It has been a while since we, as a family, had a decent holiday but we will be having one mid this year. We have decided to visit Germany this time to experience all that the history there has to offer. We are also planning to briefly travel to Vienna to visit the famous Heeresgeschichtliches Museum.
I am very much looking forward to the trip as we will be experiencing a grand narrative of history when we move through a wealth of military history from the Roman era Limes, Varus Battlefield and Mainz's ancient watercraft through the Thirty Years War to the horrors that befell Germany in World War 2. I am a believer in the grand narrative of history in that everything is connected. Not necessarily in a causational sense but it is not hard to draw lines through history connecting events. The simplest thread is of course the geographic thread in that an area influences and is influenced by its history.
Robert Kaplan has argued that we ignore geography at our own peril. I did not find his views revolutionary as, in my opinion, geography has always remained important. Historically speaking Germany was a collection of states with Prussia emerging in the 1700s as probably the most important. It was cursed by having an open geography that meant it was fearful of invasion. It became a continental power because it faced the major land powers of Austria, France and Russia. It needed to secure its existence on land before it could be concerned with conquering the seas.
Its history also shows the threads of military history, particularly from a European perspective. It experienced the "first armies" such as the Romans. It had barbarian warfare and then feudal warfare. It saw the rise of mercenaries leading to the creation of standing armies. From there came mass armies that fed into industrial age warfare.
I am reading several books at present trying to understand Germany before we visit there. The main reference is Iron Kingdom as the role of Prussia cannot be separated from the emergence of Germany.
This trip should be very interesting and help me understand how the grand narrative of history interweaves military history. I also hope that it will give me broader paradigms for what I read and see in Asia.
The count down clock is ticking and I cannot wait.