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The state of affairs on the Russian front is well shown in the brief reference in the book.
From which one understands that the Russians did not approve of making prisoners of enemy aviators. Their "Archies" were apparently good, but too few to be useful, and their aviators practically did not exist. Which is rather what one ventured to surmise in print at the time, despite the magniloquent Russian communiques. When one thinks of all the good British and French aeroplanes and engines which were sent to Russia one regrets the waste of material.
On the subject of air fighting, von Richthofen is always worth studying carefully. None will dispute his wisdom 'in laying stress on the importance of calmness in an air fight. We have lost many good fighting pilots through their getting excited and dashing headlong into an unequal combat. He, or his editor, has been sufficiently skilful not to give away his pet method of attack. However, one gathers that he depended largely on his first rush for his results, rather than on a prolonged series of manoeuvres.
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His dictum that "in air fighting results depend on ability and not on trickery," rather bears out this impression. Nevertheless he occasionally tells of a lengthy tussle with a particularly skilful enemy. Such a story relates how that very gallant gentleman, Major Lanoe Hawker, one of the best loved and admired of the R.
It would seem that Major Hawker's machine was outclassed rather than that he was beaten by superior skill. One is glad to find that von Richthofen pays a tribute to the bravery and ability of his enemy, and it is perhaps some slight consolation to those of us who knew Lanoe Hawker to think that he fell a victim to the Germans' best man and not to a chance shot from an unworthy foe.
It is rather curious that some time after emphasizing the fact that trickery does not pay in air fighting, von Richtofen should show how trickery does pay by describing his young brother Lothar's trick of pretending to be shot and letting his machine fall apparently out of control, so as to break off a fight with opponents who were above his weight.
One is inclined to wonder how many optimistic young air-fighters have reported enemy machines as "driven down out of control," when in reality the wily Hun has only been getting out of the way of harm. The older hands in these days are not easily caught by such a trick, and the High Command refuses to count any victims so claimed unless the performance is verified by independent witnesses either on the ground or aloft.
Another point of interest in von Richthofen's fighting methods is that he states, that as a rule, he opens fire at 50 yards. Distances are hard to judge in the air. The pilot is more likely to underestimate them than otherwise, just as one does in judging distances at sea. But von Richthofen is probably as good a judge as any, and in this he seems to be stating a plain fact. In these days 50 yards is fairly long range. Some of our own crack fighters prefer 50 feet, if they can get into their favorite positions.
Anyhow he shows the unwisdom of opening fire at 1, yards, as some inexperienced and excited machine-gunners are rather apt to do. Von Richthofen's chaser squadron - or Jagdstaffel, as the Germans call these formations - was the first to be known as a "circus. His men, although, as the book shows, they went out periodically on lone-hand ventures, generally flew in a body, numbering any-where from half a dozen to fifteen or so.
Their leader chose to paint his little Albatros a brilliant pillar-box red.
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The others painted their machines according to their fancy. Some had yellow noses, blue bodies and green wings. Some were pale blue underneath and black on top. Some were painted in streaks, some with spots. In fact, they rang the changes on the whole of the paint-box. They flew wonderfully, being all picked men, and in a fight they performed in a manner which would have seemed impossible to the most expert aerial acrobats. A twelve-year stint doing this guaranteed a job in the imperial civil service after the tour of duty.
Even those rejected for service were put down in the Ersatz supplementary reserve, meaning that Gernany had over one million semi-trained extra men available for call-up at the beginning of the war. The German Empire was a state molded by and geared for war. The first step towards the final victory was to begin at Verdun. The bombardment would be massive, designed to smash any semblance of French opposition, the infantry merely advancing to occupy ground before another barrage destroyed the next French lines, drawing in more enemy reinforcements that would then be chewed up in more bombardments.
Unlike the French, the Germans had dug themselves deep concrete bunkers, or stollen , which could resist all but direct hits from howitzer shells. They had been built as temporary shelters, however, not comfortable bunkers, and so taut-nerved German shock troops spent an unhappy week waiting for the command to attack by bailing icy water out of their concrete homes. The Fifth Army five corps were a microcosm of the German Empire at its supreme fighting strength. In , a German corps contained only two divisions, each with two brigades, each brigade with two regiments; a regiment two or three battalions, the battalions containing ideally around 1, men.
