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Lecture 3

History 1810E - Lecture 3.docx

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Department
History
Course Code
History 1810E
Professor
Margaret Mc Glynn

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History 1810E Monday January 13 Lecture 3 Enthusiasm for War Outline: I. The Declaration of War II. Background III. Canada’s Position IV. The First Contingent Recap: • Canada had changed quite a bit since the 1880s • The population had risen to about 7 million • It had become more urban and industrialized (but the majority of Canadians lived in rural areas – around 75%) • The population was more diverse (due to waves of immigration from Europe), but the majority of the population (around 75%) was born in Canada o Primarily they used immigration at this time to grow the industrial labour force • It was a very religious society o The churches mattered for both spiritual and social reasons • Society placed a lot of value on self-reliance and civic duty o You were expected to take care of things yourself o It was more important what you did than who you were • From 1895-1910, they had the largest sustained period of economic activity • There was still a lot of optimism in the country at this time • Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier made his prediction just before the war came that the 20 century would belong to Canada • Everything that Canadians believed to be constants in their lives was thrown up in the air with the declaration of war 1. The Declaration of War • When German troops crossed into neutral Belgium in August of 1914, there were many discussion groups and conferences to deal with this conflict. • The British government ultimately decided that an ultimatum would be sent to the German government: that they would remove all troops from Belgium by a certain time, or a state of war would be in effect between Britain and Germany. • After this ultimatum was given, everyone went home and waited to see if Germany would respond. o When it was clear that there would be no response, British clerks gathered up some pre-written telegrams that said: “See preface defence scheme, war has broken out with Germany” and took them to the public post office, sending them out across the governments of the British Empire o This was the declaration of war 2. Background • If you asked anyone at this time, no one would have been able to explain the reasons for war (most people didn’t know why, and most people didn’t care) • Example: In Rilla of Ingleside, Jack Elliott comes into the party and says that war has come – he doesn’t know why, he only knows that war is here • Pre-war Arms Race – The belief that Germany was threatening Britain’s position as the pre-eminent naval power in the world. They were catching up to Britain in terms of industrial growth, and this was a threat that Britain couldn’t allow o In some ways, it was a war of empires • There was a spreading sense of nationalism – Fueled mostly by an expanding press and rising literacy rates, making it easier for newspapers and politicians to spread aggressive and nationalist ideas • The Balkans – They were part of the Austria-Hungary Empire ruled from Vienna, but most of the population didn’t speak German, had no cultural or historical sympathy with Vienna or Austria, and they weren’t interested in being Austrian o They had been drifting away from the empire before 1914 o They wanted freedom from foreign rule o A group of them assassinated Franz Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo, which had an impact because for most governments, war was preferable to peace. • Today we see war as the last resort, but in 1914, war was a policy choice. At this time, the pros of going to war were more important than being at peace, and most people assumed that the war would be short. o It wouldn’t be good if war interrupted the economy, but if it was short (3-4 months), it wouldn’t hurt the economy and would be over quickly o In 1914, some governments actively worked towards war. The rest of the governments may not have been as active, but they didn’t do much to discourage it. There were many things that were worse than war • In response to the assassination of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand, the Austrian government sent an ultimatum to Serbia that was specifically written so Serbia could not accept the ultimatum (to ensure that war ensued). • Germany decided to stand by Austria-Hungary, regardless of the circumstances. • Russia announced that it would defend Serbia if they were attacked. o The French and British governments said they would support Russia • At this point, the British government posed a peace conference while the world was still at peace o They wanted to bring all of the leaders together and have them talk things out without actually having to go to war o No one was interested – the Austrians in particular were not interested in peace (if they didn’t go to war, the empire would probably fall apart… they wanted a short war to reinvigorate the empire) • The Austrians went ahead and declared war on Serbia • At this point, it was still a localized, regional war (there was no reason that this couldn’t just be the third Balkan war) • Austria-Hungary mobilized its reserves around the world, who came to Europe • By the end of July, Canada was in a
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