, a Scottish ballad, tells a fact that is often overlooked: sometimes, where the huge wheel of history turns is only due to a small iron nail, which once called history “God’s mysterious workshop” in awe.

in fact, most of the time in this workshop is just cold and boring recording one trivial and plain thing after another; Only at a certain moment, the workshop will burst into the most dramatic sparks in an instant. At a fleeting moment, a trivial event determines a person’s life and death, the victory or defeat of an army The survival of a country…

01

a bullet without firing

Henry Tandy is an excellent soldier. In 1910, Tandy, 19, joined the British army. During the first World War, he participated in the bloody battle of ypur and the battle of SOMM River Congress, and was injured twice.

on August 28, 1918, private Tandy was awarded the “Medal of excellence for combat bravery”; On September 12, he was awarded the “Military Medal” for his heroism in the battle of havert; On the 28th of the same month, in the fierce battle of seizing malkuan ferry, Tandy’s heroic performance won him another “Victoria Cross”. This is the highest honor a British soldier can get.

however, Tandy never thought that it was not his bravery that made him famous, but that he made a historical mistake. The mistake occurred in the battle to seize the French town of malkuan ferry, although the British war report mentioned Tandy’s heroic performance five times. On September 28, 1918, Tandy’s infantry regiment was once suppressed by the fierce heavy machine gun fire of the German army. Private Tandy jumped out of the trench, crawled alone close to the German position and successfully eliminated the German gunmen. When he arrived at the ferry, he took the lead in laying wooden boards again in the face of dense artillery fire, so that the British stormtroopers could successfully rush into the enemy position, and finally forced the dominant German army to withdraw from the battle.

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the bloody fighting between the two armies gradually subsided. Suddenly, a wounded German soldier appeared in Tandy’s sight. The German soldier who limped out of the position also saw Tandy’s muzzle pointing at him not far away. However, the wounded soldier was obviously exhausted. He neither raised his gun nor panicked. He just stared at Tandy without expression, as if waiting for the inevitable last moment.

“I did aim, but I never shot wounded soldiers,” Tandy later recalled the dramatic moment. “I let him go.” The loaded bullet didn’t fire, and Tandy put the gun away. The young wounded German soldier nodded slightly and then walked away slowly. The whole history of mankind in the 20th century suddenly turned around at this moment. The German corporal and the remnants of the German army successfully withdrew to the rear, and Tandy soon forgot the episode at the end of the battle.

on December 17, 1919, he received the “Victoria Cross”. Italian artist fortinino matania specially created an oil painting with the battle of ypur as the background. Tandi carried a wounded soldier in the painting to show that these brave soldiers were fighting for “ending all wars”. In 1926, Tandy, 35, returned to his hometown, married and had children, and lived a peaceful life.

the sudden change in Europe in 1938. British Prime Minister Chamberlain agreed to go to Germany for talks with the head of state. On September 15, when he entered Hitler’s newly built private villa in Bavaria, he was very surprised. In the living room of the German head of state, there was a copy of matania’s portrait for Tandy! Hitler explained: “the man in the picture almost killed me. At that time, I even thought I would never see Germany again. God saved me from the muzzle of the British soldier aiming at me.”

in any case, Hitler hoped that the prime minister would convey his heartfelt thanks to his British “life-saving benefactor” after returning home. The prime minister said he would try to tell him. However, this sudden blessing is undoubtedly a heavy slap in the face of Tandy’s fate. When the news reached Britain, the whole country was shocked. Besides Tandy, the past honors and battles have suddenly become the most painful memories. Because of his “good deeds”, the whole world fell into a disaster, and tens of millions of creatures were wiped out. In 1940, Tandy moved to Coventry. He saw the German Air Force blow the city to the ground. Since then, he once again witnessed the indiscriminate bombing of the Nazi air force in London.

he sighed bitterly to a journalist, “if you want to know this guy will be such a person, I should shoot him. I’m really ashamed of God that so many people, so many old and weak women and children were killed by him!” Tandy, then 49, signed up for the army again, but he was seriously injured in the Somme River battle, so he could not return to the battlefield. Although the veteran selflessly devoted himself to domestic volunteer work, his memory of the past tortured him from time to time. Tandy died in Coventry in 1977 at the age of 86. Is it God’s arrangement or historical necessity for a moment of benevolence to change the fate of tens of millions of people?

02

on May 24, 1940, it rained heavily in the English channel, and a group of tired teachers on the ground were slowly retreating to Dunkirk port. They are a coalition of British and French, with about 400000 people. Only half a month ago, the fascist German army suddenly launched a “lightning attack”. The British and French allied forces were dazed and defeated. Now they have been compressed in a narrow triangle 20 miles long and 15 miles wide around Dunkirk.

the German armored forces, infantry and artillery have copied from the East, West and Southeast, and can completely wipe out the British and French troops shrank in Dunkirk in one fell swoop in a short time. Behind the British and French allied forces, the waves are turbulentThe fate of the sea is at stake. Unless there is a miracle, they will face a massacre. However, just as the coalition fell into despair, a miracle really happened. The attack of German armored forces suddenly stopped, and it was Hitler, the supreme head of Germany, who ordered the German tank forces to stop moving forward. The German armored group that can afford to kill can only watch this large group of prey flee to the sea.

the British seized the opportunity to save lives and mobilized the whole country. Fishing boats, passenger ships, yachts and lifeboats, large and small, as long as they could find the ships, sailed to the English channel to rescue the besieged officers and soldiers. After 9 days and 9 nights of fighting, more than 340000 soldiers withdrew to the British coast, most of them British troops. Four years later, these “Lambs” turned into lions, returned to the European battlefield in the Normandy landing and participated in the counter offensive against the German army. Why did war madman Hitler make such a puzzling decision? Was it Hitler’s momentary mercy or another plot? This has always been a puzzle for historians of World War II. Later, the puzzle was finally solved.

originally, Hitler’s military map was drawn many years ago. On this old map, Dunkirk is a muddy swamp. Hitler believed with confidence that as long as the British and French coalition forces were trapped here, they could be trapped in a swamp and reduced a lot of personnel, and the German army did not need to spend a shot. At the same time, Hitler was also afraid that his mechanized forces would fall into a swamp and let the British and French coalition forces, which were cornered, pose a threat to the German army. The wily Hitler made such a decision that he would regret it in the future. An outdated military map saved the British and French coalition forces and changed the war situation in the future.

03

the Netherlands was still a desolate land without people 800 years ago. But 300 years ago, it suddenly became the economic center and the richest region of the whole world. A small country with a population of only 1.5 million has extended its power to almost every corner of the earth and become what Marx called “the first power on the sea”.

how on earth did they do this? Miracles begin with a knife. Due to the changes of ocean currents, a large number of herring migrate to the northern coast of the Netherlands every summer. The Dutch capture more than 10 million kilograms of herring every year, and half the population lives on it. But God did not give herring to the Dutch. Many wars broke out between the Dutch and other countries in order to compete for fishing grounds. How can

win in the competition? In 1358, in a village in northern Holland, a fisherman named William berkelssohn invented a new method, using a special knife, which can remove fish intestines with only one knife; Cut open the belly of the herring, take out the internal organs, take out the head, and then put the salt in it, which can be kept for more than a year.

in the era of no refrigerator, having food that can be preserved for one year means that you have a magic weapon to win the mall. Since then, with lower prices and longer preservation, the Netherlands has won the herring war. A knife of Dutch fishermen transforms a natural resource available to everyone into the capital of a strong country.

today, herring patterns can still be seen on some ancient houses in Rotterdam, which seems to remind people that the history of Rotterdam as the world’s largest port began with a knife and a large vat filled with salty herring.

