“1917: Red Banners, White Mantle” by Warren H. Caroll.
Christendom Publications, Front Royale, Virginia, 1981, 141 pages, Grades 10 and higher.
In 1914, Europe hurled itself into a war of unimaginable proportions. Among the reasons for this catastrophe were selfish national treaties, greed, a loss of faith and political bungling.
As the slaughter intensifies, all warring nations have to make some type of case to their populace for continuing the conflict. This leads willful blindness to virtue. By 1917, the entire political order is on the brink of toppling over. As Russia begins collapsing, the malevolent revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, sees his opportunity to impose a totalitarian system on the harried and abused Russian nation.
As Lenin begins planning his supposed vision of the “workers’ paradise” an event of marvelous grace occurs in Portugal. The Blessed Mother appears to three peasant children in the village of Fatima. It is a confrontation of eschatological proportions: Lenin’s grim version of an earthly utopia clash with the gentle, holy worldview proposed by Christ’s mother. Lenin’s utopia is founded on the use of violence to gain obedience. The Blessed Virgin’s position is based on a loving obedience to Her Son’s divine will. Warren Carroll’s book “1917: Red Banners, White Mantle” describes this titanic battle during World War I.
For three years, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey, France, Italy, Great Britain and Russia have hurled gigantic armies against entrenched positions lined with machine guns, barbed wire and land mines. The result has been the destruction of an entire generation of young men. The slaughter of the war is seen as an opening for Lenin and the Bolsheviks to overthrow the political order. Lenin is isolated in Switzerland, planning his destruction of western society in the lovely library of Zurich.
Soon, however, the German High Command makes two disastrous decisions. First, they declare unrestricted submarine warfare. This means any ship, even from neutral countries such as the United States, will be sunk on sight in the proscribed war zone.
Second, they decide to send Lenin, 32 adults and four children by sealed train back to Russia. All the adults supported Lenin’s violent Bolshevik takeover of Russia. The Germans knowingly decided to export revolution and destruction to Russia.
In an attempt to end the massacre, Pope Benedict XV offers a generous peace plan with no recriminations after the war. Austria, to her credit, accepts the plan; several German leaders want this agreement, but France, Britain, Italy and the newly aligned United States refuse the Papal Peace Initiative. Eventually, the German High Command scuttles the pope’s plan and with this political blindness, the war continues.
While all of this is occurring on the political front, the Holy Mother of God appears to the children of Fatima on May 13, 1917. She tells them to pray for the conversion of Russia, and states that if Russia isn’t consecrated to God through Her Immaculate Heart, the country will spread its errors throughout the world. She tells the children to keep coming on the 13th of each month for six months to the apparition site. On October 13, 1917, She tells the children She will perform a miracle.
At the same time the apparitions are occurring in Portugal, Lenin plans and executes his brutal takeover of Russia. Warren Carroll shows how Lenin’s Marxist philosophy clashes with the Lady of Fatima’s rosary in the final dramatic months of 1917. Two completely different world views; one based on earthly domination and the other centered on the loving acceptance of God’s will.
This book is an excellent history of the issues involved in World War I. Carroll demonstrates that the leaders willing to be led by grace, such as the virtuous Emperor Charles of Austria could have made a positive difference after the war. But leaders utilizing hate and conquest, like Lenin, could only create a violent, disordered world. I hope you get a chance to read this book. It can be purchased online and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.