Monday, July 28, 2014

An Meine Völker!

Today marks the one-hundredth anniversary of Austria-Hungary's declaration of war against Serbia, an act which signaled the formal commencement of hostilities after a month of escalating tensions following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. The above copy of Emperor Franz Joseph's war declaration, addressed An Meine Völker! ("To my peoples," that is, to the various nationalities of the Habsburg realms), is on display at the Military History Museum in Vienna, not far from the display case that contains the gun that started it all. If you would like to read the text of the declaration, you can find the original German here as well as an English translation.

With respect to this anniversary, a friend reminded me earlier today that the roots of the ongoing violence in places like Israel/Palestine, Iraq, and Ukraine can be traced to the aftermath of the Great War and the failure of the world leaders who gathered at Versailles to achieve a just and durable peace. Though I admit that I am not very optimistic about current efforts to resolve the world's intractable conflicts, I can only hope that an awareness of the tremendous human suffering caused by the wars of the last century will somehow lead us to a greater appreciation for peace. AMDG.


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