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john johnson in the lower jaw now for the second half of our discussion with robert massie about his new book thousands of steel welcomed by bob it's as if we had not go away last week we were talking about the blood bath that drenched europe in the young in war one castles of steeled the story of war won an the violence it to her off and ripping apart a part of the world that had been traditionally see a culture and civilization among the think it's what fun what are we to say we didn't know realize that the ocean is not a barrier to attack what we say about that time as we look around
that the enormous toll human life inflicted on countries in europe where we say oh i'm a country that really sought to maintain a sort of neutrality while all involvement one involving multiple earlier and the world going back to what you said about sea power and the united states and an old navy man and a lover of sailboats idea i've always felt it's the power was a highly relevant aspect of national power here he writes in todays world and we have i see a piano
which no no don't know where they're flying over land or water we have terrorists who can grab airplanes and fly them into towers the oceans are not so much of a shield but for centuries the british navy was the shield of the alliance and shielded me ian merchantmen that explores the traitors who went over the world and made the british empire the great trading empire that was brought wealth back to england in london and we are as a british colony and then as an english speaking nation in the west and in the hemisphere which again we're shielded by two oceans and so our navy became important what are the first world war taught us about the value of sea power i think was
that no matter how many soldiers you have and how bitterly they fight and how many they leach owner they kill there is another element that is going to come into the into the fray and that is the ability to transport men and weapons and food to run across the ocean or the ability to attack the enemy and anywhere on his sea coast periphery for a lot and that these attacks the british had that the americans had that we use them in the second world war now as far as our coming in are coming in earlier and therefore maybe you're cutting short this tragedy that was not going to happen no country wanted to be involved in this war less than the united states and no political leader wanted to be less involved less than woodrow wilson who are i never served in the military himself who wasn't reelected in nineteen sixteen a platform of he kept us out of war and hoover
had to face the fact almost immediately after his election before his inauguration that the germans were behaving in indiana in a way which was so cruelly irresponsible that the united states had to consider what its next moves would be there was no what would you say there was no constituency for the americans going to war earlier than the moment when the germans had so provoked us we had we made up of people who'd come away from europe to want to get away from europe's cross the statistically true say the irish who were not that fine great great of the bridge that was true german americans who have no edges and no interest in us fighting and germany and for the first part of the war there were many were sympathetic to germany our country they didn't like what the british blockade was doing to american trade freedom of the seas it was not until the dreadnought dreadnought said clashed adjustment
the germans had gone back and really fled back and did not come out again they never came out and forget but the germans turn to you bow warfare is really a desperate last resort and they came not that far from winning because of using labels but using the u boats they had to use them in a way in which they couldn't discriminate between enemy ships and nutrition that they couldn't surface and board and see what the cargo was see what the nationally was let the passengers and crew get into lifeboats and shove off the u boats were too vulnerable the only way they could be sure of sinking enough enemy ships and the ships are approaching the british isles and in a more neutral was to sink them with repeaters and torpedoes don't have any idea what what chipped and here were damaged and
they began seeking american ships that first they were seeking killing american civilians and british ships and they began singing american cargo and passenger jet and this eventually became a year a challenge to digest american prestige american principles that woodrow wilson couldn't ignore how how well crucial to changing public opinion was a secularist and it's twenty eight america loves to record it set the stage that happened in may nineteen fifteen and we didn't come into the war until april nineteen seventy but there was a propaganda battle going on the germans were being betrayed by the british as savages for where the rape of dollar donors was called and the americans did not like what that that the british are stopping american ships and inspecting the car goes liane the year there was a lot of
pressure on the state department to give britain and ultra modern that they must leave american ships alone and the germans at that point were doing the same thing as the british they were stopping ships with u boats because the british didn't know how to cope with u boats on the surface and underneath i am but in ninth in the end may nineteen fifteen and the only large passenger liner still running between new york and britain's premier liverpool was the lusitania a giant canard shipper sisters the equity and a martini been taken out and converted into troop ship and running trips chips troops robert down to the international airport but the equity here with its very high speed of world where over twenty knots twenty twenty four knots was considered too fast for you go to work to be able to get a position to strike it and they were carrying passengers sometimes acevedo also often people whose missions were not just
holiday making that civilian the people going back and forth as if there was no war going on and this u boat waited off the southern coast of ireland and out of the fog one morning came the ship which had reduced speed because the fog and the u boats are coming from far enough away that it was able to be trying really to gain a position very close and fire a single torpedo and then there was a secondary explosion and the ship rolled over and sank about ninety minutes taking down with it a thousand people of whom as you said under twenty were americans some children are in this condition the american people this help british propaganda an enormously here were these ohioans slaughtering women and children the germans are good as the war went on there was no more cruel to kill women and children on the high seas that it was to starve them to death as the british blockade a blockade of the
