“It is 11 o’clock and the war is—”
November 11, 2018 6:56 AM   Subscribe

As if God had swept His omnipotent finger across the scene of world carnage and cried, ‘Enough!’ At 11 am the guns of the Western Front fell silent, all at once, for the first time in four years of continuous and brutal warfare. After a false alarm four days earlier, Allied and German delegations agreed to an armistice. Facing general defeat, mutiny, and domestic revolution, Berlin sought an exit from the war. Kaiser Wilhelm II had abdicated two days earlier; the Weimar Republic was struggling to be born. Sixteen million people had been killed.

Germany's allies had already exited the war. On November 11th Austria-Hungary's last emperor ceded some political power, although he did not exactly abdicate right away. Vienna had just signed an armistice with Italy and its empire was fragmenting into nations. Turkey had capitulated on October 30th. After an Allied victory and a major revolt, Bulgaria signed its own armistice on September 30th; tsar Ferdinand abdicated. A French-led army successfully invaded Albania, Montenegro, and Serbia. The Treaty of Versailles lay shortly ahead.

But the Great War's bloodshed and and the forces it unleashed hadn't ended.

The East African front saw fighting for two more weeks, as von Lettow-Vorbeck continued his guerrilla campaign against the British empire.

In the former Russian empire civil war raged. Fighting would include an Allied intervention and a Soviet invasion of Poland aimed at Berlin. Latvia would successfully fight for its independence, a war which ended in 1920. Hungary would experience a short-lived Communist government in 1919, as would part of the new state of Czechoslovakia. Back in 1918, on November 11th, British, Canadian, and American troops invading the USSR fought a small battle with Bolsheviks.

Post-Ottoman Turkey would revolt against an Allied-imposed treaty ("signed on 10 August 1920, in an exhibition room at the Manufacture nationale de Sèvres porcelain factory") and go on to fight Armenia, France, Britain, and especially Greece through 1922, culminating in the forced resettlement of 1.6 million people and the creation of today's Turkish Republic.

Elsewhere in former Ottoman lands, Egyptians would revolt against British occupation in 1919, as would Iraqis in 1920.

After signing the armistice, German civilians would continue to suffer the Allied naval blockade for another half year. Germany's new republic would be wracked by civil disturbances for years. Fighting broke out around Berlin in December. A Spartacist uprising occurred in January 1919, along with a Bremen Soviet. Bavaria formed a Soviet Republic in April 1919. Freebooting militias, Freikorps, would fight left-wing movements and assassinate people, like Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in January 1919. Ruhr workers revolted in 1920. Poles and Silesians would revolt against Wiemar for three years.

Spain would go through civil unrest and revolts ("Three Bolshevik Years") culminating in a military dictatorship in 1923.

Italy would experience escalating unrest from left and right. In 1919-1920 Gabriele d'Annunzio led WWI veterans in seizing the city of Fiume, which has just been assigned to the new Yugoslav Republic. Italy would experience the first anti-fascist local revolt in 1921 then the imposition of Europe's first fascist national state in 1922.

Ireland, in the wake of the war's Easter Rising, would wage a war of independence from Britain (1919-1921), then fight a bitter civil war in 1922-23. During Cogadh na Saoirse Limerick created its own Soviet in 1919.

The United States, a late Allied power, was already undergoing its first red scare. The Battle of Blair Mountain would occur in 1921.

Meanwhile, "the Spanish flu" continued to kill millions more.

Back to 11/11/18: from Thomas Hardy.

In 1919 president Woodrow Wilson would proclaim Armistice Day as a holiday. In 1954 it would be renamed Veterans Day.
American artillery captain Harry Truman wrote to his wife Bess on 11/10/18: "Hope I get that letter tomorrow. Also hope the Hun signs the peace agreement."

One documentary: Armistice: The Endgame of World War One.

One novel.

One computer game: "11-11 Memories Retold".

In 1940 a victorious Germany, led by a WWI veteran, ordered that year's armistice to be signed in the same railway car as 1918's.
posted by doctornemo (56 comments total) 73 users marked this as a favorite
16 million is an undercount, more likely 20 million.

Let's go with the conservative number. To give you an inkling of the scale of the crime of the century - the carnage in WWI, 16 million dead, try this experiment:

Every second, say: "dead". This represents someone killed in the war.

Continue. Do not stop, not for food nor water, not for rest nor sleep.

Continue saying "dead" every second.

