Friday, November 21, 2008

Armistice Podcast - National Archives

There is an inherent weakness to the podcasts of The National Archives in that that they just quote from the sources they keep, whether directly to the recording or in a recorded lecture. This usually lacks the drama, the plot, the narrative arch and the punch line, a scripted history podcast has, or a lecture podcast from a university. However, in the Armistice Podcast (feed), the material speaks for itself.

The best of this is in the 19 minute podcast in which an unofficial account of the armistice negotiations is read. Nobody should need imposed drama and punch lines to be drawn in by this text and come close, as close as a fly on the wall of the Marshall Foch's train cart in Compiegne, to these fateful days in November 1918. Granted, it takes sufficient knowledge and understanding of the era in general and the Great War and its consequences in particular to really appreciate the intensity of the report.

I felt the arrogance of the French, the passiveness of the English, the scrambling for better terms and contact with the new government of the Germans and the absence, yet tangible influence of President Wilson of the US. I felt the nineteenth century ethics still at play, with attention to the ranks and attire of the officers present and the fact that negotiations were mainly conducted in French. Yet there is also the very modern warning which will stick with the world for the decades to come in the plea of the Germans: make sure our people won't starve, lest you will see them fall prey to Bolshevism. A drama pinched between Bismarck and Gorbachev.

Also from the National Archives:
The National Archives Podcast

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