The State Of World War 1 – As Reported by A Newspaper 100 Years Ago I THE GREAT WAR – Week 60

The State Of World War 1 –  As Reported by A Newspaper 100 Years Ago I THE GREAT WAR – Week 60


This war has now been fought in five continents
in just over a year, and newspapers throughout the world record its daily progress. However,
those reports can’t help but be skewed toward one side or the other, and much of what is
printed is just pro-”us” propaganda, and we’ll take a look at some of that this week. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to the Great War. Last week the German army was advancing on
Vilna, as the Russian retreat continued. The Russians made some successful attacks to the
south, taking thousands of prisoners, and Zeppelins bombed London and the British coast.
The big thing though, was that Bulgaria signed treaties committing to join the war on the
Central Powers side. This episode is going to be a bit different
from the others. What I do for the others is read a whole bunch of books and articles
about the war and then combine them into an overview of the week, right? I thought, though,
that today I’d go over the week using a single source, but a contemporary one and
one far from Europe, so we can get that immediate perspective, for better or worse. So my source
today is the Mercury newspaper from Hobart, Tasmania from Saturday September 18th, 1915. The big headline for the page of war footage
says this: “The Eastern Front, Russians have successes in south, battle west of Tarnopol,
heavy fighting in the center and north.” But the article itself begins on a different
note. “There is little news from any of the campaigns, and it would almost appear
as if truces had been declared. There has been some bombarding and bomb fighting on
the western front, but nothing more. No news has come to hand of the Italian operations,
and nothing but Turkish reports from the Dardanelles. From the Balkans it is again stated that Bulgaria
has signed the treaty by which Turkey concedes a strip of land along the Dedcagatch railway
in return for some unstated benefit.” Now, that right there is interesting. We know that
Bulgaria is going to soon attack Serbia, with German and Austrian help, and the unstated
benefit is that Bulgaria is going to get Macedonia. Let’s continue down that article and see
what Russia is up to. Okay, “It is only on the Russian front that
war conditions are normal. Here the Russians are conducting a vigorous campaign along the
whole line from Riga right down into Galicia. On the Dwina River and south of it the Russians
are making a very stubborn defense, and the advance from Kovno toward Vilna has cost the
enemy many thousands of men. In the center General von Mackensen appears to be still
pushing forward, fighting heavily here and there. In the south the Russians have advanced
to the Strypa River from the Tarnopol line, and a battle is taking place there. The German
position in the center is rapidly becoming a dangerous salient, assailable from north,
south, and east, which was the weakness of the position of the Russians when they held
Poland.” Again, that’s interesting, we haven’t considered that the Germans were
pushing out into a possibly indefensible line before, mainly because the way General August
von Mackensen’s forces were eating up the enemy in that salient, it was hard to think
that anything could stop them at this point. This is a very optimistic article. There’s more about the Germans and Turks,
though. “A report comes from Berlin that a Turkish
mission has been there to ask for help, and that the reply was that Germany was not in
a position to give it… Bulgaria has not yet come into the open, and her Premier has
said that she was out to see what she could get, and Germany and Austria cannot very well
relieve Turkey without her help. Turkey is on the verge of collapse and it is inconceivable
that her allies will permit her to fall without some desperate effort to save her. We may
be on the verge of either a surprise from the enemy, or victory on Gallipoli, and the
issue is largely in the hands of Bulgaria.” So what do we see here? Turkey on the verge
of collapse? That, as we know, is not even close to true. The allies have gotten nowhere
at Gallipoli after months of trying and failing to even take localized objectives, let alone
the major ones, so the possibility of victory on Gallipoli is pretty remote. As to a “surprise
from the enemy” and Bulgaria being out to get what she can get, those go hand in hand.
If Serbia was conquered, a Berlin-Constantinople railway could finally be completed, and Berlin
would have no problem equipping the Turks, Bulgaria would have the land she wanted, and
Austria would have one less front to deal with and could send more troops to fight the
