The July 1914 Crisis that ignited World War I.
It seems that from June 28th to the end of July 1914 the governments in Europe/Britain experienced a complete political meltdown, a trillion times worse than the "absolute chaos" in the atomic reactor control room during the severe 5-day Loss-Of- Coolant-Accident at Three Mile Island, March 1979.
Nobody died at TMI, but the European/British Crisis of June 28-July 1914 became the singlar most destructive political crisis in human history, settling right down to business via Maxim machine-guns and industrial-scale heavy artillery to slaughter almost 9 million soldiers in siege warfare and 6 million civilians.(2)
July 1914/WWI destroyed the Austro-Hungarian, Russian, German and Ottoman Empires, which spawned the Russian Revolution, the rise of Communism and Fascism, the sprawling Soviet Union, Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, World War II, the Cold War, a tumultuous Middle East, and the Thermonuclear/Ballistic-Missile Age, which now exposes the entire human race to general annihilation.
___________________________________________________________________________________________"I also want to highlight that in Austria-Hungary, there is [starting June 28, 1914] very much a sense of genuine popular outrage. Although Franz Ferdinand was not a beloved figure with most of the population, his death, and particularly the murder of his wife, was a sincere outrage."
"It was very much like the climate after 9/11 in the United States. It was an act of terror, which the Austrians knew the Serbian government was behind."[italics added] (3)
John Schindler [Professor of National Security Affairs, U.S. Naval War College, formerly NSA]
Page 2 3 4
Sir Edward Grey: Delayed Telegrams June-July 1914
June 28-July 1914: The Strategy of Inaction
Aftereffects of July 1914/WWI:
July 16, 1945: Trinity
Effects of Atomic Detonations: Hiroshima, Nagasaki
Japan: Feasibility of Atomic Demonstration-Test in 1945
USAF Boeing B-52 Stratofortress
February 20, 2019
"The only difference between a problem and a
solution is that people understand the solution."
CF Kettering, DuPont, General Motors
- Intro:It's been over 100 years since WWI, 25,000 competing books written on it, and the exact set of causes (or if it could have been stopped before the fighting began) has not been positively ID'd. Maybe it's because the right crew has yet to take a look at it.
On March 27, 1977, a pair of fully-loaded Boeing 747's, Pan-AM and KLM, collided on the runway at Tenerife in the Canary Islands. 583 died, the worst commercial aviation disaster in history. Who was brought in to investigate were analogous to crime scene investigators. The USA brought in the rigorous/meticulous/methodological NTSB (National Transportation & Safety Board). The Netherlands brought in a crew of aviation investigators. So did Spain.
No university historians seeking material for a book/speaking-tour, clandestine apologists looking to exonerate Pan-AM, Dutch KLM or Tenerife ATC (air traffic control), nor any anti-social conspiracy theorists were permitted to just wander around at the Tenerife runway crash-site.
"KLM, for its part, is the oldest continuously operating airline in the world, founded in 1919 and highly regarded for its safety and punctuality. Jacob Van Zanten...is the airline’s top 747 instructor pilot and a KLM celebrity.KLM's executives discovered to their total shock that, indeed, Van Zanten was the KLM pilot at Tenerife. Aviation investigators positively identified an impossible-to-believe number of improbable but point-specific events, each of which in a greater or lesser degree contributed to the crash. CSI determined the exact timing of those events that caused the crash.
"If passengers recognize him, it’s because his confident, square-jawed visage stares out from KLM’s magazine ads. Later, when KLM executives first get word of the crash, they will attempt to contact Van Zanten in hopes of sending him to Tenerife to aid the investigation team." [italics added](4)
Even the location of the entire airport at Tenerife, immediately adjacent to a mountain, may have been mis-engineered due to a major surveying mistake:
"The people who planned to build the first Tenerife a/p made an X on a map to mark the place [vulnerable to pea soup fog quickly rolling in from the mountain] at which no airport ever must be built - this X was mistaken for the opposite."(4a)On the runway, then blanketed in very dense fog that had suddenly rolled in off of the nearby mountain, KLM radioed Tenerife ATC, saying: "We are now on [or at] take-off."
