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Who was responsible

Discussion in 'World War One Forum' started by krrish, Apr 29, 2008.

  1. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    If by "standard version of events" you mean the idea that Germany was totally responsible for the war, as stated in Article 231 of the Treaty of Versailles, you may have noticed that I do not subscribe to that. However, saying that Germany was not totally guilty does not make her totally innocent.

    Britain's activities in the South Atlantic, the interception of a few ships running guns to the Boers, may have been embarrassing for Germany, but they were perfectly satisfactory to Britain; no need on her part to enter into sinister conspiracies. Britain had colonial disputes with other European nations, like the standoff over Fashoda with the French. Britain's greatest threat in the imperial sphere was Russia, which could threaten the "jewel in the crown" by land and was largely impervious to British naval power. France and Russia were Britain's greatest rivals until Germany thrust herself into the role.
     
  2. Mecklenburger

    Mecklenburger New Member

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    "The standard version of events" is what the victors agreed upon as a satisfactory explanation for the war.

    Having lived in Argentina over the last quarter century and studied the local histories, encouraged by local historians and other persons of standing, to come to grips with the Malvinas/Falklands situation, I would like to set out here some facts of which you may be unaware. I propose to set them down in Two Parts.

    PART ONE

    After the Battle of Trafalgar, the new world order of the British Empire had appeared in all its splendour. Cape Town was taken in 1805, Buenos Aires provided the British with two rare defeats in 1806 and 1807: the Malacca Peninsula and Singapore became a British base in 1826: the Malvinas were usurped in 1833 and eventually renamed the Falkland Islands: India fell under the control of the British Raj by about 1850: Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India and Ceylon in 1877.

    Other possessions included Australia and New Zealand, Canada and islands in the Caribbean, Pacific and China: Gibraltar and Suez dominated the entrance and exits to the Mediterranean while Hong Kong oversaw the China Sea. The empire-building obsession made Britain into the world's most important mercantile power. The British merchant fleet was several times larger than most of the world's fleets put together.enabling Britain to dominate world maritime commerce.

    So where next? When forming its Empire, Britain occupied all the peninsulas and islands controlling the passages between the oceans except one. That of South America. The passage most southerly and narrow, Drake Passage, lies between southern Patagonia and the northern tip of Antarctica.

    Lord Roberts, hero of India and South Africa, stated its importance in the House of Lords on 23 November 1908 when, referring to German naval building, he declared: "It is not enough that our Navy should be the strongest. We need total strategic liberty." And Great Britain did not have total strategic liberty while Cape Horn and southern Patagonia remained part of the Republic of Argentina.

    In July 1908, Great Britain had already put Argentina on notice. Within a few years they could expect the Royal Navy to evict them by force from southern Patagonia just as the same Royal Navy had done 75 years previously from the Malvinas. Argentina had already just been served with the papers bearing the Great Seal and signed by H.M.the King claiming that the Argentine territory stated therein was "part of our dominions".

    So craftily was it done that a historian would have to be alert and know the area to see the threat. In his book Las Malvinas ante el conflicto con Gran Bretaña (publ. Buenos Aires 1982) Rear Admiral Lauro Distefani declared: "The most extraordinary thing is that this declaration of sovereignty without precedent was so broad and had been drafted so unscrupulously as to comprise part of our provinces of Tierra del Fuego and Santa Cruz, and also part of the Chilean province of Magallanes."

    The German diaspora in South America even at that time probably exceeded several millions. The Prussian military trained the armies of Argentina and Chile. Threats by foreign Powers against Argentina and Chile were received as a matter of course and referred to Berlin, and in this case there is no doubt that Berlin took note.

    *********************************************************************************

    In PART TWO, the wording of the British declaration, and explanation as to the interpretation, and the real reason from the Argentine archives, the only source, for the intention behind Admiral von Spee's unsuccessful attack on the Falklands Islands in December 1914.
     
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  3. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I'll quietly wait for the author to prove his case.
     
  4. Mecklenburger

    Mecklenburger New Member

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    Opana Pointer. Thank you for your interest. I shall have the material complete by this time tomorrow.
     
  5. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Curious...have you even read what Earl Roberts said?

