A century ago, one of the most calamitous events in the history of the world occurred when the outbreak of hostilities involving Germany started the Great War.
Even from the sidelines, and with a large German community, the First World War had effects we are still seeing today in our Valley a world away.
Up until 1914, the world was united in a way it hasn’t been since. Nations traded freely with one another. A resident of Gardnerville was only a buggyride away from being able to go virtually anyplace on Earth, via train and ship. The Record-Courier on Aug. 6, 1914, was able to publish reports of the first actions of the war not long after they occurred.
The imperial powers that ruled most of the world did so without mercy or measure for native peoples. When those powers fell, those peoples were happy to see them go.
The Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires are dusty memories today, but the two nations occupied great swaths of territory that we’ve seen in conflict over the past 20 years.
Iraq, Syria, Palestine, even Egypt and Saudi Arabia were all under the Turkish yoke. Had the Turks not chosen to fight with the Central Powers, they might be still.
There are a lot of Central European countries today besides Austria and Hungary, that resulted from the break-up of that empire after the war, including the former Yugoslavia, which disintegrated in its own bloodbath in the 1990s.
As the last century has shown, the consequences of something that happened before we were born can have consequences that will affect our descendants for the century to come.