World marks 90th anniversary of Great War

Europe was to mark Tuesday the 90th anniversary of the end of World War I, the last major memorial for its handful of surviving veterans as the conflict slips from memory into history.

Leaders from the powers that fought the war, now allies, were to gather at a ceremony on the site of the 1916 Battle of Verdun, where 300,000 men were slaughtered over eleven months of bloody trench warfare.

A picture taken on November 11, 1918 shows signatories of the Armistice treaty, ending the World War I

Smaller memorials were to be held in towns and villages across Britain, France and the other countries that took part in the disaster.

Far from being “The War to End All Wars”, the so-called Great War merely set the tone for the 20th century’s litany of brutality, although in terms of sheer mass killing on the battlefield it has rarely been equalled since.

Many conflicts followed but November 11 — the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, when the World War I armistice was signed — has become the moment when the world remembers the dead from all of them.

Related Threads:
** Lest We Forget
** Ireland marks World War I dead as attitudes change
** Audio slideshow: The end of The Great War

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I really respect the sacrifices that the soldiers of many countries made. They gave and gave again.
    I was born in Denmark.My father and mother were freedom fighters. Why is there no mention of freedom fighters? They volunteered too!
    These people should be recognized also because they were also on the front lines in the cities and in the country. They gave their lives to give information to the armies as to where the enemies were and how strong. They also sacrificed everything. They just didn’t wear uniforms.
    I lost many relatives to German troops. They and others fought against the Germans.
    Please give them credit too. Freedom fighters gave much information to help the Allies defeat Germany and save lives.

    repressive governments mix administrative clumsiness & inefficiency with authoritarian tendencies.

  • IHT
    By John Tagliabue
    Published: November 25, 2008

    YPRES, Belgium: Ninety years after it ended, World War I still hangs over this small Flemish town, a focal point of slaughter during the Great War, as they called it when they thought it would be the last. Monuments to the war’s fallen sprouted like mushrooms after the armistice, but it took nearly 85 years to erect a monument to a different group of dead: soldiers executed by their own side for refusing to continue the fight.

    About eight kilometers, or five miles, from Ypres, in a quiet courtyard in the village of Poperinge, stands a pole of the sort used to support the twining vines of hops, a common local crop. It is about the height of a man. Just behind it is a steel plaque engraved with a verse from Rudyard Kipling: “I could not look on death, which being known, men led me to him, blindfold and alone.”

    As the seemingly endless war dragged on, desertion and mutinies became a problem. To combat the problem, commanders began tying deserters and mutinous troops to poles like this one, where they would be executed by firing squad. The British shot 320 men and the French as many as 700. The Germans, by and large, did not shoot deserters.

    In one of two cells near the Poperinge monument, where soldiers were held before their dawn executions, visitors now come to remember not just the heroics of war but its horrors. One chilly afternoon, a scrap of paper lay on a wooden cot where the men spent their last night. Signed only T.T.S., the note, scribbled in English, was one of many that have been left there. “You will always be remembered,” it said. “You did us proud.”

    As the war approaches its 100th anniversary, Poperinge’s monument marks a vast shift in recent attitudes in the European countries that suffered the greatest human losses, recalling not only those who died in combat but those who faced a firing squad for protesting, refusing to fight or fleeing the front.


    “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.” -Henry David Thoreau

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