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tv   Washington Journal John Mosier and Michael Kazin  CSPAN  November 11, 2018 10:11pm-11:00pm EST

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to 4g networks and about a thousand times the bandwidth, because the way we are deploying it, we're calling it ultra wideband because we are using spectrum in the millimeterwave range, and there is a lot of it. when you have a lot of spectrum, what that translates to is speed and throughput. >> watch monday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span two. now, at historical look at world war i on the 100th anniversary of the armistice ending that conflict. from washington journal, this is just under an hour. >> joining us is john mosher, author of the book, the myth of the great work. he teaches at loyola university, michael kazin,d
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thank you both for being with us. let me begin with you, and the travels to the battlefield of world war i. what struck you, what did you see? thehe first thing i saw was american battle, the american cemeteries are just absolutely fantastic. they are really gorgeous. cemeteries are very nice, very well maintained organize. the french cemeteries were just a total disaster, they were neglected and overrun. the battlefield sites, there is one that is totally still intact that you can go see. a lot of verdun and the argonne, if you don't mind the possibility of getting blown up by an unexploded shell.
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you can actually see a lot. host: how likely is that? guest: people are still getting blown up. that is because people see a rusty shell and bring it up, and of course it is a mustard gas shell. host: what surprises me is how many people died in world war i, the bloodiest war in world history. can you explain? guest: i'm not sure about the bloodiest war in world history. host: in terms of civilian and military deaths. guest: there were not many civilian deaths on the western front. we had one million british soldiers, 1.4 million french soldiers dead and missing. 800,000 german soldiers. then we had americans, belgians, czechs, russians.
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you are not going to get much past 2.5 million on the western front. the russian and austrian figures are very wobbly. i would say world war ii on the eastern front where we are still trying to figure out exactly numbers, but we are talking about -- the last estimate i gave was 27 million. some russian experts now think it is 30, and a lot of those were civilians. host: if you look at the genesis of the war, what happened in 1914, and why did it take three or four years before the u.s. got involved? guest: to answer the second part first, the u.s. was involved in supplying munitions,
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particularly to the french, as early as october 1914. the german press attache in berlin showed american made shells that he had sitting on his desk in 1915. why did we get involved? that is a complicated question. basically, the british did a wonderful propaganda job on the united states to persuade us to get involved in the war. wilson was an easy mark in that sense. he was not big on germans, and he was a real anglophile. he was anxious to help them. the british have made a secret arrangement with the french general staff to come to their aid in basically almost any circumstance. they basically gave the french a
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blank check, and that backfired. the image i always use about this is it is like one of the science fiction movies where someone is trying to reach into another dimension, and instead they get pulled in, so it gets backwards. that is what kept happening to the allies. the whole point as far as the french were concerned is the russians were supposed to make their defense possible between the british. that did not work out. then they tried the italians. the poor italians lost 650,000 dead trying to storm into the outs because the italian -- alps because the italian army had not been prepared, they had no thought of fighting there. it was one operation after another. host: in your book, you say the u.s. decision to join the allies was a turning point in world history. guest: it was.
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john knows better than me, the u.s. troops that went to france by 1918, and it took a while to get them there because the army was small before declaring war, turned the tide in the war not so much because of the battles they fought, although those were important, but because the germans realized they could not endure as long against these 2 million fresh american troops. in 2 million more by 1919. they tried their last offensive and got close to paris, but once those offensives failed, they were pretty much done.
