Despite having written a great deal of articles on the second world war I find I have done very little on the first world war (or The War To End All Wars)
The recipes I have found that represent the wartime diet of 1914 are not dissimilar to the ones used during the second world war some twenty years later.
Proving, I suppose, that when it comes to recipes and food preferences there is nothing new under the sun. I find the sight of grown men prancing about on national television glibly taking the credit for ‘creating’ their ‘own’ (insert name here) recipes always makes me smile somewhat sardonically.
They are only doing what housewives across the world have been doing for generations, namely creating something tasty and wholesome from available ingredients.
But what do I know! I’ve only been cooking my way across Europe for the last thirty (well alright, nearly thirty-eight, but who’s counting) odd years! And some of them were seriously odd!
But be that as it may, in Sarajevo (right) on 28th of June 1914, Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, (left) heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary triggering a serious diplomatic crisis. Austria-Hungary sent an ultimatum to the Kingdom of Serbia that set in motion the invocation of complex international alliances created in the previous decades.
On the one side stood Russia, France and Great Britain, (the allies) on the other stood Germany and Austria-Hungary (the triple Alliance or Central Powers)
Within weeks, from 28th July 1914, the major nations were embroiled in a war which rapidly developed into the first ever global conflict.
Both alliances reorganised and expanded as more nations entered the war. Italy, Japan and the United States joined the Allies, while the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria joined the Central Powers.
Described as the “War to end all Wars” the conflict involved more than 70 million military personnel, mainly European, and directly affected many times that of civilians.
In the course of the conflict over nine million combatants and seven million civilians died, a figure exacerbated by the major nations technological and industrial advances. Regarded as one of the deadliest conflicts in history that gave rise to major political change in the majority of the nations involved
On 4th November 1918, the Austro-Hungarian empire agreed to the Armistice of Villa Giusti, and Germany, which had its own trouble with revolutionaries, agreed to an armistice on 11th November 1918, ending the war in victory for the Allies.
Soon after, the German Empire, Russian Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire ceased to exist. National borders were redrawn and nine independent nations restored or created.
Germany’s colonies were divided up by the victors and the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 saw Britain, France, the United States and Italy impose their terms in a series of treaties. From this also emerged The League of Nations, formed with the aim of preventing any repetition of such a conflict. This effort failed, and economic depression, renewed nationalism, weakened successor states, and unresolved rivalries at the end, contributed to the start of the Second World War twenty-one years later.