The Dogs of War (1914)


This satirical account of the causes of World War I, titled The Dogs of War, appeared on a British pamphlet in late 1914:


The Dogs of War are loose in Europe, and a nice noise they are making! It was started by a Dachshund that is thought to have gone mad – though there was so much method in his madness that this is doubtful. (Note for the ignorant: the German for dog is ‘Hund’; the English for German is ‘Hun’; Dachshund means ‘badger-dog’ – and he is sometimes more badgered than he likes.)

Mated with the Dachshund, for better or for worse, was an Austrian Mongrel. By the fine unwritten law of Dogdom, big dogs never attack little ones. There are, however, scallywags in every community and, egged on by the Dachshund for private ends, the Mongrel started bullying a little Serbian. And then the fat was in the fire, for the little Serbian had a great big friend in the form of a Russian Bear, and he stood up for his pal. And that was what the Dachshund wanted.

He hoped that a big row would ensue, and in the confusion he intended to steal a bone or two that he had had his eye on for some time. He got what he wanted – and a little bit more. For the Russian Bear had friends too. There was a very game little Belgian Griffon, and there was a great big French Poodle, a smart dandified fellow, and there was a Bulldog. Rather a sleepy chap this last one, and the Dachshund despised him because he was not always yapping and snarling. But the Bulldog has a habit of sleepign with one eye open, and when he is roused, he grips and won’t let go.

The Dachshund started by attacking the Belgian Griffon, as being the smallest, and mauled the poor created cruelly, but was quite unable to kill her. And he was mistaken as to the others. He found that the dandified poodle could fight, and that the Bulldog had not lost the knack of not letting go, and that Russia, after all, was a rusher, and soon the Bear idea made the Dachsund tremble. And even the little Serbian gave the Austrian Mongrel some nasty bites, and so did a neighbour of his named Monty.

The Dachsund now began to look round for friends, but they seemed strangely scarce. He had relied on an Italian Greyhound, a thoroughbred name Italia, but Italia dissembled her love in the strangest way, and asserted that war was a luxury which she could not afford just now. All the same Italia loaded her gun, and who knows but what it may go off and whom it may hit – for accidents will happen in the best regulated families. The Dachshund, to his annoyance, found only one friend, and that was a dog of Constantinople. The dogs of Constantinople are quite well known for being fond of offal.

Meanwhile the rest of the European happy family looked on, and who shall say how the row will spread? There’s the Gree with his knife ready to take a slice of Turkey; there are the Balkans determined not to be baulked of their own little ambitions; there’s the Spaniard fond of Bull-fighting so long as he is not a John Bull; there’s the Portugee just spoiling for a scrap; there’s the Swiss suffering from cold feet; there’s the Dutchman, who keeps smiling with difficulty – still some nice meaty bones may come his way, and in any event he may be relied upon to play the game and not to be a Double Dutchman. And up north, the Norwegian, the Swede and the Great Dane all have their eyes well skinned.