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the fact that the u.s. does turn the tide of the war against belligerents that were exhausted, near he's going on in france, in germany the home front was crumbling. the u.s. comes in as a strong new world power, gung ho soldiers for the most part. that is how the u.s. turned the tide. if the germans had won world war i, we might have had a very different 20th century. host: we are looking at silent film from the home front. how were americans reacting to this war, and how did they get news? guest: this was the golden age of the newspaper. most americans read a newspaper. there were foreign correspondents all over europe. you did not get information every day the way we do now, every hour. there was certainly lots of information coming to americans. there were also very early newsreels people could see when
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they went to the cinema about the war. there was no shortage of information. the information, as now, was often partisan. those who supported the war often said one thing. those who opposed said something else. host: the day after the war ended, surrender is unconditional. this is world war ii, so does the wrong period. it does tie into my question, the german army in world war i, the german army in world war ii. and you posed the question, why was the german army so successful, and why did they fail? guest: they were successful because they basically came into the war prepared to fight the fight in a way the french were not in terms of heavy artillery, for example. their officers were much better educated. they basically lost and give up
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on hindenburg, told an american journalist in 1918, because the american troops' combat performance in september and october 1918. they said before then we figured the worst possible case is we could fight to a draw. after october 1918, we realized we were going to lose because of exactly what my colleague over here said. there was no way they could fight another 3.5 million to 4 million men, fresh troops. host: germany surrenders from times square in new york. i want to go back to what hitler's ultimately inherited at the end of world war i, the remnants that started world war ii. guest: it took a while to rearm because the french and other
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countries sent in troops to occupy germany. the problem is unlike world war ii, world war i ended without a single foreign troop on german soil. it was possible for hitler's and some of the other veterans that supported him that germany have not really lost the war, that it had been betrayed by jews and socialists who had stabbed germany in the back. part of the genesis of the nazi movement was veterans who were frustrated, angry that they have not lost the war, they had been betrayed. any time you have people who believe they should have won ready to fight again and win the war they should have one the first time, you have a very dangerous situation. germany, after the war, there was famously tremendous
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inflation. people had to bring will bear is full of marks to pay for things. the weimar government run by modern socialists was never very successful. no dominant party for most of the time. when the depression hits, the nazi party starts to grow very quickly. host: you wrote about the argonne offensive, one of the -- explain the significance. what happened? guest: that was the center of the western front because it was so big. that particular branch, just the rfv park around verdun was 100 kilometers. host: in terms of geography, how far from paris? guest: about 180 to 200 kilometers.
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the thing is that verdun is about 20 kilometers from the german border. -- is 75 kilometers from the mosel. an army that broke through on the right flank would have direct access to germany. that is basic geography. the british forces on the left-hand side, and the french forces to the west of the argonne, when they broke through, they would still be in belgian, and they would start -- belgium, and they would run into major geographical obstacles. the argonne was the key because if you grab the argonne, you have access to the german rail lines that ran behind the lines. the germans were very determined
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to hang onto their positions in the argonne. the french have been trying to get them out of there since 1940 and have never succeeded. in fact they had -- 1914. they have never succeeded. in fact, they had gone the other way. in the battles for the right side, they had lost maybe 123,000 dead or missing. it was going to be a very tough nut to crack, which the germans knew they could not afford to lose the argonne positions. once you have both sides of the valley in france, you would just roll right up, and the same route the germans used to get into france in 1914, it still saying, the road from one end to the other, you could take the same highway backwards. that is what the allies could have done. host: why is it called armistice day?
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guest: the germans asked for an armistice. the whole deal of them surrendered, in their minds, they were not surrendering. they were having an armistice, basically a stop order for the fighting. guest: they realized it was a surrender. guest: well, there is a certain kind of naivete in the senior german commanders. i think some of them -- first of all, they were still on belgian and french soil. they thought they were in a pretty good bargaining position. they did not realize the extent to which the bolsheviks were going to cause all the problems they were already causing
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immediately after the armistice. they did not realize the brits were going to keep the blockade going. the real anger that happened in germany is part of chronology. the blockade, which is december through june, 1919, which was very effective because the germans cannot do anything about it. what is interesting there is the big three, when they came to paris in january, what they were going to do about germany was, they spent about five minutes on that. most of the peace conference was figuring out how to chop up the various bits and pieces of germany, austria, and how to award the people like the
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italians and serbians and romanians they had brought to get into the war. the peace terms were like the mafia. making a deal you cannot refuse holding a gun to the guy's head. that sank the weimar republic. guest: most people don't realize one of the reasons the u.s. got into the war was the submarine warfare against british ships with american passengers on board and american ships later on. the british blockade of the north sea -- 500,000 people, younger people, older people especially, far more people than civilians died on the north atlantic from the sufferings. guest: when the british bomber command began to justify the strategic bombing of civilians in world war ii, the explicit justification for that was that it would kill far fewer people than the blockade had killed in 1919.
