¿Una nueva mirada a 1914?

CAMBRIDGE – Este año se cumple un siglo de un acontecimiento que transformó la historia moderna. En la Primera Guerra Mundial perecieron cerca de 20 millones de personas, destruyéndose una generación de jóvenes europeos. También cambió de manera fundamental el orden internacional en Europa y el resto del mundo.

De hecho, la Gran Guerra destruyó no solo vidas, sino tres imperios europeos: el alemán, el austrohúngaro y el ruso, y con el colapso del régimen otomano prácticamente un cuarto. Hasta antes de su inicio, el equilibrio de poder mundial estaba centrado en Europa; tras ella, Estados Unidos y Japón emergieron como grandes potencias. La guerra además abrió las puertas a la Revolución Bolchevique de 1917, preparó el camino para el fascismo e intensificó y amplió las batallas ideológicas que caracterizaron el siglo veinte.

¿Cómo pudo ocurrir una catástrofe de semejantes dimensiones? Poco después de su estallido, cuando se le pidió una explicación al entonces Canciller alemán Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg sobre qué ocurrió, respondió: “¡Ah, si solo lo supiera!” Quizás con ánimo autoexculpatorio, llegó a ver la guerra como algo inevitable. De manera similar, el ministro británico de Asuntos Exteriores, Sir Edward Grey, planteó que había “acabado por pensar que ningún ser humano en particular hubiera podido evitarla.”

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