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How and why do National Cemetery/Memorials built in the 1920's commemorate those who died in World War One in such different ways?

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Introduction

History Coursework How and why do National Cemetery/Memorials built in the 1920's commemorate those who died in World War One in such different ways? In the cemeteries of the British and French (Allied) cemeteries the graves were very clear and light. The gravestones were always made of a type of white, light stone. This was because it showed to whoever visited them that these men fought bravely and that they died for a cause. There are also details on them that show their names and births and in the French cemetery of 'Notre Dame de Lorette' you see that the graves reflect what religion they believed in e.g. Christian, Muslim and Jewish). However the British graves are the most descriptive as it shows the following things: These include their name, insignia, religious signs and their age (This is unlike the French who only had some information on the headstones. It only showed the age and name). All this information is shown only if the soldier was known. There were also messages on the gravestones from the family. If the soldier was unknown then a general message of 'A soldier of the great war, known unto God' was engraved on the headstone. This meant that even though the soldier was unknown to the public, God still knew him and that it was there to show that he had fought in the war so that he wasn't disregarded and also showing that he fought bravely in the war. There was also another message on the memorial of a stone plinth that is compulsory to every British cemetery from WWI. On it says 'Their Names Liveth Forever More' (this message was formed by the famous writer Rudyard Kipling as his son died in the war). However, they did not have personal family notes on the headstone because they were unidentifiable. Compared to the Germans however they are very memorable and forgiving. ...read more.

Middle

All the allies had suffered majorly and the French and Belgians were not left out. Indeed the Belgians probably lost less than the French but by comparison to their population it was a huge amount. Therefore they were very unwilling to allow the Germans cemeteries let alone splendid and great ones. Nevertheless they were allowed but they were not as great as the allies' cemeteries. At the end of the war the Germans, who had placed their cemeteries everywhere behind the lines, were told to dig up many of their cemeteries and situate their graves in certain big areas. The areas that were allotted to the Germans were quite big but the amount of land given was small in relation to the amount of men that needed to be buried. As well as the land being so small, it also cost the Germans a certain amount of money. For this reason many graves had about 20 soldiers in, with the highest being about 40 men. In these cemeteries you can see that there is no real purpose shown to the soldiers and what they had done whereas in the French and British cemeteries that we visited all show purpose and the whole cemetery trying to show that they soldiers had died for a cause. It also suggests that their sacrifice was a noble thing and again that they had died for a purpose. It shows that they died for a tomorrow and that they died for what life is like today. There are many purposes to the point of memorials. In the particular example of the Vimy Ridge memorial there were many uses for it. This was the fact that the Canadian government who was still a part of the British Empire wanted to show that they were great and that they could govern their own country. This was because at this time they wanted to become independent and therefore had to show it. ...read more.

Conclusion

This was done by placing an even greater amount of emphasis on the need to solemnly remember the fallen in the war. One women commented: 'Where we have had free tickets we have given them to those absolutely poverty stricken women who have lost many sons in the War and are anxious to see their graves. We feel that the women who go will realise that this is not to be in any sense a holiday of a tour, but is an extremely solemn occasion and that they will help us to maintain the right atmosphere.' Veterans often returned to the battlefields on which they had fought. For many of them it was a nightmare comprised of long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of extreme fear, pain and sadness. However, they were also participating in a titanic event, which left an indelible impression upon them. The past experiences and memories of the veterans were often more than something to be recalled and retold as a story; many returned to the battlefields with a strong sense of foreboding and unease. The journey for them was to confront their past and not feel guilty anymore. Many veterans were unable to do this and a soldier who revisited the river Lys could not urge himself to walk up the river to the places he once knew because of the reminder of the past was 'too sharp a reminder of the pain and waste, the slaughter and fury...' However for some veterans it was a chance to get rid of the nightmares of the war. He described himself as 'a foreigner among the living, and half a foreigner to myself - a man who had lost part of himself...' For years he had pictured himself in marshes seeing ghosts of men in grey. Being unable to let go of the war he found that it continued to visit him in the form of nightmares. His pilgrimage provided the means for him to find a new part of himself by forcing himself to understand that the war had been won and therefore lost only in memories. ...read more.

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