War Games

So, I’m scoping out WWI for a possible mystery series setting, and let me just tell you, whatever you think you know about WWI, you should probably check out this website. Because it’s fantastic.

Where else could you pull up thousands of actual images of the war, read transcripts of letters and diaries, check out a time line, and, YES, read the telegram exchanges of the German Kaiser and the Russian Tsar in the week before war was declared? And, incidentally, also learn that since they were first cousins (both Queen Victoria’s grandsons, you remember) they signed their telegrams “Nicky” and “Willy.” Before declaring war on each other. That’s right. Nicky. Willy. 8.5 million soldiers dead.

But, if you’re like me, you wouldn’t really know anything about that, because the only war you really heard referenced culturally was WWII. Ok, and maybe the war we’re in now (the longest in US history, as someone cheerfully informed me the other day).

I’ve been clipping articles and starting to read some history books (The Great Silence by Juliet Nicolson is a fav so far) and must just mention that it’s been interesting how incredibly similar wars dynamics really are. The initial, exhilarated push to conquer, the righteous religious support, the hatred and suspicion of those unfortunate enough to look like “outsiders” (did you know that due to severe harassment and deportation the (fairly significant) population of Germans in England was cut in half in the years following the war?).

Reading about the economic problems, the strikes, the vast unemployment, the uneasiness, and suspicion and fear—yep, sounds a lot like home to me.

Which makes it sort of ideal for a mystery series—familiar issues with fabulous costumes. Sign me up.

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One thought on “War Games

  1. Nicky and Willy. Insane.

    Ann Arbor used to have a huge German population. (We probably still do, but now they’ve all assimilated.) There were German schools, a German newspaper, lots of German culture. But war made everyone nervous, and it all just disappeared. I think it was WWI that did it, although, now that I’m writing this, I’m wondering if it was WWII, but WWI would make a little more sense.

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