(Early Twentieth Century 1913 - 1951)
It was, according to the Julian calendar, on October 23, 1918, the “Great War” ended, a war to end all wars, and another started. A revolution that would eventually shape the geopolitical landscape of the twentieth century like no other.
Wars of the past were generally local and did not usually involve the civilian population however this all ended with the Great War on August 1st, 1914. There were no less than 150 national participants in this previously unknown war of industrialized might. Ultimately the entire population of earth in one form or another was conscripted into the war effort.
It is hard to fathom the depth and breadth of warfare on such a scale without some perspective; it is estimated 10,080,026 million people died as a result of the war on behalf of the Entente Powers (Allies) and 8,341,264 million people on behalf of the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Ottoman Empires). This type of wholesale slaughter had never been witnessed in world history. Fortunately for all participants involved the “Great War” ended precisely, according to the Gregorian calendar, on the 11th of November 1918 at 11 am.
As of 1918 the Russian Empire encompassed 8,600,000 square miles or one-sixth of the earth’s land mass and boasted a population of 176,400,000 subjects. This vast territory of numerous and diverse peoples, tongues and tribes were ruled over by Tsar Nicholas II of the German-descended cadet branch, of the house of Romanov, the House of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov from 1894 to 1917 whereupon he was summarily executed along with his wife, four daughters and one son. The Russian Empire had survived to that date due in part to the fact the Russian monarchy was absolute, unyielding and brutal in its reprisals.
Russia was for all intents and purposes an agrarian society practicing slavery until 1861 when the serfs, land owned slaves, were emancipated and allowed to own land rather than be owned by the land. This emancipation created a large displacement of the labor force and a ripe field for discontent in the social fabric of an Empire trying to keep up with Western Europe and America on the political, economic and industrial scene.
In 1905 Russia was defeated by the Japanese in what is called the Russo-Japanese War of 1904 to 1905. This was a major blow for Russia and ignited an incident known as “Bloody Sunday” where hundreds of unarmed people trying to petition the Tsar at the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg in January 1905 were massacred by Tsarist soldiers. This infamous situation started the eventual decline of the Romanov dynasty and the rise of the Bolshevik revolution of 1917.
It is at this starting point in time that Burkhard Huber or Buck as his friends would call him was thrust onto the Russian civil war scene. He was eighteen years old and conscripted into the United States Army under Woodrow Wilson’s March 20th, 1917 petition to Congress to go to war against Germany, adopted by Congress on April 4th and signed by Wilson on April 6th. It should be noted two contingents were sent to the Far East of Russia through two ports of entry; 5,000 troops known as the “American North Russia Expeditionary Force” (a.k.a. The Polar Bear Expedition) were sent through Arkhangelsk and 8,000 soldiers known as the “American Expeditionary Force Siberia” were shipped to Vladivostok from the Philippines and Camp Fremont in California, USA. Burkhard Huber was one such soldier sent from the Camp Fremont, California military base in July of 1918 as part of an international intervention expeditionary force involving 19 nations.
Buck was born on June 5th, 1899 to Hans Huber a German-born national and Katarina Huber a Russian born national. The two were married in Moscow on July 18th, 1891. In 1894 they immigrated to America where Burkhard was born just northwest of Austin, Texas on a small cattle ranch his father had purchased and in 1903 the Huber family officially became United States citizens. The struggles of the early twentieth century have impacted and defined our world today in ways clearly understood but hard to believe. The twentieth century witnessed such profound change as to be without precedent. The manufacturing process of America, Britain, France, and Germany dominated the industrial landscape. New forms of technology emerged that were at one time thought to be impossible and perhaps in the realm of magic. Science exploded forward at an ever-increasing pace of accumulated knowledge in such a way as to double exponentially every 18 months by the end of the century. The human genome was mapped, the brain understood in ways Sigmund Freud would’ve barely been able to comprehend and the near cosmos explored and inhabited to become a jumping off point for exploration of the Moon and Mars.
However little is known of the brave men sent to Russia to assist in its titanic struggle for self-determination, identity, and world acceptance. The first half of the twentieth century as witnessed through the life of Burkhard Huber is one based on historical fact but fictional characterization. The exploration of that time period and the day to day struggle of millions of people in the far-east and Eastern Europe is one that will be explored through the eyes, ears, and mind of a young Texan man drafted into the world of men, machines, and war.