Shaky Ground

Traces of the Great War at the Ypres Salient

Dekens, Peter

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Peter Dekens’ first memo­ry of the First World War dates from 1979. His cou­sin died while dis­mant­ling an old pro­jec­tile. The traces of the Gre­at War have been almost com­ple­te­ly era­sed from the Bel­gi­an land­s­cape, but to this day, human remains and pro­jec­tiles are still found along the for­mer front line in Ypres. With Shaky Ground Peter Dekens tells the sto­ry of the­se remains and offers a reflec­tion on the cur­rent Euro­pean situa­ti­on in which the awa­re­ness of the impor­t­an­ce of unity stands on shaky ground again.

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One hund­red years ago, on 11 Novem­ber 1918, the armisti­ce came into effect. For the spe­cial occa­si­on of this com­me­mo­ra­ti­on we will inclu­de a free a high-qua­li­ty Bary­ta ink­jet pho­to print (18x27 cm / 7x10.6″) with every purcha­se of the book until the end of this year.

Peter Dekens’ ear­liest memo­ry of the First World War dates back to 1979, aged 12. One of his cou­sins found an old, unex­plo­ded bombs­hell and tried to dis­mant­le it. The explo­si­ve went off and he suc­cum­bed to his inju­ries later that same evening.

Dri­ving along the for­mer front line in Ypres (Bel­gi­um) now it’s near­ly impos­si­ble to ima­gi­ne that one of the most hor­ri­fic wars of all time was waged here one hund­red years ago.

The traces of the Gre­at War have been almost com­ple­te­ly era­sed from the land­s­cape, over the cour­se of deca­des, hund­reds of bun­kers were remo­ved. To this very day, human remains and pro­jec­tiles are still found every time someo­ne sticks a spa­de into the soil. Some­whe­re bene­ath the sod, tens of thousands of mis­sing sol­di­ers are pre­su­med to lie undis­co­ve­r­ed, along with hund­reds of thousands of unex­plo­ded shells.

An esti­ma­ted thir­ty per cent of the 1.5 bil­li­on bombs­hells fired during the First World War never went off. Some of the peop­le who live in the area have deve­lo­ped a sixth sen­se for this hid­den histo­ry: whe­re tens of thousands of tou­rists and tra­vel­lers pass by unkno­wing, the locals know that the sligh­test rai­se or dip in the road could be an indi­ca­ti­on that war rem­nants still lie unea­sy bene­ath the earth.

For cen­tu­ries, Euro­pe was a divi­ded con­ti­nent with count­less wars and infi­ni­te rede­fi­ni­ti­ons of sha­red bor­ders. It brief­ly see­med as though the First World War would be the very last, the “war to end all wars”. Ulti­mate­ly, howe­ver, tho­se years plan­ted the first seeds of the Second World War. Long-las­ting peace, pro­spe­ri­ty and pro­gress did not come to Euro­pe until after 1945. The esta­blish­ment of the Euro­pean Com­mu­ni­ty was envi­sio­ned as an affir­ma­ti­on of per­ma­nent peace in Euro­pe. With the recent situa­ti­on sur­roun­ding Brex­it and the sur­ge in natio­na­list, anti-Euro­pean move­ments in various Euro­pean coun­tries, it seems that the awa­re­ness of the impor­t­an­ce of unity stands on shaky ground again. The traces of a histo­ry of war seem to be fading rapidly from memo­ry.

Autor

Einbandart

Erscheinungsjahr

Maßeinheit

Beschreibung

Englisch

Seitenanzahl

112

Untertitel

Traces of the Great War at the Ypres Salient

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