Russians and Italians. I think we can all see where this is going. There’s also a small article about the northernmost
front: “Petrograd- the fighting on the line from
the Dwina to the Upper Niemen is thus referred to in last night’s communiqué: We have
repulsed repeated German attacks to the southwest of Dvinsk. To the northeast of Vilna the Germans
have crossed the left bank of the Vilna.” Now, they don’t say any more, but that sentence
means a lot. Vilna was the greatest remaining western city in Russian hands after losing
Warsaw, and if the Germans were crossing the river northeast of Vilna, that does not bode
well for the defense of that city. Of course, the coverage doesn’t say that, I guess it’s
a little too disheartening to write, “Russia about to lose yet another major city and all
of its industry and its supplies to the Germans.” There’s another small but interesting article
about the Turks as well. I’ll paraphrase. A corporal who deserted
from the Ottoman army says the Turks are suffering from hunger, because the British subs in the
Sea of Marmara have stopped all shipping and food has to come from overland and face bad
roads, lack of transport, and naval bombardment. It says the Turkish attacks have weakened
because of lack of ammunition, they’re depressed, and they’re deserting in ever-larger numbers.
This is pretty much pure propaganda- the Turks were in far better shape than the Allies at
Gallipoli in terms of morale, health, and supplies, but a Tasmanian paper probably wouldn’t,
at this point, write the real truth, that their youth was being sent to die in a series
of poorly planned and often pointless offensives without real prospect of victory. And that’s where we stand today according
to the Hobart Mercury. The Ottoman Empire in supposedly hopeless state, asking the Germans
for help that won’t come and near to collapse at Gallipoli, the Russians doing well in the
south and holding their own in the north and soon able to turn the tide in the center,
and Bulgaria still thinking what to do. None of this accurate except that Russia was indeed
doing fairly well in Galicia this week. But I still have to commend the Hobart Mercury
Newspaper. Compared to many of the European newspapers on both sides, it does a far more
even-handed job of reporting the war. Their entire archive is online, actually, we’ll
give you the link below to check it out. We like to think that at its best newspaper
reporting is noble and the truth is sacred, but how often do we really see that during
wartime? Especially when things aren’t going well. The Mercury, like everyone else, had
to keep up as much optimism as it could as it would 1: no doubt be censored by a wartime
government otherwise and 2: demoralize the population, but if I had a global newspaper
this week in 1915, and I wanted to be honest, I might write this: At Gallipoli the situation remains hopeless.
Both demoralized sides struggle with rampant disease and lack of supplies as the stalemate
has continued all summer. There is no hope of victory here for the allies without committing
tens of thousands of fresh troops under genuinely competent leaders, and that seems unlikely
to ever happen. Bulgaria is going to join the war even after watching a year of carnage
where every other combatant loses hundreds of thousands of its finest young men. Bulgaria
thinks that either a little patch of new land is worth that cost, or that the same fate
will somehow not befall her men. The Russians are still retreating from the Germans, but
even though they’re losing city after city, the Germans are also losing hundreds of thousands
of men, which are gonna be hard to replace. Oh, and there are now millions of refugees
in the devastated regions of Europe, which are riddled with crime and disease. The French
and British are soon to launch a new offensive. The last one resulted in well over a quarter
of a million casualties to their side alone. It’s pretty certain that the new one will
be at least as bad. But hey, young man, go down to your recruiting office and join up,
and here’s the best part- it doesn’t even matter which side you join, it’s kind of
all the same! You’ll quite likely die a screaming bloody anonymous death wherever
you go! But before that you were likely going to sit
in a trench, suffering from trench foot and sometimes had to eat a nice and juicy rat.
If you want to find out more about the life in the trenches, check out our special episode
right here. Our Patreon supporter of the week is Élie
Saulnier. Help us reach our milestones on Patreon and maybe one day we can shoot on
the original locations of World War 1 and quite possibly meet you there. Don’t forget to frequently correct your
history teacher during World War 1 class and tell all your students how to get an A in
that class by watching our channel. See you next time!

