Tag Archives: World War One

AUSTRIAN COALITION ANNOUNCED AT KAHLENBERG MOUNTAIN

Austrian Foreign Minister and the leader of the Austrian Peoples Party (OeVP) Sebastian Kurz attend a news conference at the Kahlenberg mountain in Vienna, Austria, Dec. 16, 2017. EPA-EFE/CHRISTIAN BRUNA

Whereas Germany is having difficulty putting together a coalition government, Austria’s youthful Chancellor, the youngest head of government in the world, has been successful.   Sebastian Kurz, 31, leads the Austrian People’s Party.   His party is now in coalition with the “extreme right” Freedom Party, led by Heinz-Christian Strache. The latter party is often compared to the Nazis, whose leader, Adolf Hitler, was from Austria.   This is an exaggeration, to say the least.

Both leaders and their supporters, are concerned about the invasion of their country by Muslims and encroaching Islamization. They announced the formation of their government on Kahlenberg Mountain outside of Vienna, the same hill where Islamic Turks were defeated on 9-11 (& 12), 1683, ending the Muslim threat to western Europe.   The new government joins Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia in turning against the tide of immigrants welcomed by Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel.   Interestingly, all five of these countries were parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which collapsed after World War One.

One thing is certain – Austria has become the first western nation with a genuine conservative government. 

“The new coalition was agreed on Friday (15th December) by the conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) and the Freedom Party (FPÖ), pledging to stop illegal immigration, cut taxes and resist EU centralization.

It will be led by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who took over the ÖVP in May and yanked it to the right, securing his party first place in October elections.  At 31, Kurz will be the world’s youngest leader.

At his side for the investiture by Austria’s (figurehead) president in the Hapsburg dynasty’s imperial palace in Vienna was FPÖ chief Heinz-Christian Strache, 48, now vice-chancellor, and FPÖ general secretary Herbert Kickl, the new interior minister.

“Strache has said Islam “has no place in Europe” and last year called German Chancellor Angela Merkel “the most dangerous woman in Europe” for her open-door refugee policy.

On Sunday, Strache trumpeted to his 750,000 followers on Facebook that the new government would slash social benefits for asylum-seekers.

“It will no longer happen that migrants who have never worked here a single day or paid anything into the social system will get thousands of euros in welfare!” he said in a post that has gained 9,000 “likes.”

(“European far-right jubilant as Austria’s new government is sworn in.” The Local, December 18th)

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HAPSBURG MEMORIES

Empress Elizabeth of Austria, wife of Emperor Franz-Josef.

Coincidentally, at the same time the Austrian government was agreeing a coalition, my wife and I were watching the “Sisi” trilogy on Turner Classic Movies.  These three films, made over 50 years ago in Austria (with English sub-titles), portrayed the Austrian Empress Elizabeth, wife of the Emperor Franz Josef, who reigned from 1848-1916. Elizabeth came from Bavaria.  She was sympathetic to the aspirations of Hungarian nationalists and was influential in the historic agreement that united Austria and Hungary in the Austro-Hungarian Empire (in 1867).   Her life was rather tragic – her only son, the Crown Prince Rudolf, committed suicide and she herself was assassinated a few years later, while visiting Geneva.

It was an interesting time in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.   A great deal of liberalization took place under Franz Josef as Austrians tried to keep their multiethnic empire together.   Often overlooked is the fact that this major empire gave a home to eleven different nationalities, all united under the Hapsburgs.  Today, each ethnic group has its own sovereign state, each one weaker than the old empire.

“The great Czech historian Frantisek Palacky once said that if the Hapsburg Empire had not existed, it would have been necessary to invent it” (The Emperors, by Gareth Russell, 2014, pages 40-41).   The European Union is no replacement as it is German dominated.

Some of the former Austrian nationalities are again marching together.   Austria, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are all opposed to further Muslim immigration, wanting to protect and preserve Catholic Europe.   These five countries are set to form the Eastern leg of the biblically prophesied revived Roman Empire.

Following the fall of the Roman Empire in the West in the fifth century, there have been a number of attempts to revive it – most recently, in 1922 Mussolini announced a revival of the Roman Empire; in 1957 European leaders signed the Treaty of Rome, forming what is now the European Union, another attempt at uniting Europe.   Perhaps out of the rubble of the EU will come the final European Union, led by Germany.

Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay.  And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile.  As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.  And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” (Daniel 2:41-44)

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ANNUAL MESSAGES FROM HEADS OF STATE

Every year, the British monarch speaks to the Commonwealth on Christmas Day.  This is a tradition that began with her grandfather, King George V, in 1932.   At the time Britain was a global superpower, ruling over a quarter of the world’s people.   With the introduction of radio in the previous decade, the king could now address all his subjects around the world.

In 1957 the annual radio broadcast began to be televised. By this time, the empire was fundamentally changing.   Indeed, in 1957’s broadcast, the Queen welcomed Ghana and Malaysia into the Commonwealth, as both nations had become independent that year. The 52-nation Commonwealth continues to this day, with the Queen as its Head.

For some years now, the queen’s message has embraced multiculturalism.   The Commonwealth is multicultural in itself, composed of nations that have different religions and a great deal of ethnic diversity.   This year, she took a different approach to her speech. Instead of emphasizing multiculturalism, she praised the citizens of London and Manchester who suffered terrorist attacks last year; and the heroism of Emergency Responders who helped save lives.

Sadly, it is, of course, multiculturalism which has led directly to terrorism, not just in the United Kingdom but in other countries in Europe.

The queen is a deeply religious woman, never more so than at Christmas.   In her speech this year she talked of how Jesus Christ “suffered rejection, hardship and persecution.”   Having experienced all three in recent years, I was encouraged by her words, which prompted a Bible Study from this angle.

Queen Elizabeth is not the only Head of State who gives an annual Christmas speech.   President Steinmeier of Germany addressed the German people on the same day.   The German president, like the British monarch, is a figurehead, playing an important role in unifying the nation at a difficult time.   The German president devoted his speech to reassuring the German people, who still do not have a government over three months after the election.   This is the longest period in the Federal Republic’s history and, for some, brings back memories of the rather unstable Weimar Republic.   Today’s German republic is more resilient and Germany should soon have a new coalition government, made up of two or more parties.

The Pope also gave a Christmas speech.   Whereas the British monarch and the German president were careful not to advocate more immigrants, the pope called upon nations to open their doors wider to receive more refugees.   Ironically, on the same day, ISIS in Somalia called for the assassination of the pope and for attacks on more western cities, like Manchester and London.

And so it goes on.  The West has lost its way and does not know how to respond to radical Islam’s assault upon it.   It won’t, until its religious roots are revived.   Most people in the West still give lip-service to Christianity, but few think deeply about their traditional religions, both Catholic and Protestant.

Acts 4:12 says of Jesus Christ:  “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”   Muslims deny Jesus Christ is the Son of God.   Therefore, to equate Islam with Christianity, makes no sense and endangers Christians, who are ill-prepared for the assault that is taking place upon them today.

The British monarch is the titular Head of the Anglican Community. The Pope is the Head of the Catholic Church.

They need to wake up to what is happening and to see clearly the threat to traditional Christianity.

The Pope, in his annual speech, focused on Jerusalem, calling for an independent Palestinian state, the “two state solution” that has been official policy of most countries in recent years.   What the pope is calling for pits him (and the Church) against the US Administration, which is recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“Pope Francis has used his traditional Christmas Day message to call for “peace for Jerusalem” and dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. Acknowledging “growing tensions” between them, he urged a “negotiated solution . . . .  that would allow the peaceful co-existence of two states.”   US President Donald Trump recently announced that America recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.   The hugely controversial move drew condemnation across the Muslim world.   The Roman Catholic leader gave his Urbi et Orbi speech, which in Latin means “To the city and world,” in Saint Peter’s Square.”    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-42477274

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REVISIONIST HISTORY – CHECK THE FACTS!

I’ve taken to looking up just about everything depicted in historical movies and television programs.   As we watch a series, I keep my laptop on my lap and google the “facts” depicted by Hollywood and others who make movies.   The “facts” are rarely factual. Note the following:

1) The new “History” channel series “Knightfall” depicts the Knights Templar around the year 1300.   In the first episode of the series, the Catholic soldiers saved the Jews who were expelled from Paris by King Philip the Fair in 1306.   According to the series, the Jews were saved by the Knights Templar.

