From the unpublished material 2015 January 5
In July 2013 €450,000 was approved by the Flemish government for the upkeep and restoration of six war grave sites – two British and four German – in West Flanders.
€4.4 million agreed by the Brussels Region for events to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War in 2014, including a multimedia spectacle, new websites and a book
In September 2013 three schools from South Africa held a remembrance service at Tyne Cot military cemetery in Zonnebeke, West Flanders, in memory of three of their countrymen whose remains were discovered in September 2011. The three soldiers were members of the SA Scottish, part of the 1st South African infantry brigade, who had fallen in the Third Battle of Ypres in September 1917, also known as the Battle of Passchendaele. The three men were buried at Tyne Cot in July this year.
In December 2013 British prime minister David Cameron joined Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday for a visit to First World War sites in West Flanders. The two leaders toured five memorials and cemeteries from the 1914-1918 conflict before attending a European Council summit in Brussels.
In a symbolic act of reconciliation, the two leaders laid wreaths at the grave of Major Willie Redmond, an Irish nationalist who died in the attack on Mesen ridge in June 1917. In accordance with his last wishes, Redmond’s grave was located outside the walls of the British military cemetery in protest at the execution of the leaders of the 1916 Rising.
The act of having the two countries have come together here in Ypres, the peace city of Flanders, can be seen as a very important sign for remembering the war but even more so for the reconciliation process between the British and the Irish.
The centenary of the first world war’s outbreak had started in England with controversy over its origins. Self-styled patriots and provocative military historians claim that our image of the war that killed eight million men between 1914 and 1918, and left 22 million wounded, has been distorted by poets and TV comedy writers.
“Wilfred Owen and Blackadder have apparently conned us into thinking the great war was futile, when in reality it was a “just” war provoked by German aggression.”
Arguably, these matter less than its consequences. A defeated Germany, blamed for the war by the victors and subjected to onerous punishment by the Treaty of Versailles, tottered between revolution, far right militias and brittle democracy. In this chaotic broken land, the art that mattered was dada – a dazzling assault on reason and sanity. Hannah Höch’s raw cut-up images are glorious embodiments of Berlin dada that consume the media of the time and spew them out as grotesque dreams of liberation.