100 thoughts on “The State Of World War 1 – As Reported by A Newspaper 100 Years Ago I THE GREAT WAR – Week 60

  1. Another interesting and engaging twist on your presentation. Who knew actors could be so smart and well read??? haha. just kidding.

  2. 7:15–8:38 This is what i call an authentic news report on the war. Great job Indy! Another one of my favourite episodes so far!

  3. Hello Indy, your "newspaper" (07:09) is the best. That's really the truth.
    It's honest and fair explaining all of this horror.
    I cannot hide my emotion.
    Many thanks

  4. A thing to consider here is each side's propaganda …
    As I been watching this serries I was struck again and again by the fact that almost all sides consider themselvs to be waging a defensive war . And in many ways that is true !
    But yet all sides have engaged into a war from a situation that did not put at danger their security .
    The Germans were defending themselvs by stricking first , The Britans defendent themselvs yet the war is not on her territory .The Russians felt threatned by germany over an austrian affair .
    And all sides demonize the othet here .
    Of course Germany hase a very bad image after the Belgian crimes , but those are just the famos ones . No one knows about this tipes of crimes commited in East Europe !
    Oh ! I really want to know what the germans did in Belgia after they seccured it , and after the news of the crimes in belgia . I mean it appears that the crimes were an one time event at the start of the war no !?

  5. It's the first time Id like to point out something which I (and I believe vastly of my countrymen) strongly disagree with. Bulgaria did not go to a war neither in the Serbo-Bulgarian War in 1885, the two Balkan Wars, WWI nor WWII for new lands. We fought in all of these wars (and in the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising in 1903) with only one purpose. The liberation and unification of all Bulgarians. That's why we were so enthused going to a war, that's why as you noticed we managed to mobilize biggest army per capita, that's why people were dancing going to the front. Don't get me wrong, we perfectly knew what is expecting us on the front having just participated in two wars, but we adamantly believed in the rightfulness of our cause.

  6. Indy, at 2:48 into this episode, what kind of rifle is the soldier holding? Perhaps Othias from C&Rmory could be of assistance? It appears to be an odd design, but war tends to produce such oddities. Thanks & we look forward to your answer!

  7. 8:05
    I love how that family hitched their Saint Bernard up to help pull the wagon…every little bit helps, I suppose.

  8. I still think the best newspaper articles about this war were the fake ones in Our Dumb Century.

  9. I read the Fall of the Ottomans some time ago, if I remember well the Ottomans were not in a bad position, but they were strained to say the least. Gallipoli in the end was one of the few victories they had, but it cost them a lot. Until the railroad was not open through Bulgaria the Ottomans won't be adequate supply.

  10. and this is why governments don't let Indy be a newspaperman. haha. "honest men we cannot have, because they embarrass the politicians…" Bernard Cornwell in Sharpe's Devil

  11. Sorry but why are you showing a science fiction wapon at 02:44 Thats a German T-Gewehr It saw servis in the german army from 1918 up untill 1933 AND WE ARE STILL IN 1915 it's a antitank gun the first one ever build. THE TANK ISN'T EVEN INVENTED YET what where you thinking about !!!!! sorry keep up the good work.

  12. Why do you quote an article in Australian English and then change words like centre into center? Your audience isn't that stupid and it kind of defeats the purpose of quoting if you're willing to change something as minor as that.

  13. Howdy! Please forgive my ignorance of the topic but y'all keep mentioning(not in this video but several other ones), that the Ottoman Empire had folks who wanted to have a nationalistic revolution of a nation with just Turks who didn't look to the Arab world for guidance. Could you expand on that a little bit? I don't understand how the Ottoman Empire would have looked to the Arab world for guidance when they had ruled over them in the peak of their existence.

  14. Heh, this episode was a bit odd for me: I'm a Tasmanian. Even the other Australians tend to forget we're even part of the same country.

    I used to Walk past the Mercury building every day for work, same building this would have been printed in! Their modern reporting is about as accurate as it was portrayed in this episode, heheh.

  15. funny you mention correcting history teachers. I used to do that when going over WW2 mostly but in other ares as well. The trick was being polite while telling them they were wrong and of coarse being prepared with my sources. 🙂

  16. Just to add here Serbs were aware of bulgarian backstabing plans and wanted to do preemptive strike against bulgarians but allies were against it…

  17. Talking about the (heavily censored) press reports; a good book is "Now It Can Be Told" by Philip Gibbs, a reporter during the war who wrote a book of events he was not allowed to report to the British press until the war (and Army censorship) was over.

