Articles > Mystery
"It's a mystery to me, the game commences
For the usual fee plus expenses."
Dire Straits, Private investigations, 1982
Portfolio of Fatal Decisions. Everyday we make decisions. Most of them make little difference, but there are quite a few with far reaching impact, some of which we may not have considered beforehand. As part of research for a school portfolio, my boy selected five historic examples for entanglement in guilt. They all follow a similar pattern. The initial decision may have been based on good or bad intention, what it lead to though were no more and no less than disastrous consequences. Enclosed is an approximate translation of the original German text, pepped up with new headlines.
Victory at What Price?
Atomic bombings. On August 6 and 9, 1945 on the orders of US President Harry S. Truman two nuclear bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A total of 92,000 people were killed immediately. By the end of the year, another 130,000 people had died from injuries and radiation. These two nuclear attacks forced Japan to surrender unconditionally and ended the Second World War. The bombings were supposed to end the war quickly and through that, save lives! Although Japan was at that time as good as defeated already, nuclear weapons were launched against it. The pilots did not know what kind of bombs they dropped, weapons with the code-names "little boy" and "fat man". It is debatable, whether it was necessary to drop the atomic bombs on Japan. To this day in Hiroshima and Nagasaki disabled babies are born.
BELOW: Breaking news of 9/11 even interrupted the program on the kids channel. The Illustrated Crown Newspaper reported the fatal Sarajevo incident, starting point for World War I. The Salem trials concluded the tragic time period of witch hunting.
Destination: Ground Zero
9 / 11. The disaster on September 11, 2001 is in short called 9 / 11. On this day, Islamic terrorists hijacked four American airplanes to cause unthinkable damage. The first two aircrafts were flown into the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Thousands of innocent people were killed, as the burning buildings collapsed at "ground zero". A third aircraft was directed into the Defense Department, the Pentagon in Washington DC. A fourth plane crashed south of Pittsburgh, after passengers had tried to overpower the hijackers. Probably it was intended to hit the White House, residence of the American President. The four suicide attacks caused the deaths of about 3,000 people. The U.S. called for a "war against terror" and shortly after lead a retaliatory strike against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Also the Iraq war in 2003 was justified with the attacks. The probable terror sponsor was located and executed ten years later. Consequences of 9 / 11 can be felt up to this day, be it tightened security controls at airports or remaining U.S. troops in Afghanistan and the Iraq.
Self-Destruction of an Empire
First World War. World War I lasted from 1914 to 1918 in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, East Asia and on the seven seas. About 40 countries were involved in the war. In response to the the assassination of Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914 by a member of the Serb secret society "Black Hand", the Austrian Emperor Francis Josef I. declared war to Serbia, which triggered a "world fire". At this point, he could not know that a chain reaction of war declarations was to follow, starting with their allies Germany and Russia. The First World War cost some 17 million victims their lives and marked the end of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. With the retaliation attack on Serbia, Austria-Hungary caused its own destruction.
Mass Hysteria of Burning Anger
Witch hunts. The Middle Ages were a time of superstition. For lack of understanding, outsiders were accused of having caused bad harvest with an evil eye. Out of greed, neighbours were accused of witchcraft. The witch craze of the late medieval and early modern age charged innocents with having entered into a pact with the devil. The Holy Inquisition of the Catholic Church tortured the accused and sentenced them to death in show trials. A well-known victim is the Maid of Orleans, who was burnt at the stake after heading the French resistance against England. Cruel persecution campaigns against witches were also led in the Protestant north of Germany. One of the last witchcraft trials was held in 1692 in Salem, USA. Witch hunts can be regarded as one of the most horrible examples of public delusion and the persecution of suspected scapegoats.
Bloodbath on Sacred Ground
Crusades. After the Holy Land had been overrun in the 11th Century by Arab-Muslim conquerors, the Pope and Christian European kings called to a major rescue operation. The Crusades are often cited as an example for errors of the Catholic Church. Reportedly, Christian knights were wading ankle-deep in blood of Muslims. Even a children's crusade was organized. According to legend, the red-white-red Austrian flag originates from the time of the Crusades. Margrave Leopold had blood-soaked clothes after a fight and as he took off his belt, a white stripe was visible. Finally, after thirteen Crusades between 1095 and 1396 the Holy Land was lost for good to the Muslims. In retrospect, the Crusades turned out as pointless.
Portfolio of Accountability. Historic examples like the Crusades, witch hunts, the Sarajevo assassination, the Hiroshima bombing and the attack on the NYC Twin Towers all have one thing in common. It is questionable, whether the heads of state, of church, of a conspiracy organization or outlaw group in charge could have foreseen and fully understood the overall impact of their doings. In the eyes of today's world, we may simply wish that they didn't happen. On a smaller scale, we decide, act and react every day. At the phase gates of our life, we make important moves in directions, which open or mess up new chances for us. Over time, it adds up. We all have our load to carry along the way. Be it the impact of a decision or a non-decision. Be it intended results or surprising consequences we are accountable for, although we may wish we are not.
"Somebody did something to the old man, which he can never forget. The old man has to carry a package, which he can never get rid of -
Es hat dem alten Mann irgendwann wer etwas getan, was er nie vergessen kann. Es hat der alte Mann ein Packerl zu tragen, das er nie mehr loswerden kann."
(STS, 1998, Der alte Mann - The old man)
Find more mystery on the next page about Nostradamus.