The French would note that many of these Brandeburger stormtroopers wore a new steel helmet in place of the old leather pickelhaube. Germany and Aus- gantic extent. Apparently the aim is to create a situation many will have to choose where Ger- between receding or attack- The Dresdener Anzeiger, too, thinks that the "relations between Germany and France give the key to ing.
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For ality the Russia, Pan-Slavism ship over all Slavs. The Berlin Neueste Nachrichten has to acknowledge that as far as Austria is concerned the alliance is "more a matter of the intellect than of the heart ;" while the Rheinisch-W estphdlische Zeitung reports on May twelve that "in more than ten years such a senseagitation against Austria has not been seen in less Italy. The master of the Italian government difficult situation in is by no means which it is placed by the demonstrations of protest against Austria-HunWere war to break out to-day the easily gary.
The Neue Preussische Zeitung in June tells of the surprisis the situation regarded France and of the quiet efforts that are being made to strengthen the army: "If ing spirit of sacrifice there is in the revenge cries have almost ceased that does not in the least mean that the idea has been given up on ; the con- on the war as on a sure thing. It is as much in proportion as though Austria were to demand a billion and a half.
Russia wants elbow-room as far as the North Atlantic Ocean and the Southern Baltic, besides free entry into the Mediterranean. It was proved to Austria's satisfaction and she had so much to lose by a war of ag- gression that no ulterior motive could have influenced had provided the weapons of death and that a high official in the army had been directly concerned.
Servia's attitude during the her that the royal Servian arsenal preliminary investigation had been provocative. It was an unheard-of ultimatum that Then much an Aus- acknowledged to me at the time. In trian friend Germany, except who glory in the ranks of the social democrats, having no national sentiments, Austria's act met with the most complete approval.
The in seriousness of the matter In my own was not for a moment over- immediate neighborhood and, I imagine, from end to end of Germany, the first impulse on hearing the news was to sing national hymns.
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My Austrian friend believed that the powers would sympathize with his country's desire to chastise a band of assassins that the Russian czar espe; cially would never take sides with regicides that Eng- land would see fair play. To blame the attitude German emperor for what followed is of the uninformed. Germany has foreseen the the struggle, as our extracts from the newspapers show, but her one idea has been self-defense. So hemmed in is spirit of exposed are that she can not help Germany, her frontiers in every direction, mere so taking alarm at the movements of her neighbors.
Actually touching her borders are nations with a total population more than doubling her own, not to speak of England with her enormous England of fleet. Germans believe, probably falsely, that before making such a proposition England hastily ordered the laying of the keels of three new battle-ships which in the ordinary course of events would not have been begun until later.
At any rate England leads in the matter of supplying other countries with deadly instruments of war and her attitude her own not unlike that of is rich beer-brewing families to the temperance They preach against the use of go on deriving their income from it. The alcohol, but question. Germany was Previously the number of ships; out of the running as regards now, where only dreadnaughts becoming a good second. Was there not something more than naivete in Sir Edward Grey's serious proposal that Germany and England should recount, she is number of strict the their battle-ships but always pre- serve the proportion of ten to six in England's favor?
We have here, I think, the whole gist of the differences between the two countries. England has steadily pre- served her attitude of superiority everywhere its basis was disappearing. These Germans are to England and are not upstarts is to be kept in their place to be allowed to have a world-policies. German who need his word in the larger Almost every Englishman feels that a social inferior. Such assumptions pro- voke bumptiousness and self-assertion, which, I do not deny, have at times been evidenced. Just before this war broke out, indeed, the feeling seemed to be lessening. The press of both countries had softened As and sweetened.
At home a maudlin sentiment keeps her from en- forcing obedience to her laws and abroad she allows her real enemies to pull her about by the nose. Can England gain anything whatever by humiliating Germany and furthering Pan-Slavism? Britannia, wake up! Your own Angles and Saxons terests it is far from from the Gibraltar will soon be as are race less is now the forts on the made up mainly of your ideals, all your real inare far closer to those of the Germans than they all are to those of the Russians. The time may come, and very soon, when you are only too glad to throw yourself around Germany's neck and beg her aid in opposing the hordes from the East.
Germany, though drawn into the matter merely by the plain terms of her alliance with Austria, stands virtually alone, for Italy is is only half prepared.
The help that he had from England was not greater than may be expected from Austria to-day, and even the English deserted him at last.