You may stop in 6 months time.

. x 1.6 * 10^7
posted by lalochezia at 7:03 AM on November 11, 2018 [35 favorites]

At the remembrance service at our local war grave (which contains the graves of people from the UK, NZ, Germany, Italy, Australia, and many other parts of the world) the image that most strongly came to mind for some reason was that last transition in the final episode of Blackadder Goes Forth, when they go “over the top” in 1917, and as they do so, the footage fades to that field of poppies in Flanders, with the birds singing.
posted by pharm at 7:19 AM on November 11, 2018 [12 favorites]

I was going to make a post with just the first link (the New Yorker article), which is amazing and not to be missed. Come for the casual horror:
“I heard a Frenchman remark that Germany was fighting for territory, England for the sea, France for patriotism, and Americans for souvenirs.”
"By 1918, daily consumption of calories in Germany was less than half of what it had been in peacetime. Starvation and malnutrition claimed an estimated four hundred and twenty-four thousand German lives."
Stay for the butchery:
British, French, and American commanders made certain that the bloodshed continued at full pitch for six hours after the Armistice had been signed. ... Twenty-seven hundred and thirty-eight men from both sides were killed, and eighty-two hundred and six were left wounded or missing. ... the vast majority of these casualties clearly happened after the Armistice had been signed, when commanders knew that the firing was to stop for good at 11 A.M. The day’s toll was greater than both sides would suffer in Normandy on D Day, 1944. And it was incurred to gain ground that Allied generals knew the Germans would be vacating days, or even hours, later.
And don't miss the racism for good measure:
The U.S. military was rigidly segregated, and the men of the 92nd were black. All their higher-ranking officers, however, were white ... these troops found themselves, after the Armistice had been signed, advancing into German machine-gun fire and mustard gas. They were ordered to make their last attack at 10:30 A.M. The 92nd Division officially recorded seventeen deaths and three hundred and two wounded or missing on November 11th; one general declared that the real toll was even higher. The war ended as senselessly as it had begun.
posted by RedOrGreen at 7:20 AM on November 11, 2018 [16 favorites]

And for the Indian soldiers, it was shivering in cotton khakis more suitable for their home climate.
posted by infini at 7:33 AM on November 11, 2018 [8 favorites]

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
posted by chavenet at 7:45 AM on November 11, 2018 [11 favorites]

Here's a Smithsonian article about a "visual recording" of approximately the last minute of artillery fire. The Imperial War Museum recreated the sound based on the recording, which can be heard here.
posted by lharmon at 7:54 AM on November 11, 2018 [6 favorites]

The thing that always makes me cry forever is the monuments raised afterwards, when people were still calling it The War To End All Wars and thought there was a good chance it would happen, that so many had died but at least the specter of that butchery would never raise its head again.

Short lived, of course. But still heartbreaking.
posted by corb at 8:03 AM on November 11, 2018 [12 favorites]

One of these days World War One is gonna end
posted by The Whelk at 8:26 AM on November 11, 2018 [15 favorites]

When I read that Flanders Fields poem I feel a little despair. I would be lying if I said I never felt the call of the flag, of wishing to belong with your brothers and sisters against "them." It terrifies me that even I who am so alienated can feel the faint whispers calling me to celebrate the unspeakable in the name of some situational good, to venerate murder and suicide, to fusticate on honor and pride. I much prefer this poem:

On Passing The New Menin Gate

Who will remember, passing through this Gate,
the unheroic dead who fed the guns?
Who shall absolve the foulness of their fate,-
Those doomed, conscripted, unvictorious ones?

Crudely renewed, the Salient holds its own.
Paid are its dim defenders by this pomp;
Paid, with a pile of peace-complacent stone,
The armies who endured that sullen swamp.

Here was the world's worst wound. And here with pride
'Their name liveth for ever', the Gateway claims.
Was ever an immolation so belied
as these intolerably nameless names?
Well might the Dead who struggled in the slime
Rise and deride this sepulchre of crime.

Siegfried Sassoon
posted by Pembquist at 8:43 AM on November 11, 2018 [30 favorites]

I'm glad I'm not the only one who dislikes "In Flanders Fields".

The Parable of the Old Man and the Young
Wilfred Owen

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
and builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretchèd forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.

But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.
posted by Cheerwell Maker at 8:57 AM on November 11, 2018 [40 favorites]

Continue saying "dead" every second.

You may stop in 6 months time.

