Antedating Quote "history is written by the victor" (1919)

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Dec 14 23:09:48 UTC 2009


1919 _The Newton Conference: Proceedings of a Conference of New England
Baptist Leaders at the Newton Theological Institution, March 17-19, 1919_
(Newton, Mass.: Newton Center) 49:  A school of real-politik arose in
Germany, with some exponents indeed in every land, which said that might
made right. Success consecrates all crimes. The invaders of Belgium were
asked what history would say concerning their deeds. "We will write the
history," was the cynical reply.



On Mon, Dec 14, 2009 at 4:40 PM, Garson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at>wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Garson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Antedating Quote "history is written by the victor" (1919)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> YBQ has listed under Modern Proverbs (pg 527) the saying "History is
> written by the survivors" and mentions the variants "History is
> written by the winners" and "History is written by the victors".
> The YBQ citation is dated 1931. Here we present a 1919 citation
> written by a German Admiral after the WWI defeat. The context
> indicates that the saying is already known in Germany.
> Citation: 1919, My Memoirs Volume I by Grand Admiral Von Tirpitz, page
> 254, Dodd, Mead, and Co., New York.
> ů it could be taken as a proof of the saying that history is written
> by the victor ů
> Here is a more of the context:
> THERE are many who declare that the German Empire would have been able
> to obtain a proper friendly relationship with England, and that it was
> only neglect on the part of German policy, and particularly the
> building of our fleet, that destroyed this prospect. If ever this idea
> were to establish itself in German minds, it could be taken as a proof
> of the saying that history is written by the victor; and in this
> present case the vanquished would be cheating in order to be able to
> pay allegiance to the Anglo-Saxon hegemony in its historical
> conscience.
> The ADS list archive has a 2004 post about this quote that contains
> some later citations.
> The "Quote Verifier" by Ralph Keyes discusses the expression and
> contains some later citations.
> Encarta Book of Quotations has a 1972 citation spoken by Alex Haley.
> I could not find the quote at Popik's website.
> Garson
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