This is a total fabrication.   Note the following from the BBC’s Religion section:

“During the first half of the 13th century the attitude of the Church towards Jews hardened from disapproval to loathing. On 22 July, 1306 King Philip IV of France expelled all Jews from his kingdom.”

2) The second season of “The Crown” (Netflix) implies that Prince Philip cheated on his wife in the 1950’s and early 60’s.   There is no evidence for this.  It may be true – it may not be true.  But people watching the otherwise excellent series will no doubt believe everything they see.

3)   “A United Kingdom” was an otherwise good movie, telling the story of Seretse Khama and his wife Ruth Williams.   Sir Seretse led Botswana to independence in 1966.   He met his wife while studying in London.   They were a bi-racial couple in southern Africa, not very common in those days and forbidden in neighboring South Africa, the regional powerhouse.   In 1947 the movie referred to the presidents of four neighboring countries, not one of which had a president at the time, as they were all a part of the British Commonwealth.

4) This is the worst one!   ‘The Viceroy’s House” is a recent movie set in India at the time of independence and partition, in 1947.

Everything in the movie was good until somebody opened a drawer and pulled out a two-year-old highly secretive British government paper advocating partition of the country into India and (Muslim) Pakistan.   So what, you may ask?

Well, this file changed history.   Instead of Earl Mountbatten being responsible for partition, the file “revealed” it was war-time leader Winston Churchill.   As the anti-colonial Guardian reviewer put it – it was the equivalent of somebody in Germany opening a drawer and finding that the Holocaust was first proposed, not by Hitler, but by Mussolini.

Why can’t the entertainment industry ever get it right?   As far more people will watch the movie than read any book on the subject, Churchill will now be blamed for one of the greatest disasters of the twentieth century.

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One very good series we’ve seen was on the National Geographic Channel.  It was a biography of Albert Einstein.   One of the most brilliant minds in history, he was absolutely hopeless at personal relationships.

I thought you might appreciate the following quote from the great physicist himself:   “The universe is so extraordinary that only God could have created it.  My job is to figure out how He did it.”  (Einstein)

The two greatest scientists of all time were Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein.     Many people today see science and religion as opposites — these men did not.  They both believed in God.    Be sure to share that fact with others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BREXIT AND ITS CONSEQUENCES

Jo Cox

The street murder of Jo Cox, a British Member of Parliament (M.P.), a few days ago, is having a big impact on the Brexit vote due on Thursday.

Until the murder, the “Leave” campaign was winning in the polls; now the “Remain” vote is gaining steam.

The killer, a middle aged white man, was motivated by politics, making this an assassination.   He shouted out “Put Britain First” as he was killing her.   His action showed the frustration of many people his age who are concerned that they are losing their country, that England is being taken over by migrants and its independence seriously threatened by the European Union.

Jo Cox was in favor of Britain remaining in the EU; she was also very supportive of Britain taking in more Syrian refugees.   At the same time, she seemed oblivious to the grooming of young white girls by older Muslim males in her own backyard, a scandal that has received a great deal of coverage in the press.

This is a classic example of “The Dream and the Nightmare,” the dream being the social engineering of the liberal-leftist Establishment; the nightmare the frightening consequences that ordinary people have to live through as they try to cope.   The politicians behind these decisions live in their affluent suburbs away from those consequences and never have to face the reality.

If the vote Thursday is to “Remain” in the EU, it will not be the end of the white English backlash against globalization.

Monday’s Wall St Journal reported that global stock markets and the British currency have both risen around the world due to increased expectation of a pro-EU vote.  The globalists have loved the EU ever since its inception in the late 1950’s, when it was called the European Economic Community.   At that time, it was more a trading bloc.   Renamed the European Union in 1991, it is now progressively and increasingly a very socialist super-state.   65% of the laws that are imposed on the British people now come from the European parliament, not from London.   As Germany is the dominant power in the EU, Berlin dictates to London via Brussels, a situation unthinkable not so long ago.

