In 1894, at a ball in Prague, Archduke Franz Ferdinand fell in love with a woman he met named Sophie Chotek. He was supposed to ascend to become emperor if his cousin could not do so, and Sophie was not of royal blood. They were allowed to marry in 1900, and only Ferdinand’s mother attended. Sophie and Franz could never be in public together, they could never ride the same carriage, and she -nor their children- would ever be royalty, and were barred from royal courts. Despite shame and ridicule, the two stayed together, hopelessly in love. After years of struggling to be together without the restrictions of European regality, Ferdinand saw an opportunity in an invitation to watch Bosnian military maneuvers in the summer of 1914. You see, Ferdinand was a lieutenant, which meant if he accepted the invitation he would be acting as a military officer and NOT royalty. Since he wasn’t royalty there, they could ride a car together, they could kiss and stay close in public. He accepted the invitation without hesitation. Sophie, fearing for Ferdinand’s safety, decided to join him. On June 28, 1914, one hundred years from this day, Franz Ferdinand and Sophie Chotek were enjoying a rare quasi-honeymoon. At approximately 11 a.m. that same day, their car stopped at an intersection beside a sandwich shop. Gavrilo Princip shot Franz Ferdinand and his wife dead, the archduke’s last words were “Sophie, Sophie! Don’t die! Live for our children!”
His death sent the world to war. World War I caused the death or displacement of nearly forty million people. But that is just the smallest scope of it all. His death caused World War I, which changed EVERYTHING. It sent the world into TWO MORE global conflicts that brought humanity as a whole to the brink of extinction: World War II and the Cold War. His death caused the war that made America a superpower, that gave us the economic boost to have the roaring twenties, the birth of modern jazz, the explosion of middle-class, cinema, and because of World War I, mechanization and Fordism quadrupled the profits of the automobile industry, which ensured it would be oil that prevailed over electric cars. His death caused the war that saw the introduction of aerial warfare, of submarine warfare, of chemical warfare, of modern biological warfare, and subsequently nuclear warfare. His death caused the war that forever changed art, literature, music, dance, poetry, and drama, a whole generation was “Lost”, and Modernism, Post-Modernism, Futurism, Dadaism, Cubism, and all their followers were born from the world that lived through World War I. His death caused the war that changed Mexican export/import policies which created a profitable drug trade that birthed the cartel and the popular use of marijuana in North America, especially during and after Prohibition. His death caused the war that lead of dozens of revolutions throughout Africa, Asia, and Europe. His death caused a shift to women in the workforce in America since men went off to war in Europe, which would set the grounds for women’s suffrage in the United States. His death caused the war that lead to the Roaring Twenties and high use of credit which lead to the Great Depression which lead to introduction of Social Security and modern environmentalism. His death caused the war that changed modern psychology, as Sigmund Freud based most of his psychological observations on what he saw in World War I. His death caused the war that changed humanity completely and utterly, and the wars directly caused by World War I would put the death toll of his assassination in the hundreds of millions.
His death caused the war that forever shaped the way we lived our lives, the way we viewed the world and ourselves, and the very face of the earth itself. We forget every institution, every historical revolution, every war, every era is caused by and completely composed of human beings. We forget history is supposed to answer how we got here, not necessarily where we once were. History paints a picture of a 20th and 21st century that changed humanity at such an obscene rate, caused by a variety of factors but the most important among them are World War I, which exacerbated social, political, and industrial revolutions and movements. A domino effect like no other.
Because of one man’s love, the world went to war, and never looked back.
A young, Russian soldier in Chechnya, during the Second Chechen conflict. AK-74M, bakelite magazine.
Total Casualties: 55,000 to 75,000.
The only true anarchist has schizophrenia.
A gecko utilizing claws on their feet to defy gravity.
Triptychon Der Krieg (War Triptych) - Otto Dix (1929-1932)
Otto Dix was plagued by the war that supposed to end all wars until his death in 1969. His sketches, collectively titled Der Krieg, were the pillars to this triptych in that the horrific images of mangled corpses, soldiers amid mental insanity, charging battle scenes, and the face of war were perfected and reduced to a unifying Archimedean point. This is a spiteful painting, for you see, before this creation triptychs were reserved almost completely for Christian artwork. Otto Dix took this symbol of Christ and forced it into the places where God turned his back on mankind, in the trenches, in the fields between the trenches devoid of life, in the air filled with toxic gas above the trenches and the fields devoid of life, in the towns swept away by steel winds that could see from cratered hills the trenches and the fields and the air filled with toxic gas.
