In the first two parts of this series we have seen how the WWI conspiracy came to be. But more important by far is the question of why it happened. For what purpose was such carnage released upon the world? What did the First World War mean? Discover the hard truth about the First World War this week on The Corbett Report as we conclude The WWI Conspiracy.
PART THREE – A NEW WORLD ORDER
February 21, 1916.
A week of rain, wind and heavy fog along the Western Front finally breaks and for a moment there is silence in the hills north of Verdun. That silence is broken at 7:15 AM when the Germans launch an artillery barrage heralding the start of the largest battle the world had ever seen.
Thousands of projectiles are flying in all directions, some whistling, others howling, others moaning low, and all uniting in one infernal roar. From time to time an aerial torpedo passes, making a noise like a gigantic motor car. With a tremendous thud a giant shell bursts quite close to our observation post, breaking the telephone wire and interrupting all communication with our batteries. A man gets out at once for repairs, crawling along on his stomach through all this place of bursting mines and shells. It seems quite impossible that he should escape in the rain of shell, which exceeds anything imaginable; there has never been such a bombardment in war. Our man seems to be enveloped in explosions, and shelters himself from time to time in the shell craters which honeycomb the ground; finally he reaches a less stormy spot, mends his wires, and then, as it would be madness to try to return, settles down in a big crater and waits for the storm to pass.
Beyond, in the valley, dark masses are moving over the snow-covered ground. It is the German infantry advancing in packed formation along the valley of the attack. They look like a big gray carpet being unrolled over the country. We telephone through to the batteries and the ball begins. The sight is hellish. In the distance, in the valley and upon the slopes, regiments spread out, and as they deploy fresh troops come pouring in. There is a whistle over our heads. It is our first shell. It falls right in the middle of the enemy infantry. We telephone through, telling our batteries of their hit, and a deluge of heavy shells is poured on the enemy. Their position becomes critical. Through glasses we can see men maddened, men covered with earth and blood, falling one upon the other. When the first wave of the assault is decimated, the ground is dotted with heaps of corpses, but the second wave is already pressing on.
This anonymous French staff officer’s account of the artillery offensive that opened the Battle of Verdun—recounting the scene as an heroic French communications officer repairs the telephone line to the French artillery batteries, allowing for a counter-strike against the first wave of German infantry—brings a human dimension to a conflict that is beyond human comprehension. The opening salvo of that artillery barrage alone—involving 1,400 guns of all sizes—dropped a staggering 2.5 million shells on a 10 kilometer front near Verdun in northeastern France over five days of nearly uninterrupted carnage, turning an otherwise sleepy countryside into an apocalyptic nightmare of shell holes, craters, torn-out trees and ruined villages.
By the time the battle finished 10 months later, a million casualties lay in its wake. A million stories of routine bravery like that of the French communications officer. And Verdun was far from the only sign that the stately, sanitized version of 19th century warfare was a thing of the past. Similar carnage played out at the Somme and Gallipoli and Vimy Ridge and Galicia and a hundred other battlefields. Time and again, the generals threw their men into meat grinders, and time and again the dead bodies lay strewn on the other side of that slaughter.
But how did such bloodshed happen? For what purpose? What did the First World War mean?
The simplest explanation is that the mechanization of 20th century armies had changed the logic of warfare itself. In this reading of history, the horrors of World War One were the result of the logic dictated by the technology with which it was fought.
It was the logic of the siege guns that bombarded the enemy from over 100 kilometres away. It was the logic of the poison gas, spearheaded by Bayer and their School for Chemical Warfare in Leverkusen. It was the logic of the tank, the airplane, the machine gun and all of the other mechanized implements of destruction that made mass slaughter a mundane fact of warfare.
But this is only a partial answer. More than just technology was at play in this “Great War,” and military strategy and million-casualty battles were not the only ways that World War I had changed the world forever. Like that unimaginable artillery assault at Verdun, the First World War tore apart all the verities of the Old World, leaving a smouldering wasteland in its wake.
A wasteland that could be reshaped into a New World Order.
For the would-be engineers of society, war—with all of its attendant horrors—was the easiest way to demolish the old traditions and beliefs that lay between them and their goals.
This was recognized early on by Cecil Rhodes and his original clique of co-conspirators. As we have seen, it was less than one decade after the founding of Cecil Rhodes’ society to achieve the “peace of the world” that that vision was amended to include war in South Africa, and then amended again to include embroiling the British Empire in a world war.