When the American, Dutch and Spanish investigators later listened to the recording, none of them knew what the phrase meant. No one could figure out whether the phrase meant the KLM jetliner was in position on the runway awaiting take-off clearance, or if the jetliner had actually started it's takeoff roll down the runway.
Now if instead of meticulous aircraft investigators trained in metallurgy, chemistry, jet engine analysis, structural engineering, forensics, mathematics etc., what if strangers untrained in investigations, such as university historians, clandestine partisan apologists for KLM/Pan-Am, conspiracy theorists, sports writers, novelists & even science fiction writers were allowed to wander all over the Tenerife airport crash-site to determine the causes?
It'd be like shooting fish in a barrel with a machine gun; an unlimited opportunity to serreptitiously edit, fabricate or quash eye-witness testimony, change the sequence of events, conceal evidence, plant evidence and/or remove evidence. What more efficient way to unwittingly encourage more and even bigger jetliner aviation crashes can be imagined?
Or take Swissair Flight 111: moments after the flight, enroute from New York to Geneva on September 2, 1998, slammed into the Atlantic Ocean at 300 Km/hr, Canada's Transportation Safety Board (TSB) almost immediately had the Royal Canadian Mounted Police secure the crash site and the recovery center on land. Canadian Forces ships were already at sea nearby:"Canadian Forces aircraft, medical teams, and army units quickly responded."
The TSB took immediate control over the investigation by securing assistance from the Canadian Department of National Defence, Canadian Military Operations Centre, Her Majesty's Canadian Ship, HMCS Okanagan, HMCS Preserver, Canadian Coast Guard Ship Matthew, Canadian Coast Guard Ship Earl Grey and the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Parizeau.
In addition, the TSB secured the assistance of Canadian Coast Guard Helicopters, Sea Sorceress (lifting ship), Canadian Forces Auxiliary Vessel Endeavour, the Canadian Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the Remote Sensing Group (Emergencies Sciences Division, Environment Canada), Convair 580 aircraft, Douglas DC-3 aircraft, Canada's RADARSAT satellite, Canadian remotely operated vehicles, the United States Navy, the USS Grapple, the Queen of the Netherlands (dredgeship) and the Bedford Institute of Oceanography and Canadian Hydrographic Services.
As the onboard flight recorders had stopped some 5 minutes before the crash, the TSB decided on the heroic and colossal task of undertaking to re-assemble the cockpit (where a fire was suspected of starting) from over 2 million pieces (98%) of the wreckage dredged from ≈ 150 feet below the ocean's surface. The effort esulted in a stunningly detailed report on the causes of the jetliner crash.
Whereas, what if after every jetliner crash a Barnum & Bailey three-ring circus of atrociously unregulated opportunists were permitted to flood the crash scene? There might be a dozen separate narratives written up as to the exact set of causes of the crash, each narrative pounding the table, insisting it's the right one. In a furious turf war with all the others, each narrative might seek to overtly/covertly ridicule and defame every other narrative in hopes of boosting it's own credibility.
The domestic and international aviation industry's mandatory flight codes could not possibly accommodate 10-15 radically conflicted narratives on the causes of each crash. It would be sheer pandemonium. A black cloud of such vultures engulfing every aviation crash scene would assure a tsunami of jetliner crashes. And for 7.3 billion people it would be the end domestic and international aviation.
At Tenerife, aircraft investigators also determined there was an intense struggle for the controls in the cockpit of the KLM jetliner at take-off. The pilot reportedly pushed the jetliner's power-levers forward and the KLM started down the runway. The co-pilot reached over and pulled the power-levers back, insisting they had not received take-off clearance yet. The pilot pushed the power levers forward again, insisting they had received take-off clearance. This was moments before the collision with the Pan-AM jetliner still on the runway and struggling furiously to exit.