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host: john mosier is the author of "the myth of the great war," and michael kazin is the author of "war against war." you said there were a lot of foreign language newspapers in the u.s. a lot of german immigrants who came to the u.s. in the 1880's and 1890's now involved in a battle with cousins and relatives and friends and former neighbors. guest: it was not easy. when the war begins, german-american associations, which were big, dr. by the money of the brewers association pushed very hard for a total embargo on all american commerce with anybody in the war, which was going to help the germans
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more than the allies. after the lusitania is to repeat of in the spring of 1915, that becomes very difficult for germans to talk about because most americans are siding with the british and the french and the russians. they don't necessarily want to get into the war, but they don't want to support the germans. the german-american associations go quiet. they try to avoid the war as much as possible. there are a few, a magazine called fatherland, which continues to support the kaiser and the german side of the war. german-americans realize they are vulnerable and try as much as possible to support candidates who do not want the u.s. to get into war, but they
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do not take as active a part in opposing as they had earlier. host: one who served, harry truman of the uss missouri. guest: exactly. his letter, his comments on woodrow wilson were pretty scathing in his letters to his wife. he said, we did not come to your -- to europe to make the world safe for democracy, we came to beat the germans, now let's go home. host: another issue, the spanish flu. do you want to address that? guest: john knows the exact totals, but almost as many americans in uniform died of the flu as died in battle. host: the numbers are on the screen. 500 million infected worldwide, 50 million deaths. guest: it was an unusual epidemic because it hit people of military age worse than
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younger people or older people. that is what was really frightening. guest: in late october, there were about 4000 americans in the hospitals in uniform. it got worse from there on. guest: the troop ships, too. guest: yes. the war department was still projecting about 4 million troops in france by early spring. it affected everybody equally. we just all have the figures that we would like to have for anybody else. it was a terrible thing, but the idea that it had a serious impact on one side or the other is basically just one of those interesting ideas because the
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germans, the italians, the austrians, the russians were affected heavily. the germans may have been a little better because they had first-rate medical care. host: where did the spanish flu originate? guest: spain, i believe. i'm not sure. guest: no, supposedly it came from the east. guest: i think the first serious epidemic was in spain. guest: it was. it tended to strike in poorer countries that have poorer sanitation. it was frightening because it struck exactly that segment of the population you would normally assume would be the most immune.
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when we think of the flu today, we all think of old geezers like me getting it first. the other people survived. 18 to 25, they were hit the hardest. host: our focus on the 100 anniversary of the end of world war i. our phone lines are open. please join us in the conversation. (202) 748-8000 if you are a veteran, active duty, or retired military. all others (202) 748-8001. he will have live coverage of president trump in paris, the ceremony scheduled to get underway in about an hour in 10 minutes. we welcome our viewers on c-span. let me ask about woodrow wilson and the comparison of u.s. involvement in world war i and what he faced compared to what fdr faced in world war ii. guest: i have a colleague who did a lot of work on wilson related to the suffrage movement, and her contention was
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that the president would talk to the leaders and tell them what he thought they wanted to hear, and they would all leave convinced he was on their side, and then he basically would not do anything at all. in fact he did pretty much the same thing as far as the first world war. that is why william james brian, his secretary of state, quit. bryant said neutrality is sort of like being pregnant, you cannot be a little bit neutral, you cannot be a little bit pregnant. we were sending the french and the british arms. the french in particular need the capability to make high explosives because they lacked the raw material. host: he pointed out in your book that the allies were inept
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on the battlefield. guest: that's correct. they were not prepared. this is a war that nobody had fought except the russians since 1870. the only people that have any real combat experience were in their late 60's. everybody made lots of mistakes. it is typical in warfare, the side that covers from its mistakes first usually does very well. that was definitely true of the germans. they recovered more quickly. a lot of the mistakes the allies made were, in retrospect, i would sit there and shake my head. it is like some of the battlefields they got involved in, i can explain why it happened. you had a bunch of staff officers in paris who had never been to this part of france. they looked at a map, and they thought -- they did not realize that in warfare a 30 or 40 foot difference in elevation can be dramatically important. they were sending troops to try
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to take places, particularly in the central part that were like 1200 or 1300 feet buttes the germans would get on top of. you would have been slaughtered by guys with bows and arrows, much less guys with modern firearms. host: explain how an assassination in sarajavo in 1914 got this started? guest: there were these alliances that were set up. the french and the russians had an alliance.
