One hundred years ago … on February 21st, 1916, the Battle of Verdun began. It would continue until 20th December that year, and was one of the largest battles of the First World War. German forces tried to inflict so much damage on the French Army that they would knock France out of the war. They did not succeed, but both sides lost hundreds of thousands of men.
Anthony Peregrine reflects on the battle, and the newly renovated Museum on the site.
“It was a German soldier who, in 1916, wrote home thus: “Mum, why did you give birth to me? Why must I see this?”
He was writing from the battlefield of Verdun, where, as a contemporary noted, “in some areas the ground was composed more of human flesh and bone than of earth and vegetation”. One of history’s longest and bloodiest battles, Germany against France, started in the snowy early morning of February 21 1916. On the mild heights above Verdun, the Germans unleashed the most astounding artillery barrage ever experienced: around a million shells along an eight-mile front.
The intention was to blast the French to smithereens. The resultant conflict has left the word “Verdun” tolling through French history, a byword for valour and industrial slaughter.”
It is so difficult for us. My grandparents had that, my parents WW2, my generation Korea and Vietnam, Suez, then come two more generations. What chance the younger of these knows anything about any of it? Look at the state of education and what kids are taught now.
And not taught.
Many of us have now reached that ripe old age where we can reflect more meaningfully about it all. In Australia, there was a play [much feted by the left and vilified by the right] called The One Day of the Year, about ANZAC Day. And in that play, an old “digger” or one who had been at Gallipoli, did not share the gung-ho, ra-ra-ra of his son, this all being seen through the eyes of his son in turn.
The old digger saw no glory in anything at that time. he wanted to forget it all. This is where I betray the neo-cons, for I was close to the angel of death myself once and am not going to speak on it. I’d rather just forget it.
What effect does this have on someone who is essentially a patriot? All we can do is agree that if the enemy were to come to our shore, we’d certainly enlist, we’d fight, even for a broken Britain such as this one. I’d hope we all would. I’m no pacifist but nor am I idiot enough to fight in someone else’s war.
The politicians, e.g. the Bismarks and Clemenceau’s, should all have been publicly hung after it for what they did – false calls to patriotism leading lambs to the slaughter. God may forgive them but I certainly can’t. That war was utterly unnecessary – it was Them, the damned elite’s play fight over stupid borders.
The core problem with this anti-war attitude is that it has been hijacked by the very forces threatening us now – the global left. Peace marches become calls for socialism marches, anti-war is associated with the left, just as preserving nature has now been damned as Green politics. The left give everything fine a bad smell, they hijack it and make it their own.
We are forced into opposite positions – neo-connery for example – and find ourselves occupying positions unnatural. No – I am of the right and I am anti-war. There is certainly a case for war if we are actually threatened by something not contrived by Them – for example from outer space. Or if Germany’s Them determine they’re going to be the master race again – yes, of course we’d take to arms, we’d have to.
We need to round up the jihadis across Europe and ship them back, then seal the door and have nowt to do with any of it. But our own Them won’t do that up there, will they? They want to go into Iraq and make war. There’s no concept at all of you stay in your land, except as our guests an we’ll stay in ours, except as paying tourists. Why is there no such concept?
It’s because those p****s up there are warmongers, they create all the conflicts and then expect us to go and do a Verdun for those faux causes. No thanks.