In ways remarkably similar to the wild misunderstandings and disagreements among gov't officials in Paris, Berlin, London, Vienna and St. Petersburg throughout all of June 28-July 1914, there were were other epic battles between jetliner pilots and their flight crews leading to total destruction, as described meticulously by NTSB in their Aviation Accident Report on the crash of the Korean Jetliner Air Flight 801. and on the jetliner Egypt Air 990's unannounced steep plummet into the Atlantic Ocean.
Due to the aircraft investigations at Tenerife, numerous mandatory changes in aviation flight code procedures, especially the interaction of flight-crews/pilots and Air Traffic Control grammar terminology, were written in.
Aircraft-accident investigators go to extraordinary lengths in examining crashes, and are the single biggest reason domestic and international aviation is as safe as it is today.
Every one of the annual hundreds of millions willing to step onto a technology that would be flying 700 miles/hr at 33,000 above the Earth is fortunate to have aircraft investigators see to it they arrive safely. In such a politically/militarily turbulent world, the immense popularity and success of domestic and international commercial-aviation transport must be considered one of the most spectacular real-time 24/7 engineering accomplishments of all time.
For over 100 years various historical factions, apologists & conspiracy theorists have been waging a titanic struggle against each other (ironically, as reportedly did the KLM pilot and co-pilot also struggle with each other for control of the jetliner) for control of the narrative on the cause of WWI.
None of those groups will find this site all that flattering. That's because the value of the testimony of all those who admit they weren't there but insist they're Sherlock Holmes and in possession of what everybody's motives were at the time = zero.
Since the June-28-July 1914 Crisis was not taken seriously and promptly stopped it's tracks, it produced World War I, the end of which which satisfied almost nobody, making the govt's of Europe/Britain about as stable as a bowl of jello, which led straight to World War II, the fearsome atomic age and the unraveling of the Middle East.
Structural/mechanical engineers, especially those involved in large-scale engineering projects, e.g. super-tall skyscrapers, suspension bridges, aircraft, atomic-reactors, NASA & Kennedy/Cape Canaveral Space Exploration, the ISS (international space-station), VLCC/ULCC's (very-large/ultra-large crude-carriers) & crime-scene investigators can see for themselves that 25,000 books on WWI, many locked in the fiercest narrative battles with each other for decades, is a proof the wrong crew has been involved, stumbling around in pitch darkness in a convincing demonstration of that fable of the blind men and the elephant.
World War I was called the Great War by those not at the Front. Since WWI was such a catastrophe, this website also focuses on whether in the initial stages the Austria-Serbia Crisis might have been amenable to prompt arbitration.
There had been previous political crises in the Balkans region before that were settled but the settlements were arbitrated at the speed of a Greenland glacier, one taking up to a year. Those successes appear to have fooled all gov't officials in Paris, Berlin, London, Vienna and St. Petersburg into believing no local European political crisis requiring prompt arbitration could ever occur. It was a suicidally-mistaken assumption: the June 28th-July 1914 Crisis went from zero to World War in 5 weeks flat.
So, from June 28th through July 1914, was there any practicable way to to promptly freeze in its tracks a local-but-intense political crisis threatening to expand into a Category-5 hurricane-scale military conflict that drags all the Great Powers into the biggest war on Earth?
This is important because it would be easy to argue that even today the fire of WWI is still burning quite out of control. Part of July 1914's immense political tension that booted up WWI continued on to morph into the Russian Revolution, the Treaty of Versailles, then WWII, Communism, then the Cold War, the Atomic Age, etc. Part of July 1914's immense political tension continues to flow unabated into the background of the world, and has never been settled to this day.
As far as how WWI could have been stopped, some historians argue(4b) that the British Empire was the most stable civil parliamentary government, having a Common Law based on a 1215AD Magna Carta. Even the American Founding Fathers, who fought and won the American Revolutionary War against Britain, still praised the British civil gov't, with all of its flaws, as nevertheless indisputably #1, unmatched anywhere else on Earth.
\ Anyone objecting to this approach is welcome to provide full details on how the more stable political system in 1914 was actually Poincare's France (some 40 different govt's between WWI and WWII), or Kaiser Wilhelm II's German Empire, or Tsar Nicholas II's Russian Empire, or Franz-Joseph's Austria-Hungarian Empire, or the Ottoman Empire, or the Italian gov't, and therefore was in a better position to bring to a halt June 28-July 1914's total political meltdown.
- July 1914: the most catastrophic political month in recorded human history:
VV Putin's nuclear, ballistic-missile-armed Russia did not just pop into existence out of nowhere: it derived from the Cold War. Ditto Communist China, North Korea, NATO and the EU. The Cold War came directly from WWII. WWII derived straight from the hasty Article 231 of the Treaty of Versailles and a colossal political vacuum in Europe in the aftermath of WWI:
"This war [World War II] would never have come unless, under American and modernizing pressure, we had driven the Habsburgs out of Austria and the Hohenzollerns out of Germany. By making these vacuums we gave the opening for the Hitlerite monster to crawl out of its sewer on to the vacant thrones. No doubt these views are very unfashionable...." (5)
Winston Churchill, 8th April 1945 "If the Allies at the peace table at Versailles had allowed a Hohenzollern, a Wittelsbach and a Habsburg to return to their thrones, there would have been no Hitler. A democratic basis of society might have been preserved by a crowned Weimar in contact with the victorious Allies."(6)
Winston Churchill, 26th April 1946
And WWI sprang out of a fierce political meltdown in July 1914, the singular point at which Western Civilization went completely off the rails.
"I came to see World War I...as the great seminal catastrophe of this century--the event which...lay at the heart of the failure and decline of this Western civilization."(7)
George F. Kennan [architect of U.S. Cold War Policy of Containment]
"First, how did a Continental war break out...? I think, whether you agree with what I am going to say or not, I think you would agree it is an important question because many believe that the outbreak of the War is the most important event of the twentieth century."
Perhaps you would not have had Hitler or a Second World War, and some might argue the Second World War was, in a way, a consequence of the First." [italics added](8)
"The Last Days of Mankind: 28 June-4 August 1914. It [WWI] was nothing less that the greatest error of modern history."[italics in original](9)
Niall Ferguson: The Pity of War
"The war of 1914 had such profound, and predominantly negative, consequences -- four years of industrial-scale slaughter all but destroying western faith in human progress, the violent break-up of empires which had endured for centuries, the bloodletting begat by the Russian Revolution and Civil War, the rise of fascism, Nazism, and all the rest..." [italics added] (10)
Sean McMeekin: July 1914: Countdown to War
“...the first calamity of the 20th century, the calamity from which all other calamities sprang.” [italics added]](11)
Fritz Stern, German-American historian
"But...World War I was more devastating to civility and civilization than the physically far more destructive World War II: the earlier conflict destroyed an idea. I cannot erase the thought of those pre-World War I years, when the future of mankind appeared unencumbered and without limit." [italics added]
Alan Greenspan [former US FED Chief]: The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World.
"In the case of the Great War [1914-1918] this is, for once, true. The war really did change everything: not just borders, not just governments and the fate of nations, but the way people have seen the world and themselves ever since. It became a kind of hole in time, leaving the postwar world permanently disconnected from everything that had come before."[italics added]
G. J. Meyer: A World Undone
- The 1914 Revolution in European Warfare: The Maxim Machine-Gun:
Since WWI was such an unexpected catastrophe, the principals blamed each other. Semi-hidden agendas were ascribed to several of the countries involved: Germany was plotting to go to war while they were still strong enough, France was plotting to take back Alsace-Lorraine, Britain was plotting to encircle Germany (the iron ring) to maintain its maritime supremacy, Russia was plotting to move against Austria-Hungary to regain its lost prestige in the Balkans, secure the Ottoman Straits etc.
