|Professor Clark and a lady announcing his lecture|
Had all those people come to listen to what you read in many reviews of Clarks book: Germany was not to bear the blame for the outbreak of the Great War? It is amazing; more than 250 000 copies of the history book of nearly 1000 pages have already been sold in the German edition not counting the upcoming holiday season. Two months ago another known specialist, Professor Gerd Krumeich, teaching in Freiburg remarked at the end of his lecture about the Great War somewhat jealously: How can anyone read such a book? Read mine; it is shorter (Juli 1914. Eine Bilanz, 362 pages).
There is a difference in opinion between the two historians about the war. A nuance is that Clark thinks that all the actors in 1914 are guilty, whereas Krumeich states that Germany takes the Lion's share. In his lecture, however, Clark made it clear that the Schuldfrage (question of guilt) is not the main objective of his book. The question that concerned him was the circumstances of how the European countries slipped into the Urkatastrophe (seminal catastrophe). The Great War destroyed four empires (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia, and the Ottoman Empire) and cost ten million lives of young men.
|September 2014: Gerd Krumeich (right) and Christopher Clark (left) discussing in the presence |
of a "moderator"at the German Historians Day in Göttingen (©Ziko/Wikipedia)
This was a Steilvorlage (hand on plate) for Red Baron. In the discussion I said that in physics the Heisenberg uncertainty principle meant that if you fix one parameter of an object, e.g., its speed then its location is known only with an uncertainty. I asked the historian whether he could clarify his statement. He answered what he meant was that when in those days you approached a government official for a decision he (women regrettably were no decision makers in those days) would shrink back, i.e., taking no fixed position. Clark admitted: I have to work on the uncertainty metaphor.
Reading Clark's book is "heavy" although Red Baron bought The Sleepwalkers as an e-book. Having read only four fifths of it so far I promise to come back to it.