Many others became willing participants in that conspiracy because they, too, could profit from the destruction and the bloodshed.
And the easiest way to understand this idea is at its most literal level: profit.
War is a racket. It always has been.
It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.
A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.
In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.
How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?
As the most decorated Marine in the history of the United States at the time of his death, Smedley Butler knew of what he spoke. Having seen the minting of those tens of thousands of “new millionaires and billionaires” out of the blood of his fellow soldiers, his famous rallying cry, War Is A Racket, has resonated with the public since he first began—in his own memorable words—”trying to educate the soldiers out of the sucker class.”
Indeed, the war profiteering on Wall Street started even before America joined the war. Although, as J.P. Morgan partner Thomas Lamont noted, at the outbreak of the war in Europe “American citizens were urged to remain neutral in action, in word, and even in thought, our firm had never for one moment been neutral; we didn’t know how to be. From the very start we did everything we could to contribute to the cause of the Allies.” Whatever the personal allegiances that may have motivated the bank’s directors, this was a policy that was to yield dividends for the Morgan bank that even the greediest of bankers could scarcely have dreamed of before the war began.
John Pierpont Morgan himself died in 1913—before the passage of the Federal Reserve Act he had stewarded into existence and before the outbreak of war in Europe—but the House of Morgan stood strong, with the Morgan bank under the helm of his son, John Pierpont Morgan, Jr., maintaining its position as preeminent financier in America. The young Morgan moved quickly to leverage his family’s connections with the London banking community and the Morgan bank signed its first commercial agreement with the British Army Council in January 1915, just four months into the war.
That initial contract—a $12 million purchase of horses for the British war effort to be brokered in the US by the House of Morgan—was only the beginning. By the end of the war, the Morgan bank had brokered $3 billion in transactions for the British military—equal to almost half of all American supplies sold to the Allies in the entire war. Similar arrangements with the French, Russian, Italian and Canadian governments saw the bank broker billions more in supplies for the Allied war effort.
But this game of war financing was not without its risks. If the Allied powers were to lose the war, the Morgan bank and the other major Wall Street banks would lose the interest on all of the credit they had extended to them. By 1917, the situation was dire. The British government’s overdraft with Morgan stood at over $400 million dollars, and it was not clear that they would even win the war, let alone be in a position to repay all their debts when the fighting was over.
In April 1917, just eight days after the US declared war on Germany, Congress passed the War Loan Act extending $1 billion in credit to the Allies. The first payment of $200 million went to the British and the entire amount was immediately handed over to Morgan as partial payment on their debt to the bank. When, a few days later, $100 million was parceled out to the French government, it, too, was promptly returned to the Morgan coffers. But the debts continued to mount and throughout 1917 and 1918, the US Treasury—aided by the Pilgrims Society member and avowed Anglophile Benjamin Strong, president of the newly-created Federal Reserve—quietly paid off the Allied powers’ war debts to J.P. Morgan.
DOCHERTY: What I think is interesting is also the bankers’ viewpoint here. America was so deeply involved in the war financing. There was so much money which could only really be repaid as long as Britain and France won. But had they lost, the loss on the American financial stock exchange’s top market—your great industrial giants—would have been horrendous. So America was deeply involved. Not the people, as is ever the case. Not the ordinary citizen who cares. But the financial establishment who had, if you like, treated the entire thing as they might a casino and put all the money on one end of the board and it had to come good for them.
So all of this is going on. I mean, I personally feel that the American people don’t realize just how far duped they were by your Carnegies, your J. P. Morgans, your great bankers, your Rockefellers, by the multi-multimillionaires who emerged from that war. Because they were the ones who made the profits, not those who lost their sons, their grandsons, whose lives were ruined forever by war.
After America officially entered the war, the good times for the Wall Street bankers got even better. Bernard Baruch—the powerful financier who personally led Woodrow Wilson into Democratic Party headquarters in New York “like a poodle on a string” to receive his marching orders during the 1912 election—was appointed to head the newly-created “War Industries Board.”
With war hysteria at its height, Baruch and the fellow Wall Street financiers and industrialists who populated the board were given unprecedented powers over manufacture and production throughout the American economy, including the ability to set quotas, fix prices, standardize products, and, as a subsequent congressional investigation showed, pad costs so that the true size of the fortunes that the war profiteers extracted from the blood of the dead soldiers were hidden from the public.