Some have rather unkindly referred to the EU as the “fourth reich,” the fourth attempt at a German Empire in Europe.  The first reich was established by the Emperor Charlemagne in 800 AD and lasted for over one thousand years, until 1806 when Napoleon had it abolished.    This empire was composed of a motley assortment of nations, each with its own relationship with the central authority, from 1438 a Habsburg, the German-speaking family that dominated central Europe until 1918.

The second reich was the Hohenzollern dynasty of the Kaisers (1871-1918).   Its collapse at the end of World War One led to the democratic experiment of the ill-fated Weimar Republic.

Hitler’s Third Reich, a promised second attempt at an empire that would last a thousand years, replaced Weimar but only lasted twelve years, defeated in the rubble of World War II.

The European Union was meant to end European wars by containing Germany and keeping Germany and France in a close economic union.   The reality is that Germany has once again become the dominant nation of Europe.   This fourth German reich is nothing like the last one.   In many ways, Germany is a model nation and has done a great deal of good around the world.   But, still, non-Germans don’t want German domination.

It was the 1957 Treaty of Rome, which laid the foundation of the EU.   Two thousand years earlier, Rome had united most of Europe forcefully.   Roman Empire

Following the fall of the Roman Empire in the late fifth century, there have always been those who wanted to revive the Roman Empire.   In 800 Charlemagne was crowned Emperor of the West.   The Habsburgs ruled central Europe as “Roman Emperors,”   More recently, in 1922, Mussolini proclaimed the restoration of the Roman Empire.   The Treaty of Rome followed just 35 years later.

These revivals of the Roman Empire were actually prophesied in the Bible.   Students of the Bible are aware that there is to be a final resurrection of the Roman Empire.   You can read about it in Revelation 17:12-14.   This passage shows that ten kings, or nations, will come together to form this final version of the ancient Roman Empire.   It will clearly be the final revival as the Kingdom of God is established shortly after it.   Also note, it’s not going to be the 28 countries that form the EU.

In the event of a Brexit on Thursday, perhaps we will start to see the EU unravel, to be replaced by the ten-nation union that the Bible talks about.

 

RUSSIAN PLANE CRASH – THE BIGGER PICTURE

Russian plane crash

Sunday, November 1st, was the first anniversary of Ansar Bait Al-Maqdis pledging allegiance to ISIS leader Al-Baghdadi, thereby becoming the Sinai chapter of ISIS.

They are now claiming that, to celebrate their allegiance and commitment to the terror state, they brought down the Russian flight that crashed Sunday in the Egyptian desert, killing everyone on board.   They have not given any proof that they did this – they say they will do so when they see fit – but their claim has been taken seriously by a number of governments and airlines who will no longer fly over the Sinai desert.   The United Kingdom is the latest country to announce today a total ban on flights.

The flight was cruising at 31,000 feet when it fell apart, after two bright flashes that were picked up by satellite.   It is believed that ISIS does not have the capability to launch a missile that can hit at that altitude, so the most likely explanation is that there was a bomb on board.   It is even possible that this was the work of a suicide bomber.

It is also possible that ISIS does now have the capability to launch missiles that can hit a plane at 31,000 feet.   If this turns out to be true, then we have just entered a new phase in the never-ending War on Terror, which the West shows no sign of winning.

The crash of the Russian flight is a terrible tragedy as all such crashes are.   A little over a year ago, Russians themselves brought down a Malaysian Airlines flight over Ukraine, killing all on board, including many women and children.   Politics played a big role in the aftermath of that crash – nobody has yet accepted responsibility.   Politics is again playing a role in the Sinai.

The Egyptians do not want to acknowledge the possibility of terrorism for fear it will drive tourists away.   Tourist numbers are still down by a third following the Arab Spring and subsequent events.  They don’t want the numbers to go down even further.   On the other hand, the Russians want it to be terrorism – they don’t want people to stop flying on their airlines because of technical worries.   Russian airlines already have a bad flying record and reputation.

ISIS claimed responsibility almost immediately.   In the absence of a free press, the Russians, the Egyptians and ISIS could all be lying. The truth may never come out.

In the West, where we supposedly have a free press, there is also a lot of lying going on.   Or perhaps it’s best just to describe is as “denial” or simply an inability to connect the dots.