  18. The decision by Bulgaria on joining the Central powers is as much emotional as is objective. The Bulgarians were fucked over in the First Balkan War and suffered a tragedy in the second on on the hands of all her neighbors.Since Serbia was on the Allied side and the Bulgarians already had two wars against the Serbs. Then the chance of getting Macedonia appears. Macedonia that has 75% Bulgarian population, Bulgarian population that has enormous number of immigrants in Bulgaria, some that actually have seats in the executive government. When the serbs occupy Macedonia after the second balkan war there two major uprisings of locals under the leadership of IMRO(read about it) Ohrid uprising and Tikvesh uprising. Both of which end in bloody carnage for more than 3000 civilians on the hands of the Serbs. Highlights were burning women and children alive in furnaces in Tikvesh, and people buried alive in Ohrid with over 75000 refugees. So when Bulgaria was presented the opportunity to join the war and liberate Macedonia of course accepted it. When the war broke out over 30 000 Macedonians joined as volunteers in the Bulgarian Army and many IMRO revolutionaries were their officers.

  19. You would not take a position regarding the class struggle? You wouldn't say anything about all the Grand Dukes and spikey hat guys with Maltese crosses on the strutting around ruining the world for everyone? or perhaps the crazy socialists radicals destroying the old world order or mongrelizing the races?

  20. This was the week Czech writer and anarchist Jaroslav Hasek was captured by the Russians in Galicia. He was one of the casualties of the Austro-Hungarian 91st Regiment when it faced a local Russian attack. He may in fact have wanted to be captured.

  21. I love how this episode's message is relevant today as well. Don't trust everything you see, hear or read on the news.

  22. "Does a far more even-handed job of reporting the war." Literally publishes fake news. 😉
    J/K I know most news is fake, just look at the U.S.S. Maine, a whole war started because of fake news.

  23. Its funny because I got a 92 on my test for ww1, and we haven't went over it yet my teacher was just seeing if his new style of notes was going to help

  24. Oh, so the war was peaceful during this week? Nice to know… I am sure the thousands of deaths might be something against it, though.

  25. Hello Chaps. The whole thing is Bloody Ghastly, i have been moved to tears more than once. Keep going strong it is so important that people get to know all this stuff. No, it is essential they know. Lest we Forget.

  26. Ah, mentioning the River Vilna! Hearing that river's name always makes me think of "The Hunt For Red October" (both the Tom Clancy book, and the movie version of the book, seeing as Captain Ramius was a Lithuanian from Vilnius):

    CAPT. MARKO RAMIUS, VMF: There's a river, not unlike this one, near Vilnius, where my grandfather taught me to fish. Do you still like to fish, Ryan?

    JACK RYAN, CIA: Mm-Hmm! (** nods **)

    CAPT. MARKO RAMIUS, VMF: "And the sea will grant each man new hope, as sleep brings dreams of home." – Christopher Columbus.

    JACK RYAN, CIA: Welcome to the New World, sir.

  27. I used to correct my World History and U.S. History teachers all the time back in high school. My U.S. History teacher was appreciative of my input, and accepted it. My World History teacher forbade me from taking part in the discussions after a while, because it got to the point of she would say something, and then the class looked at me to either confirm or correct it. It was really bad during our study of the World Wars, which have been a point of study for me.

  28. 5:23 I didn't get why you think that allies were in worse conditions in terms of health and supplies? I remember reading that Ottomans can only supply half a loan of a bread every day. Nothing else has been given to the soldiers. Sometimes they do not even giving anything. They were lacking of tools and technologies at the time. Can I get a source for your statement ?

    Very good show btw

  29. Love your news article. of what would you write. It's so sad, accurate, but funny become I know it would be not published.

  30. What a refreshing approach. But I have one issue with the channel in general. Keep in mind, my most recent video is this one, so I am still stuck in 1915, and I do not know if anything changed later.

    But my only issue is that there are surprisingly few quotes (or none) by both German historians (or Austrians or Ottomans), and the soldiers of respective side. I am happy that the channel is not biased (at least regarding the facts), but it would be nice to have variety in eyewitness account and histories. As the Great War was ambiguous one, with no real villain, and heroes on all sides.

