Category Archives: Czech History

IG Farben

   

    

I.G. Farben: the factory / frankfurt.nodend.de

I.G. Farben: the factory / frankfurt.nordend.de

This was a cartel formed by the leading chemical companies in Germany after the First World War. ‘IG Farben’ is the diminutive of the rather more tongue-stretching Interessen Gemeinschaft Farbenindustrie which has been translated as ‘Community of Interests of Dye Industries’. Three of the many companies which joined were BASF, Bayer and Hoechst.

It was by far the largest corporation or cartel in Germany between the two world wars, controlling five hundred companies (in ninety-two countries). Corporative arrangements were made between Farben and Standard Oil (USA), Imperial Chemical Industries (Gt. Britain), and Mitsui (Japan), which makes the period 1929 – 39 so interesting. You may have noticed that the nationality of the first two of these commercial giants formed the major part of the Allies in World War II, while the third joined Hitler’s Axis. Continue reading

A law in urgent need of repeal: the Royal Marriages Act

The Houses of Parliament / gothereguide.com

The Houses of Parliament / gothereguide.com

 Yes I know that the majority of you don’t give a stuff about royalty anyway but quite a few nations prefer their Head of State to wear a crown; some fine republics abound, where the H of S is elected every so often, such as the United States, France and Germany, but there are plenty of Presidents on this planet who would make a fine old mess of managing a small shop, let alone a nation.

    Now in Great Britain a hard law exists which is not as oecumenical as the Church of England claims to be: this law prohibits the heir to the throne (alone among all British subjects) from marrying a Catholic. It does not matter if the heir has not thought of doing so. The fact is that the law is insulting to the British monarch’s innumerable Catholic subjects, as well as being an even greater insult to common sense. Continue reading

The Final Solution

  

The beginning of the end / oprah.com

The beginning of the end / oprah.com

   Researchers have tried to find cogent reasons for Hitler’s pathological hatred of the Jews. Nothing in his childhood in Austria happened which might have sown the seeds of that poisonous dislike growing in his innermost soul. His military service during the Great War brought him wounds, but what influence could Jewish people have had on him in the trenches? The enemy was British or French, not Jewish. Continue reading

The battle of Austerlitz

Battle-of-Austerlitz                                                        Map of the Battle of Austerlitz

Anyone living at the beginning of the nineteenth century might have thought that the battle of Trafalgar, fought in October 1805 would be enough to topple Napoleon Bonaparte from his imperial pretensions and intensely Corsican gut-feeling that he should rule the world, starting with all Europe. But Trafalgar as we know was a sea battle, a crucial one too, but it did not take place between armies on land. Austerlitz, however, did, and it was Bonaparte’s greatest victory, planned almost as if on a model of the battlefield though – that field was in his brain. Continue reading

Romanticism

From the late 18th to the middle of the 19th century there was an almost radical revolt against simple reasoning, the sciences, all authority and most traditions, against order and discipline, which overcame (and to a certain extent subdued) Western civilisation. This was the sweeping movement of Romanticism.

It meant social, political and moral reform, yes, but manifested itself above all in the arts; one could claim that the two major extremes of art are Classicism and Romanticism. Subsequent movements are generally regarded as being associated with one or the other. Continue reading

Holocaust – the comments

Hundreds of comments have been posted on General-History following publication last year of the article on The Holocaust. Some comments are learnéd, some are not. Many are openly anti-Semitic. A few show sympathy with the victims. Some question the figures quoted. Anyone can find out the figures for themselves simply by making enquiries in any office of records in any of the countries I am about to list, or simply asking for statistics in Tel Aviv. For those commentarists who claim the Holocaust did not actually happen one feels sorry for those who must endure life near them. Continue reading

Appeasers and Opposers

Before the Second War a number of leading politicians and prominent people in society in Europe might have been suspicious of Hitler’s intentions, but preferred to come to terms with him, if they could. These were the Appeasers. They include Britain’s Prime Minister at the time, Neville Chamberlain, and his French colleague Edouard Daladier. But in Britain there were also Opposers, those who actively opposed the idea of going to war with Hitler at all.

The German Chancellor’s demands, made principally between 1936 and 1939, were exorbitant, and fuelled by his need for revenge against the Powers which had sentenced Germany to pay for the First World War, bringing about massive inflation and loss of national pride. The Appeasers seemed willing to accede to Hitler’s demands, much to the fury of Winston Churchill, a leading opponent of appeasement. For this stance he was (and still is), accused of warmongering. Continue reading

The Communist Parties

The word itself – ‘Communist’ – was certainly first heard as long ago as the 1840s. Both Karl Marx (q.v.) and his promoter Engels used the word, but it was not until after the Russian Revolution (q.v.) of 1917 that fervid Marxists detached themselves from the more moderate Social Democrat Parties, to form groups (and committees) called Communist Parties. In Russia, Bolsheviks did not officially adopt the term until 1918. When the news of the shooting of the royal family spread, it was considered wise to tone down the ‘Ekaterinburg/Bolshevik’ connection, replacing ‘bolshevik’ by a little-known word. There had been ‘Communes’ in Europe, especially in France, but ‘Communists’ was something new. Continue reading

The Ausgleich or Compromise of 1867

Essential knowledge for students of European history, this was the agreement between the Austrian government in Vienna, led by Beust, and two moderate Hungarian politicians, Deák and Andrassy, leading to the transformation of what was then the Austrian Empire into the dual monarchy of ‘Austro- or Austria/Hungary’. As this signified the combination of the considerable powers of two influential nations, neither known as ‘homely’ or even peace-loving, the Compromise was witnessed with some scepticism and not a little alarm by the rest of Continent, starting with France, Russia and Great Britain.

Territories of the Emperor Franz or Francis Joseph (Austria) were divided into what was technically called ‘Austria’ (lands represented in the Imperial Parliament), and the Kingdom of Hungary. In the latter state the Magyars were allowed to dominate their subject peoples. Continue reading