For when it comes to the European migrant crisis, ISIS and the myriad conflicts in the Middle East, little historical context is given.

The fact is that the Middle East has been in turmoil since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War One.   That’s almost a century ago.   The ripple effects of imperial collapse are still with us, getting worse by the day.

There is also a deeper relevance with the Ottoman Empire.   Over the course of centuries, the Ottomans tried to conquer Europe.   The nations of central Europe resisted them, but not always successfully – the Ottomans ended up incorporating vast territories in Europe into their empire.  The descendants of those subjugated Europeans are the ones now resisting the massive influx of Muslims from the former Ottoman Empire, which included Syria and Iraq.  They see clearly the threat from the Islamic world, which many in the West fail to see.

Even before the Ottoman Empire, Islamic forces tried to conquer Europe.   It began as early as the eighth century, just after the founding of the new religion. Mohammed died in 632.   Exactly one hundred years later, the French stopped the Arab advance on Paris at the Battle of Poitiers.   If they had lost, everybody reading this article today would be a Moslem!   The history of the world would have been very different.

We are now caught up in another advance of Islam into the Western world.   It may turn out to be the prelude to the prophesied “push” by the King of the South against the King of the North that we read about in Daniel, chapter 11.   Certainly, Islam right now is pushing against the Western world, which is led by compromisers who are constantly yielding to that push, allowing in hundreds of thousands of Muslims who are changing the composition of western countries.

A backlash has started. In turn, this could lead to a major clash with the Islamic world.   There are reports today of another PEGIDA demonstration in Dresden, Germany, where over 8,000 people marched through the streets protesting against Islamization.  They were carrying crosses, to show their allegiance to Europe’s traditional religion, as against the encroachment of the new.   At a football game in Poland on Sunday, crowds unfurled a huge banner that showed hordes of ISIS invaders threatening Europe and crusaders ready to resist them.

Without a doubt, what is taking place now is a major development in history.   Next year could turn out to be another of those axial years that change everything.   In 1848, almost every country in Europe was convulsed by revolution with democracy the end result.   In 1918 disillusionment with kings led to revolutions at the end of World War One.   In 1989 communists were overthrown throughout Eastern Europe.   There is now a growing disillusionment with democracy, as the governments of Western Europe do nothing about the invasion that threatens everybody’s way of life.   Recent elections across the continent show a significant turn to the political Right.   Some countries could see violence bringing about a further turn to the right as history repeats itself.

ISIS is not the only threat from the Islamic world.   All Moslems see themselves as expanding the Islamic ummah, the community of believers.   Filled with zeal for their faith, this is only natural.   When the West had the upper hand, Christian missionaries went all over the world and were instrumental in converting millions to their faith. In the last few decades, Christians have been on the run, mostly from persecution in Islamic lands.

The followers of Mohammed are well on the way to being numerically greater than the followers of Jesus Christ.

What we are witnessing now is a tectonic shift in international relations.   The West shows every indication of giving in, just as the Western Roman Empire did in Islam’s early years.

HOMAGE TO AUSTRALIA

 

Australian soldiers at Galipoli
Australian soldiers at Gallipoli

The Woman in Gold is a movie that’s showing in cinemas right now.   It tells the true story of an elderly American Jewish lady who takes the Austrian government to court to reclaim a family painting that was stolen by the Nazis during the 1938 Anschluss, when the vast majority of Austrians welcomed Adolf Hitler’s annexation of his home country.

The movie stars Helen Mirren as the elderly lady and Ryan Reynolds as her lawyer.

In one scene, Reynolds is sending a package to the Austrian government from somewhere in Los Angeles.   The man behind the desk commented on how he had always wanted to go to Austria.   His daughter, he added, loves kangaroos!

He’s not the only person who is ignorant of Australia.   Americans, in particular, have difficulty telling the difference between an Australian and a British accent.   I’ve often had people ask me which part of Australia I come from. Unlike many of my compatriots, this does not upset me – I consider it a great honor to be taken as an Aussie.   If I were 24, instead of 64, I would move there.   Australia has an American lifestyle without the frenetic pace that makes life in the US so stressful.

Tomorrow, April 25th, is Australia’s special day – ANZAC Day, a commemoration of Australia’s losses in the wars of the last century. ANZAC stands for the “Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.”