    Because, if you think he is talking about Cape Horn and Southern Patagonia...You are really, really not getting what Earl Roberts is talking about.

    Here is a hint...It has nothing at all to do with Cape Horn & Patagonia. Now go read Earl Roberts and get back to me.
    NATIONAL DEFENCE. (Hansard, 23 November 1908)

    And, of course, the opening of the Panama Canal in a few years would make moot whatever little British interest, in 1908, there was in Argentina.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2018
  6. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    And of course you will be able to supply copies of said papers . . . no transcripts . . . no retypes . . . yes, the real things, seals and all for our perusal . . . English, Spanish, doesn't matter. Show us the real thing, not something you have never seen in reality.
     
  7. Mecklenburger

    Mecklenburger New Member

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    TAKAO "Now go read Earl Roberts and get back to me." Now you get a grip of yourself. Lord Roberts, referring to Germany, said (my translation from the Spanish): "A nation of sixty million souls, our most powerful rival in the commercial markets, the world's leading warrior nation duplicating its overwhelming military strength with a rapidly growing naval force.(...) Guardians of the Empire, we must maintain the Imperial policy above the clamour of egotistical and narrow interests. It is not enough that our Navy...." Control over all the seas, including Drake Passage, is implied. It could not be left unguarded.

    You see, the Panama Canal did not open for another six years, on 15 August 1914. In time of war, the passage of German warships and commercial shipping from the Pacific into the Atlantic and vice-versa would be forced to continue via Cape Horn or the Cape of Good Hope route. This would have been clear to the British. Do you honestly think that Admiral von Spee ever considered taking his five cruisers through the Panama Canal to avoid coming round the Horn on his way back to Germany?
     
  8. Mecklenburger

    Mecklenburger New Member

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    Graham Land
    On 21 February 1832, John Briscoe, the captain of a British sealer, landed on the Palmer archipelago and took possession of part of it formally in the name of King William IV. He called the territory Graham Land in honour of Sir John Graham, then First Sea Lord at the British Admiralty. Graham Land lies south of the South Shetland Islands, its most northerly point being close to the 66th parallel of latitude South.

    Letters Patent
    Letters Patent are a legal instrument in the form of a published order in writing signed by the monarch. In this present case, Letters Patent under the Great Seal and signed by HM the King on 21 July 1908 laid claim to islands and a territory in the South Atlantic as belonging to the Crown. These Letters Patent can be read by entering in Google Search "British Letters Patent of 1908 and 1917 constituting the Falkland Islands Dependencies."

    The Argentine Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the time knew that Letters Patent are drawn up by skilled cartographers who can understand coordinates of latitude and longitude and know how to spell place names correctly. The Argentines knew that the text of Letters Patent is drafted by British Government lawyers able to write excellent English and not make silly spelling mistakes.

    The Argentine Ministry for Foreign Affairs knew that the maps and text would have been checked and rechecked for error, maps against text and text against maps, before final submission to HM the King for signature.

    The Argentine Minister for Foreign Affairs was therefore surprised to find that in the Letters Patent of July 1908, the name of the British territory mentioned was not only mis-spelled, but given only the vaguest indication given as to where it was situated.

    Based on their occupation of the Falkland Islands, the British had now created the "Falkland Islands Dependency". The four groups of islands listed all lie south of 54ºS and east of 65ºW. They do not interest us here.

    The preamble to the Letters Patent declared "the Governor of the Falkland Islands" to also be "Governor of the four island groups...and Graham's Land:
    ...Whereas the group of islands...and the territory known as Graham's Land situated in the South Atlantic Ocean to the south of the 50th parallel of South latitude and lying between the 20th and 80th degrees of West longitude are part of our dominions, and it is expedient that provision should be made for their government as dependencies of our colony of the Falkland Islands:
    1. Now we do declare that from and after the publication of these our Letters Patent in the Government Gazette of our Colony of the Falkland Islands, the said group (of four islands) and the said territory of Graham's Land shall become dependencies of our said colony of the Falklands Islands."