roots reboot of the tract but the americans said that's between you and the british you can you know we are not prepared to argue that the the diplomatic rights and wrongs of you seeking british ships and killing killing british men women and children civilians if you want to but were talking about americans and our dirty about american ships and this must stop all the germans i had no intention of stopping it the german generals and said that germans had been warned the americans by come and buy their own chancellor and the kaiser was worried about this but his general said don't worry about the american army they hadn't gotten and they know how to find indians on the claims they've got a gang down chasing poncho via but they've got no real army immediately not a single division they're just regiment and the american navy will the buildings and good chips but they've never thought a real navy unable balance of work and
anyway we promise your majesty that not one single american soldier will set foot on the company for our submarines will prevent that her lawyer for merck and the us navy was transporting throughout the album on the other by the eighteen months that we came into the war there are two million americans or asian or six hundred thousand in the line the others are moving uphill climb two million more in training camps united states and when the german germans looked at this they didn't want to give up they had they live at the generals wanted to find out there was there was no escaping just the statistics the numbers there are meatballs two million dead and five million wounded they were drafting teenagers and here came the americans and it collapsed and the first evidence of that was a mutiny in the navy he ran up the red flag they refused to sail the sailors came ashore began seizing the port cities and then moved on to cologne in
munich and on the left and the collapse do you know about it for our love's we've heard of our british fleet potential move away this i was so fascinated as iran the us almost eight hundred pages of text fascinating gripping narrative of the war i was fascinated to learn how many battles the british lot it's i know i am dia i you said last week that kaiser had build better ships ships that were better able to take a shot of then one point you talk about how the german strategy was you know weakened lim back in for repairs ever hit they have much
more distant trip and their ships are inferior in terms of taking those hits and they lose many of them om but it is going to a job and throw me in the german sea power with viable and competitive then in some embarrassing situation victorious i had no idea that i think one of the fascinating things about reading this book is that you get a sense of german sea power that has impressed chairman german ships were better bill because they were more heavily more compartment at for more little spaces down in the halls so that when water came when it couldn't go that far there'd be about us they'd be can close the seawall british left their spaces much more open because
they there should trigger for ocean duties and all the corner we're in the mandated secondly the british in this with jackie fisher chose bigger you immediately components of a bit of a of a warship poor armor engines and guns and the and you if you had it to one saying the same size and weight shift here to take away from the others fisher chose a bigger guns and larger engines gun power and speed and he neglected armor cause he said we've got with speed we could stay out of the way we can stay out of ranger our long range going to compound them from a distance the german shows less speed smaller guns only at very accurate high velocity and gonorrhea with super blood much thicker armor and more compartment asian turkish stability gemma maybe sent ships first responsibilities to stay afloat very german greater national who believes the fisher german teacher and he built his shift to to stay afloat and a fight in
the north sea not the final of the world or it realize that if he defeated the british navy and the trident would pass germany and it was churchill who said i'm jellicoe commander briefly jellicoe was the only man on either side who could lose the award and afternoon meaning of jellicoe of the british grand prix was defeated by the german flee war was over germany would blockade britain thats the sea lanes and the supply is averse to everything with it would be reversed it would be over and so for that reason i was very very careful lulu just and then were talking with bob massie about his new book castle few and would restore it is either we talk about the entry of states into this conflict and ann wilson had negotiated show the reelection victory a successfully in and
now umpqua know he decides to we must go in and we'd do going but we going at a time when on we go in a time when if you just look at the suit with many of the battles at sea was a said the germans have held their own now they belong they've gone back and end and that they're protecting themselves and i'm not anxious to engage the british fleet but on the top a little bit about the us public opinion and the political thinking that that lead wilson in in those days after his election in nineteen sixteen well there was a strong faction in the united states and then it is officially by teddy roosevelt the former president who were until after a lesser degree of it
exactly but roosevelt said wilson these yellow yellow all the way through because he wouldn't go to war even when american ships were being sunk the interventionist elements american political all life were intended to be in the on the east coast these were the people who were a new kind of been making a lot of money from selling arms to the british who were around very anxious that of britain not be defeated in the middle west where there was a large urban population in the upper midwest and the far west where they're worried about japan which was nominally an ally great britain it seemed less sour germany's seem less ominous german threat but then you remember just as the but german understated warfare campaign began the
british intercepted and passed to nine states that zimmerman telegram one of the most foolishly incriminating documents in the history of the policy the german foreign minister and send a message to the by an unusual route to go to the german investor to that in mexico saying if we go to war with united states we as goodness mexico kamen against united states as our ally and if they will do that we will guarantee that when we defeated united states mexico will get back texas new mexico arizona and most of california basically whatever they want or whatever we'd arcs expansion manifest destiny the west to take and then the british and brokenness code intercepted the intercepted and passed it to the american ambassador who sent wilson and wilson figured it i think actually said my god and clapped his hand in his head and he knew
