Friday, February 23, 2018

Today -100: February 23, 1918: The people’s terrorism must be opposed to the advancing enemy

Lenin calls on the Russian people to resist the German advance, since Germany seems to be disregarding their surrender. “The people’s terrorism must be opposed to the advancing enemy.” Everyone will be required to dig ditches – especially the bourgeois. However, the Bolsheviks (especially Trotsky) still seem to believe that German working-class soldiers won’t obey orders to march against their Russian brothers, which is just adorable. Lenin tells Bolsheviks that he can’t fight the Germans and counter-revolutionaries at the same time, and chooses the latter.

51 US military aviators have died in training or in “unauthorized flights” since June. Secretary of War Newton Baker says this is a small percentage of the men training, so it’s no big deal.

And Navy Sec Josephus Daniels wants Congress to abolish extra pay for naval aviators, which was put in place before the US entered the war because they couldn’t get life insurance, and now everyone in the military gets death benefits from the government, such as they are. Also, Daniels says, increased pay is no longer necessary to attract pilots because now you can just draft the poor sods.

South Dakota’s State Council of Defense orders all educational institutions in the state, including universities to stop teaching German. Later in the year, it will extend this to private schools, public gatherings, and churches.

Bridget Quinn of Conifer, Pennsylvania writes to Secretary of War Baker to offer her hair, and that of her little daughter, to be made into “rope of some kind” for the war. He says thanks but no thanks, as he’s already sold the war to buy her some fancy combs.

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Today -100: February 22, 1918: Of babbling masses of human protoplasm, incarnations of sentiments of order-loving peoples, franchises, and tiny negroes

Headline of the Day -100: 

Taft says Russia is now “a babbling mass of human protoplasm.” Dude.

Prince Leopold of Bavaria, the commander of Austro-German forces on the Eastern front, tells his troops: “Russia is sick and is trying to contaminate all the countries in the world with a moral infection. We must fight against the disorder inoculated by Trotsky and defend outraged liberty. Germany is fortunate in being the incarnation of the sentiments of other order-loving peoples.”

The Prussian Diet’s Franchise Committee, which is supposed to be reforming Prussia’s retrograde 3-tier voting system, rejects equal suffrage in favor of giving some people extra votes based on guilds and professions, because it’s evidently still the 17th century.

Headline of the Day -100:  

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Today -100: February 21, 1918: Thinking men lose hope

Trotsky accepts Germany’s terms.

Headline of the Day -100: 

To quote Thelma Ritter, that has everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at her rear end.

Britain says it won’t recognize any peace deal made between Germany and Russia involving Poland without consultation with some actual Poles.

Austria, which has no such qualms, has either given the province of Cholm to Poland, or given it to Ukraine because of “race principles,” depending on which article in today’s paper you read. The Polish members of the Austrian parliament have been kicking up quite a fuss since the treaty with Ukraine was signed at Brest-Litovsk.

Evidently part of that peace deal required Ukraine to supply a certain amount of grain to the Central Powers or lose all the concessions made to it.

German Field Marshal August von Mackensen orders occupied Romania to form a new cabinet within 48 hours, including no member hostile to Germany or Austria. Pretty much every single Romanian is hostile to Germany and especially Austria, so this may be a little tricky.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Today -100: February 20, 1918: Of war, debt, and anarchists

Russia protests that Germany’s military activities are in violation of the December 15th treaty’s requirement of 7 days’ notice, but says it is now ready to sign a peace treaty after all.

19 ambassadors in Petrograd object to the Bolshevik repudiation of Russia’s national debt.

Russia releases another secret agreement, a 1904 pact between various European countries to cooperate in suppressing the anarchist movement. Russia’s then-Foreign Minister Count Vladimir Lamsdorf defined anarchists as including any revolutionary in Russia, especially Jews and the secret Jewish Masonic conspiracy.

The Don Cossack government gives up power to the local workers’ and soldiers’ soviet. Gen. Alexey Kaledin, hetman of the Cossacks, who began the Russian counter-revolution by defecting from the Russian army, takes it well, shooting himself in the head.

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Today -100: February 19, 1918: Of Kiev, dentists, old privates, divorces, and lynchings

Dispatches from Russia have been restored, and the NYT is playing catch-up. Anyway, Kiev was captured by Bolsheviks on the 8th after days of fighting between the forces of the Ukrainian Republic, which was negotiating peace with Germany, and Russian-backed local reds.

Arthur Newton Davis of Piqua, Ohio leaves Germany. He was Kaiser Wilhelm’s personal dentist. He says the kaiser thinks the US contribution to the war will be small because he is being told that so many US transport ships have been sunk that only 30,000 soldiers have arrived in France.