    This meant that "Graham's Land" was situated somewhere between 50ºS on the mainland of Argentina and the South Pole, but since it lay "in the South Atlantic Ocean" the Argentine Government presumed that it was the island of Tierra del Fuego including Staten Island and Cape Horn which they had their eyes on.

    All the protests remained ignored by the British Government for nine years until the issue of the Letters Patent of 28 March 1917 which amended parts of the coordinates and "the spelling mistake":

    "Whereas doubts have arisen as to...the territory of Graham Land otherwise known as Graham's Land..." the British insisted that "no claim was made to that part of South America which lies to the South of latitude 50ºS".

    What remains unexplained is why the British Government would later lie to the International Court of Justice about the matter (Antarctic cases, UK v. Argentina, Orders of 16 March 1956). In a pleading the British Government stated: "The discovery of Graham Land was made by British nationals, a fact reflected in the name given to this territory Graham Land by which it has become known and figured in charts and maps ever since." So therefore it had never "otherwise been known as "Graham's Land" and they lied. But why?

    The German View
    There is no document in the German or the Argentine archives which explains the decision of Admiral von Spee to attack the Falklands. Churchill was aware of the intention, but wrote that he could not understand why the Germans would want to do it.

    At the naval-military level, the Germans had to take into account that the British might attempt to fortify the Falklands and not only control Drake Passage from there but also menace enemy and neutral shipping to and from the River Plate. It was also German policy to return British colonial territories to "their rightful owners", and this included the Falklands.

    While researching his book Historia Completa de las Malvinas, publ. Oriente, Buenos Aires, 1966, Consul José Luiz Muñoz Aspiri reported finding a letter in the archives from Consul Adolfo Blanco dated 4 July 1953:

    "...According to statements I received at that time, here and in England, von Spee's squadron had received instructions from the Chancellery and German Admiralty to proclaim Argentine sovereignty over the archipelago as soon as he dropped anchor at Port Stanley."

    This would explain why von Spee had the passenger liner Seydlitz standing by under the coast of the Falklands on 8 December 1914, presumably to evict the Governor and his staff and those members of the population who were undesirables or did not wish to remain. To what extent the Argentine Government would have been involved in this arrangement, if at all, remains unknown, but the measure ensured that the Falkland Islands Dependency would cease to exist and the temptation might have been too great to ignore.
     
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  9. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Thank you for some interesting information.

    The 1908 Letters Patent refer to five specific territories - four island groups and Graham's Land - and notes that they are located in the 20-80-50 degree area. They make no claim to any other territory, let alone all the territory bounded by those lines.

    Apparently some people erroneously interpreted them as making such a claim, so the 1917 Letters clarify the point be redefining the area to exclude the South American mainland. They also assert a new claim to all islands or territories within the revised boundaries.

    Graham and Graham's are simply two slightly different spellings, hardly a rare let alone sinister occurrence.

    "So therefore it had never "otherwise been known as "Graham's Land"" It's called Graham's Land in the 1908 Letters Patent. Apparently by 1917 Graham was the preferred spelling, or perhaps it always had been and the 1908 Letters had a minor spelling error. In any event there was never any ambiguity as to what Graham/Graham's Land referred to, and certainly no indication that it meant any part of Argentina.

    If von Spee had orders to make some gesture towards Argentine sovereignty - despite no Argentines being present - it would just be a way of stirring up trouble for the British. Any diversion would be of some value, and there would be no cost to Germany (unless there happened to be a Royal Navy squadron there). It wouldn't be the most harebrained scheme the Germans ever came up with, though as you say, the Argentine government would probably not want to get involved. It would also be nice if we had some other source than a forty-year-old recollection in an Argentine history of the "Malvinas" written while an Anglo-Argentine sovereignty dispute was ongoing. It also seems unlikely that the Germans were motivated by any idealistic desire to return colonies to their rightful owners.

    Another theory was presented by German intelligence officer Franz von Rintelen The Dark Invader, free ebooks, ebook, etext who says (third chapter) that he was told by Admiral Reginald Hall of British intelligence that they had lured von Spee into a trap. We may never know for sure, but the simplest explanation is often the best. Von Spee's basic intention was to try to get back to Germany, but he could strike a blow enroute by destroying the wireless and coaling station. As you say, the Falklands were a useful base for Royal Navy operations.

