do not mention the war

Archive for May, 2016|Monthly archive page

The Modern Battlefield

In History on May 13, 2016 at 08:00

“Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about a modern battlefield is the desolation and emptiness of it all … one cannot emphasise too much. Nothing is to be seen of war or soldiers – only the split and shattered trees and the burst of an occasional shell reveal anything of the truth. One can look for miles and see no human being. But in those miles of country lurk (like moles or rats, it seems) thousands, even hundreds of thousands of men, planning against each other perpetually some new device of death. Never showing themselves, they launch at each other bullet, bomb, aerial torpedo and shell. And somewhere too (on the German side we know of their existence opposite us) are the little cylinders of gas, waiting only for the moment to spit forth their nauseous and destroying fumes. And yet the landscape shows nothing of all this – nothing but a few shattered trees and three or four lines of earth and sandbags, these and the ruins of towns and villages are the only signs of war anywere visible. The glamour of red coats – the martial tunes of flag and drum – aide-de-camps scurrying hither and thither on splendid chargers – lances glittering and swords flashing – how different the old wars must have been!

This was the observation by Harold Macmillan in a letter to his mother. The letter was dated May 13, 1916 just weeks before the Battle of the Somme begun where he was severely injured. It was a very precise descrition of the battle during the Great War. The inhumanity, the brutality, the continuing of the fighting at all costs.

After the Second World War he became Prime Minister and famous for his ‘never had it so good’ speech.


Flying With the Germans

In Anglo-German Relations on May 11, 2016 at 09:00

It seems nowadays that it is accepted to poke fun at the English as this ad from Lufthansa shows.

Two guys need to re-arrange their air travel and are booked on a Lufthansa flight which leads one to exclaim

“We’re flying with the Germans?!”

His voice and face tell of his dismay. This is aggravated as he falls asleep during the flight and has a nightmare of an Oompa Band playing, cuckoo watches and sausages and beer served by a lady who isn’t particularly friendly. On top of that there is a little lad in a German football shirt. He mocks the English by pointing to the four stars on the above the crest. It turns out to be a bad dream for the Englishman. Of course, there is a hook to all this. It is naturally the little lad still pointing to the four stars serving as a reminder for the English who is the more successful team.

Previously it was the English making fun of the Germans and possibly they still do. The advert ends with the slogan,

Lufthansa, fly like a world champion

adding more salt to English wounds. It is indeed humourous and surely humour of the sort even the English could laugh at. On top of that, the Germans have learned how to be funny without appearing ridiculous. It hasn’t always been like that. Admittedly, the Germans had a tough stance to react upon what the English threw at them what they considered humour. Think of Three Lions by Baddiel and Skinner. In the video all Germans wore shirts with Kuntz on the back. What can you do about that when you’re the target of such kind of black humour? Nothing. There are more examples from 1996. Remember the Daily Mirror? Gazza and Psycho wearing tin helmets? Nuff said.

The humour of 2016 is tame in comparison with 1996 but has become far more sophisticated. And even the Germans have learned how to be funny.

%d bloggers like this: