Cen­tu­ry sin­ce WW1 En­ded...

World War I En­ded No­vem­ber 11 at the 11th Hour

Das Schwarze Brett - - INSIDE STORY -

Der Ers­te Welt­krieg, „the gre­at war“, „la gran­de gu­er­re“, hat das Be­wusst­sein der Mensch­heit nach­hal­tig ver­än­dert. An­ge­sichts der Mil­lio­nen von Op­fern auf den „Flan­dern Fiel­ds“wur­de der Ruf „Nie wie­der Krieg“von dort in die Welt her­aus­ge­tra­gen. Bom­ben­kra­ter, Schüt­zen­grä­ben, Sol­da­ten­fried­hö­fe und Mahn­ma­le für die Ge­fal­le­nen aus über 50 Län­dern prä­gen noch im­mer das Bild der Land­schaft. An­läss­lich des 100. Jah­res­ta­ges wer­den im Zei­t­raum 2014-18 in Flan­dern be­deu­ten­de Ge­denk­fei­ern und Aus­stel­lun­gen statt­fin­den.

At 11 am on 11 No­vem­ber the fight­ing stop­ped on the Wes­tern Front. Esti­ma­tes of fa­tal ca­su­al­ties for all na­tio­na­li­ties re­sul­ting from the oc­cupa­ti­on and fight­ing around Ypres bet­ween 1914 and 1918 we­re in the re­gi­on of 600,000.

Now, one hund­red ye­ars la­ter, Flan­ders in­vi­tes vi­si­tors to re­mem­ber li­ves of all tho­se im­pac­ted by the con­flict – and what bet­ter place to do so than Flan­ders Fiel­ds?

Nu­merous mu­se­ums, events, and ex­hi­bi­ti­ons shed light on the va­rious fa­cets of the Gre­at War: the mi­li­ta­ry ope­ra­ti­ons, trench war­fa­re, po­li­ti­cal al­li­an­ces, pro­pa­gan­da, etc. In ad­di­ti­on, va­rious art ex­hi­bi­ti­ons of­fer a tru­ly in­di­vi­du­al, ar­tis­tic view of the hor­rors of WWI. Whe­re­ver you go in Flan­ders Fiel­ds, whe­ther by car, by bi­ke, or on foot, you co­me across the rem­nants and scars of the Gre­at War. The re­gi­on is dot­ted with hund­reds of mo­nu­ments and ce­me­te­ries, so­me of which con­tain no mo­re than a few gra­ves. The­med wal­king, bi­king, and dri­ving tours gui­de you through this land­scape.

Other are­as we­re al­so com­ple­te­ly de­s­troy­ed. The most well-known vil­la­ge is Pas­schen­dae­le. It was he­re that in 1917 the Al­lied ar­my fought for se­veral months in a des­pe­ra­te bid to break the Ger­man li­ne. Du­ring the batt­le, the Al­lied forces lost ne­ar­ly 300,000 men in cap­tu­ring this rui­ned vil­la­ge af­ter ad­van­cing over a few mi­les of shell-blas­ted mud. They be­gan re­fer­ring to the vil­la­ge as “Pas­si­on-da­le”: the val­ley of suf­fe­ring. In the neigh­bou­ring vil­la­ge you can see the cost of this ‘vic­to­ry’ in hu­man li­fe: Ty­ne Cot Ce­me­te­ry, with al­most 12,000 tombs­to­nes.

Known as Vlads­lo, in Praet­bos fo­rest, this Ger­man ce­me­te­ry is the fi­nal res­ting place of so­me 25,638 Ger­man sol­diers. On dis­play at the ce­me­te­ry is a mo­ving sculp­tu­re, The Grie­ving Pa­r­ents. Crea­ted by Kä­the Koll­witz, a ma­jor Ger­man ex­pres­sio­nist ar­tist, out of per­so­nal grief and lo­ve for her 18-ye­ar old son Pe­ter, who was kil­led in the war.

The­re will be ma­ny events throughout 2018 to com­mera­te the fi­nal mo­ments of World War I and one of them is an ex­hi­bit in Flan­ders Fiel­ds Mu­se­um in Ypress to ta­ke a clo­ser look at the ar­cheo­lo­gi­cal re­mains of the war in the West­ho­ek re­gi­on.


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