Break Out Your History Books and Learn the Future

What we learn from History is that no one learns from History,” Otto Von Bismarck. I’m not going to explain who Bismarck was because I believe in being brief, but you should read up on his accomplishments. Essentially, he is responsible for modern day Germany, a state which did not come into existence until almost a hundred years after the United States of America. We think of Germany existing for a long time but much of Europe was very different in the nineteenth century than it was in the twentieth century and will be in the twenty-first. For example we talk of Poland which ceased to exist as an independent state in 1761 and was not reconstituted until 1918 and was then split again between Germany and Russian by the Molotov- Ribbentrop agreement in 1939. So, you can see why the Poles might be a little testy these days with Russia, once again invading countries for territory. Prior to 1761 Poland had been the largest country in Europe and was prominent in European history. It was the Poles who saved Europe from the Ottoman Empire at Vienna in 1683 and from the Soviet Red Army in 1920 when they created the miracle on the Vistula.

Bismarck was, almost single-handedly responsible for transforming the German Confederation of 39 entities into a nation state known as the German Empire. All said and done, Bismarck was an exceptionally smart man of no small talent. In 1888 he made the prediction that ““one day the great European war will come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans.” In 1914 the assassination of the Crown Prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire by Serbian nationalists, seeking independence from Austria, sparked WWI. Bismarck was able to make this prediction because he understood history and more importantly the history of Europe.

To that end, others who understand history and the history of specific regions and peoples have also made prescient predictions that would come true. In 1919 French Field Marshal Ferdinand Foch predicted that the Treaty of Versailles would not stop a German resurgence. When the treaty was signed he famously predicted, “This is not peace. It is an armistice for twenty years.”  Twenty years and two months after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles German troops invaded Poland.

If you want to know the future look to the past, for human nature does not change and the things that have happened in the past will be repeated in the future for as Georges Santayana, Otto Von Bismarck and other astute observers have told us, “What we learn from History is that no one learns from History,” Be one of the smart ones, break out your history books, do you own research, and find out the truth about what occurred before and you’ll understand what will happen again. Oh, and one other observation from the great Prussian diplomat, “The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood. 

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