The British seem to be going particularly overboard for poppies this year, presumably inspired by the calendrical happenstance of all those ones lining up in a row. But unthinkingly, they only emphasize the tragic aspect of this occasion.
Why eleven? The agreement to end hostilities had been signed more than five hours earlier. The war officially ceased only at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month because that seemed a suitably grand and historic way to end a ‘Great War’. So they kept on fighting, and they kept on killing, until that eleventh hour came.
How can one feel anything but contempt for that?
But this act of inhumanity was just the start. The victorious powers chose to accept no portion of blame for the hostilities. On the contrary, and despite the fact that a great deal of the credit for the war’s end belonged to the German people for rising up against their leaders, despite the fact that the Kaiser had abdicated and the empire been abolished, they chose to heap all blame – and punishment – onto the people of the new German democracy. The terms of this ‘armistice’ would lead directly to disaster on a previously unimagined scale.
This hour marks not the end of war, but the beginning of revenge.
One reply on “11/11/11/11 – A Monument To Worthlessness”
Thank you for bringing this much needed point out today. I approach this subject with caution because my home country was far from the line of fire in WWI. However this year I have seen very little said along your line of thought. One of my favourite bloggers, who usually is on the ball on matters, wrote a brief “We owe so much”. That to me misses the point of today. And that’s not even mentioning all the ad campaigns that seem to misdirect the day of remembrance and tag along the “support the troops, always, without question”, which again to me misses the point. There are posters around these parts with celebrities quoted saying things like “the soldiers are the real celebrities”. It’s subtle, but still a nudge from honouring the dead, period, to condoning military endeavours simply because soldiers die in the front lines. Er, how about not sending them there?
Maybe I am spoiled, maybe I’m shrill. Maybe I heard too many peacenik voices speaking their mind on this day and now all mainstream statements sound to me like veiled blessings for new conflicts.