Suppose all of them to be true. Did any single country's alleged secret war plans take into account the shattering military revolution that changed the face of European warfare forever? In World War I, the Maxim machine-gun burst onto the scene, operationally deployed as a battlefield lawnmower:
"World War 1 was the proving ground for many-a-new war implement and the Maxim 08 was no exception...the machine gun was utilized to create maximum amounts of carnage and at the same time could deliver such a psychological effect on enemy troops that its appearance in the conflict could never be understated." [italics added](12)
"We were very surprised to see them walking. We had never seen that before. The officers went in front. I noticed one of them walking calmly, carrying a walking stick. When we started firing we just had to load and reload. They went down in their hundreds. You didn't have to aim. We just fired into them."
German soldier in his diary, after the Battle of Loos, September 1915.
To pick a single day: July 1, 1916, the first day of the Somme Offensive, was the single worst day in British military history, over 55,000 advancing British casualties, 40% from German machine guns such as the Maschinengewehr 08.
And that's just one day. By the Somme's end 4 months later the Allied line had advanced an average of just 5 miles. Cost: 400,000 British casualties, combined British, French and German losses exceed 1,000,000 casualties - 1 battle.
Battle of the Somme
1,000,000 casualties to advance 5 miles? That's impossible. From Julius Caesar to Gengis Kahn, even if they had such masses of soldiers, no successful military commanders would ever permit such gigantic losses, particularily the Mongols. When facing a high probability of great losses, The Mongols specialized in retreat. They did this constantly.
How powerful was this tactic? Winston Churchill said the Mongols could have swarmed and taken over all Europe/Britain but for their change in leadership. From a military-command point-of-view, what happened at the Somme was not a military operation.
What happened to military command at the Somme seems like a logical extension of what happened politically from June 28th-July 1914: a total meltdown. The military genuises in charge of the Somme battlefield seem cut from the same cloth as the political genuises at the European/British helm from June 28-July 1914. 1,000,000 casualties to advance 5 miles is ≈ 110 casualties to advance 1 yard, or ≈ 3 casualties to advance 1 inch. (At that attrition rate, to advance the 510 miles from the Somme battlefield to Berlin ≈ 100,000,000 casualties).
Or take Verdun: A 10-straight-month battle on less than 10 square kilometers, ≈ 700,000 French and German casualties - 1 battle.
Which country's secret warplans also took into account the possibility of 4 long years of trench warfare, 15,000,000 dead, some 9,000,000 injured and the total demolition of the Austro-Hungarian, Russian, German and Ottoman Empires and the Russian Revolution/the rise of Communist Russia?
"I think,actually, on the Austria-Hungarian side, the only what if that really matters, is the one where had any one other than Franz Ferdinand been assassinated, you would have had a radically different outcome.
"Franz Ferdinand was assassinated partly because Serbian military police believed he was the head of the 'war party' in Vienna, egging Austria-Hungary to war against Serbia.
"In fact, this was 180 degrees from the truth. Franz Ferdinand was, again, because he was a total reactionary....He would have been the one, had any one else been assassinated, he would have been the one saying, 'Oh, no. There will be no war, no major power war. No. We will work this out however we have to.'
And that's bitterly ironic."(13)
John Schindler [Professor of National Security Affairs, U.S. Naval War College, formerly NSA]
Since World War I was a global catastrophe that nobody anticipated, those at the helm during July 1914 would certainly have had motive to flee the scene, and pleaded vehemently for minimizing their direct role in the catastrophe.
- Officials in the capitols of Europe/Britain during July 1914:
And when you read their accounts you notice many of the principals involved wrote as if the events of July 1914 were occurring in some very distant land - or on another planet. No matter who you read, almost all make an identical pleading: they weren't close enough to events to be able to affect them.
