With the passing of the last of the WWI vets the subject of The Great War moves out of the news stories and into the history books. We saw that this year with the many stories devoted to this subject that appeared in both the news and historical media. I reviewed many of these articles, stories, books, web sites, movies, music and even games in an article published in the current issue of DW. If you haven’t read it yet I suggest you to. You might have overlooked it since the wrong title was used (My fault and I apologize for that.) The title in DW is “XENOGOGIC: AT FIFTY” but that was supposed to be the series title, not the article title. The story is actually about the WWI centennial. I can’t help but think that this was the kind of mistake that, had it occurred during WWI, would have cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of doughboys.
Of all the news stories and new histories about The War to End Wars that I read these stand out:
I never realized that so many past and current colonies of the various powers involved in the war contributed to the fighting of it. Without the help Great Britain received from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and India and, not to mention, the United States, Britain would not have been among the victors. The French colonies contributed hundreds of thousands of support troops and laborers in France. Even the Chinese sent hundreds of thousands of their young men to provide manpower to keep the war machine on the move.
The tens of millions who died, both combatants and civilians, might have, had they lived, prevented a Second World War only a generation later. What a waste and what a shame.
Still, there were benefits from the war, just as there are from all wars. Most came in the military area of weapons, etc. but still there were spin-offs that added the civilian population and national economies, well at least in some areas. It’s clear, however, that the horrors and tragedies of World War I vastly outweighed its benefits.
I remember a few months ago asking on Facebook if any of the members of that group (I think it was the EDC Group) had ancestors who had fought in WWI. I was surprised to receive a half-dozen responses in just a day or so from hobbyists all over who told me about their relatives who had fought and sometimes died in The War. They were from both sides of the conflict, most of them were simple soldiers or even civilians just trying to survive But what I noticed most was the feeling of disconnect between those who gave their all and those who’ve come after them.
We cannot forget and we must appreciate what they did; just as we cannot forget and we must appreciate all those who have served, been wounded and often died in a string of wars we are too shamed to call wars that have racked the world over the past two generations. Looking at it from my perspective I can only say that these wars have been hell for those who fought them and stupid for those who survived them.
So the next time you pull out your Dip board for a game keep it mind that Diplomacy was not a game about WWI; but rather it should be a game to learn how to avoid repeating the mistakes we made a hundred years ago and are still making today.
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