The Remembrance Day Event I attended seemed busier this year, perhaps due to the unseasonal warmth, as opposed to some bitter days in years past. As ever, it was evocative and poignant, as poems were read and “The flo’ers o’ the forest” was played. Humbling and a privilege to attend.
But this year I’d recently watched the Netflix remake of “All Quiet on the Western Front”. It was too brutal for my liking and lacked the bleakness of the original black and white movie, never mind the far wider imagery provided by reading Remarque’s novel.
Still, I wondered who else might have watched it and like me had their sympathy drawn to the German soldiers. It’s not the beastly Boche or despicable Hun. But human beings. For those who never have either seen or read the story, its set in World War 1 on the western front but between French and German troops. But many thoughts on Remembrance Day are rightly drawn to that war, even though more recent conflicts provide contemporary sorrow.
Intrigued I’ve been reading Alexander Watson’s book “Ring of Steel” about WW1 but looked at from a German and Austro-Hungarian perspective. His book’s candid accepting the latter’s ultimate responsibility and indeed the early savagery by the former in Belgium.
But beyond that there’s great similarity in the actions of the state and the attitudes of people. A rush to the flag for a short and almost jolly war, followed by the realisation of a long and grinding war endured by People at home, as much as soldiers on the front. They too grieved for those that were lost and for what?
The Ministers sermon this year referred to the conflict in Ukraine. 100,000 Russians have died and that has been cheered by some which saddens me. Russia’s to blame and the appalling actions of some of their soldiers needs prosecuted in international courts. Some though have no more desire to fight than many on whatever side more than a century ago. 100,000 Ukrainians soldiers have also died and atrocities in war are never a one-way street. Besides we all bleed the same and grief know’ s no racial boundaries.
It’s why now’s the time for peace in Ukraine before countless more are killed. President Zelensky’s willingness to consider same must be encouraged.