04

“there is no greater man in the world than him!” The former British prime minister once commented on him like this. This military genius has been fighting all his life. He has created many famous examples of winning more with less, and is still regarded as a classic example by military academies all over the world. However, a failure in 1812 changed his fate. From then on, the first empire of France fell and gradually declined.

in his new book buttons: 17 molecules that changed world history, the famous Canadian chemist Penny lector proposed that the buttons turned into powder may have played an important role in Napoleon’s fiasco.

on May 9, 1812, Napoleon led a vast 600000 army to Russia. The French army marched in and stormed Moscow in just a few months. However, the Russian czar took measures to strengthen the walls and clear the wilderness, so that the French army far away from home fell into food shortage. Even in Moscow, hay and oats could not be found, a large number of military horses died, and many cannons had to be destroyed due to the transport of * * horses.

a few weeks later, the cold weather brought a fatal curse to Napoleon’s army. In the winter of 1812, Napoleon’s army was forced to retreat from Moscow. The soldiers along the way were constantly frozen to death. Finally, there were less than 10000 people left in the 600000 army.

Professor Penny believes that the uniforms of Napoleon’s army are made of tin buttons, which will change chemically into powder in cold weather. Because there were no buttons on their clothes, the army was like an open chest in the cold storm and snow. Many people were frozen to death, and some died of illness. In his new book, Penny cites the eyewitness records of some contemporary Russians: “those men are like a group of demons wrapped in women’s cloaks, strange carpet fragments or coats with holes.”

penny said: “there is no doubt that the cold temperature in the winter of 1812 was the main factor causing the collapse of Napoleon’s Russian army, and the variable nature of tin at low temperature was the real reason why Napoleon’s soldiers were forced to wear these strange clothes.” Tin is a hard metal, but it has three allotropic forms: white tin, brittle tin and gray tin. Usually tin is a silvery white metal, which is harder and more stable above 13.2 degrees Celsius; When the temperature drops below 13.2 degrees Celsius, small powdery spots will appear on the tin metal, then small holes will appear, and finally the edge of the tin metal will fall apart.When the temperature of tin becomes spkds, the temperature of tin will drop sharply to spkds. It’s incredible that a small button can defeat 600000 troops?

05

Europeans mainly eat meat. In ancient times, there was no refrigeration equipment, and meat was often prone to peculiar smell. However, when the chef sprinkled a magical spice on it, the peculiar smell disappeared immediately. This magical spice is pepper. Since the ancient Romans first tasted the wonderful taste of pepper, it soon became an indispensable thing in European life. Unfortunately, Europe does not produce pepper. It comes from India and Southeast Asia. Due to the long distance and backward transportation, the price of pepper in the European market has remained high for a long time.

after the siege of Rome in 408, the Visigoths asked the Romans to redeem the city with 3000 pounds of pepper and a large amount of gold and silver. It can be seen that pepper was really valuable at that time. After entering the middle ages, the price of pepper was still as expensive as gold. It has even become “hard currency”, which can be used to buy land, pay taxes, reward military achievements, and act as a dowry.

at that time, people called “big money” a “Pepper bag”, and used “no pepper” to laugh at someone who was penniless. Interestingly, when the queen of England visited the United States in 1976, a church in New York gave her 279 peppers to symbolically repay the rent owed by the United States since King William III. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476, the communication between the East and the West was interrupted, and the pepper almost disappeared from the European table. The meals without pepper made it difficult for the nobles to swallow. At this time, Arab merchants acted as the “savior”: they transported Indian pepper to Egypt and then transferred by Venetian merchants to the Mediterranean coast. When pepper arrived at European ports, its price was 40 or 50 times that of its origin! Such huge profits made other European businessmen red with envy.

since 1095, the Pope has continuously launched the crusade. Under the high sounding religious banner, he made a truly inspiring slogan: “the East is so rich, gold and pepper everywhere!” After the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople in 1453, they blocked the original pepper trade. Europeans urgently needed to find a new route to the East. Thus, in the following decades, Columbus discovered America, da Gama arrived in India by sea, and Magellan completed the first round the world voyage in history. Since then, the great discovery of world geography has made the territory of the whole world clear.

after the British completely defeated the Spanish “invincible fleet”, the Portuguese, Spanish, British and Dutch began a century long scuffle at sea. Looting, overturning, killing and colonization — behind countless bloody battles, this little thing is inseparable: pepper. Pepper has changed the past history and cast today’s world pattern.