The First World War BBC 4, produced and directed by Corinna Stummer and based on Hew Strachan’s book.
Posted by celticman on Wed, 23 Apr 2014
I was a strange kid, there was nothing I liked more than The World at War. I even liked the music. There is no greater compliment than this ten-part series was just as good, if not better. Last night’s episode, ‘War Without End’ was another stonker. It started where it left off last time. Four-long years of war and no end in sight. The Germans had been on the offensive. They had broken the trench stalemate on the Western front and gained ground. But there supply line wasn’t able to keep up. Back home civilians were starving. Industry didn’t have enough manpower or resources. Germany had produced 20 new-fangled tanks. The Allies had 2000. With America in the war they also had hundreds of thousands more troops and unlimited supplies of hardware. In Austria-Hungary 250 000 troops slipped away and went home. At Arien the Allies broke through and gained eight miles and 18 000 German prisoners, with the loss of 9000 lives. The Allies pressed on. In Bulgaria the troops had no ammunition and were barefoot and hungry. The Serbian army pressed home. The Ottoman Empire splintered and the British took Macedonia. But winter was approaching and the war looked like continuing on until spring 1919 when ground conditions made further advances possible. Revolution was not just in Russia. Kaiser Wilhelm wanted to turn the troops on his own people, but the generals refused. He went into exile. An Armistice was called for, but Woodrow Wilson’s 14 point plan had one fatal flaw, somebody had to pay for the Great War, not in terms of life, but hard cash. France was bankrupt. Britain indebted to America and Germany owed everybody. John Maynard Keynes, the great post-war economist and father of Keynesian thought it folly to make Germany pay reparations for every other nation. He wasn’t the only one. A little known Corporal Adolf Hitler thought the same thing. Germany hadn’t been beaten on the battlefield, it had been beaten by politicians. Default on debts that were not their own, was the first step in the path to the Second World War. The emerging nation and world power could no longer be found in Europe. All nations owed money to America. It was the new super-power. Britain had the consolation prize of its Empire, still largely intact, but the island nation was vulnerable and the great riches it had once brought were no longer available.