Using rare archive footage, this documentary tells the story of World War I. The film shows the rivalry between the various royalty in Europe leading up to the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and the failed attempts to avoid the war that followed. It then goes on to show German attrocities as they invade Belgium and France, and how incompetent leaders on both sides cost the lives of millions of men. Written by
The Guns of August is a documentary that follows the book by the same title by author, Barbara Tuchman (1912-1989), an eminent American historian. She received the first of her two Pulitzer prizes for this 1962 masterpiece on World War I. The documentary was made in 1965. Barbara Tuchman was highly respected for her ability to present complex subjects and present them with clarity. Until I read the previous review, I have never heard of anyone accusing her of hating Germany or its people or of her book being anti-German propaganda. But there are pictures of shot civilians and movies of smoldering ruins. Then again, there are people who claim the Holocaust never took place and is just anti-Nazi propaganda... Facts: On August 3 1914, Germany declared war on France. The German invasion plan for France called for an attack through Belgium, instead of through the heavily defended Franco-German border. Belgium was neutral and its neutrality was protected by treaty with Great Britain. The Germans attacked on August 3rd. The next day, August 4th, Great Britain declared war on Germany. Germany warned Belgium that they only wanted to reach France and if Belgium complied, there wouldn't be any trouble. Despite its small army, Belgium chose to protect its sovereignty and its honor and paid for it. Liège, Aarschot, Andenne, Tamines, Dinant, and Leuven, where the worst of the German depredations occurred. Just look at the ruins of the city of Leuven! 90% of the 500 years old Middle-age University town reduced to ashes, including its precious library with many priceless manuscripts. (The town hall only survived because it was the German QG.) Without any legitimate pretext, German soldiers killed nearly 6,000 non-combatants in Belgium, including women and children (the equivalent of about 230,000 Americans today), and burned some 25,000 homes and other buildings. In this instance, Germany acted more like Attila the Hun that the noble birth country of Goethe, Holbein or Bach. I am not passing judgment on a country or its people but on a time in the history of a country and its people at that time. World War I started 96 years ago and for the sake of the victims, you just cannot ignore the facts, the films and the testimonies of the survivors. For more on this subject, read Jeff Lipkes "Rehearsals: The German Army in Belgium, August 1914" http://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/cup_detail.taf?ti_id=4865. The documentary was released on VHS in the 80's but I am not aware of a DVD version.
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