"Sopherl! Sopherl! Sterbe nicht! Bleibe am Leben für unsere Kinder!
|28 June 1914, about 1045.|
And by war's end, they would all be gone, after a "war to end all wars", as it was called at the time. It didn't. The aftermath of what was to be The War To End All Wars 1) set the stage for another even worse world war involving new and worse powers, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, and 2) in the disposition by the victors of the Ottoman Empire -- ironically for most of its history a threat to Europe but which had joined the Central Powers on 2 August 1914, having been founded 27 July 1299, defeated the surviving Eastern Roman Empire in 1453 and replaced it as the dominant power between the West and the East -- set the stage for the conflicts we read about daily now, 100 years on, 3) transformed the United States from an alternative to and respite from Europe's and the world's conflicts into a major player in them. In reality, the war to end all wars is not a relic of history; it continues to this day.
The German Empire was founded in 1871, eventually emerging from Napoleon's satellite confederation of German speaking lands after his dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire. The Austro-Hungarian Empire was founded in 1867, although Franz II, the last Holy Roman Emperor,on 11 August 1804, shortly before the demise of the HRE, sensing what was to come, became also the first Emperor of Austria, thus continuing an unofficial Hapsburg monarchy.
Napoleon had attempted to model his French Empire after the Roman Empire. The French Empire in turn had dissolved and displaced a general order that had existed in one form or another for 1000 years, the so-called Holy Roman Empire. And that in turn saw itself as the re-institution, in 800, of the Roman Empire, which had collapsed in the West in 476.
The Ottoman Empire resulted in modern Turkey, and its lands in southeastern Europe and the Middle East were partitioned into countries intentionally drawn without respect to cultural, religious and natural boundaries, resulting in conflicts to this day in southeastern Europe and the Middle East.
The events of 28 June 1914 were the match struck, which kindled a series of declarations of war, based on alliances, that would entirely remove a world order that had existed for millennia, and whose replacement has been the subject of even worse wars and social upheaval since and has yet to emerge if it ever does, even as new entities -- the European Union, the Russian Federation, the Commonwealth of Nations, etc -- emerge.
We are still in this period 100 years on -- everything controversial in world affairs now has its roots in the aftermath of World War One. We seem to want to congratulate ourselves on having moved on, from a past most of which ought never have happened that we ought never repeat and can now largely ignore, to a future that will of course be better. The same illusion they had right after the war that began 100 years ago; the same illusion they had each time the human social order changes.
They? No, the "they" is us, humanity. Man's consistent record has been ever more spectacular accomplishments AND ever more spectacular failures. And always thinking his latest spectacular accomplishments mean no more spectacular failures. We say lex semper accusat (the law always accuses), but you know what, historia semper accusat (history always accuses) too. That's why we like to ignore it. Unless we learn from either the Law or history that Man cannot save himself, individually or collectively, we will have no ears for the Gospel.
RIP Franz Ferdinand und Sophie.