Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Abdication

The Arms of Krupp centers on the family that armed Germany (and most of the world) from its formation to the horrible era of Nazi barbarism. It's a good read so far (300 pages in, at the eve of WW1). In the book, Kaiser Wilhelm II is spotlighted as the Kaisers were so entwined with the Krupps it was as if the Krupps were royal cousins. While in a college course and as an adult, I have read about Germany, their peculiar problems, the start of World War I, and this Kaiser figure is very interesting in a historical context. He rises to power after his father consolidates the German nation with Bismarck's political skills and Krupps cannons. He spends years saber rattling and itching for a fight. He thens picks a fight with just about everyone. His people suffer total warfare, his military fights in horrible trench warfare, and the country loses without a soldier ever marching on German soil. He abdicates the throne and lives peacefully in the Netherlands for 20+ years. Life goes on. Germany has the horrible experiment of the Weimar Republic, to only be followed by the horrible Nazi regime, and this kaiser lives to see both exist. This is not the dictator of some banana republic hiding on the French Riviera for the last 10 years of his life (Shah of Iran style). This was the head of a major nation, a small empire, a huge industrial power, etc. that caused the "Great War" with his instructions, and he just went away, never to return. To think of that being allowed & accepted, to think of a time of monarchs with true power, it all feels like a different world.

In my mind, the only current comparison I could make would be for Putin to start a war that involved both Asia on it's east side and Europe on its west side, knocked europe out quickly, left the eastern border a wasteland, demoralized China, unleashed horrific gas-bio weapons, got America involved, created a circus democracy in Russia, and ended with him chilling in North Korea untouched. That sounds ludicrous.

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