papalagi (papalagi) wrote,

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (30 ноя 1874 - 24 янв 1965) The world crisis (1923)

August 20-September 6, 19 14

'For while the dagger gleam'd on high
eel'd soul and sense, reel'd brain and eye.'
Scott, 'The Lady of the Lake,' Canto V-XVL

And at this culminating moment the Russian pressure began to produce substantial effects. Honour must ever be done to the Tsar and Russian nation for the noble ardour and loyalty with which they hurled themselves into the war. A purely Russian treatment of their military problem would have led the Russian armies into immediate withdrawals from their frontiers until the whole of their vast mobilisation was completed. Instead of this, they added to a forward mobilisation an impetuous advance not only against Austria but into Germany. The flower of the Russian army was soon to be cut down in enormous and fearful battles in East Prussia. But the results of their invasion were gathered at the decisive point. The nerve of the German Headquarters failed. On August 25 two army corps and a cavalry division of the German right were withdrawn from France. On August 31 Lord Kitchener was able to telegraph to Sir John French: 'Thirty- two trains of German troops were yesterday reported moving from the western field to meet the Russians.'

I felt it vitally important to my whole structure of thought on this war problem to see for myself with my own eyes what was passing at the front and what were the conditions of this new war, and to have personal contact with Sir John French. Reflection and imagination can only build truly when they are checked point by point by direct impressions of reality. I believed myself sufficiently instructed to derive an immense refreshment of judgment from personal investigation without incurring the opposite danger of a distorted view through particular experiences.

But I could not share the universal optimism of the Staff. It was firmly believed and loudly declared on every side that if all available reinforcements in officers and men were sent to the Army without delay, the war would be finished by Christmas. Fierce were the reproaches that the War Office were withholding vitally needed officers, instructors and material for the purpose of training vast armies that would never be ready in time. I combated these views to the best of my ability, being fully convinced of Lord Kitchener's commanding foresight and wisdom in resisting the temptation to meet the famine of the moment by devouring the seed-corn of the future.


Taking a complete survey, I consider now that this prudent withholding from the Army in the field in the face of every appeal and demand the key-men who alone could make the new armies, was the greatest of the services which Lord Kitchener rendered to the nation at this time, and it was a service which no one of lesser authority than he could have performed.


ON an August morning, behold the curious sight of a British Cabinet of respectable Liberal politicians sitting down deliberately and with malice aforethought to plan the seizure of the German colonies in every part of the world! A month before, with what horror and disgust would most of those present have averted their minds from such ideas ! But our sea communications depended largely upon the prompt denial of these bases or refuges to the German cruisers; and further, with Belgium already largely overrun by the German armies, every one felt that we must lose no time in taking hostages for her eventual liberation. Accordingly, with maps and pencils, the whole world was surveyed, six separate expeditions were approved in principle and remitted to the Staffs for study and execution.

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