the plum trees and pigs of Serbia were not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier

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ShareisBeauty

Senior Member
Chinese
Bismarck had said that the plum trees and pigs of Serbia were not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier, but it was the fate of Serbia,this belligerent little place, still bearing its teeth at its equally belligerent Croat, Bosnian and Albanian neighbours in the twenty-first century , which led to the ruin of all the great European powers in 1914. The war began in the Balkans. Since 1912, Serbia had been fighting Turkey for more territory, and feeling aggrieved because Austria-Hungary would not allow it an Adriatic port. Bulgaria and Greece, also anxious to rid Europe of Turkish sovereignty, were allied with Serbia, and behind Serbia stood... (A N WILSON After the Victorians)
Q: My trouble came from Bismarck's famous quotation. Serbia/Balkans used to be and still are a turbulent place. An assassination incident triggered the WW I. “The plum trees and pigs of Serbia were not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier". For the explanation of one quote , I need the help of two points and hopefully this is regarded as one question. Bismarck used to show his contempt for the place as in his claim, despite the history that taught us it's a place which could not be belittled. Why can plum trees and pigs represent Serbia (popular fruits for food but how about pigs used as popular food ?) and "Pomeranian grenadier" why is the soldier in that place near Poland useless soldier?
Grateful as ever for your useful answer.
 
  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    It's like saying "Those plums are not worth five euros". What is the value of a Serbian province, with its plum and pig farms? It is worth killing people for? Should Bismark send his soldiers to die, in order to win Serbian land?
     

    ShareisBeauty

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Oh logical. Thanks. But how is Pomeranian grenadier considered a good nature joke in the 19 th century as the most useless soldiers in the nation? I am thirsty for the logic here or mechanisms
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Oh logical. Thanks. But how is Pomeranian grenadier considered a good nature joke in the 19 th century as the most useless soldiers in the nation? I am thirsty for the logic here or mechanisms
    There is no joke, ShareisBeauty. Bismarck was not trying to laugh at Pomeranian grenadiers. Those soldiers were important to Bismarck.

    Cross-posted.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I just took it to mean "a single soldier... a single infantryman... a single human being..."
    Indeed, I reckon that's exactly what it means, and moreover, given that grenadier is the lowest rank, it means that sacrificing even just one soldier of the lowest rank would be too high a price to pay for making relatively unimportant conquests.

    I'm not even sure Serbian agricultural products were being particularly disparaged here. It would seem that high quality pigs and plums were particularly plentiful there, but perhaps they represented a resource that was not exactly scarce in Germany, and therefore any such conquest would not have been all that valuable. It would have been as if the inhabitants of the Northeast of England (Newcastle area) had tried to justify conquering parts of Scotland by saying it'd be for the coals they could get. Foreign readers may like to check out the well-known phrase "coals to Newcastle". :)
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    I do not think Bismarck disparages anything.
    He is discussing the relative value of... well, assets.
    Serbian plums are good (and just like us, Serbs make excellent rakia from them :) ). Serbian pig farms are good. And it would be good to have those for free.
    But no matter how good they are, Bismarck values German soldiers more and he is not willing to sacrifice any in order to get plums and pigs (and pears and grain and apricots, etc.).
     
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