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the germans and the austro-hungarian's had a tacit alliance to defend one another. the british understood that if the germans got close to their borders on the atlantic, they would be threatened as well. there was an arms race between all these empires, the german empire, the russian empire, the austro-hungarian empire, the french empire to be ready for war. none of them wanted to happen. the serbian government basically had a terrorist group called the black and that they were supporting -- black hand that they were supporting. austro hungary, one of the problems was bosnia. the capital of that was sarajevo. the archdeacon archduchess, and the archduke was the heir
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apparent to the throne of austria hungary. they were taking a visit to sarajevo in 1914. this terrorist group, the blackhand, that believed bosnia should be part of serbia, decided to assassinate the heir apparent. famously, at first his car into a different way, and then he came back. the assassin surprisingly saw his car, the archduke and archduchess, and took a lucky shot and killed both of them. then these alliances began to kick in. the austro-hungarian's amended -- demanded the serbs apologize and make restitution. the serbs were backed up by the russians, saying it was not our fault. it was just some terrorists. we have nothing to do with them. some germans egged on the
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austro-hungarian's to act aggressively against the serbs. the russians say if you do that, we are going to declare war on austria-hungary. once the russians began to mobilize their troops come which is a long, extended enterprise. the railroad lines were not accurate. the germans say, it looks like the russians are mobilizing their troops. we better declare war on russia. the germans had this plan, the plan shall even plan, where they would have enemies on both sides in europe. they did not want to be attacked on both fronts. that is why the germans justify
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themselves to invade france through belgian. -- belgium. they thought the belgians would allow the superior force of the german army to go through and get to france. they fought back. that is how the war started. once the belgians fight back, the british declared war on germany, and you have a two front war. host: the myth of the great war, how the germans fought the battles, and the war against war by michael kazin. let's bring in our viewers. the veteran, good morning. caller: good morning. we need to take care of the veterans. one of the problems we have is it takes a long time to get out of a war setting. the problem that happens is that in vietnam, people were coming back. they were on the battlefield one day. by nightfall, they were back in civilian lives. mentally, they were not ready for that.
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that is what we need to tell our congressman. we need to help these people come out of this mode. host: thank you. thank you. as we take a look at the scene of veterans burying fellow veterans, what was it like returning from europe in 1918, 1919? >> is one of my stepfather's friends that came back said, we went to europe to make the world came backemocracy and to finally could not get a drink. they were actually pretty irritated. i think, however, what he was saying, i think the veterans affairs people have not really adjusted to the new technology, because it took a long time to bring the troops back in both wars.
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first of all you had to bring them across the ocean, you had to get them organized, you had to get the ships over there. homeould bring people back but the ocean trip, those ocean voyages really helped people decompress because they were with fellow soldiers who days andd and it took days to get there and they had to be processed and they had to get home. >> after world war i, 1919 is one of these years in world history, there were lots of revolutions, the beginning of world communism, and lots of veterans that came back, first of all, they didn't have jobs, and there were huge strikes that took place in 1919. and different industries, there was so much pent-up desire
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for a better life cap -- better life, for democracy home. there were race rights -- rights in chicago, a lot of black americans had moved to the north to get more jobs and whites who lived in the neighborhoods they moved into presented having blacks move in. so a lot of the doughboys came back to a country that was in turmoil and were part of that turmoil as well. and they were called doughboys because? people have it involved with sand, dirt that was on the uniforms. others, i think it was about flour -- do you know the story about this? it's one of the things that is lost in history. derivation of the french
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verdant or something. se things just happen spontaneously, it seems. we know what g.i. is, government issue. world war i really is interesting. go to henry in new york. is at thertion beginning of the 20th century, there was tension between germany and great britain. and rwanda with botswana in the middle, and close to the french territories of africa, i want to quickly focus on the germans need to
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power an imperial [indiscernible] it happens to be on the road to india. remember, that was very important in those days. we also have a treaty with the sultan of turkey and the kaiser to develop oil and to build a railroad from constantinople all the way down to iraq and they were going to build this railroad pump oil out of the ground, put it on tank cars and send it straight to berlin. the whole colonial thing is very, very complicated.
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the british basically were very concerned about german commercial competition. when you look at british travelers who went through that part of turkey and iraq and persia, one of the first things germanmmented on was the businessmen are just eating our lunch over here. after bismarck was totally opposed to german colonialism, , the peoplet running the chancellery where bunch of intellectuals promptly knew better and they get a lot .orse i think the caller is quite right. that was a major source, but also the french and the british were wrangling about colonial affairs because the french were very expansionist in africa. they were running into british spheres of influence.
