Hein (fub) wrote,

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"La Grande Guerre"

When in Verdun, the markings of the first world war are unavoidable. The Netherlands had declared itself neutral during WW1, and thus there is very little emphasis on the first world war -- it's all about WW2 in the Netherlands.
But in France, it is the first world war that is 'la grande guerre'. We visited a gravesite, with rows and rows of graves. There are some gravesites for soldiers who fell in WW2 in the Netherlands, but not at that scale. 130.000 people dead -- that is more than the population of Nijmegen.

It is inconceivable to me: weapons technology had advanced, but the tactics had not. The soldiers dug themselves in, and the only way to advance was to throw more people against the enemy. The term 'cannon fodder' was very much appropriate: just throw in a battallion to be shot to pieces, in the hopes that the people coming after them have some time to conquer a few meters of ground.
There are monuments everywhere, and every village has a monument with the names of their dead. Brandeville had 32 military dead -- 9 of whom had the same family name. A whole generation of men of a single family, dead by some war fought over a few square meters of ground.

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