Spending government funds at an annual rate of $10 billion, the board minted many new millionaires in the American economy—millionaires who, like Samuel Prescott Bush of the infamous Bush family, happened to sit on the War Industries Board. Bernard Baruch himself was said to have personally profited from his position as head of the War Industries Board to the tune of $200 million.
The extent of government intervention in the economy would have been unthinkable just a few years before. The National War Labor Board was set up to mediate labor disputes. The Food and Fuel Control Act was passed to give the government control over the distribution and sale of food and fuel. The Army Appropriations Act of 1916 set up the Council of National Defense, populated by Baruch and other prominent financiers and industrialists, who oversaw private sector coordination with the government in transportation, industrial and farm production, financial support for the war, and public morale. In his memoirs at the end of his life, Bernard Baruch openly gloated:
The [War Industries Board] experience had a great influence upon the thinking of business and government. [The] WIB had demonstrated the effectiveness of industrial cooperation and the advantage of government planning and direction. We helped inter the extreme dogmas of laissez faire, which had for so long molded American economic and political thought. Our experience taught that government direction of the economy need not be inefficient or undemocratic, and suggested that in time of danger it was imperative.
But it was not merely to line the pockets of the well-connected that the war was fought. More fundamentally, it was a chance to change the very consciousness of an entire generation of young men and women.
For the class of would-be social engineers that arose in the Progressive Era—from economist Richard T. Ely to journalist Herbert Croly to philosopher John Dewey—the “Great War” was not a horrific loss of life or a vision of the barbarism that was possible in the age of mechanized warfare, but an opportunity to change people’s perceptions and attitudes about government, the economy, and social responsibility.
Dewey, for example, wrote of “The Social Possibilities of War.”
In every warring country there has been the same demand that in the time of great national stress production for profit be subordinated to production for use. Legal possession and individual property rights have had to give way before social requirements. The old conception of the absoluteness of private property has received the world over a blow from which it will never wholly recover.
All countries on all sides of the world conflict responded in the same way: by maximizing their control over the economy, over manufacturing and industry, over infrastructure, and even over the minds of their own citizens.
Germany had its Kriegssozialismus, or war socialism, which placed control of the entire German nation, including its economy, its newspapers and, through conscription—its people—under the strict control of the Army. In Russia, the Bolsheviks used this German “war socialism” as a basis for their organization of the nascent Soviet Union. In Canada, the government rushed to nationalize railways, outlaw alcohol, institute official censorship of newspapers, levy conscription, and, infamously, introduce a personal income tax as a “temporary war time measure” that continues to this day.
The British government soon recognized that control of the economy was not enough; the war at home meant control of information itself. At the outbreak of war, they set up the War Propaganda Bureau at Wellington House. The bureau’s initial purpose was to persuade America to enter the war, but that mandate soon expanded to shape and mold public opinion in favour of the war effort and of the government itself.
On September 2, 1914, the head of the War Propaganda Bureau invited twenty-five of Britain’s most influential authors to a top secret meeting. Among those present at the meeting: G.K. Chesterton, Ford Madox Ford, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Conan Doyle, Arnold Bennett and H.G. Wells. Not revealed until decades after the war ended, many of those present agreed to write propaganda material promoting the government’s position on the war, which the government would get commercial printing houses, including Oxford University Press, to publish as seemingly independent works.
Under the secret agreement, Arthur Conan Doyle wrote To Arms! John Masefield wrote Gallipoli and The Old Front Line. Mary Humphrey Ward wrote England’s Effort and Towards the Goal. Rudyard Kipling wrote The New Army in Training. G.K. Chesterton wrote The Barbarism of Berlin. In total, the Bureau published over 1,160 propaganda pamphlets over the course of the war.
Hillaire Belloc later rationalized his work in service of the government: “It is sometimes necessary to lie damnably in the interests of the nation.” War correspondent William Beach Thomas was not so successful in the battle against his own conscience: “I was thoroughly and deeply ashamed of what I had written for the good reason that it was untrue … the vulgarity of enormous headlines and the enormity of one’s own name did not lessen the shame.”
But the Bureau’s efforts were not confined to the literary world. Film, visual art, recruitment posters; no medium for swaying the hearts and minds of the public was overlooked. By 1918, the government’s efforts to shape perception of the war—now officially centralized under a “Minister of Information,” Lord Beaverbrook—was the most finely-tuned purveyor of propaganda the world had yet seen. Even foreign propaganda, like the infamous Uncle Sam that went beyond a recruitment poster to become a staple of American government iconography, was based on a British propaganda poster featuring Lord Kitchener.