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turkey was a nervous point for the russians. wasan development there very threatening to them. but i don't think there was any particular -- there was nothing nefarious about it. the british got been out of shape because the german ships were doing so much better than the british ships. for one reason, they didn't keep running into icebergs. host: you quote one historian that it led to the age of catastrophe. explain. as we know, wilson said it would be a war to end all wars beforeld stop
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they got large enough to involve the whole world. but in fact, what happened instead was, as we talked about before, a much worse war in world war ii, revolutions, the beginning of the cold war began in 1919 in the united states since troops into siberia to rescue check troops who were stranded there but to help against the bolsheviks. till 1945 is more bloodshed, revolutions, the greatest depression in world history. one of the reasons why americans soured on world war i and wanted to do anything to avoid another war, including passing the trail of the acts is because the aftermath of world war i was so
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horrible for many people in the world. so it was just the reverse of what wilson wanted. >> he believed that by force of will he could convince not just americans but european allies to make the world better place instead of a structure for a better world. it felt pretty miserably. and he had a stroke in 1919 which became the end of his presidency. we have a tweet saying the term dark -- doughboy cover the origin is unclear even from that war. bob joins us in fort collins, colorado. a veteran, thank you for your service, bob. i am of belgian ancestry. my dad was a teenager during the invasion of elgin and the
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occupation and i'm hearing various stories from him. what does your research show you on how the belgian civilians were treated? guest: basically, that's a very because thel issue belgian authorities basically authorized certain members of the government or just to had been in the army or something to start kind of partisan warfare. most uniformed troops don't like it when civilian start shooting at them. reprisals, the extent to which those were justified or unjustified is actually one of those things that has never been
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fleshed out. at the same time, the british and french really were going wild with anti-german propaganda. we have early correspondents who who didre in belgium not really see anything to support that but a lot of the stories were just result of propaganda. on the other hand, i'm not trying to defend what the germans did. i think this is just one of these areas that we don't really and it sort of political actse are being ground by this.
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>> the propaganda of the british were putting out was very effective. there is a sideline to that, african-american newspapers at the time were very critical, as they should've been, how the belgians were treating the congolese. died inon congolese that colony. when americans were asked by the british especially to help the belgians, some african-american newspapers said? , what about the congolese? they were saying what goes around comes around to the belgians. that's one reason why many african-americans are not as enthused about getting into the war as most white americans work. guest: what i noticed was the
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atrocities that allegedly the germans were committing on the belgians sounded exactly like the atrocities that were reported on the congolese. any african-american journalist or anybody who was really following all this would begin to wonder, i wonder what is really going on there. we welcome our listeners on c-span radio, and in great britain it is sunday afternoon. the bbc parliament channel also carrying this program. we do back on the centennial of the end of world war i. we talked to jeffrey hayes about how those who are paying the old -- who paid the ultimate price our honor. 153 soldiers are permanently
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buried here. it's basically a cemetery that was built starting after the war was over. what the soldiers actually did was, we had soldiers in an area around here from 10 kilometers west, it north, east and did sweeps on the territory looking for our dead. they would bring them here and bury them in a temporary cemetery here. 1919s laid out in march of in the first minute when were buried here -- first men and in 1919.e buried here his hand print and fingerprints are still here today and he basically put down a lot of rules and regulations that we still live by today that control what we do. notice there is no
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segregation of the troops. there is no difference with males and females condo separation of the racks. everybody is spaced out in the middle of the cemetery. they did not allow any separation.ith when someoneforget gives his life for us or our country. you cannot forget that. these men died for us. they died for france. they died for the rest of humanity to try to improve the world. let's not forget them. we cannot forget them. you have been there, what is your impression? the first time i saw it, it just totally blew my mind. the chapel is like something you dicis wouldne the me
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have had with the pope in the renaissance. but the monuments are equally fantastic. the whole terrain done in contrasting stones, marble, groundskeepers there, one of the first ones i saw, i said -- those tombstones in unison, it's a remarkable site. guest: the french military cemeteries are way bigger. 14,000, 15,000. and the problem is also that a lot of times -- the american
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ones you see one person for each grave. three, four,ou see sometimes they only have a piece that theys name placed down. the french guy if there were any french monuments and he said no. only monument we would build in france would be a scaffold on which we could hang the members of the government. which pretty much summed up the french attitude. >> every frenchtown had the world war i memorial for those who died. where is the one in the united states? guest: good question, there isn't one. there's none in washington.
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there's a small one on independence avenue to americans from d.c. who died in the war, and they building one in pershing square across from the ronald reagan building. is supposed to be done in a year or two. how world war i for most americans has sort of fallen down the memory hole. washington journal, live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. , a discussionng of the week ahead in congress. then the government accountability office will talk about the cost states incur for medicaid expansion. be sure to watch washington journal, live at 7:00 eastern
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monday morning. join the discussion. >> congress returns tuesday. the house is backed, -- back working on federal -- funding for the federal government which runs out december 7. watch the house live on c-span, the senate live on c-span2. >> c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies, and today, we continue to bring you unfold for coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court, and public policy events in washington, d.c., and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. announcer: next, "q&a" with author michael gerhardt on the

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