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The Original "Getting Real"

The Original "Getting Real"
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Friday, 29 July 2011

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Friday, 15 July 2011

Shattered Crowns: The Scapegoats

The first novel in my trilogy, Shattered Crowns, is now available on Kindle and will soon be available in paperback. The trilogy follows the royalties of Europe from 1913 to 1918 and the first novel (1913 to the outbreak of the First World War) has the subtitle The Scapegoats. I chose this title because, after ploughing through so many opposing opinions and documents, and from thinking of the characters involved it is clear that Tsar Nicholas, Kaiser Wilhelm and, to a lesser extent, Emperor Franz Josef have been made the scapegoats for such a terrible war whereas not one of them – not even the Kaiser! – wanted war.

It is particularly striking, seeing how they were – against their will - hoodwinked, cajoled and pressurised by ministers and others into allowing the war to happen, that these three monarchies were destroyed by the war. It is so striking that it seems almost a deliberate plot to overthrow them, particularly when you consider that both Russia and Germany refused to be drawn into the international banking legislation of the time and were fiercely independent. I firmly believe that – after years of trying to make sense of how this terrible war came about – the real cause lies very deeply hidden in something far more sinister that can easily be described here.

I am, however, far more interested in interesting people than in politics and one of the most interesting revelations to me during my research is the character of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. This man, whom most people remember only because his murder is said to be the cause of WW1, was a far greater and more perceptive man than the hot-headed, unpopular person he is usually shown to be. His ideas for future government of Austria-Hungary (based on the American idea of independent states and a federal government); his determination to refuse to be crowned King of Hungary until universal suffrage was granted; his understanding of the balance of power and his opposition to the annexing of Bosnia-Herzegovina, are quite wonderful!

Interesting, isn’t it, that he was invited to Sarajevo on his wedding anniversary
and Sophie, his beloved wife who had been so shunned in Vienna was also invited to appear with him in public that day? Did someone fail to mention that it was also a day of great national symbolism for the Serbs (St. Vitus Day – the anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo). Strange how, in such a turbulent area, there was no military protection...even stranger how, after the first attempt on his life, he was still driven in an open car through the streets and the car took a wrong turning - because the driver hadn’t been informed of the change of route to the hospital – and so had to reverse into the path of the killer. Strange too that we accept that the Black Hand was a recognised criminal organisation who had carried out many atrocities when, in fact, apart from a couple of so-called failed or aborted assassination attempts, I cannot find any evidence of their supposed crimes. Also, if that group was – as Austrian ministers claimed – made up of military officers and high ranking Serbian officials, would they choose some drop-out nineteen year old student to carry out so important an assassination? There is a great deal more to say of this but perhaps it is inappropriate here.

To the end of her life, Empress Zita maintained that there was something far more
sinister about the plot to kill Franz Ferdinand than meets the eye. In the aftermath of war, Franz Ferdinand has largely been forgotten; Kaiser Wilhelm (who was always a bit unbalanced) has been made out to be the mad and evil plotter - though he was tryng desperately - in the midst of his many hang-ups - to avoid war and he vehemently opposed the invasion of Belgium; and Tsar Nicholas (who was way ahead of many others in his understanding of and attempts to bring a peaceful solution to the
Balkans wars, and who worked often through the night with no rest in his attempts to broker peace) is portrayed as dancing on the deck of his yacht letting the world go to hell in a handcart because he was ‘weak’. Amazing how easily often repeated stories begin to be believed.

"Shattered Crowns: The Scapegoats" isn’t an attempt to change perceived history or anything of the sort, but is rather written out of love and respect for these ‘scapegoats’ of history.