Control of the economy. Control of populations. Control of territory. Control of information. World War One was a boon for all of those who wanted to consolidate control of the many in the hands of the few. This was the vision that united all those participants in the conspiracies that led to the war itself. Beyond Cecil Rhodes and his secret society, there was a broader vision of global control for the would-be rulers of society who were seeking what tyrants had lusted after since the dawn of civilization: control of the world.
World War One was merely the first salvo in this clique’s attempt to create not a re-ordering of this society or that economy, but a New World Order.
GROVE: What World War One allowed these globalists, these Anglophiles, these people who wanted the English-speaking union to reign over the whole world, what it allowed them to do, was militarize American thinking. And what I mean by that is there was a whistle blower called Norman Dodd. He was the head researcher for the Reese committee that looked into how nonprofit foundations were influencing American education away from freedom. And what they found was the Carnegie [Endowment] for International Peace was seeking to understand how to make America a wartime economy, how to take the state apparatus over, how to change education to get people to continually consume, how to have arms production ramp up.
And then once this happened in World War one, if you look at what happened in the 1920s you’ve got people like Major General Smedley Butler who is using the US military to advance corporate interest in Central and South America and doing some very caustic things to the indigenous people, insofar as these were not American policies really before the Spanish-American War in 1898. Meaning that going and taking foreign military action was not part of the diplomatic strategy of America prior to our engagement with the British Empire in the late 1800s. And as it ramped up after Cecil Rhodes’s death. So what these people gained was the foothold for world government from which they could get through globalism, what they called a “New World Order.”
The creation of this “New World Order” was no mere parlor game. It meant a complete redrawing of the map. The collapse of empires and monarchies. The transformation of the political, social and economic life of entire swathes of the globe. Much of this change was to take place in Paris in 1919 as the victors divvied up the spoils of war. But some of it, like the fall of the Romanovs and the rise of the Bolsheviks in Russia, was to take place during the war itself.
In hindsight, the fall of the Russian Empire in the midst of the First World War seems inevitable. Unrest had been in the air since Russia’s defeat by the Japanese in 1905, and the ferocity of the fighting on the eastern front, coupled with the economic hardship—which hit Russia’s overcrowded, over-worked urban poor particularly hard—made the country ripe for revolt. That revolt happened during the so-called “February Revolution” when Czar Nicholas was swept from power and a provisional government installed in his place.
But that provisional government—which continued to prosecute the war at the behest of its French and British allies—was competing for control of the country with the Petrograd Soviet, a rival power structure set up by the socialists in the Russian capital. The struggle for control between the two bodies led to riots, protests and, ultimately, battles in the street.
Russia in the spring of 1917 was a powder keg waiting to explode. And in April of that year, two matches, one called Vladimir Lenin and one called Leon Trotsky, were thrown directly into that powder keg by both sides of the Great War.
Vladimir Lenin, a Russian communist revolutionary who had been living in political exile in Switzerland, saw in the February Revolution his chance to push through a Marxist revolution in his homeland. But although for the first time in decades his return to that homeland was politically possible, the war made the journey itself an impossibility. Famously, he was able to broker a deal with the German General Staff to allow Lenin and dozens of other revolutionaries to cross through Germany on their way to Petrograd.
Germany’s reasoning in permitting the infamous “sealed train” ride of Lenin and his compatriots is, as a matter of war strategy, straightforward. If a band of revolutionaries could get back to Russia and bog down the provisional government, then the German Army fighting that government would benefit. If the revolutionaries actually came to power and took Russia out of the war altogether, so much the better.
But the curious other side of this story, the one demonstrating how Lenin’s fellow communist revolutionary, Leon Trotsky, was shepherded from New York—where he had been living well beyond the means of his income as a writer for socialist periodicals—through Canada—where he was stopped and identified as a revolutionary en route to Russia—and on to Petrograd, is altogether more incredible. And, unsurprisingly, that story is mostly avoided by historians of the First World War.
One of the scholars who did not shy away from the story was Antony Sutton, author of Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution, whose meticulous research of State Department documents, Canadian government records and other historical artifacts pieced together the details of Trotsky’s unlikely journey.
ANTONY C. SUTTON: Trotsky was in New York. He had no income. I summed his income for the year he was in New York; it was about six hundred dollars, yet he lived in an apartment, he had a chauffeured limousine, he had a refrigerator, which was very rare in those days.
