One hundred years ago this year, on July 28th, World War I began. Both the immediate and long term affects of the Great War were profound. In human life alone WWI resulted in 37 million military and civilian casualties, and arguably set the stage for the next conflict that nearly doubled those loses. Nothing would ever be the same again.
The loss of life is still real here. Even in the tiny village of just 300 persons that I now call home in Hungary, there is a WWI memorial with the names of the village sons that died in this great conflict, oh so many decades ago. Living in Europe means these memories are not really history, but part of life today even to an American as myself.
To many of those who are historically challenged (or are a product of the American educational system that probably never even got to that period in high school history class), many aspects of this conflict remain a mystery. How it happened, why it happened, or even exactly what happened that set off this carnage.
The below humorous accounting of this grave and tragic event in world history has been going around the net for some time now**. While tongue in check though it may be, and naturally simplistic (and a bit inaccurate) in its content, it still gets across a lot of history that is so often lost in the details found elsewhere. Some may disagree with using humor to recount such a violent part of history, but humor, like war, is a human condition and one which can stealthily enlighten and educate: the humor engages us and we learn history in spite of ourselves.
And, as we learn about history we may even start to see some eerie similarities between some events then and those transpiring today, albeit in slightly different geographical regions (and begs the question that even though we study history, why do we still seem to repeat it).
So without more ado, I give you:
If WWI Were A Bar Fight
Germany, Austria and Italy are standing together in the middle of a pub when Serbia bumps into Austria and spills Austria’s pint.
Austria demands Serbia buy it a complete new suit because there are splashes on its trouser leg.
Germany expresses its support for Austria’s point of view. Britain recommends that everyone calm down a bit.
Serbia points out that it can’t afford a whole suit, but offers to pay for the cleaning of Austria’s trousers.
Russia and Serbia look at Austria.
Austria asks Serbia who it’s looking at.
Russia suggests that Austria should leave its little brother alone.
Austria inquires as to whose army will assist Russia in compelling it to do so.
Germany appeals to Britain that France has been looking at it, and that this is sufficiently out of order that Britain should not intervene.
Britain replies that France can look at who it wants to, that Britain is looking at Germany too, and what is Germany going to do about it?
Germany tells Russia to stop looking at Austria, or Germany will render Russia incapable of such action.
Britain and France ask Germany whether it’s looking at Belgium.
Turkey and Germany go off into a corner and whisper. When they come back, Turkey makes a show of not looking at anyone.
Germany rolls up its sleeves, looks at France, and punches Belgium.
France and Britain punch Germany. Austria punches Russia.
Germany punches Britain and France with one hand and Russia with the other.
Russia throws a punch at Germany, but misses and nearly falls over.
Japan calls over from the other side of the room that it’s on Britain’s side, but stays there.
Italy surprises everyone by punching Austria.
Australia punches Turkey, and gets punched back. There are no hard feelings because Britain made Australia do it.
France gets thrown through a plate glass window, but gets back up and carries on fighting.
Russia gets thrown through another one, gets knocked out, suffers brain damage, and wakes up with a complete personality change.
Italy throws a punch at Austria and misses, but Austria falls over anyway. Italy raises both fists in the air and runs round the room chanting.
America waits till Germany is about to fall over from sustained punching from Britain and France, then walks over and smashes it with a barstool, then pretends it won the fight all by itself.
By now all the chairs are broken and the big mirror over the bar is shattered. Britain, France and America agree that Germany threw the first punch, so the whole thing is Germany’s fault. While Germany is still unconscious, they go through its pockets, steal its wallet, and buy drinks for all their friends.
** And with greatful appreciation to the unknown author who deserved to be recognised.