. x 1.6 * 10^7

Or think of it as a movie. A one second face shot of everyone who was killed. That's a six month movie. Or if you're in a hurry, just give a single frame to every face. You wouldn't see anything but a blur, of course, but assuming 24 frames per second, that's still a seven and a half day movie.
posted by philip-random at 8:59 AM on November 11, 2018 [5 favorites]

Continue saying "dead" every second - brings to mind this classic scene from Babylon-5.
posted by doctornemo at 9:17 AM on November 11, 2018 [4 favorites]

So - "1954 it would be renamed Veterans Day. "
That's Eisenhower isn't it? The guy who warned of the "Military Industrial Complex"? :\

I would imagine it would have had to be signed off by him?
posted by symbioid at 9:47 AM on November 11, 2018

I read a quote recently to the effect that British boarding schools before WWI trained their upper class young men to both march enthusiastically off to war and then to write devastating poetry about its horrors.

Thanks for the poems. Dulce et Decorum Est.
posted by clawsoon at 9:54 AM on November 11, 2018 [12 favorites]

The quote was much more poetic than my reconstruction of it: Strange, to educate people to go out and be cannon fodder, but also to describe the experience like a Romantic.
posted by clawsoon at 9:57 AM on November 11, 2018 [6 favorites]

In the former Russian empire civil war raged. Fighting would include an Allied intervention and a Soviet invasion of Poland aimed at Berlin.

More crucially, Poland was created, reborn after over a century of being annexed/colonised by Prussia/Germany, Austria and Russia. A testament to the absolute bloody stubbornness of Józef Piłsudski and a crowd of others who didn't bloody shut up for a second for 123 years. The moment the empires started imploding, we grabbed our chance and every bit of territory we could nick by hook or crook. Small, bloodied (yay three armies conscripting every guy of fighting age), with a 70-km coastline where we promptly built a port from scratch. We're a mess, but we're stubborn enough to get things done in a pinch.

(And for gods sakes the centennary is a mess here. Can someone please come and lock up all the fascists?)
posted by I claim sanctuary at 9:59 AM on November 11, 2018 [14 favorites]

I was still living in the UK when the centenary of the start of WWI occurred; it feels lonely and distant to be so far away (in a country where it's become Veteran's Day, about which I have many thoughts) when, a hundred years ago, the guns fell silent. (ish.) It's hard to reconcile what a deep scar the war left in Europe, when it seemingly didn't touch the United States -- or if it did, it isn't much spoken of.

I can't disconnect Owen's Strange Meeting from the Libera Me movement of War Requiem, but it stands well on its own, too:

It seemed that out of battle I escaped
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
Through granites which titanic wars had groined.

Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
Lifting distressful hands, as if to bless.
And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall,—
By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.

With a thousand fears that vision's face was grained;
Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground,
And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.
“Strange friend,” I said, “here is no cause to mourn.”
“None,” said that other, “save the undone years,
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
Was my life also; I went hunting wild
After the wildest beauty in the world,
Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
But mocks the steady running of the hour,
And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.
For by my glee might many men have laughed,
And of my weeping something had been left,
Which must die now. I mean the truth untold,
The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
Now men will go content with what we spoiled.
Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.
They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress.
None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
Courage was mine, and I had mystery;
Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery:
To miss the march of this retreating world
Into vain citadels that are not walled.
Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels,
I would go up and wash them from sweet wells,
Even with truths that lie too deep for taint.
I would have poured my spirit without stint
But not through wounds; not on the cess of war.
Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.

“I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
I knew you in this dark: for so you frowned
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
Let us sleep now. . . .”
posted by kalimac at 10:02 AM on November 11, 2018 [8 favorites]

Another Siegfried Sassoon poem, that I saw on Twitter today:

At The Cenotaph

I saw the Prince of Darkness, with his Staff,
Standing bare-headed by the Cenotaph:
Unostentatious and respectful, there
He stood, and offered up the following prayer.
'Make them forget, O Lord, what this Memorial
Means; their discredited ideas revive;
Breed new belief that War is purgatorial
Proof of the pride and power of being alive;
Men's biologic urge to readjust
The Map of Europe, Lord of Hosts, increase;
Lift up their hearts in large destructive lust;
And crown their heads with blind vindictive Peace.'
The Prince of Darkness to the Cenotaph
Bowed. As he walked away I heard him laugh.
posted by Azara at 10:13 AM on November 11, 2018 [25 favorites]

As a poem, "In Flanders Fields" is more pleasing: the rhythm and rhymes are fluid and musical, where "Dulce et Decorum Est" is harsh and jagged. As a message, though, the latter is the one we need to remember on all days, not just today.