The impression is as if every single principal during July 1914 was staring through the equivalent of NASA's Hubble Telescope watching events at an ungodly distance away. Many predelegated too much of their own official responsibility to others.
A highly popular alibi that apparently all of them plead is they were not informed of or were not aware of specific events until it was too late to intervene.
If we accept all these arguments, what we have is a group of principals who were never really in charge of keeping the peace, that is, preventing a general war in Europe/Britain. That is, if every single time something major goes wrong all the principals are allowed to flee the scene, in what sense can these people be said to be in charge?
And one answer is that they weren't, they were just standing at the helm, almost like dime-store mannequins, as if they were in charge. The moment anything goes seriously wrong, suddenly they are nowhere to be found.
Their writings create the impression that as long as everything is running fine, the wheelhouse of each of the capitols of Europe/Britain is busy with officials typically pushing to expand their influence. July 1914 appears like a Category 5 hurricane making landfall and each reverses course, striving to telescope, or collapse the significance of their office or post, preferably to the point where each has virtually no discernable responsibility or role whatsoever.(14)
After July 1914's total meltdown and the boot-up of World War I, each gov't official strove to appear to the outside world a definite high-toned, moral & compassionate but severely distracted bystander. Before July 1914 many officials strove to stand out and gain recognition. During and after July 1914's total political meltdown many officials reversed course 180 degrees, striving to fit in, or disappear completely from public scrutiny.
"...the July Crisis ensued; world war broke out in August, with all of the fearful and long-lasting consequences mentioned above. All of these world-shaking events were man-made. They are therefore quite properly subject to human judgement."[italics added]
Sean McMeekin: July 1914 Countdown to War(15)
"...the agency of those individuals, those statesmen who chose this war, because this war was not a natural event, it wasn't a volcanic eruption. It didn't have to happen. It was a war that was, like all wars, chosen by the individuals who made it." [italics added]
Christopher Clark: Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 (16)
World War I could not have occurred without these officials on site during July 1914. The remedy was clear. Each pretended to be profoundly afflicted with a short or non-existant attention-span. Each official utilised the horror of WWI as a firewall to hide behind, as if to say to alarmed-but-sober queries, "How insentitive it is to ask me to revisit in my memory that disasterous month of July 1914 which led to the awful conflagration in which so many of our people perished."
This tactic was used to discourage a systematic, rigorous accounting of everybody's official duties and actions - and inactions - for each and every single day, starting on June 28th and running to the end of July 1914.
July 1914's "performance" was not leadership nor anything resembling sober responsibility and in fact was the diametrical opposite. This stunning political abdication of official responsibility is how Hitler eventually gained power in Europe. This is how Europe's WWII started. This is how Stalin came to power. This is how the thermonuclear/ballistic-missile balance-of-terror ("deterrence") spread across and now overshadows the entire Earth. Because this June 28-July 1914 idiocy was permitted to pass for responsible European/British statesmanship the wheels fell off Western Civilization, never to be put back to this day.
"To me, it is, if anything, more unsettling that a conflict of such world-shattering proportions could be conjured up by such a small handful of men."(17)
Instead of having full responsibility for preventing a World War, what if we let a small handful of men like these "cooperate" in regulating the operation of the New York Stock Exchange, or in determining control-room design layouts of upwards of one thousand switches, gauges, alarms etc. required for sudden emergencies in atomic reactor Loss-of Coolant-Accidents (LOCA's), or cooperate in formulating exact structural engineering design codes for high-altitude commercial jetliners, Golden Gate Bridge-sized suspension bridges or VLCC/ULCC's (global ocean-transport very large/ultra-large crude carriers)?
What if a July 1914-style mentality was given full responsibility for engineering the USA's stupendous task of putting a man on the Moon, or for engineering NASA's bohemoth Saturn-V space rocket? What if a July 1914-style mentality was given full responsibility for engineering the International Space Station?
How about allowing a July-1914-style crew to determine the required strength of steel and concrete in constructing 100-floor tall skyscrapers in New York, Chicago, Singapore, London, Tokyo, Paris, Shanghai and Dubai? It'd be a hell of a spectacle, there'd be a catastrophic collapse of a 100-floor skyscraper in a major city of the world every other month.
This was the European/British political mentality at the helm in July 1914. Install this July 1914-style brain-trust in any other large-scale command-and-control engineering project across the civilized world and the result would be identical: brazen indifference, virtually instant fighting, disagreements, carelessness & pandemonium leading directly, sooner or later, to widespread mayhem and total catastrophic ruin.
How about a European/British July 1914-style brain-trust cooperating in the command and control of nuclear weapons? How well would they handle the very scary Soviet air-raid alerts(18) that occurred at North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) over several years - not to mention the mega-scary 13-day-long atomic Cuban Missile Crisis?
The paramount point is that starting about 11:30am on Sunday, June 28, 1914, those squabbling officials in each of the capitols of Europe/Britain had four straight weeks to make certain - CERTAIN - the initially localized political effects of the regicide in Sarajevo did not expand into a global war (45,000,000 men mobilized) and it still wasn't enough time.
- The History of Eruope/Britain: Extreme Superstitiousness, Plagues and Continuous Wars:
This was the problem in July 1914. All Europe/Britain was being led by gov't officials who, if their writings can be believed, seemed to have scant idea what their most important responsibility was. It's the same region of Earth that grew up having many thousands of knights in armor on horseback roaming the area looking for battle.
As late as 1917, during (surprise) World War I, an American astronomer on the Hale 60" reflecting telescope at Mt. Wilson made the jaw-dropping discovery that the Sun was NOT at the center of our galaxy. The discovery, comparable to Copernicus discovering that the Sun doesn't orbit the Earth, compressed out of existance forever that strenuously-held but hideous European/British inversion of the Nature of Physical Reality, for thousands of years drawing up 100% fictitious childlike maps out of thin air that "proved" they were at the veritable center of all creation itself.
If European/British history books can be believed, people milled around for 20 centuries dead certain the Sun orbited the earth. Christopher Columbus was begged by highly sophisticated Europeans not to depart for fear his ships would fall off the "ends" of the Earth. Almost every major country was almost constantly either preparing for or prosecuting the most violent wars with every other one.
Then there's the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Bubonic Plague, dozens of overwrought Vatican popes across many centuries issuing cruel ex cathedra edicts, fierce religious battles between Protestants and Catholics, one war between the Dutch and the Spanish lasted 100 years. The famous European oil painters depicted the intense superstitution and rampant confusion of the era.
Scientists (astronomers) were burnt at the stake. Thousands of supernatural beliefs and truly idiotic fables sprang up out of nowhere and spread across the continent, inflaming the peasantry. Many thousands (the Flagellants) armed with torture devices would invade entire cities, literally whipping themselves with metal spikes in the belief that if they lost enough blood and suffered like Christ they would be spared the Black Death and later go to heaven.
Reportedly hundreds were burnt at the stake out of a great fear the flagellants would demoralize society. The Black Death killed ≈ 1/3 of the entire population because the Europeans and the British were too busy praying to try (surprise) sanitation. Its own writings are a treasure-trove for dystopian science fiction and leave the impression that life (although that may be too generous a term) in Europe/Britain must have been - at best - a part-time madhouse.
- A leisure-class attitude pervades the gov't houses of Europe/Britain:
The desire to escape centuries upon centuries of unspeakable experiences must have affected every strata of society. Acquiring the means to distract oneself without limit became practically the end-goal of European/British high society, and by 1900-1914 was full-tilt. In the capitols of Berlin, Paris, London, St. Petersburg and Vienna, high gov't oficials act as if a near-constant recreation, daffy behavior & a finely-tuned capacity for distraction were the new official imprimatur of high office competence:
"Viennese society was a whirl of balls and operas. Everybody, from the aged Emperor in his palace to the young ticket collector on the Mariahilfer Strasse tram, was addicted to music. A wrong note on the tuba at the Hofoper opera house was a citywide tragedy. Vienna had eight orchestras and 247 male choirs..."
