The Daily Demarche
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Compare and Contrast
Today marks the 90th anniversary of the invasion at Gallipoli in World War One- according to this report:

The landings, which infamously saw coastal waters stained red with the blood of dead soldiers, were intended to open a passage through the Dardanelle Straits separating Europe from Asia to provide a relief route to allied Russia via the Black Sea. Instead, the expedition ended in retreat and failure after eight months of what Helen Clark, the New Zealand prime minister, described as "hell".

Among those who suffered the greatest losses were the Anzacs, the Australian and New Zealand army corps, who made the first landings, swept by an unexpected current to a narrow cove rather than the planned wide beaches.

Many Australians and New Zealanders view this battle as a watershed moment for their nation, and approximately 11,000 of them gathered in Gallipoli to remember those who lost their lives in the ill fated campaign nearly a century ago.

Compare that to Germany where survivors of the Holocaust and the forces that fought in the battles to liberate Europe from Nazism are gathering for the 60th anniversary of the end of the war. 50% of the German youth cannot correctly identify what the Holocaust was:

One young German in two does not know what the Holocaust was, according to the results of a survey released Friday. Although about 80 percent of Germans were able to identify the Holocaust as the Nazi extermination campaign against European Jews, the figure was only 51.4 percent among Germans under the age of 24. The poll on German history by independent research institute Forschungsgruppe Wahlen for public broadcaster ZDF and the newspaper Die Welt showed that in every age group, women (21.3 percent) were twice as likely not to recognize the term "Holocaust" than men (9.9 percent). The telephone survey was conducted in March among 1,087 Germans with a margin of error of 3.1 percent. The editor for contemporary and cultural history at Die Welt, Sven Felix Kellerhoff, told AFP that the results were alarming. "We are kidding ourselves if we think we can lean back and be satisfied with our knowledge of German history, particularly in light of the terrible results on the Holocaust question," he said. "We all have our work cut out for us."

Is it any wonder which that the Aussies and Kiwis support the war on terror and the Germans oppose all action? We are talking about a battle that took place 90 years ago and an event from which survivors (and perpatrators) are still alive. The Holocaust and WWII are still living history. How can it even be remotely possible that German kids do not know what the term means? Where are the German counterparts to this young man:

"I had to make a pilgrimage here," said 22-year-old Ben Hutchinson, who wrapped himself in an Australian flag. Gallipoli "was the first real bonding of Australia as a country. It's something that formed our identity."

I am not of the opinion that all Germans alive today share the blame for the atrocities committed by the Nazis. But WWII and the cold-blooded , calculated murder of millions of men, women and children in addition to tens of millions who died as a direct result of the war are occured in the much too recent past to be forgotten- let alone possibly repeated. Our German "friends" could use a history lesson- perhaps the folks from down under can give them a hand- I seem to recall the Germans had some involvement in World War One as well. Both of those wars certainly had something to do with the forming of German identity.

To our friends from Australia and New Zealand, and all of the allied nations who lost men at Gallipoli, we join you in remembering them.

And now every April I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me
And I watch my old comrades, how proudly they march
Reliving old dreams of past glory
And the old men march slowly, all bent, stiff and sore
The forgotten heroes from a forgotten war
And the young people ask, "What are they marching for?"
And I ask myself the same question
And the band plays Waltzing Matilda
And the old men answer to the call
But year after year their numbers get fewer
Some day no one will march there at all
Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
Who'll come a waltzing Matilda with me
And their ghosts may be heard as you pass the Billabong
Who'll come-a-waltzing Matilda with me


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dé·marche 1) A course of action; a maneuver. 2) A diplomatic representation or protest 3) A statement or protest addressed by citizens to public authorities.

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