History Undusted: If World War I were a Bar Fight

History can be confusing sometimes, especially if it’s distant – beyond our own experience. Who’s who, who did what, and what the consequences were can all seem a bit vague. The analogy below, put into a relatable context, may help you visualize an important bit of world history; I don’t know who came up with the original piece, but it’s brilliant! I’ve made several additions here and there, but otherwise, it’s someone else’s work – if anyone knows who originally came up with this analogy, please let me know so that I can give credit where credit is due!

If World War I were a Bar Fight

Bar Fight, World War 1

Germany, Austria and Italy are standing together in the middle of a pub when Serbia bumps into Austria and spills Austria’s pint. Austria demands Serbia buy it a whole new suit because of the new beer stains on its trouser leg. Germany expresses its support of Austria’s point of view.

Britain recommends that everyone calm down a bit.

Serbia points out that it can’t afford a whole new suit, but offers to pay for the cleaning of Austria’s trousers. Russia and Serbia look at Austria. Austria asks Serbia who they’re looking at. Russia suggests that Austria should leave its little brother alone. Austria inquires as to whose army will help Russia make them do so.

Germany appeals to Britain that France has been eyeing Britain, and that it’s unwise for Britain not to intervene. Britain replies that France can look at whoever it wants to, and that Britain has been watching Germany too, and what is Germany going to do about it? Germany tells Russia to stop looking at Austria, or Germany will render Russia incapable of such action anymore. Britain and France ask Germany whether it’s looking at Belgium.

Turkey and Germany go off into a corner and whisper.  When they come back, Turkey makes a show of not looking at anyone.

Germany rolls up its sleeves, looks at France, and punches Belgium and Luxembourg, who had been minding their own business at the end of the bar. France and Britain punch Germany; Austria punches Bosnia and Herzegovina (which Russia and Serbia took personally); Germany punches Britain and France with one fist and Russia with the other. Russia throws a punch at Germany, but misses and nearly falls over.

Japan calls from the other side of the room that it’s on Britain’s side, but stays there.

Italy surprises everyone by punching Austria. Australia punches Turkey and gets punched back.  There are no hard feelings, however,  because Britain made Australia do it.

France gets thrown through a plate-glass window, but gets back up and carries on fighting.  Russia gets thrown through another one, gets knocked out, suffers brain damage, and wakes up with a complete personality change.

Italy throws a punch at Austria and misses, but Austria falls over anyway.  Italy raises both fists in the air and runs around the room chanting. America waits until Germany is about to fall over from sustained punching from Britain and France, then walks over and smashes it with a barstool and pretends it won the fight all by itself.

By now all the chairs are broken and the big mirror over the bar is shattered.  Britain, France and America agree that Germany threw the first punch, so the whole thing is Germany’s fault.  While Germany is still unconscious, they go through its pockets, steal its wallet, and buy drinks for all their friends.

Everyone went home, leaving Germany to pout on the floor planning on how to get even.



Originally posted on History Undusted, September 2015


Filed under History, History Undusted, Military History, Snapshots in History

14 responses to “History Undusted: If World War I were a Bar Fight

  1. Wow. That IS brilliant. The only thing left out is that 40 million people died in WWI. The countries survived in various forms and that is why the bar fight scenario works and serves as a pretty good illustration of what happened at the 10,000-foot level.

  2. That’s a fantastic analogy that everyone can understand.

  3. I sent this to my husband, who was a history major. Hell get a kick out of it.

  4. And what would follow once Germany picked its butt up off the floor and decided on comeuppance…

  5. Let me know what he thinks of it!

  6. Actually, it is estimated that 16 million died during WW1, while 50 million died in the influenza epidemic that followed…

  7. I think we’re comparing apples and oranges. What I searched on was casualties in WWI: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I_casualties, and what I got was civilian casualties.

    Different numbers, to be sure. But…another great post.

  8. Thanks for your timely work and inclusion!

    I think actual disputes should be resolved this way. A brawl in a pub. The pub could be at the U.N. or in Geneva. The alcohol could be an incentive or an excuse on standby. The only comeuppance, then, would be the next fight. Eventually, everyone might tire of fighting, the rest of the world having been at home, uninterested, having a normal life, which might mean a peaceful life.

    My father was from Olympia, Washington, and liked to tell the story of a border disputer out there between the U.S.A. and Canada. It was settled, officially, with a game of baseball.

  9. It’s a funny and apt analogy.  That America “waits until Germany is about to fall over” before stepping in strikes me an overstatement that is OK in this context.  That America “pretends it won the fight all by itself” is all too true, both of this fight and the one it led to.

  10. Anonymous

    Smashingly brilliant analogy.

  11. Millions are too many, however it’s calculated, sadly.

  12. That’s a great piece of history! Baseball, football, bar fights… much simpler solutions!

  13. It’s all an oversimplification; “world war” implies other countries unmentioned were involved or affected, too, but it gets the point across. And when it comes down to it, technically the first world war was known as the “Seven Years War” – it involved countries from America to the Philippines. Maybe I should write an analogy about that war…

  14. I’ve heard it said that the Seven Years’ War (AKA “French and Indian War” on my side of The Pond) deserves to be called “first” among world wars, and I agree.  Yes, it might also benefit from having a mildly oversimplified overview that emphasizes the farcial side of it.

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