It's entirely nauseating to read accounts of the number of young men who were shot for "cowardice" or falling asleep on duty or any number of reasons that those not in danger of bullets or trenchfoot or rats felt were unforgivable derelictions of duty. Even looking at pictures of cleaned-up trenches that have been turned into museums gives an insight into how insane and traumatic conditions were for the combat soldiers.
For obvious reasons, Americans, Brits, Aussies, French etc forget that Italy was a part of this mess too. Again, on French tv I saw the astounding Italian film "Many Wars Ago- Uomini Contro" starring Gian Maria Volunte showing in full the stupidity of Italian leadership especially that of the possibly insane General Cadorna who even sent men into battle wearing a version of medieval armor. He is regarded as responsible for the execution of 750 Italian soldiers, the highest number of any WWI army. Decimation is also dealt with in the movie. In May 1916, 120 troops were actually lined up and every 10th man shot.
Yes, and we didn't really rewards Romanians nor Italians and they fell into the hands of fascists in WW2. Also Japanses fought on 'our' side in WW1, something also forgotten but that gave them some invaluable bases to attack US and Aussies. People who didn't intervene were Dutch, they just looked at us Belgians being slaughtered and stayed neutral. But yes, I don't like this side of my neighbours ;-)
My final opinion of wars is taht everybody loses once someone decides to fight his neighbour. Something Renaud explained in his song 'miss Maggie' - forbidden in the UK when released... for obvious reasons : no woman is as bad as a man (who is a killer, a torrero, etc) except Margareth Thatcher.
I read a lot about wars and decided the bottom line is : mutilation, shit, utter darkness, destruction of material, cities, souls and beings. Nobody goes unscathed from a battle or a war. Except bastards. And I'm proud of my son telling somebody that Germans were good (meaning on our side at Waterloo against these French bastards and on the wrong side but 'still full of good people' during WW& and WWé. I didn't tell him about massacres of civilians (belgians) in Tamines etc in WW1 and Ardennes in WWé - anecdotic actually.
As we get closer and closer to November 11th, today there was a radio programme about "trench-cleaners". There were two kinds of them -- the ones who would collect the bodies, body parts and living wounded from one's own trenches, and the others who would go through enemy trenches that had been captured -- taking prisoners... or not. It was unbearable.
I thought this was an interesting map of the French regions devastated during the Great War. The red zones were decreed unliveable because there were no buildings standing, and the pastures and agricultural fields were totally unusable due to trenches, barbed wire and unexploded ordnance.
My grandparents' village was just inside one of the green areas ("minimal damage"). I never heard of anything being destroyed in their village, but the same could not be said about the village 3 kilometres away.
In 1921, reconstruction was well underway in most places but there were still quite a few battlefields off limits. The Ministry of Freed Regions, which was in charge of reconstruction, was abolished in 1926. Most destroyed churches and monuments had been rebuilt by 1930. Just about everything had been fixed by 1939. And then something else happened.
I was very lucky, being just 13 when WWII ended, so my memories are good.
In fact on VE Day when the jerries packed it in we built a huge bonfire in the village and made fireworks from all sorts of stuff acquired locally. Hitler was burnt in effigy.
On VJ Day, when it all ended I was in hospital in the port town of Folkestone, having had tonsils and adenoids removed a couple of days earlier. The town had been full of troops and they had a glorious time letting off all sorts of pyrotechnics and ammunition. The ward I was in was full of soldiers back from Europe and we were able to see some of the fun from the windows.
I have harsher memories of earlier events during the war, but the experiences of those poor lads in France in WWI are beyond imagination and must have been utterly terrible
Last Edit: Nov 8, 2018 20:01:01 GMT by mossie: Forgot the last para
Man is not lost, only temporarily uncertain of his position
Those are splendid, Kerouac. My mother often talked about VE day as she was a war worker in Ottawa. It was a tad bittersweet, as despite the collective elation, many of the workers, especially the women, know that they would be losing their jobs in not a long time. My mother had a position keeping an eye on suppliers of shoddy goods (such as useless helmets for example, and pilferage, which was sometimes far from petty, including a vehicle equiped with washing machines for a whole military unit, on a short stretch of road.
Remember that "back home", they were safe from combat and shelling at least for the time being, so it is very different than the situation in the UK, to say nothing of continental European theatres of war.
My youngest uncle is about the same age as Mossie, so of course he also remembers that as a boy, but once again with a very different perspective in boring but safe Ottawa. But as a teenage boy he could anticipate that his time might come up, as nobody knew when the war would end until it had practically concluded.