that was over and then released into the newspapers and then you know not only the killing americans he meant it but by god they're practically they're giving away a big piece of the united states this good for public opinion what up almost one pearl harbor did in the second world war there was no question that that these people met us harm and that we were going to go to war and the world the b a vote in the senate was that even something like six senators still voted for peace in the house maybe thirty but so was in unanimous but it was overwhelming overwhelming in the congress and also in public been interesting thing about about a wilson is that he was only a short distance away from disabling stroke and forty three
part of the world or not that they still have full capacity a foreman capacity and four ability to reason into and to make a decision on i don't turn on and really thought it through only flirted with the idea one day when i am i finish reading the book but i am the options were pretty know he still could remain doubt the wall were a drag on our own once he was in man nor mcshane was constructed the draft again to produce thousands and then hundreds of thousands of american true oops the navy that the germans said don't exist suddenly began to be developed and now
he understands i think when we go in that he's going to be the bounce pop he wanted to be the year are richer anyway that's why one and stayed neutral he thought that he could stand above it and say both sides tell a twitter war aims are and i will try to help you work them out and the kaiser said now i'm here and i'm not on your life and so did lloyd george by then the prime minister they did what wilson interfering both want to fight it out because both thought both fell we've sacrificed so many were not going to give up and decided a table that were really cough back up these games are we're not going to achieve these these these things are and they do and the kaiser said this call wilson is part of a new professor anita the day i sent my dynasty has ruled for a thousand years and pressure and so forth are and lloyd george came from the opposite end of the social scale use them from a welsh mining town and he also by then was
determined to crush persian militarism and and leave germany as they did prostate so the wilson never really have a chance until as you say became an and then he arrived in europe after the war soon after the spring right after the war ended the sort of almost without a well known the people of europe the years the year than in the same grave savior and then he ran into all the nitty gritty of art our war aims reparations an ambition opportunism and so forth and he stayed he went home he came back and he found all things slipping away when he really wanted to do we really cared about most was establishing the league of nations which had to be established by treaty
and he came back and as you know the story he had to convince the year in the state senate and which senator and cabot lodge was a very very powerful now still so wilson sets off on this round the country speaking tour where and as you said john this was not the first and strokes that was the last time it was the one which you truly person he had had this kind of jihad ad minor strokes before he had blinding headaches when he would have to go to bed and i'm sleepin and couldn't function and so forth we of course are they the public didn't know any more about that than we knew about her while roosevelt's illness in nineteen forty four or you know or whatever conditions kennedy may have had which gore kept secret the secret you know i was reading about me his negotiations on
what was what the terms are under would be in my proposal a rejection heat up to a mic in that moment for example he says because it's got to go that's that's the condition on and make came away with something close to the situation we've only had a couple minutes left has been wonderful to have you talk about this but i'll do it at the end of the book i'm wondering you know the germans have kept their fleet of home only one these early victories in and then they lose that the bad losses they covered them and dump and they didn't risk breaking the british blockade was and as you say the mosul for world happen to legislate and then you don't make it was it was a great
you know no novelist couldn't enter the snow the war wasn't over this was an armistice and actually the german generals and hope that they just paid tickets sometime often and then go back but the allies as you said just under such harsh conditions from a german point of view which included in turning the german fleet german flee wasn't surrendered there was children and sailors aboard but they see a stripped away at the hub greta took a formal shelter where we were input and they took them up to seventy nine ships it was very glee all the modern dread know it's up to scout the flow this great harbor to the north of scotland and they stayed there the whole winter with a condition so is deteriorating in only a skeleton crews on board and then when the german admiral thought erroneous later turned out that
germany was going to reject the peace treaty that the allies wanted to impose which germany eventually signed but that war some reform might be resumed and he knew that the fleet couldn't fight he decided scotland and one bright morning when the british guardian guard scored and gone to sea they opened reopened the holdouts and they open the torpedo tubes and the water rushed in and one by one all these dreadlocks and great battleships and double cruisers the cruisers and fifty destroyers one to the bottom of the sea in this great harbor the british tried to stop it there were some the british were shooting at some of the people who are doing in it fourteen or fifteen german sailors were killed the british admiral was slated to close later excoriated for people who knew castle steel and they were on the bottom of whether this marvelous we've run out of time thinking about the message for being with us thank all of you for watching on john's inaugural
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A Word on Words
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Robert K. Massie
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Nashville Public Television
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Castles Of Steel Part 2
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Chicago: “A Word on Words; 3233; Robert K. Massie,” 2003-00-00, Nashville Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 19, 2024,
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