The left image depicts German storm troopers advancing into the unseen battle, all we see is a viscid fog lingering from the right end of the image. The center image shows a German soldier coming upon an unrecognizable mess of bodies with the backdrop of a destroyed urban area. The right image is Otto Dix carrying a wounded ally as the sky ignites above him, reminiscent of The Battle of Alexander at Issus (1529). The bottom image is the reality behind the war. These were not just points on a timeline to the soldiers of World War I, this was their life now. Those events cursed them, buried them underneath image after image after image. This was the first time war became a mass-produced industry. This was the first time war seemed, for many idealistic soldiers of the time, to exist for the sake of its existence in calculated, unceremonious ubiquity. The Franco-Prussian War, the Boxer rebellion, the Crimean War, the Napoleonic Wars, all seemed to hold some inherent ideology. This war did not.
Russia has escalated the riots-turning-revolution in Ukraine with armed forces taking control of the Crimean peninsula. The 76th Chernihov (Pskov) storm troops division, an airborne element of the Russian military, have taken control of Simferopol and the airports. This further chokes the peninsula by Russian forces, with the Black Sea Fleet’s dominance of the seas bordering offshore.
These highly skilled paratroopers were the same division supposedly involved (or prepared to be involved) in Syria in 2012. This direct invasion of Crimea is a contradiction to Putin’s very words assuring to the west that Russia would not begin any military action in Ukraine.
At the root of all this pandemonium was a corrupt president too loyal to the Kremlin instead of the betterment of his country. Now, with thousands injured, more than a hundred dead, and hundreds imprisoned or arrested, the people of Ukraine are still fighting for change in a state unable to thaw itself from the Cold War and its Soviet past. Russia too, cannot comprehend limits on its action and its brazen force. This invasion, after Syria, after Georgia, all this quasi-tyrannical influence.
Perhaps it was after what happened in Beslan, when hundreds of hostages were killed (more than half were children) in a school in North Ossetia. After that horrific massacre, the Russian government consolidated the Russian president’s direct power and strengthened the Kremlin’s control on direct military action.
The M249 SAW, (now known as the M249 LMG), originated from FN Herstal’s MINIMI, the company’s next big release since the FAL and FNC. Since 1982, the M249 has had its handguard assembly filled with dust and mud throughout American theatres of war. It’s had its imperfections, such as overheating and jamming and troubles using STANAG magazines that could not feed its hasty fire rate.
The M249 was the answer to a lack of sustained suppression individual squads delivered on the battlefield. The American soldier needed a lightweight, powerful light machine gun a single man could carry, use, and use well. When the Belgian company sent their regards with the original weapon, the US modified if considerably to make it a weapon fit for American wartime. But now, this weapon is beginning to show its age and that its shortcomings are beginning to grow deep like wrinkles or worn metal receivers.
Yet the workhorse has throttled on for more than three decades now. Like Halvard Solness, youthful usurpers are knocking at its door, the LSAT LMG and the M27 IAR are intended to eventually replace it. Its firepower will still be heard in the battlefield for years to come, though, and its blinking amber muzzle flash will be seen in the nights of combat as well. The piglet charges on!
This is a photograph of the Battle of Loos, the first mass engagement of Kitchener’s British, all-volunteer army in 1915, in the commune of Loos-en-Gohelle. Coal mines and factories that processed the black rocks, rusted since the turn of century, were the backdrop of this forgotten area when the British army used, for the first time on such an industrial scale, chemical weapons.
You are seeing young, British volunteers as nothing but silhouettes limping through a massive cloud of chemical gas. The lights in the air are flares and artillery fire, though their sizzles and their glaring blasts were muffled underneath the gas masks fogged with fearful breath. The massive slag heaps of Loos kept watch as judges, though. The extensive mining operations left enormous pyramids of dross and excess from refining the coal that still cast their putrid smell today.
Though on that day, as it seemed every sense was consumed by ugly, horrifying, harbingers of death, it might have comforted the assaulting men. It might have let them grip their corroding rifles a bit tighter, with the watch of great pyramids feasting upon the battlefield.