He left New York and went to Canada on his way to the revolution. He had $10,000 in gold on him. He didn’t earn more than six hundred dollars in New York. He was financed out of New York, there’s no question about that. The British took him off the ship in Halifax, Canada. I got the Canadian archives; they knew who he was. They knew who Trotsky was, they knew he was going to start a revolution in Russia. Instructions from London came to put Trotsky back on the boat with his party and allow them to go forward.
So there is no question that Woodrow Wilson—who issued the passport for Trotsky—and the New York financiers—who financed Trotsky—and the British Foreign Office allowed Trotsky to perform his part in the revolution.
After succeeding in pushing through the Bolshevik Revolution in November of 1917, one of Trotsky’s first acts in his new position as People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs was to publish the “Secret Treaties and Understandings” that Russia had signed with France and Britain. These documents revealed the secret negotiations in which the Entente powers had agreed to carve up the colonial world after the war. The stash of documents included agreements on “The Partition of Asiatic Turkey” creating the modern Middle East out of the remnants of the Ottoman Empire; “The Treaty With Italy” promising conquered territory to the Italian government in exchange for their military aid in the campaign against Austria-Hungary; a treaty “Re-Drawing the Frontiers of Germany” promising France its long-held wish of reacquiring Alsace-Lorraine and recognizing “Russia’s complete liberty in establishing her Western frontiers;” diplomatic documents relating to Japan’s own territorial aspirations; and a host of other treaties, agreements and negotiations.
One of these agreements, the Sykes-Picot Agreement between Britain and France, which was signed in May 1916, has grown in infamy over the decades. The agreement divided modern-day Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon among the Triple Entente and, although the revelation of the agreement caused much embarrassment for the British and the French and forced them to publicly back away from the Sykes-Picot map, served as the basis for some of the arbitrary lines on the map of the modern-day Middle East, including the border between Syria and Iraq. In recent years, ISIS has claimed that part of their mission is to “put the final nail in the coffin of the Sykes-Picot conspiracy.”
Other territorial conspiracies—like the Balfour Declaration, signed by Arthur Balfour, then acting as Foreign Secretary for the British Government, and addressed to Lord Walter Rothschild, one of the co-conspirators in Cecil Rhodes original secret society—are less well-known today. The Balfour Declaration also played an important role in shaping the modern world by announcing British support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, which was not under British mandate at the time. Even less well known is that the document did not originate from Balfour but from Lord Rothschild himself, and was sent to fellow Round Table conspirator Alfred Milner for revision before being delivered.
GROVE: So this was Lord—he’s known as Lord Walter Rothschild, and professionally he’s a zoologist. He inherits a lot of wealth and a very high status family. He pursues his art and his science and his scientific theories and research and he has zoological museums and he’s collecting specimens. And he’s famously the Rothschild that’s riding the the giant tortoise and leading him around with a piece of lettuce on his stick, and there’s a piece of lettuce hanging out of the tortoises mouth. And I’ve always used that: here’s the metaphor for the bankers, like they’re leading people around with stimulus-response, this turtle, this tortoise can’t ask questions. It can’t question its obedience. So that’s Lord Rothschild.
Why is he important? Well he and his family are some of the early financiers and backers of Cecil Rhodes and promoters of his last will and testament. And in the question of America being brought back into the British Empire, there are newspaper articles—there is one in 1902 where Lord Rothschild is saying, you know, “this would be a good thing to have America back in the British Empire.” He’s also the Lord Rothschild to whom the Balfour Declaration is addressed.
So in 1917 there’s a letter of agreement sent from the British government—from Arthur Balfour—to Lord Rothschild. Now Lord Rothschild and Arthur Balfour, they know each other. They have a long history together and there’s a lot of Fabian socialists in this whole story of what led up to World War One. Specifically with Balfour, he’s acting as an agent of the British government, saying “We are gonna give away this land that’s not really ours, and we’re gonna give it to you guys in your group.” The problem is the British had also promised that same land to the Arabs, so now the Balfour Declaration is going against some of the foreign policy plans that they’ve already promised to these other countries.
The other interesting thing about the Balfour Declaration is it just had its hundredth anniversary so they last year had a site that had the whole history of the Balfour Declaration. You could see the originals from Lord Rothschild and going to Lord Milner for changes and coming through Arthur Balfour and then being sent back as an official letter from the monarchy, basically. So that’s interesting. But there’s also interviews where the current Lord Rothschild—Lord Jacob Rothschild—comments on his ancestors’ history and how they brought about the Jewish state in 1947-48 because of the Balfour Declaration.