It’s exactly a hundred years since the great battle that was a defining moment for the new countries.   Australia became a Dominion of the British Empire in 1901; New Zealand in 1905. Dominion status meant they were independent but still a part of the Empire, which was transforming into a Commonwealth, united in a common loyalty to the Crown, fulfilling the biblical prophecy of “a multitude of nations” (Genesis 48:19), descended from the patriarch Joseph’s son, Ephraim.

When the British went to war in August 1914, these two dominions, together with the other dominions and colonies of the Empire, went to war as well.   The Australians quickly took over German territories in the Pacific.   But it’s the Battle of Gallipoli, which is remembered most and commemorated on this day, the day the conflict started.   It was to last over eight months.

Gallipoli is a peninsula in North West Turkey.   It’s sometimes called the Dardenelles.   At the time, Turkey was called the Ottoman Empire. In November, 1914, it made the fatal mistake of allying itself with the two central European empires, Germany and Austria-Hungary, against Great Britain and its allies.   Less than ten years later, the Ottoman Empire collapsed and was replaced by the Turkish Republic.   The founder of the republic was Kemal Ataturk, who was one of the military commanders on the Ottoman side at Gallipoli.

The battle was a military disaster for the Allies. Australians, New Zealanders, the British and French all fought there and lost a great number of men, many on the first day when soldiers were landed on a thin strip of beach, looking up cliffs at Ottoman positions, cannon fodder for the enemy.   They fought valiantly.   Ataturk afterwards talked of their bravery.   Turkey’s president is hosting a commemoration today, a gathering of world leaders including Prince Charles and Prince Harry.   Harry is currently serving with the Australian military.   Commonwealth ties remain, even though they have been weakened in recent decades.   The prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand laid wreaths.   The President of Ireland was also present, a reminder that Ireland was then a part of the United Kingdom and lost many of its native sons in this battle.

74,000 Anzac troops fought at Gallipoli. 10,000 died.   To understand the full impact of that loss, let’s remember these were troops from two new countries, that were thinly populated.   At the time, the United States had just over 100 million people, the UK 40 million. Australia’s population in 1915 was under five million.   New Zealand’s was a little over one million.   To compare the losses to the US, we need to multiply the figures by twenty.   The 10,000 dead was the equivalent of 200,000 American losses, or 80,000 British servicemen.

The British lost 25,000 at Gallipoli, out of a total of 350,000 men.   The French also suffered heavy losses, 10,000 out of 79,000 men.

On the other side, the Turks lost 86,000 out of 400,000 combatants.

The figures are staggering, far greater than losses suffered in recent conflicts.

And the sobering reality is that the war was so unnecessary.   Some wars were unavoidable – World War Two, for instance, when the Western powers had to defeat the evil of fascism.   Ironically, if World War One had not been fought, there would have been no World War Two.

If the Ottoman Empire had not been defeated, its constituent territories would not have been carved up, ultimately creating the modern Middle East.   The ripple effect of that first global conflict of the twentieth century continues to this day.   The wars we are fighting now all originated in World War One.

Australia, it should be noted, is the only country to have fought in all these conflicts from beginning to end.   Gallipoli was just the start (in fact, Australians had been fighting in the Empire’s wars even before independence).   Australia was always ready to fight alongside the British to preserve freedom in a dangerous world. After World War Two, when America became the pre-eminent power, Australians fought alongside Americans in all America’s wars.

The land down under is an under-appreciated country.   It’s time to publicly pay homage to a great nation that has done so much for the western world.

Let’s remember and give thanks for their many sacrifices on this ANZAC day.

LESSONS FROM WEIMAR

Weimar_Republic_1919-1933-300x225

At the birth of the euro, The Economist magazine reminded readers that one of the great lessons of history is that paper money eventually always fails.

That doesn’t just go for the euro – it applies to dollars and pounds, too.

One way it fails is through hyperinflation.

We tend to think that hyperinflation only happens in banana republics like Zimbabwe, Ghana, and Argentina, forgetting that we also like bananas.  It can happen here, too.

It happened in Germany.

After fighting and losing World War One, Germany entered a period known as the Weimar Republic.  Its constitution was written in Weimar, a city 50 miles from Leipzig.

