Sunday, October 21, 2018

Protocol for the occasion broke down altogether.

From the Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman.
After graduation from the Staff College in 1898, Hoffmann had served a six-months’ tour of duty in Russia as interpreter and five years subsequently in the Russian section of the General Staff under Schlieffen before going as Germany’s military observer to the Russo-Japanese War. When a Japanese general refused him permission to watch a battle from a nearby hill, etiquette gave way to that natural quality in Germans whose expression so often fails to endear them to others. “You are a yellow-skin; you are uncivilized if you will not let me go to that hill!” Hoffmann yelled at the general in the presence of other foreign attachés and at least one correspondent. Belonging to a race hardly second to the Germans in sense of self-importance, the general yelled back, “We Japanese are paying for this military information with our blood and we don’t propose to share it with others!” Protocol for the occasion broke down altogether.

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