So there’s a lot of history to unpack there but most people again they’re not aware of the document let alone the very interesting history behind it let alone what that really means in the bigger story.
Over two decades after Cecil Rhodes launched the secret society that would engineer this so-called “Great War,” the likes of Alfred Milner and Walter Rothschild were still at it, conspiring to use the war they had brought about to further their own geopolitical agenda. But by the time of the armistice in November 1918, that group of conspirators had greatly expanded, and the scale of their agenda had grown along with it. This was no small circle of friends who had embroiled the world in the first truly global war, but a loosely-knit network of overlapping interests separated by oceans and united in a shared vision for a new world order.
Milner, Rothschild, Grey, Wilson, House, Morgan, Baruch and literally scores of others had each had their part to play in this story. Some were witting conspirators, others merely seeking to maximize the opportunities that war afforded them to reach their own political and financial ends. But to the extent that those behind the WWI conspiracy shared a vision, it was the same desire that had motivated men throughout history: the chance to reshape the world in their own image.
INTERVIEWER: Just tell us again: why?
SUTTON: Why? You won’t find this in the textbooks. Why is to bring about, I suspect, a planned, controlled world society in which you and I won’t find the freedoms to believe and think and do as we believe.
DOCHERTY: War is an instrument of massive change, we know that. It is an instrument of massive change in particular for those who are defeated. In a war where everyone is defeated, then it’s simply an element of massive change and that’s a very deep, thought-provoking concept. But if everyone loses, or if everyone except “us”—depending on who the “us” are—loses, then “we” are going to be in a position to reconstruct in our image.
RAICO: Altogether in the war, who knows, some 10 or 12 million people died. People experienced things—both in combat and the people back home understanding what was happening—that dazed them. That stunned them. You know, it’s almost as if for a few generations, the peoples of Europe had been increased, sort of like a flock of sheep by their shepherds. Through industrialization. Through the spread of liberal ideas and institutions. Through the decrease of infant mortality. The raising of standards of living. The population of Europe was enormously greater than it had ever been before. And now the time came to slaughter some part of the sheep for the purposes of the ones who were in control.
SOURCE: The World at War (Ralph Raico)
For the ones in control, World War One had been the birth pangs of a New World Order. And now, the midwives of this monstrosity slouched towards Paris to take part in its delivery.
THE END (OF THE BEGINNING)
All over the world on November 11, 1918, people were celebrating, dancing in the streets, drinking champagne, hailing the armistice that meant the end of the war. But at the front there was Many soldiers believed the Armistice only a temporary measure and that the war would soon go on. As night came, the quietness, unearthly in its penetration, began to eat into their souls. The men sat around log fires, the first they had ever had at the front. They were trying to reassure themselves that there were no enemy batteries spying on them from the next hill and no German bombing planes approaching to blast them out of existence. They talked in low tones. They were nervous.
After the long months of intense strain, of keying themselves up to the daily mortal danger, of thinking always in terms of war and the enemy, the abrupt release from it all was physical and psychological agony. Some suffered a total nervous collapse. Some, of a steadier temperament, began to hope they would someday return to home and the embrace of loved ones. Some could think only of the crude little crosses that marked the graves of their comrades. Some fell into an exhausted sleep. All were bewildered by the sudden meaninglessness of their existence as soldiers – and through their teeming memories paraded that swiftly moving cavalcade of Cantigny, Soissons, St. Mihiel, the Meuse-Argonne and Sedan.
What was to come next? They did not know – and hardly cared. Their minds were numbed by the shock of peace. The past consumed their whole consciousness. The present did not exist-and the future was inconceivable.
Little did those troops know how right they were. As the public rejoiced in the outbreak of peace after four years of the bloodiest carnage that the human race had ever endured, the very same conspirators that had brought about this nightmare were already converging in Paris for the next stage of their conspiracy. There, behind closed doors, they would begin their process of carving up the world to suit their interests, laying the groundwork and preparing the public consciousness for a new international order, setting the stage for an even more brutal conflict in the future, and bringing the battle-weary soldiers’ worst fears for the future to fruition. And all in the name of “peace.”
The French General, Ferdinand Foch, famously remarked after the Treaty of Versailles that “This is not a peace. It is an armistice for 20 years.” As we now know, his pronouncement was precisely accurate.
The armistice on November 11, 1918 may have marked the end of the war, but it was not the end of the story. It was not even the beginning of the end. It was, at best, the end of the beginning.
TO BE CONTINUED. . .