I visited New Zealand some years ago and it seemed like every town had a memorial to local boys who died in the Great War, when patriotism for the British Empire was still earnest and apparently innocent (or willfully naive). Many of those bronze statues were inscribed "Dulce et decorum est", and I never figured out if the townspeople were aware of Owens' poem but chose to ignore it, or whether they were acknowledging the horror behind the heroism.
posted by Quietgal at 11:00 AM on November 11, 2018 [4 favorites]

Quietgal, we discussed this during English with Mrs Taylor (who never tired of reminding us she'd done her masters degree under Ted Hughes) and the consensus was that since Owen had taken a rather well known patriotic type saying as his title, this confusion was bound to occur as this phrase was a standard for such type of memorials.
posted by infini at 11:12 AM on November 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

Nice Deutsche Welle documentary here about the aftermath of the War: “Apocalypse - Never-Ending War 1918 - 1929, Part 1” (direct .mp4 link) Composed mostly of colorized film clips overlaid with Foley and (English) narration.
posted by XMLicious at 11:13 AM on November 11, 2018 [4 favorites]

Made a note in my diary on the way here.

Simply says, "Bugger."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:39 AM on November 11, 2018 [5 favorites]

Infini, did Mrs Taylor ever say whether the people who commissioned those statues were aware of Owens' poem? The poem was published posthumously in 1920, but most of those statues were commissioned several years after the war too. I'd like to think that there was some message of warning (after all, the Great War was supposed to end war) but the imagery of the statues was bog-standard "fallen hero" stuff. I suppose at the time it was powerful and moving, but to modern eyes it seemed delusional, like all those boys died nobly, and nobody suffered in agony, and all the vets came home in one piece, physically and mentally.
posted by Quietgal at 11:57 AM on November 11, 2018

I'm glad I'm not the only one who dislikes "In Flanders Fields".

The shift to recruiting poster propaganda in the last stanza is jarring and, you could argue, an artistic failure. Leaving aside the moral or political aspect. But to take that up, I don't know if I would have had the wherewithal to advocate pacifism in 1914 or 1915. Before Paris was saved, I can't see opposing the war, honestly. But even after - should the Germans simply be allowed to keep a big chunk of France taken by force? But as the war dragged on, the question of how many lives it is worth to uphold that impulse became more stark. The poem was written in 1915, after some horrible battles, but before the real horror of the war of attrition locked down. Before Verdun and The Somme. It is easy for me to condemn it now and say, young men of Canada, you will not honor the lives of your fallen comrades by giving yours to be thrown away after them. But I can't help but wonder if I'd have had the clarity to react that way then.
posted by thelonius at 12:29 PM on November 11, 2018 [6 favorites]

At exactly 11:11 a.m. every Veteran’s Day (Nov. 11), the sun aligns perfectly with the Anthem Veteran’s Memorial in Arizona to shine through the ellipses of the five marble pillars representing each branch of the Armed Forces, illuminating The Great Seal of the United States
posted by growabrain at 1:07 PM on November 11, 2018 [5 favorites]

In the former Russian empire civil war raged. Fighting would include an Allied intervention and a Soviet invasion of Poland aimed at Berlin.

This omits the fact that the Soviet invasion of Poland was a counterattack against an earlier Polish invasion of Ukraine, some rather important context! And so far as I know, there were no immediate designs on Berlin -- the Soviet target was Poland. (Although, of course, who knows what would have happened had the Battle of Warsaw gone the other way.)

And speaking of US intervention against the Bolsheviks, the WSJ -- of all places -- had a long read about that a couple days ago: The One Time American Troops Fought Russians Was at the End of World War I—and They Lost
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 1:16 PM on November 11, 2018 [3 favorites]

On Picnics

at the goingdown of the sun
and in the morning
I try to remember them
but their names are ordinary names
and their causes are thighbones
tugged excitedly from the soil
by frenchchildren
on picnics

Roger McGough
posted by andraste at 1:24 PM on November 11, 2018 [9 favorites]

On Picnics made me gasp, and remember High Wood.
posted by kalimac at 1:36 PM on November 11, 2018 [6 favorites]

Zone Rouge - There are whole sections of France 100 years later that are still uninhabitable because of the war. Literally too dangerous to walk into
posted by growabrain at 1:45 PM on November 11, 2018 [6 favorites]

This omits the fact that the Soviet invasion of Poland was a counterattack against an earlier Polish invasion of Ukraine, some rather important context! Certainly.
But I had tons of context to add to every single line of this post, and years of writing on the blue have taught me to err on the side of concision.
posted by doctornemo at 2:01 PM on November 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

Or think of it as a movie.