Germany resumes military operations in Russia. Germany is playing up stories of anarchy and crime in Livonia and the Baltics, which are surely crying out for some good old-fashioned German order.

Russia claims to have intercepted a message from Gen. Dowbor-Muśnicki of the Polish 1st Corps, which broke away from the Russian army some time back, offering complete obedience to Germany. That seems unlikely, but the Poles don’t have a lot of room for maneuver (when do they ever?).

A Canadian private is sent home because he’s 73 years old (he does get to meet the king first).

A black man is lynched near Fayetteville, Georgia.

The Bolsheviks have simplified the divorce process. Many people are now getting divorced.

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Today -100: February 18, 1918: Will you co-operate or will you obstruct?

Soldiers maraud through the streets of Petrograd, looting and robbing.

Pres. Wilson ends a shipyard strike by telegramming the head of the union (with whom he refused to meet) the question “Will you co-operate or will you obstruct?” and telling him that the strike gives aid and comfort to the enemy. He says the government will decide on their demands.

John Reed won’t be consul for Russia in New York after all, I’m not sure why. Evidently the idea of the appointment was to protect Reed’s notes from being censored by US authorities.

Attorney General Thomas Gregory says 500,000 (or possibly 300,000; the article has both figures) American volunteers are helping fight espionage. “I give this information to be set at rest the German spy hysteria that fills the nation.”

Headline of the Day -100: 

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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Today -100: February 17, 1918: Of hostages and cholms

The German press is claiming that Russia is rounding up German nationals to use as hostages and that Russian troops are not demobilizing as was promised.

The German-Ukraine peace agreement gives Ukraine some of Poland’s territory (Cholm). The Polish “cabinet,” puppet government though it is, resigns in protest.

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Friday, February 16, 2018

Today -100: February 16, 1918: Camarade république

Russian Foreign Minister Leon Trotsky says that Russia has indeed withdrawn from the war, and from its alliance with the Entente. Trotsky’s idea seems to be No War, No Peace, in which there is no fighting but also no humiliating peace treaty. But will Germany abide by that?

Spoiler Alert: No.

Russia has blocked news reports to London (and presumably elsewhere) for a week, except for official announcements. No one’s sure exactly why.

A mob in Mount Olive, Illinois, rounds up alleged pro-Germans, beats them up, and forces one of them to kiss every star in the flag. If that doesn’t teach them to love America, I don’t know what will.

France is smuggling instructions on how to surrender to German soldiers – in sausages. The codeword is “camarade république.”

Vernon Castle, the dancer played by Fred Astaire in The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939), dies in an aviation accident; he was a captain in the Royal Flying Corps killed while training another pilot in Fort Worth, where there have been a bunch of crashes recently.

The Canadian government says women’s suffrage will be in place by the next election.

Headline of the Day -100: Lunatic right-wing Member of Parliament Noel Pemberton Billing publishes an article in his journal Vigilante implying that dancer Maud Allan, currently appearing in a private production of Oscar Wilde’s Salome (private because Wilde’s plays are still banned in Britain), is a lesbian who is associated with pro-German homosexual conspirators or something. The article is titled “The Cult of the Clitoris,” because of course it is. Pemberton Billing has previously claimed that there are 47,000 perverts in Britain being blackmailed by German agents. This article says that if the police seize the names of ticket-holders, they’ll have identified many of the 47,000. He says the wives of many men in high office (he implies former prime minister Asquith’s wife Margot is one) reveal state secrets in a state of lesbian ecstasy. Allan will sue Billing for libel but will lose. Allan’s lawyers will say that the term “cult of the clitoris” could only mean lesbian, while Pemberton Billing will claim that only a lesbian would even know the word. An expert medical witness Dr. Serrell Cooke will say that clitoris is a Greek term which “has nothing to do with ordinary language; nobody but a medical man, or people interested in that kind of thing would understand the term”. You know, perverts. When “unduly excited or overdeveloped, [the clitoris] possessed the most dreadful influence on any woman.” Pemberton Billing says the public could not be corrupted by his use of the term because the word was known only to doctors – and people who were already corrupted. I’m barely scratching the surface of the craziness of the trial: Bosie! sex murders!

The case will be the first ever discussion of lesbianism in the British popular press (the judge, who is called Justice Darling because of course he is, begged the press, in vain, not to report the details) and the first appearance of the word clitoris in the London Times.

Oh, and Maud Allan actually was totally a lesbian.

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Today -100: February 15, 1918: Of rows and living color

Headline of the Day -100: 

Last week at Brest-Litovsk.

Leon Forrest Douglass, an inventor responsible for numerous innovations, past and future, in photography and phonography, including the Victrola, exhibits a device for making motion pictures... in color! His test film features bathing girls and Indian scenes, forest fires, waterfalls, and other metaphors.

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