The victorious powers made the great mistake of forcing Germany to pay reparations after the war.  The French, in particular, insisted on their neighbor paying for everything – even invading the German industrial heartland, with assistance from Belgium, in 1922.  If the Germans wouldn’t hand over their wealth, they were simply going to take it!

All the main participants in the war suffered greatly.  This does not include the United States, as America was only a factor in the closing months of the conflict.  The established order in Russia, Germany and Austria-Hungary was overthrown, replaced by chaos and confusion.  Serious financial problems also developed as somebody had to pay for the war.

In most countries it was the working class that had to foot the bill.  In Germany, it was more the middle class.  Successive Weimar administrations – and none of them lasted very long – gave in to the workers’ demands rather than try to enforce fiscal discipline.   Additionally, Germany had the most generous welfare benefits in the world at the time, introduced by Otto von Bismarck in the 1880’s.  Together with reparations, the result was a high rate of inflation.

Hyperinflation is when inflation gets out of control and prices are increasing at more than 50% a month.  Very quickly, that becomes 50% per week, then 75% and 100%.   Eventually, workers have to be paid hourly in wheelbarrows full of money, which then has to be spent quickly before prices go up even further.

Weimar-MArk

The fixed-income middle class, professionals on salaries or pensions, soon suffers.   Skilled workers can often barter their skills for food.  In an attempt to control inflation, mistakes are made – freezing rents, for example, with resultant negative effects.

This was Germany in the early 1920’s.  By 1923, the situation was out of control.

The Downfall of Money explains all this very well.  The book is written by an Englishman named Frederick Taylor.  It shows clearly how World War One led inevitably to World War Two, via hyperinflation and the rise of right-wing parties, culminating in the Nazis coming to power.

When economies collapse, people look for simple solutions – jobs and food are far more important than constitutional niceties and democracy. 

The parallels in the United States and Great Britain today are disturbing.

Our governments are recklessly over-spending, borrowing to excess.  The US is printing an extra $85 billion per month, “quantitative easing” as it’s called.  This is enabling some to take advantage and make a lot of money, while the vast majority is finding it harder and harder to make ends meet.

Part of the justification involved in QE was the fear of deflation after the financial crash of 2008.  The value of homes dropped dramatically in the crash; some commodities have been dropping as the global economy enters a slump.  Deflation is the worst thing that can happen to an economy.  It’s almost impossible to stop the downward spiral.

Hyperinflation is the second worst thing that can happen.  One can lead to the other.  As central banks print money to avoid the one, it can inadvertently get out of control and hyperinflation can take over.

The end result is that almost everybody loses everything!  Those that gain by taking advantage of the situation also lose as the people will turn on them as they did in Germany.

“The Germany of the inflation was paradise for anyone who owed money.”  (The Downfall of Money, by Frederick Taylor, page 206)  A high rate of inflation reduces the amount of debt people owe.  “By the same token, this was a very bad time for creditors of all kinds, for savers, and for investors depending on a fixed return.  That meant large numbers of the old German middle and upper middle classes suffered a drastic, even catastrophic, fall in their standard of living.” Appropriately, chapter 21 of the book is titled:  “The Starving Billionaires.”

Inflation is not something new.  The prophet Haggai wrote about it 2,500 years ago.

“You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but you have not enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he that earns wages earns wages to put it into a bag with holes.”  (Haggai 1:6)

We all hope that hyperinflation is not the consequence of over-spending by the US, UK and other governments.  But it’s difficult to see how it can be avoided.  It seems as if the only way we can create greater wealth today is by printing more money – a recipe for inflation.  In turn, inflation can quickly get out of control, soon turning into hyperinflation.

It can all happen very quickly as it did in Zimbabwe a few years ago and in Germany in the 1920’s.

A spiritual lesson we should remember in these turbulent times is found in Matthew 6:19-21:  “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust does corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust does corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

The Economist was correct with its warning of all currencies eventually collapsing.  It’s only a matter of time.  The accumulation of wealth may seem important, but clearly we need to be prepared for losing it all as did millions in Germany.  As Jesus Christ pointed out, treasures in heaven are more important and more reliable than treasures on earth!