“Before the leaves fall from the trees”

“Before the leaves fall from the trees” by Simon Black for Sovereign Man

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The morning of June 28, 1914 began like any other normal day.

It was a Sunday, so a lot of people went to church. Others prepared large meals for family gatherings, played with their children, or thumbed through the Sunday papers.

At that point, tensions had been high in Europe for several years; the continent was bitterly divided by a series of complex diplomatic and military alliances, and small wars had recently broken out.

Italy and the Ottoman Empire went to war in 1912 in a limited, 13-month conflict. And the First Balkan War was waged in early 1913.

Overall, though, the continent clung to a delicate peace. And hardly anyone expected that most of the next THREE DECADES would be filled with chaos, poverty, and destruction.

And then it happened.

That Sunday afternoon, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire was assassinated during an official visit to Sarajevo. And the world changed forever.

Five weeks later the entire continent was at war with itself. But even still, most of the ‘experts’ thought it would be a simple, speedy conflict.

Germany’s emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II, famously told his troops who were being shipped off to the front line in August 1914, “You will be home before the leaves fall from the trees. . .”

It took four years and an estimated 68 million casualties to bring the war to a close. But that was only the prelude.

Following (and even during) World War I, a series of bloody revolutionary movements took hold in Europe, including in Russia, Greece, Spain, Turkey, and Ireland.

Then came the Spanish flu, which claimed the lives of tens of millions of people. Later, Germany sunk into one of the worst episodes of hyperinflation in human history.

Communism began rapidly spreading across the world almost as quickly as the Spanish flu, often through violent fanatics who engaged in murder and arson in order to intimidate their opponents; this became known as the ‘Red Scare’ in the United States.

Of course there were some good years during the 1920s when people generally felt prosperous and happy; but it all came crashing down at the end of the decade when a severe economic depression strangled the entire world.

It lasted for more than ten years, during which time the world was once again brought to an even more destructive war that didn’t end until atomic weapons obliterated the civilian populations of two Japanese cities.

Again– go back to June 1914. Who would have thought that the next 30+ years would play out so destructively?

Even for the people who did predict that Europe would go to war in 1914, most leaders thought it would be over quickly. And almost no one expected it would spawn decades of chaos.

Today we’re obviously living in different times and under different circumstances.

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