J'accuse (1919)
posted by kliuless at 2:06 PM on November 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

The Queen's Cameron Highlanders or 79th Regiment of Foot was a line infantry regiment of the British Army, raised in 1793. Here they are in 1914 and in 1919
posted by growabrain at 2:26 PM on November 11, 2018 [7 favorites]

Some areas where 99% of all plants still die remain off limits (for example two small pieces of land close to Ypres and Woëvre), as arsenic constitutes up to 176 mg/kg of soil samples.[2]

I think this is where a lot of munitions were destroyed after the war
posted by thelonius at 2:39 PM on November 11, 2018

But I had tons of context to add to every single line of this post

It's a fine post, and I'm glad you made it! I'm just throwing in my two cents. There is so much fascinating history around the end of WWI (e.g. the hitherto unmentioned Finnish Civil War); I appreciate the difficulty in summarizing it.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 3:26 PM on November 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

The Queen's Cameron Highlanders or 79th Regiment of Foot was a line infantry regiment of the British Army, raised in 1793.

Not quite
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 4:17 PM on November 11, 2018 [3 favorites]

Thelonius I feel that you bring up the awkward crux of the biscuit. I agree with you but ask yourself wouldn't you feel the same way if you went back in time and ended up being German?

I am not kidding when I say I find it terrifying. Everybody thinks they are right it seems and yet it seems like rightness is almost meaningless and changes with whoever won last, and still, when the airplanes flew into the twin towers, I wanted to kill.
posted by Pembquist at 6:03 PM on November 11, 2018 [5 favorites]

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
    — Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
    Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
    Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
    And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
    Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
    The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
 — Anthem for Doomed Youth, Wilfred Owen.
posted by scruss at 8:12 PM on November 11, 2018 [6 favorites]

Mod note: fixed minor typo in "seizing the city of Fiume" dates.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:09 AM on November 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Today on the Western Front,” the German sociologist Max Weber wrote in September 1917, there “stands a dross of African and Asiatic savages and all the world’s rabble of thieves and lumpens.” Weber was referring to the millions of Indian, African, Arab, Chinese and Vietnamese soldiers and labourers, who were then fighting with British and French forces in Europe, as well as in several ancillary theatres of the first world war. [...]The first world war’s truly unknown soldiers are these non-white combatants.

The Great War is often depicted as an unexpected catastrophe. But for millions who had been living under imperialist rule, terror and degradation were nothing new. Pankaj Mishra longread
posted by infini at 3:48 AM on November 12, 2018 [1 favorite]


A whole night long
crouched close
to one of our men
with his clenched
grinning at the full moon
with the congestion
of his hands
thrust right
into my silence
I've written
letters filled with love

I have never been
so coupled to life

- Giuseppe Ungaretti
posted by AillilUpATree at 4:24 AM on November 12, 2018 [3 favorites]

The One Time American Troops Fought Russians Was at the End of World War I—and They Lost

posted by kirkaracha at 10:45 AM on November 12, 2018

"Had he and I but met
By some old ancient inn,
We should have sat us down to wet
Right many a nipperkin!

"But ranged as infantry,
And staring face to face,
I shot at him as he at me,
And killed him in his place.

"I shot him dead because —
Because he was my foe,
Just so: my foe of course he was;
That's clear enough; although

"He thought he'd 'list, perhaps,
Off-hand like — just as I —
Was out of work — had sold his traps —
No other reason why.

"Yes; quaint and curious war is!
You shoot a fellow down
You'd treat if met where any bar is,
Or help to half-a-crown."
posted by caphector at 10:59 AM on November 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

posted by Etrigan at 11:02 AM on November 12, 2018

> DSA blog “Reclaiming Armistice Day for the peace movement.”

Charles Pierce: Armistice Day Celebrated Peace. That Peace Is Fraying. The United States is slipping the bonds that have tied it to its allies for seven decades.
But this year, I think, being the 100th anniversary of the end of European carnage, we should call it Armistice Day again. The peace that has held in Europe since 1945 is beginning to fray badly. The United States is slipping the bonds that have tied it to its allies for seven decades, and to France almost from the birth of the country. Nationalism is festering all over the continent, and the countries whose political long-term memories are better than ours are looking on this with alarm. As French president Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday,
“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. In saying ‘our interests first, whatever happens to the others,’ you erase the most precious thing a nation can have, that which makes it live, that which causes it to be great and that which is most important: its moral values. Old demons are resurfacing. History sometimes threatens to take its tragic course again and compromise our hope of peace. Let us vow to prioritize peace over everything.”
With all due respect to veterans living and dead, including my father, Lt. Cdr. John P. Pierce, USNR, we needed Armistice Day this year of all years more than we needed Veterans Day. We needed to remember the silence of the guns, and bells that began to ring. We needed to remember them for Joseph U. Thompson, 1898-1918, who has a new footbridge named after him that replaced the old footbridge that had been named after him, and who never heard the silence of the guns, nor the bells that began to ring. We needed to think of peace, moving like a quiet river, under all the bridges of our lives.
posted by homunculus at 12:04 PM on November 12, 2018 [3 favorites]

With all due respect to veterans living and dead, including my father, Lt. Cdr. John P. Pierce, USNR, we needed Armistice Day this year of all years more than we needed Veterans Day.
Go ahead and take it. The troops have been given half a dozen other holidays.

”This Labor Day, remember the troops who are laboring to keep us safe!”, my ass.
posted by Etrigan at 12:17 PM on November 12, 2018 [5 favorites]

I love Sassoon with a deep and unholy love. But my favorite is and has always been Lamentations, for sheer rage and bitterness.
I found him in the guard-room at the Base.
From the blind darkness I had heard his crying
And blundered in. With puzzled, patient face
A sergeant watched him; it was no good trying
To stop it; for he howled and beat his chest.
And, all because his brother had gone west,
Raved at the bleeding war; his rampant grief
Moaned, shouted, sobbed, and choked, while he was kneeling
Half-naked on the floor. In my belief
Such men have lost all patriotic feeling.
posted by corb at 2:48 PM on November 12, 2018 [5 favorites]

In the 1983 Peanuts special “What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown?” Linus recites “In Flanders Fields” as the gang looks out over the field, with swelling music and animated illustration of the words. He gets through the first two stanzas... and then stops, omitting the third. After a moment, he turns and asks, “What have we learned, Charlie Brown?”

The scene follows a sequence where the kids end up camped out on Omaha Beach after the events of the movie “Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don’t Come Back!)” Linus recognizes the landscape and visualizes D-Day with rotoscoped footage and Eisenhower’s voice overlaid, and educates the others about the history of where they were standing.

It all sounds kind of bizarre as I type it out, but it really is a beautifully done special. Until this year, I’d never really connected the fact that it was made during a difficult time in the Cold War. It brings up the contrast of a memorial poem written by a grieving soldier who just buried his friend, and reflecting on that same poem years later, knowing that wars continued and still threatened the world in the current day.
posted by Meghamora at 3:20 PM on November 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

from an earlier time...
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
posted by kliuless at 5:50 AM on November 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

Singapore's Channel News Asia has just published Asia In The Great War with four ~50min episodes.

I'm finding it quite fascinating so far. The first episode is about Indian (and Pakistani, by today's borders) colonial service in the British military during the war. Many parallels to the experience of African Americans later on in the war, with Indian soldiers noting the radical difference between their treatment as heroes by the French and Belgians they were liberating, and the great affection and admiration expressed, and their treatment as British subjects back home.

An interviewed expert, Dr. Dominiek Dendooven of the In Flanders Fields Museum in Belgium, says that at one point during the First Battle of Ypres ⅓ of the British line was held by Indian colonial troops. And that, of course, Indian troops were frequently used as cannon fodder in the course of the war.
  1. “India: The Forgotten Army”
  2. “China: Behind The Trenches”
  3. “Vietnam: War And Rebellion”
  4. “Japan: An Ambitious Ally”
posted by XMLicious at 5:13 PM on November 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Second part of the Deutsche Welle documentary I linked to above about the aftermath of the War: “Apocalypse - Never-Ending War 1918 - 1929, Part 2” (direct .mp4 link)
posted by XMLicious at 7:41 AM on November 26, 2018

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