Today’s the 90th anniversary of the armistice, the end of the war to end all wars as it was called. All we seem to have had here in the UK is pictures of loads of stark white, neatly arranged tombstones for weeks now. It’s as if en-masse, the people get an obligation to feel sadness, do feel sad, and then move on to something else – like the latest global atrocity to ignore (again) or to “play” kill as many soldiers in as short space of time as you can manage in the plethora of shoot-em-up computer games that exist.
I’ve seen very little of the Germans in all this. So I’ve fished about in German and come up with a neat bit in English about the German view of it all on Der Spiegel Online here and here, amongst other places.
The juxtaposition of the photos with the text underneath in the Der Spiegel photo-galleries demonstrates that life is for living. To read the text accompanying the photo is a shot to the senses because of their apparent un-relatedness. But Buddhism stresses the interconnectedness of all things…. They’ve done a really good job there, I think.
A particular bit of fascinating information is that the Germans really haven’t much clue about WW1 veterans. They think the last one died last year, but aren’t sure. They don’t do parades or memorials to the dead like in the UK because of the “stigma of defeat” as they call it. They see WW1 being a prelude to WW2, which it did end up being, of course.
But at the time, it didn’t seem like that to the people in it! They only knew, like we do now, what’s happening as we speak and live. At WW1 end, they didn’t know there was going to be a WW2 any more than we now can tell what will happen in 20 years time.
However, because of the harsh terms imposed at Versailles, this set in place the German financial collapse, then the rise of Hitler and Nazism, and coupled with the Depression and certain “security” laws enacted by the German Democratic Government during the 20’s, Hitler easily strode to power, using the law to imprison and execute his enemies.
Those same laws are what our current Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, is trying to push through onto us under the disguise of “security”.
This is the real reason to look to the past. Not to feel a cosy respect for past glories, but to learn from history and ensure that the same mistakes don’t happen again.