The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
One hundred years ago on Nov. 11, World War I ended with a stalemate.
The date was later called Armistice Day. The war has also been called the “Great War,” because up to that time, there had never been such a tremendous conflict.
It begun when Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, were both assassinated by a Serbian nationalist in Sarajevo (now Bosnia-Herzegovina) on June 26, 1914.
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Austria-Hungary declared war in August, and because of intricate and clandestine alliances made over the years, nearly every country in Europe was involved in the war.
It was the first modern war: aerial (airplane and zeppelin) naval, and submarines warfare, tanks and poison gas made their first appearances.
The war featured many battles, such as the Somme, and the exploits of individuals such as Baron Manfred von Richthofen, better known as the “Red Baron,” who was famed and even respected by his enemies for his mastery of the skies.
At the end of the war, hundreds of thousands of soldiers had lost their lives, leading Ernest Hemingway to coin the phrase, “The Lost Generation”.
If you’re interested in learning more about the war, your library can help.
A good place to start is Joseph Persico’s “The 11th Month, 11th Day, 11th Hour: Armistice Day, 1918, World War I and its Violent Climax,” in which he explores the fighting that went on in the waning hours before the armistice.
Some 11,000 men were slaughtered for the possibility of advancement and glory for career officers, not to mention African-American soldiers forced to fight for a country that didn’t treat them as equals, all to punish the enemy.
In “The Vanquished: Why the First World War Failed to End,” Robert Gerwarth discusses the fallout of the war, with new rickety states coming into being, and dealing with the power vacuums that were created with the fall of four empires (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia, Ottoman).
State violence that occurred immediately after the war is also explored which included pograms, revolutions, and mass expulsions, leading to the eventual rise of fascism and the Second World War.
Eugene Rogan’s “The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East” delves into the effects of the war in the Middle East, a topic not as well-known as the European conflict.
Here, the Ottoman Empire was collapsing, the depletion of its army due to the Balkan Wars (1912-1913) fought just before the First World War, all leading to the partitioning of the former Ottoman lands as they appear today and a cause of the conflicts that continually plague the region.
Other items of interest are Graphic Warfare’s “Armistice Day,” a graphic novel that brings the war to life visually, as well as the DVD’s “World War 1 in Color” and the History Channel’s “World War One: The Great War.”
Your library is online at www.mymanatee.org/library
Speaking Volumes, written by Manatee County Public Library System staff members, is published each Sunday in the Bradenton Herald. David Breakfield is a reference librarian at the Downtown Central Library.