Alexander II, the second son of Nicholas I was born in 1818. It is true but sad to say that the only significant reforms made in Russia in all the nineteenth century were carried out by him; yet his reward at the age of seventy-one was to be murdered.
As a boy and young man he liked to imitate his father’s admiration for autocracy, and announced that he had not the least intention of allowing any of the Czar’s powers to be diverted into a popularly elected parliamentary assembly, when he, too, became Czar. The surprising reforms probably came about because of the unsuccessful Crimean War (q.v.), which clearly showed the world that Russia was not the all-powerful military nation she aspired to be. Chiefly, there was the lack of money, a direct result of a ‘serf-based’ economy in a largely agricultural state. Continue reading →
Wars are expensive, brutal and finally useless, as long as human beings will kill others in an argument over territory or sovereignty. The longer they last the worse, it seems, the agreements invented in the ‘peace treaties’ are. This is the first of a series of analyses of famous Congresses or Peace Treaties which left a decidedly nasty taste in the mouth on both sides. Continue reading →
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 →
This preamble to the United Nations has vanished without trace. It was one of the oddest disasters waiting to happen the world has ever seen. It appeared after the Treaty of Versailles (1918 – 25) had sealed the fate of this planet. Indeed its creation was the last and most important of President Woodrow Wilson of the United States’ famous ‘Fourteen Points’. Wilson insisted that it should appear in each one of the peace treaties, covering the Covenent or Constitution of the League. But then the United States itself refused to join. Continue reading →
In our last post (No. 300) we took a brief look at the Finnish-Russian War of 1939/40. This war was incalculably important in the history of the twentieth century, but few historians have applied themselves to it. Here we take a broader look at Finland itself. Continue reading →
Not really, because this war was not won by ‘David’. Otherwise, the similarities are notable. In November, 1939, only a couple of months after the beginning of World War II, Soviet Russia decided that her frontiers should be moved back on the Karelian Isthmus, in order to make Leningrad more secure. The Soviets also wanted a long-term lease on the important port of Hanko, commanding an entrance to the Gulf of Finland, as well as territory in the north (near Petsamo) to protect the sea-route to Murmansk. Continue reading →