    And of course none of this relates to the question of Britain manipulating Germany into war.
     
  10. Mecklenburger

    Mecklenburger New Member

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    I have to repeat, the spelling of the territory from its discovery in 1832 was Graham Land. And it had never been anything but Graham Land, as the British Government testified to the international court in 1956. Do you honestly think that the British Government would issue Letters Patent signed by HM the Queen relating to "the Isle of White"? It's simply a different spelling from the correct way as you propose and of course nobody would notice, would they?

    Now, pardon me for saying so, but I think you are not too well up in the naval tactics department. What I mean is, you haven't thought about it, you're merely quoting what you've read in history books.

    On the way from China across the Pacific, when attacking island wireless installations, the practice of von Spee was for one armoured cruiser and one light cruiser to go in and do the damage while the remainder of the force hung well back out of sight.

    If you're adamant that Spee's intention was to destroy the wireless station and coal stocks at Port Stanley, perhaps you might like to consider the size of the squadron that he took with him into Falklands waters in sight of the coast that day:

    Five cruisers (four sunk, one escaped).
    One passenger liner (Seydlitz). Escaped. Loitered under the Falklands coast overnight on 7 December, and when detected set off so fast that she left two AMC's standing.
    Collier Baden. Loitered under the coast overnight, chased and sunk east of Falklands by HMS Macedonia.
    Collier Santa Isabel. As above, chased and sunk east of Falklands by HMS Bristol.
    Freighter Mera coming down from Montevideo. (Was warned, turned about and escaped).
    Freighter Elinore Woermann coming down from Buenos Aires. Sunk by HMS Australia north of Falklands.
    The two freighters were loaded with "cement, rolls of barbed wire, entrenching machinery and provisions". What do you think the Germans wanted all that for? You can read all about it in Hirst, Lloyd: Coronel and After, Peter Davies, London, 1934.

    I thank you for your involvement and there is really no need for you to reply to this message. I have seen enough.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2018
  11. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    And apparently I have to repeat that the Graham's Land spelling is in the Letters Patent of 1908. Perhaps it was a one-time error, but the fact is HM government did issue Letters of Patent with that spelling. The 1917 Letters acknowledged that Graham's had been used and corrected it to Graham.

    Von Spee initially sent just Gneisenau and Nurnberg to attack Port Stanley while keep the rest of the squadron offshore. It's been suggested that the other cruisers might have gotten away if they had fled immediately, since most of the British did not have steam up, but von Spee waited for G and N to rejoin.

    There's no need for you to reply, but doubtless you will.
     
  12. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Well, I see that you inbred biases and hatred prevent you from seeing the forest for the trees, they prevent you from being able understand what Earl Roberts is saying.

    You see, what Earl Roberts is saying...Is that Great Britain needs to build up a strong Army for homeland defense.
    This is the "strategic freedom" that he later talks about. The Royal Navy is tied to the home Islands to ward off any threat of invasion of Britain. Thus the are not "free" to operate to fully meet any needs that arise. By creating a strong home army, the Royal Navy will be "freed" of this task, as a strong homeland army will now be the basis for preventing a invasion of the home islands, as they will be strong enough to defeat any invading army.

    He reinforces this with
    And further drives it home with

    Don't Cherry-Pick.

    Robert's finishes that passage with

    Again, you own personal biases and hatred lead you astray...Control over Drake Passage or all of the seas for that matter is not mentioned or implied, because you completely ignore the one sentence that debunks your entire fantasy - and that is
    There you have it...The Royal Navy is chained to the home islands for their defense. Hence, the Royal Navy does not have "strategic freedom" of movement.

    So, Roberts has Zero, Zip, Nilch, Nada, Ninguno, and Squat all to do with control of Drake Passage, Argentina, Patagonia, et cetera.


    Except, Britain controls Cape Horn with...The Falklands. Just as you have previously stated that Hong Kong controlled the entire China Sea.

    Curious that...Hong Kong can control the whole of the China Sea...Yet, the Falklands cannot control the ocean a few hundred miles from itself.
     

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