This war started 100 years ago, and there is still controversy about the causes. The proximate cause, which set the official date for the start of the war, is the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife in Sarajevo by the anarchist Gravilo Princip on June 28, 1914. But there was much buildup of armed forces in preparation for war at that time, as well as much hope for peace. As an example of the latter is the opening of the Peace Palace in The Hague in 1913. Another question hovering around the edge of the debate is “was the war inevitable?” At this point most historians answer that question in the negative.
The world before the outbreak of World War I was, in many ways, modern, as has been discussed previously. At the time some people thought that war was possible, some people thought that war was not possible, and some thought that if war came it would last but a few months. Perhaps the most accurate prediction was from a German general who said that the war would be as violent as the Thirty Years War (1618-48) but would last four years. Since the Thirty Years War killed at least a third of the German population and laid waste to their territory, this German knew of what he spoke.
The major players in this war showed how incestuous European royalty was. The leader of England was King George V (grandson of Queen Victoria); of Russia Tsar Nicolas II; and of Germany Kaiser Wilhelm II. All were cousins, descended from Queen Victoria. Perhaps we should call this the Cousins’ War. King George and Tsar Nicolas looked so much alike they could have been mistaken for twin brothers. By the end of the War, one of those cousins had died, one was no longer in power, and one had changed his name to Windsor, since anti-German feeling was high in Britain during World War I. After King George V died he was followed by his son George VI (after another son Edward VIII abdicated to marry the divorcee Wallis Simpson) who was king during World War II. He was succeeded by his eldest daughter Elizabeth II. So when you look at the Queen of England you see a relative of the rulers of the World War I participants. The year before the start of the war there was a big event — the social happening of the year — which was the wedding of the daughter of Kaiser Wilhelm II in Germany. All of the cousins attended the event, and people believed that with all the royalty of Europe together war could not possibly happen.
As we saw previously, the first decade of the Twentieth Century saw the growth of Modernism with cars, planes and movies, new types of painting and music. This was abruptly altered when Pluto crossed the cardinal axis and went into the sign of Cancer. Also, as mentioned previously, the start of the War saw a conjunction of Saturn and Pluto, never a good sign.
The defining aspect for World War I was the sesquiquadrate between Uranus and Pluto. If we look at the graphical ephemeris (harmonic eight) we will see that this aspect lasted the length for the war, going in and out of orb during the whole war. From the graphical ephemeris we see that the last time the aspect was close was shortly before the war ended. When the War started, Uranus and Pluto were within three degree of a sesquiquadrate and Pluto had just gone over the Cardinal axis (black arrow). Then, about 10 month later was the first exact Uranus sesquiquadrate Pluto (red arrow); we will look at this chart later. The last exact Uranus Pluto sesquiquadrate took place at the end of 1917 (green arrow). Finally, the last close approach of the two planets (blue arrow) happened at the end of the War, reflecting the first close approach at the start of the War.
The official end — the Armistice — was the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. This brought to an end the fighting , but the justice brought was so harsh that it helped set the stage for World War II.
The old world — before the War — was no longer. Many things happened to change the world in ways that we are still dealing with. The end of the War saw the end of a long lasting empire, the Ottoman Empire (started in the Fourteenth Century but it really took off with the fall of Constantinople at the Uranus Pluto conjunction of 1453) which fought on the losing side and was broken up to form the modern Middle East –Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan — which was created through the Sykes-Picot agreement. Palestine was promised to the Zionist and, unfortunately promised to the native people of Palestine as well.
Even though Britain was on the winning side of the war, and still the major Empire at the time, the position of Britain as the number one power in the world was over, and the baton was passed to the United States, even though neither realized it at the time.
After delaying entry to the war for several years — President Woodrow Wilson campaigned in 1916 on “He kept us out of war” — the US entered the War in 1917. Also an influenza epidemic began in the military camps of the US and eventually spread around the world. There is even some evidence that the outbreak of the epidemic in Germany hastened the end of the War. Either through the epidemic from America or the new force of Americans in the War, America helped to bring the end of the War.
After his successful election in 1916, Wilson assembled a group of people, such as George Creel, Walter Lippmann, Edward Benays, and Harold Lasswell, to create propaganda to convince citizens that entering the war was necessary. This set the template for all future war campaigns and today we can witness the successful propaganda to goad us into war. The public relations industry was an outgrowth of the pro-war campaign. One of the notable achievements of this campaign was the Four Minute Men, who gave a pro-war speech from the stage before cinema performances.
Another event that helped prepare the United States to enter the War was the sinking of the cruise ship Lusitania on May 7, 1915. At one time the biggest cruise ship, it was torpedoed by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland. The British claimed in was carrying no war supplies, but later it was revealed that it was and thus considered by the Germans as fair game. The British, who were anxious to get the Americans into the War, used the sinking to inflame American passions. America did not enter at that time — Wilson still had to run on his anti-war platform — but this incident did have an effect when it came to going to war after the election.
In this chart, set for the same date as indicated by the red arrow in the graphical ephemeris, we see that the Saturn Pluto conjunction is almost exact at 0 Cancer. The conjunction of Saturn and Pluto was exact 11 days later. Also in this chart for the sinking of the Lusitania the Uranus-Pluto sesquiquadrate is exact within 4 minutes.
But this event had special repercussions in the United States. This next chart is for the same event, but as transits to the US chart. Uranus is sesquiquadrate the Midheaven of the US (black arrow) and Pluto and Saturn are square the Midheaven (red arrow) so the two transiting planets which are in an almost exact aspect to each other are also aspecting the MC of the US, and there was much public clamor about the event. In addition, transiting Neptune is sesquiquadrate the US Ascendant (green arrow) and opposite the US Pluto (blue arrow), again pointing to the natal Pluto semisquare Ascendant that we have talked about before. This aspect suggests some of the uncertainty and confusion about the sinking, which I pointed out previously in terms of the doubt about whether the ship was carrying war implements. Finally we have Jupiter opposite Neptune and square Mars (yellow arrow) again emphasizing the confusion, the warfare, and the Mars Neptune square in the US chart. So the US was strongly connected to the sinking of the Lusitania.
The predictions of the German general were borne out — World War I was the bloodiest yet seen. The introduction of the Industrial Revolution into warfare — which happened to a small extent with the Crimean and US Civil Wars — was fully incorporated into World War I. About 16 million people were killed, with Austria-Hungry, France, Germany, and Russia suffering the most, with over one million deaths each. The sheer pointlessness of it all affected many of the poets and writers who survived the War to End All Wars. Several imperial powers, the Ottoman, German, Austro-Hungarian, and Russian, fell as a result of the War. This changed the map of Europe and we are still living with the consequences.