  31. Hey. Love the show I'm from Tasmania. quite happy to have Tasmania spoken about in your videos as we are the second smallest state in Australia.

  32. "Im Westen nichts Neues" (nothing new on the western front) – the german approach of ww1-propaganda by omission.
    …20 years later the only thing that worked professionally until the end was an (not yet to be called as such) orwellian ministry of truth under the reign of one cloque-footed catholic.

  33. Hearing the newspaper makes we wonder what effect the war had on Atlas sales. Even with an education system focused much more heavily on geography than today, war news was coming from all over the globe mentioning towns and regions most people would never have heard about. I have to assume there were a lot of maps being sold so that people could follow the news and keep track of what was happening and where.

  34. So what you are saying Indy is that the press was spreading Fake News? Why does that sound so familiar??? Funny how nothing has changed in a hundred years.

  35. Love the ending with your version of the war. I really love how you guys always drive home the point of the horrors of war.

  36. Randomly click on this video and the newspaper Indy refers to was printed in the building next to my work. Funny coincidence.

  37. It's so interesting to see the men at 2:55 in the boats holding the pontoon bridge steady while what looks like the supply train moves across. I never even considered that but immediately knew what they were doing. I just love all the day to day and individual soldier's experiences that we get to see via all the images and videos on this channel. Thanks so much guys!

  38. If i were alive in 1915 and Indy delivered that report i and probably everyone i knew would do anything to join such a glorious war

  39. Good on you Indy for telling kids to correct their teachers. I always say that should be done, but it isn't a popular opinion here in Texas. Don't disrupt the narrative, you'll only confuse the other students, et cetera.

  40. You as far as I remember did not mention the fact that the antanta also tried to negotiate with Bulgaria for her to join the war. The problem was that most of Bulgaria's exports and imports were with Germany and Austria-Hungary. Also the Brits and French tried to offer even more than just Macedonia but due to the fact that the Bulgarians knew that Serbia and Greece would not agree they denied but agreed to the Germans because they were actually fighting against Serbia.

  41. What you said at the end there, would be considered anti-patriotic during war times for Australians my friend.

  42. Indy Neidell you are an angel. I just pledged to you on Patreon. Please keep doing your amazing work, and I hope to see a series on World War II from you one day.

  43. Oh, Indy. I'm going to take a page from Cracked, to elaborate on your ad. If recruitment ads were honest: 'Hey, buddy, join up! Bring your friends to the fight, too! Doesn't matter what side you join, you're going to die a gruesome death, with your head either partially or completely blown off, maybe your stomach, liver and intestines falling out of your stomach wound lying in a pool of mud as rats try to eat you alive, while all the time, you're eating them. But before that! You'll wind up in a trench, explosive shells landing nearby, blinding and deafening you and killing your friends, knee deep in sewage, covered with flies all summer, and then when winter comes, eventually losing all the feeling in your legs as they slowly freeze solid as the pools of sewage become frozen diarrhea ice, and then frostbite takes your legs and you become a bilateral amputee. All in the name and the glory of the King/Emperor!'

  44. 1:51 the way I read this sentence is that the "unstated benefit" was what Turkey is to receive in return for the lands it cedes, not what Bulgaria is to receive.

  45. From my understanding, I'd say that rather benefits for Turkey were in question, if Turkey was to concede a strip of land. It would be strange if Bulgaria was to get that strip in turn for even more land. ; ) I guess from the Turkish point of view, the benefits would be Bulgaria joining the war.

  46. Late coming into this series, finding it absolutely brilliant and informative. Am I the only person wondering why every single military and government high command official has either a mustache (some a bit dodgy looking) or a beard!

  47. Late coming into this series, finding it absolutely brilliant and informative. Am I the only person wondering why every single military and government high command official has either a mustache (some a bit dodgy looking) or a beard!

  48. Trove is a beloved resource down here, image scans of all Australian newspapers along with human corrected ocr

  49. "We like to think, That at it's best newspaper reporting is noble and the truth is sacred" Man, This was created in a simpler time.

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