The American Road to World Peace

By Alfred Zimmern | Go to book overview

SECTION IV
1914

For a century men have been laboring to solve the Eastern Question. On the day when that will be considered solved, Europe will find itself confronted with the Austrian Question.

ALBERT SOREL, 1878


CHAPTER 22: European Public Opinion in 1914

THE outbreak of war in 1914 found Europeans with a divided mind.

On the one hand they were shocked at the blow given by Germany and Austria-Hungary, acting together as allies, to what had come to be known as "the public law of Europe," as represented by the Concert of the Great Powers. This loose and incoherent organization-if a body which had never even established a permanent secretariat can be described as an organization--had preserved Europe from a major conflict for nearly a hundred years and had thus enabled a habit of peace and security to grow up in men's minds. This was particularly the case in Great Britain, which had never experienced large-scale war on her own soil and where the Peace Movement had for generations been a powerful undercurrent in public opinion. In the years immediately preceding 1914, the movement had been reinforced by a skillful presentation of the theme that war in a modern society, like that of the twentieth century, would be injurious to all concerned and that

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