In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
(Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae)
Perhaps November is always the month of remembrance. Everything is gray, wet and cold like in the soil. As I reported 1996 from Bosnia's excavations, where countless victims of war crimes where buried in the ground with bulldozers I often thought to myself whether it would be better if we let the people there to their final resting place. Especially my Bosnian colleagues claimed that this kind of process is necessary for the bereaved.
What I observe is rather the opposite, the memorials are also often a source of ever new revanchist sentiments or also serve for transfiguration. You can see as much horror during the war but horror should not be used to "explain" war. After all, those who died did not have had a say while the decision to go to war was taken by those who sat at home. Soldiers just die. The consequences of the first world war are still being felt today. On top of all this: the thousands which got executed by their own governments for refusing to go to war are not mentioned anywhere.
Do not take the longest period of peace in Europe for granted. Also today we urgently need humanitarian realism to forestall the Utopians from taking us into quagmires like Libya and Syria. Long peace may let you creep into a kind of habit to dream that until now everything had gone so well. If you look, you can see clearly: It did not! We went to Afghanistan, then Iraq and before that Yugoslavia, Somalia, Liberia, Sierra Leone and not to forget this seemingly never ending "dispute" about occupied territories. Like in the years before WWI daily reports about wars are completely irrelevant, - then and today media report about skirmish in distant regions and gossip about the circles of governments and super-rich. Nothing substantial has changed since.
Its alarming when it has become a game to ignore the signs on the wall: empty pension fonds, increasing "open" lies by those in power and even threads from the mind controllers in Fort Meade. It only needs one player to fear its own downfall then the dream can ignite very quickly into a firework. With the WWI industrial arms production began. War was more "effective" to fight and this lead to the a trauma with continuing effects till today.
One of the outstanding examples of culture of remembrance are the descriptions about the WW I is being described in Erich Maria Remarque's novel "The Western Front". The soldiers in his novel are close to madness , because they no longer endure the incessant barrage of enemy guns , the death of many comrades, and the constant threat of death . Another book, more for historians, was written by Laurence Davis Lafore "The Long Fuse ": An Interpretation of the Origins of World War I".
Destruction of human life
Four years soldiers lie in muddy trenches of over 800 kilometers long - from the North Sea to the Swiss border. Four years machine guns, cannon with great range and gas, which has been specially developed to be used in war to destroy human life. At the end there are tens of millions of deaths, which are accounted for in war statistics. Historians refer to this war as the "seminal catastrophe" of the 20th Century whose consequences are felt to this day. WWII would be inconceivable without the WWI. Even the fascism of the Nazis nor the hyper imperialistic utopias of Japan, even communism alone could not ignite WWII.
to see some images of war cemeteries in the North of France click here