfortunately the word has been bastardised somewhat, it used to mean something.
No this is an acclaimed film and is based on a REAL conspiracy and based on this meeting.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wannsee_Conference
 
  • #21
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The BBC World at War series was preceded in the early 60s with a WW1 series called The Great War (which is up on YouTube) . They were able to include many veterans, who at that time were in their 70s
 
  • #22
OmCheeto
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The BBC World at War series ...
I seem to recall that I was a teenager when I watched that series, so, about 40 years ago.
Having a mother who was born in Germany, and also served in the German Luftwaffe, as a teenager herself, I was very interested, as she didn't talk about the war much.
She also didn't seem to like it when I, and my siblings, a decade earlier, would laugh at the shenanigans of "Hogan's Heros".
Guessing now that she considered sit-coms to be not a good source of information.

Anyways, I'm up to week 123 in the current series. (Nov 2016)

Never heard of the series before, nor have I ever had much of an interest in WWI.
Watched the first 36 weeks last night.
Wow.
By the middle of the second week, I was already thinking to myself; "Absolutely none of this makes any sense. These people are all crazy! This is not going to go well...."

They have so far, not disappointed me.
None of what I've watched subsequently, makes any more sense.

On an interesting side note, about 10 years ago here at PF, I mentioned that I had a map of the eastern hemisphere, doodled up in 1917, by a Scottish map-making company. Below, I've doodled in where my mom, and my dad's grandma were born.

1917.central.europe.png


After watching the series so far, I found it somewhat entertaining, in the midst of the war, that the map-makers didn't even try and figure out if the Ottoman empire was still "a thing".

They included it with something called "Arabia".

1917.ottoman.arabia.png


Guessing that things aren't going to go so well for the Ottomens in the coming months.

The rest of the map is quite entertaining, also, in hindsight.
Very few of the African nations didn't have a European prefix.


2018.09.25.let.us.claim.africa.png
 

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  • #23
OmCheeto
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Holy wow!
There is/was some interesting stuff going on now/then.
Today I learned:

1. T.E. Lawrence, aka Lawrence of Arabia, like me, did NOT like the idea of lying to people, for impersonal gains.

LOA.2018.09.27.****.this.dang.png

[ref]

2. Mexico was going to get Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, if they agreed to join the Germans in the war. [ref]

hmmm.... Not saying that I don't have "any" respect for my sister that lives in Texas, but......
:partytime:

ps. It's a Henny Youngman joke:
"Take my wife ... please".

So don't give me any credit.
 

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  • #24
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  • #25
OmCheeto
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By some weird coincidence, I watched the Sept 28, 2017 episode yesterday, which also happened to be the narrators 50th birthday, which he mentioned.
I'm now up to week 184 (Jan 1918), and there were still very little few signs of intelligent life on the planet.
I was almost sad, that I'd started watching this series.
But, standing on my back porch, contemplating all of this, I realized, that much of the last 100 years, makes a lot more sense now.

It's also hammered in the "who's" and the "where's" holes in my memory.
Had anyone asked me a month ago, who wrote "War and Peace", I would have had an equal chance of guessing "Trotsky" as well as "Tolstoy".
"The Balkins" vs "The Baltics" always confused me.
I now know where "The Dardanelles" is. (I always assumed it was in France. Silly me!)
I now know where the "Caucasus Mountains" vs the "Carpathian Mountains" are situated. (Until tomorrow. I'm forgetting stuff nowadays faster than I learn it. :( )

Erwin Rommel's date of death struck me as kind of "funny". He was a general in WW1, which I did not know.
I now understand why assassination was such a popular post WW1 method of solving problems.
Too bad they didn't kill Lenin, that one day......​

hmmm.........
This is one of the problems I have with this series: Hindsight, is 20/20.

ps. Looking forward to the end of "this" war.

pps. This is interesting. Tolstoy and Trotsky were born 50 years apart.

Trotsky 1879-1940
Trotsky was assassinated in Mexico City ... with an ice axe... Mercader acted upon instruction from Stalin and was nearly beaten to death by Trotsky's bodyguards, and spent the next 20 years in a Mexican prison for the murder. Stalin presented Mercader with an Order of Lenin in absentia. [ref: wiki]​

Tolstoy 1829-1910
Wrote a couple of books. [ref: me & wiki]​
 

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