Just how silly is this season?

Posted by Tory Historian Monday, August 03, 2009 ,

Ah yes, Tory Historian is told, the silly season. Nothing ever happens in late July and August. Oh no? Well how about a few random events from the twentieth century?

July 23, 1914 - Austria-Hungary delivers an ultimatum to Serbia with ten extremely difficult demands;
July 28, 1914 - when Serbia acceded to eight of the demands, Austria-Hungary declared war because of the remaining two;
July 29, 1914 - Russia orders partial mobilization;
July 30, 1914 - Germany orders mobilization;
August 1, 1914 - France orders mobilization; Germany declares war on Russia
August 3, 1914 - Germany declares war on France and a few hours later France declares war on Germany;
August 4, 1914 - Britain declares war on Germany;

Hmm, some silly season that turned out to be.

Let's try a few more dates.

August 28, 1939 - Nazi-Soviet Pact is signed and World War II effectively begins;
September 1, 1939 - still in the silly season, just about Germany invades Poland though the USSR does not invade till September 17;
September 3, 1939 - Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand declare war on Germany;

Not much of a silly season there, either.

A few other events in the silly season:

August 13, 1961 - construction of the Berlin Wall starts
August 21, 1968 - Soviet tanks roll into Prague

From the point of view of historic symmetry it would be nice to have a few events from 1989 that took place in the silly season. Alas no. The nearest is May 29, when the Hungarian border guards started dismantling the border with Austria, cutting the wire fences and lifting the mines. Perhaps, it is only important bad things that happen in the silly season.


  1. Unknown Says:
  2. It is worth noting that the fact that these crises took place in the holiday season did nonetheless have a significant impact in how they progressed.

    In 1914 for example the French leadership were all afloat and incomunicado until very late July which resulted in them being unable to communicate with and possibly restrain their ally Russia in the period leading to war. In addition I beleive that some of the major German and British political and military players were also on holiday until a lsate stage in the crisis.

    The advent of the blackberry et al of course means that problems like that would not occur now.

  3. "The advent of the blackberry et al of course means that problems like that would not occur now."

    Hmmm. Not quite on the same scale, but the fact that the Credit Crunch first made itself felt in July/August 2007 contributed to the poor response - the consequences of which we are still living with.

  4. Anonymous Says:
  5. Max:

    Actually, the French President and PM were returning from St Petersburg. The Austrians deliberately waited to deliver their ultimatum until the French left Russia so that they would not be able to discuss with their ally.


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