"By 1913 the Austrian parliament in Vienna was a Punch & Judy show. Representatives spoke in 10 different languages but there were no translators. Proceedings were a Babel of insults..."(19)
By 1914 an intense leisure-class reaction to 15 centuries of awful European/British fighting, wars, supersititions and plagues had taken a firm grip on the capitols of Europe/Britain.
The only way of becoming highy competent in a field is concentrated & assidious work for many years at the job or post. In 1905-1914 leisure-driven Europe/Britain this equation was reversed, or turned upside down: it was as if the more often each top gov't official was able to leave his post (to go off to do what he really wanted) the more acclaim and unquestioned authority he was accorded upon his return.
As stated above, by 1910-1914 French, British, German, Austria-Hungarian and Russian officials had become not the masters of gov't but the masters of leisure whose role was playing at gov't.
The President of France Raymond Poincare was at Longchamp Racetrack June 28, 1914, when he received word of the killing of the Archduke Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. President Poincare had an aide draft condolences for Austria-Hungary and then stayed on to enjoy the rest of the races.
Eighteen days later, as the regicide ramps the Austrian-Serbian Crisis into a Category 3 hurricane, Poincare takes a leisurely state visit on his yacht to Russia. The Germans block many telegrams from his ship. Poincare returns to Paris on the afternoon of July 29th, strolls into his office and is shocked to discover how close (measured in hours) France - the same country of whom Poincare is presumably President - is to war.
"Will you tell me how to prevent riches from becoming the effects of temperance and industry—Will you tell me how to prevent riches from producing luxury—Will you tell me how to prevent luxury from producing effeminacy intoxication extravagance Vice and folly..[?]" [italics added]
US Founding Father John Adams to US Founding Father Thomas Jefferson December 21, 1819.
According to a telegram sent from Belgrade to British Foreign Secretary Edward Grey, the Russian Minister to Serbia held a bridge party on the evening of the Archduke's murder. The Roumanian and Greek Ministers were invited.
(The telegram was sent July 13th, but Grey did not receive it until the 20th. Belgrade to London is about 1,700 kilometers. 7 days to deliver a message 1,700Km is something the Mongol Empire mail riders wrapped in mummy tape (for sleeping while riding overnight) could do in 1200AD. Yet those are the telegraph wires a 1914AD British Foreign Secretary had gambled the life of an entire 1,000-year-old Imperial Empire upon to resolve intense political crises threatening to drag all the Great Powers into a heavily-armed World War).
Poincare wasn't alone. It seems almost the entire French nation was consumed by the notorious Caillaux Trial sucking all the oxygen out of the Paris newspapers. French Prime Minister René Viviani, who had accompanied Poincare to Russia, reportedly avidly followed the Caillaux telegraph reports throughout the voyage. As for Lonchamp, the mega-popular luxury destination started in 1857 in the presence of Napoleon III:
"War games: Finishing touches for the first big fashion show were briefly interrupted by conflict. On 3rd August 1914 Germany declared war on France. Would the show be cancelled? Bien sûr que non! Races and Fashion are indelibly imprinted in Paris’ genes."It's obvious what had happened: the fierce leisure-class reaction to a thousand years of religious superstition, plagues, fighting and wars became overwhelming among the masses and especially the upper classes, and by 1914 it had deeply infected and held even the highest officials calmly but oh-so-firmly in its talons.
"The popularity of Longchamp attracted increasingly large crowds; all ranks and classes, le Tout-Paris attended the races. Quick to grasp an opportunity, Parisian couturiers sent models wearing their latest designs, off to mingle with society ladies and gentlemen. Longchamp became one large, bubbling catwalk." [italics added]