Not exactly the wars, but closely connected, today is the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht.
On one hand I feel outrage that a little rain kept the president of the US kept him from an important commemoration of those who fought at Bois Belleau. On the other hand, I'm happy the world was spared a look at him "representing" the US at this event. Selfish pig.
Well, everybody has arrived at the Elysée Palace, except Trump and Putin, who don't bother with such things. The various heads of state have about 20 minutes to drink coffee and tea and chat with each other and solve conflicts that have been brewing for 5, 20, 50, or 500 years in their various regions. Syria and Saudi Arabia sent no representatives; I wonder why. It is raining. Maybe Trump will stay in his hotel and watch television again.
As can be seen in the excellent movie 'Lawrence of Arabia' with the most excellent peter O'Toole.
Sorry I mentioned DT being lazy on US president thread when it had been discussed here too. I am somehow scandalized that we didn't do a big show at national level in Belgium. All, commemorations are being done at municipal level.
I also realized that for my children WW1 is as far away as 1870 was to me - wars eventually all fade away, fortunately (?).
Whatagain, I'm looking at the planned activities in Belgium today, and it seems the municipal commemorations will be huge. Both Ieper and Mons have all-day events, for instance, and that seems entirely appropriate and could be considered as the national commemoration.
France 2 (television channel) is very cruel. I watched the ceremonies and glad handing all morning, the speeches and music and gentle commemorations to allow us to think that 11 November 1918 was a moment of peace even though just 20 years later, it all started again. Over the last year, France 2 had shown a gripping documentary about the Great War in several episodes. I am not a big fan of colorized black and white films, but they chose to do it so that people would be more interested in watching, and I completely approve when it is for a good cause. But they also added sound effects -- crowd noises, horses' hooves, artillery, drums, music, explosions... And that makes it totally contemporary and so much easier to comprehend. Anyway, they covered the entire war brilliantly, but tonight they continued... 1918 to 1924. It of course shows why another war was inevitable: the humiliation of Germany, the dismantlement of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire. There were not all that many political analysts back then to figure out the consequences of such upheavals, but in hindsight they sowed all the seeds of the next war.
Even in France, they did not take into consideration that many of the people of Alsace-Moselle were quite satisfied with German rule and considered it a betrayal to take away the order and discipline under which they had lived for 35 years or so. (Actually, the French must have understood at least partially, because this part of France still lives under mostly German laws. This is because Germany was more advanced in things like social security and it would have been cruel to deprive the people of things like that.)
Tonight's episode also showed people like Hitler and Mussolini beginning to take advantage of the mistakes of the Allies. Not everything was negative, though. Canada had gained a national identity. However, Great Britain was still engaged in a sort of war -- the Irish independence movement.
Let's face it -- there will never be peace in the world.
Here is a link to the very first episode of Apocalypse, when the Great War first began...
At school we were taught that Australia became a nation on the beaches of Gallipoli. Politically our states had become a Federation in 1901 but people still thought of themselves as South Australian or Victorian. From this war also came the name still used for any fellow soldier...Digger. Some people say it was in use in the goldfields before the war, others say it came from the trenches, but it is still heard.
Travel! Set out and head for pastures new[br] Life tastes the richer when you’ve road worn feet.[br]Ibn Battuta[br]
Very interesting, Kerouac, and commendable that people are being pulled into learning real history in such a way.
I have to say something at the risk of everyone looking down on me as a hopeless lowbrow from here on out, but so be it because it's something I believe. That is: Ken Follet's The Century Trilogy should be required reading. I'm fully aware of all of Follet's shortcomings as a writer, but he can tell a great story. These books to an extent are potboilers, yes, but wow do they teach history! He manages to make all those historical facts that stick to your brain in bits and pieces and all the things you were taught that never made sense in any context finally all fall together in coherent and very readable form. Also, he's definitely not spoon feeding us the middle-of-the-road party line. History mavens may roll their eyes, but I feel that the rest of us can greatly benefit from this painless infusion of history & its hows & whys.
Even in France, they did not take into consideration that many of the people of Alsace-Moselle were quite satisfied with German rule and considered it a betrayal to take away the order and discipline under which they had lived for 35 years or so.
Northern Italian writers especially Sebastiano Vassalli have written on better conditions for Italians under Hapsburg rule than under the Italian gained after WWI. Again, order, discipline and efficiency.