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Wednesday, 13 March 2013

1913/2013, The Demons Are Merely Sleeping


Jean-Claude Juncker (Der Spiegel) is not the first person to draw parallels between the years 1913 and 2013.

He highlights the mood of complacency.

SPIEGEL: You're exaggerating. No one today seriously doubts peace and friendship in Europe.

Juncker: That's true. But anyone who believes that the eternal issue of war and peace in Europe has been permanently laid to rest could be making a monumental error. The demons haven't been banished; they are merely sleeping, as the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo have shown us. I am chilled by the realization of how similar circumstances in Europe in 2013 are to those of 100 years ago.

SPIEGEL: 1913 was the year before the outbreak of World War I. Do you seriously believe that there will be armed conflict in Europe?

Juncker: No, but I see obvious parallels with regard to people's complacency. In 1913, many people believed that they would never again be a war in Europe. The great powers of the Continent were economically so strongly intermeshed that there was the widespread opinion that they could simply no longer afford to engage in military conflicts. Primarily in Western and Northern Europe, there was a complete sense of complacency based on the assumption that peace had been secured forever.

***

In 1913, some influential people cared about little else than hunting, shooting and fishing.




It depends where you lived and whether you were rich or poor.

In the Balkans? The First and Second Balkan Wars. The Liberation of Ioannina, Macedonia divided. King George I assassinated in Thessaloniki. Kaiser Wilhelm on Corfu.

In the Arts? The premiere in Paris of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring; publication of Franz Kafka's story The Judgement, of D.H. Lawrence's novel Sons and Lovers and his poetry collection Love Poems and Others, of Robert Frost's first volume of poetry, A Boy's Will, of Yeats'  poem September 1913 (The Irish Times, Sept 8, 1913).  Pablo Picasso, Guitar.

D H Lawrence, Wedding Morn:

The morning breaks like a pomegranate
 In shining crack of red... 

Complacency?

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