Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Armistice and Veteran's Day 2008

For Armistice and Veteran's Day we have attempted to collect a few edifying morsels of interest.

This is a lot less easy than it sounds. Most of what is available are isolated video snippets; or there's a choice of the pacifist anti-war stuff, either of the hefty Gothic or of the sentimental tear-jerk variety.

However, given the current upsurge of interest - primarily in the US - we've unearthed some intriguing, if highly emotionally charged footage on the Weimar Republic, and the German Revolution that followed the chaos of World War I. It's got some rare historical material, as well as background information on whatever fateful constellation of events led to such a profound and total collapse of morality. (For more reading here's the Wiki on Christopher Isherwood.)

The music would certainly not have been our initial choice; we felt however as its message grew, that it serves the purpose of conveying some of the nihilism and the obsession with surreal horror that is so typical for the period, and that led to its inevitable outcome in World War II.

In this respect we can also refer you to earlier postings on the subject of the German interbellum: "Resist Commie Prop, Support Indy", "The Postmodern Anti-War Hero, the Red Baron", "The German Revolution".

From the cultural angle, we proudly present a collection of World War I propaganda posters from all countries involved in the Great War. The entire site is rather a gem and worthy of further exploration. For example, Prose and Poetry reads ...

"More than any other conflict, the Great War inspired writers of all generations and classes, most notably among combatants. (...) This section profiles the more renowned authors and contains samples of their work. Also available in this section are extended features, including a profile of Robert Graves - and, more unusually but nevertheless intriguing, a piece on literary ambulance drivers... There are also two articles written about the author of the war's most famous poem: In Flanders Fields. The 1917 collection of wartime poetry The Muse in Arms has also been republished here in its entirety. (...) >>>

An index of authors - including Sir Winston Churchill - is attached.

Next there's World War I American Legacy, a DVD documentary directed by Mark Bussler.

Wall Street Journal has a reality check for the US. "Soldiers of the Great War" lays an provocative link with the present: "(...) the victors failed to prevent the rise of the totalitarian regimes in Russia and Germany, the fascists in Italy and the militarists in Japan (...) the U.S. withdrew from its global responsibilities. (...) Now we are at a similar pass in Iraq, where the U.S. has effectively defeated Sunni and Shiite insurgents on the battlefield. But whether this costly achievement will hold depends largely on our willingness to support the Iraqi government and steel it against its own fascistic challengers, particularly Iran. If there's one lesson to be learned on this Armistice Day, it's of the price that's paid when we allow victory to slip from our grasp. >>>

One of the blessings of living part of one's life in cyberspace is the human connection one gets with people you will never know on a personal level. Following document was made by someone who remains anonymous, in commemoration of his great grandfather Aaron Kennett who fought in the Great War. He flourished from 1887 to 19187. May God bless them both, and all who fought and continue to fight for freedom, against barbarism and oppression.

The music accompanying the touching family document is the hymn "I Vow to Thee my Country", created in 1921 when a poem by Cecil Spring-Rice was set to music by Gustav Holst. It expresses the unconditional love, loyalty and self-sacrifice that was once unquestioningly devoted to one's country. It is a victory of the Postmodern One Worlders that these words - while warm and patriotic only a few years back when played at my father's funeral - now sound strangely surreal.

But make no mistake: whereas giving one's life for a state in Europe today seems unthinkable and alien, a renewed fight for individual freedom against neotot pocket potentates is certainly not. The same forces taunting national colours and hymns also whisper of collectives and the redundancy of democracy, suggesting that the value of 'enlightened dictators' is somewhat underrated. Ignore them at your peril ...

- Filed on Articles in "History Compiled" -


James Higham said...

Will link to this now.

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