Trip to the Fields of Flanders

Not my usual IT related comments but I felt compelled to post. I’ve just got back from a trip to Bruge which included an excursion to various locations and cemerateries related to World War 1 (http://www.visitbruges.org/). It may seem like a depressing subject but I think everyone should make such a trip. It really is worth getting some sort of understanding of the huge loses and suffering of the people involved. Our trip was a small group which consisted of couples from Australia, Britain and Canada. Consequently we visited cemetaries and memorials for those nationalities and were taken to locations where those troops were involved. I’m not going to attempt to describe all the things we saw (or spoil it – see it yourself) but just to say that I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. Without lapsing into communism it has certainly made me think more about;  how violence isn’t a great way to resolve a problem, and when I think things are bad (like the fact our water main has collapsed and we’ve got dodgy water) people managed to live (if they were lucky) through years of unimaginable horror – so perhaps I should just smile and be more thankful.

I must admit that after the visit I have become a bit of WWI bore and have read ‘World War 1’ by David Shermer which amazed me about just how many counties were fighting all over the globe. It’s also very interesting to see how it affected ‘modern’ politics. I thought I’d add a litte wikipedia style facts from the book;
Toll of lives (my approximations):
Civilian (not including a huge flu outbreak)  9-12 million
Military:
Germany  1.7-2 million
Russia 1.7 million
France 1.36 million
Austria-Hungary 1.2 million
Great Britain 0.76 million
British Empire 0.25 million
Italy 0.65 million
Turkey 0.37 million
United States 0.12 million

Total Casulaties 37,500,000 – imagine the potential of all those people
Economic cost £75,077,000,000 – and that’s nearly a century ago
E.g of physical damage – France; forests lost 1,875 sq.miles, 8000 sq.miles farm land, 0.25 million buildings
Quote from the book, ‘These are cold statistics…the disillusionment…ordinary poeple realised…the horrendous price for reordering the world’s affairs’.
Mine and the books parting quote;
‘I have given orders to my Death Units to exterminate without mercy or pity men, women and children belonging to the Polish-speaking race. It is only in this manner that we can aquire the vital territory which we need. After all, who remembers today the extermination of the Armenians?’ Adolf Hitler, 22 Aug 1939

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