Today exactly 95 years ago, the first Armistice Day was celebrated. This day marked the end of the Great War, or the First World War. On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the year 1918, a peace treaty was signed in Compiegne, France. The guns on all fronts halted and 4 years of unspeakable carnage came to an end. All over the world, one thought was thoroughly felt: never again. To commemorate this thought, the Armistice Day was held annualy: to ‘never forget’.
On this day, historians tend to reflect on the remembrance of the First World War. For Example, the Irish always have been ambivalent towards their cooperation in the Great War. On the one hand, the Irishmen of the North supported the English as the wanted to proof loyal subjects to the crown. On the other hand, voluntary fighters from Southern Ireland were keen to show the English they could manage their own. As Irish Republicans staged a rebellion in the midst of the war (1916), those who choose to fight were regarded as traitors.
Another example is a new publication on the battle of the Somme – a cartoon tries to capture the horrors of this clash, and remarkably succeeds. This is only one of the scheduled publications on the First World War. Next year in August, it will be a hundred years ago the war broke out. More than 1000 books are scheduled for publication the coming months, as many authors’ en publishers want to sell their books as a Christmas present.
I reread some of the poems of Wilfred Owen on today. Owen is regarded as one of the best wartime poets, and was already famous during the war. He died 95 years ago, on the 4th of November. A week later, as the church bells were changing on Armistice day and joy spread through the streets of London, his mother saw the postman coming – with a grim message.