Well this is an important question, and like all important questions can only be answered if we understand the history behind the controversy, so that we can better understand where we are today.Fortunately for you I have been a keen student of this strange written dance and will be happy to relate the forgotten history of this eternal conflict.
To fully grasp the beginnings of these episodic jousts we must go back to early 1900’s France. There we will meet an enigmatic middle aged man named Aigle Dynamique. Monsieur Dynamique was the leading creator of simulated papier aeroplanes based on real aircraft currently being built by the burgeoning French aircraft industry. In fact some would argue that he was the only “full real” creator of these papier aeroplanes, but we will get to that in a moment.
The ageless argument began in 1910 with Mssr. Dynamique’s announcement of the recreation of the Breguet Type 1 in papier aeroplane form. Well I don’t need to tell you how exciting this was, considering the Type 1’s importance in the fast growing world of aviation!
Breguet Type 1
At this time many of the papier aeroplane enthusiasts would write into a forum on the back pages of the popular newspaper of the time Le Petite Parisien. They would discuss the merits of their hobby and the excitements and disappointments of the providers of these papier aeroplanes.
As you can imagine sometimes their passion would become quite heated! It particularly came to a boil in 1909 when Mssr. Dynamique announced his intention to shift his focus away from the papier aeroplanes that he had built his name on, and instead start building origami blimps! Well many members of the community felt that the origami industry had been well served for hundreds of years and saw no reason to divert resources to it from the precious development of the model of the Breguet Type 1. And so the seeds of a controversy were born!
Two camps were formed, and would argue in the forums of Le Petit over the course of months about the relative merits of the business practices of Dynamique’s boutique endeavor.
Le Defenders De Fold, or as we would know them - The Defenders of the Fold, felt that any discussion of why the company did what it did was wasted since no one could really know how those decisions got made. He was labeled enigmatic for a reason!
La Negatives De Nancy, so named after a prominent forum member who hailed from Nancy, were never comfortable with the “unknowable” and other assorted enigmas. They argued that business practices have been around for centuries and there must, Must, they said, be a reason for the delays, the loss of focus, and the strange marketing of the new aeroplane model.
Things came to a head in the early summer of 1913. Mssr. Dynamique chose to bring his new model to the 1913 World Expo in Ghent. There, everyone hoped, they would get to see a picture of the new model and anticipation built to a fever pitch.
But, unbeknownst to the faithful, Aigle chose to show his new creation to only a select few journalists of the hobby, and to add insult to the injury, only chose to show it with a stereoscope, a very boutique and not very widespread technology of the time.
So the only real content that the long suffering lovers of the Type 1 got was a strangely cropped image of the model in Le Petit that did little to help Le Defenders and added fuel to La Negatives that the unknowable was bad for their hobby
Well, Merde. The forum of Le Petit was a hotbed of back and forth discussion with no end and no satisfying resolution. One of the more prominent members of Le Defenders was the Arch-Duke Ferdinand of Austria, who had developed a love of the papier aeroplanes and vigorously shouted down any and all of the Nancys under a nom de guerre. Alas, many Serbian nationals were also members of the Nancys and could not stand this affront on top of the ignomy of what they saw as tyrannical rule, and the seeds of a World War were born in the folds of a piece of papier.
In the 1920’s many parents and the administrators of schools realized the ironic silly-ness of teaching children that paper airplanes were the cause of World War 1, and covered up that part of the story. It is known by only a few dedicated researchers and told in the back rooms of electronic forums that serve the same function of Le Petit back in those turbulent times. Irony indeed.
The original photo from the World Expo thought lost to the World War with the Stereoscope removed