Soon, All Too Soon: British Musicians Bring Life and Melody to Exhumed Body of Forgotten WWI German Soldier Ernst Brockmann
by Patricia Hammond
When British musicians Patricia Hammond and Matt Redman found and performed German sheet music written by a soldier killed in Verdun, they had no idea the song would also lead to the discovery of the composer's body, which had been buried in an unmarked grave in France's Meuse-Argonne region.
Aug 29, 2017
Above:A short video describing how Patricia Hammond and Matt Redman found a melody in the grave of an unknown WW1 Soldier
Forgetting to Remember: Making America’s Great War Monumental Again by Sarah Biegelsen
The ground breaks. As the new WWI Memorial materializes in D.C., it's fascinating to take a look at other war memorials and the narrative of their construction. Reading the "story" of the ways memorials are conceived plays an important role in the understanding of public, cultural memory. Delve into the subject this week with WWrite's blog post,"Forgetting to Remember: Making America's Great War Monumental Again," by WW1CC intern, Sarah Biegelsen.
WWI Monument Groundbreaking Ceremony, Photo courtesy of TVCNews
Ignoring the First World War in the United States has been a century-long tradition that will either be rectified with the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into WWI or will endure through the collective amnesia of American society.For a paper I wrote my senior year of undergraduate college, I examined the memory of World War I in the United States through memorials and museums. I also compared and contrasted formal commemorative events of 1918-1939 with the ways they are commemorated in the twenty-first century. I was motivated to write this paper since I had taken a class my freshman year about British memorialization of the two world wars, a memory that has been flourishing in the past years, unlike in America. As I was curious to find out why Americans today have failed to give World War I its due attention, I decided to explore the emerging and declining American WWI memorialization over the past 100 years. Here in this post, I am going to briefly discuss some findings about the following memorials:
The Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri
The Listening Post in Lynchburg, Virginia
The District of Columbia War Memorial on the National Mall
The new national memorial at Pershing Park being built in Washington, D.C.
The October Revolution, Russia Occupation of Persia: WWI Soldier Viktor Shklovsky’s A Sentimental Journey: Memoirs, 1917-1922
by Michael Carson
Book cover art by Dương Tường, Vietnamese writer and artist
“After the explosion our soldiers, surrounded by enemies, were waiting for a train to come for them; while waiting, they busied themselves by picking and putting together the shattered pieces of their comrades’ bodies.
They picked up pieces for a very long time.
Naturally, some of the pieces got mixed up.
One officer went up to a long row of corpses.
The last body had been put together out of the leftover pieces.
It had the torso of a large man. Someone had added a small head; on the chest were small arms of different sizes, both left.
The officer looked for a rather long time; then he sat on the ground and burst out laughing….laughing….laughing….”
Viktor Shklovsky; portrait by Yury Annenkov, 1919Why read Viktor’s Shklovsky’s Sentimental Journey: Memoirs, 1917-1922 a hundred years after the First World War? Why remember this account of the October Revolution and the Russian occupation of Persia when we have forgotten so many other accounts of the First World War, those charnel-house memories of gallant-British officers at the Somme and Ypres? What does this young Russian commissar have for us today except for yet another account of yet another endless bloody war that few remember now and no one at all will remember in a hundred years?
For one, A Sentimental Journey’s perspective on the First World War is unique—difficult—not simply because of its various, diverse, and relatively obscure (from an Anglo-American perspective) experiences but because of its form. Shklovsky writes in stilted sentences, delays information, mixes up chronology. He claims he only wants to report the facts. He wants to become a primary source. But he insists the facts must be reshuffled, drawn out, ironically juxtaposed, removed from their logical spot in one paragraph and placed at the end of the next. He has a terrible memory. Here is Shklovsky on his brother’s death:
“He cried hard before dying.
Either the Whites or the Reds killed him.
I don’t remember which—I really don’t remember. But the death was unjust.”
One Year to Go! WWrite Blog Twitter Feed Launched Today!
American Delegation in Lyon France Today to Commemorate 1917 Entry into WWI
Stay up to date with the latest writerly WWI posts and events!
Today, to mark the final centennial year, WWrite launched its Twitter Feed that will be linked to the blog. These Tweets will replace the weekend updates and will appear regularly. The Twitter account is just getting off the ground and will continue to evolve and improve over the next 12 months. We will also be working to link it to all relavent information on the WWI site. All suggestions welcome at email@example.com. Please find us at: WWriteBlog@orthveillon, #WWrite
Philippe Lemaître's The Great Swindle: A Prize-Winning WWI Novel Hits the Screen During France's Great War Centennial
"Those who thought this war would end soon were all long dead. Killed by the war. And so, in October, Albert treated reports of an impending armistice with a healthy dose of scepticism. He gave these rumours no more credit than he had the propaganda at the beginning of the war which claimed that the bullets of the Boche were so soft they burst against French uniforms like overripe pears, leaving soldiers roaring with laughter. In four years, Albert had seen his fair share of guys who died laughing from a German bullet." -----first paragraph of Philippe Lemaître'sThe Great Swindle, translated by Frank Wynne
In the U.S., November 11th is a day for honoring and celebrating military veterans from all wars with parades, church services, and other commemorative gatherings. On this day, while France also acknowledges the sacrifices of military personnel from multiple conflicts, the country devotes most of the national holiday to November 11, 1918, the day warring nations signed the armistice to end the Great War. The numbers are diminishing as years pass, but crowds of French people still turn out for morning gatherings in front of the WWI monuments that take up a central place in every French village, town, and city. After reading the names of the war dead, local government officials place flowers and flags in front of the memorial. Parades, fanfares, children chorales, and, of course, the glass of locally-made wine offered by the mayors follow. In the Commonwealth nations, the poppy appears everywhere as a sign of remembrance, but in France the bleuet, or cornflower, is the flower found in lapels, bouquets, and corsages.
In addition to the rituals, France, especially during this centennial period, marks the date by featuring contemporary WWI-specific literature, art, and cinema. Philippe Lemaître, renowned for his crime novels, won the Prix Goncourt, the French equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award, for his 2013 novel, Au revoir là-haut, translated as The Great Swindle by Frank Wynne. Just about a week before the beginning of the 2017-2018 centennial year of WWI, French director, Albert Dupontel, released the film adaptation of Lemaître’s pathbreaking book, Au revoir là-haut, translated in English as the film, See You Up There.
Aline Murray in 1906, before her marriage to Joyce Kilmer. Photograph restored, copyright 2003 by Miriam A. Kilmer.
Joyce Kilmer, Aline's husband. Courtesy firstworldwar.comToday, poets such as Jehanne Dubrow, Elyse Fenton, Amalie Flynn, and Lisa Stice, as well as fiction authors such as Siobhan Fallon and Andria Williams, all spouses of military men, portray the contortions on domestic life and feminine sensibility wrought by war. The possibilities for pride and happiness are real, but tenuous, infused everywhere by the realities of separation, divided loyalties, fear, and mortality. Dubrow’s, Fenton’s, Flynn’s, Stice’s, Fallon’s, and Williams’ words convey the urgency and nuance of a war wife’s uncertainty as she finds her tranquility and self-worth vexingly dependent on her husband. Writing openly about self and marriage requires enormous courage. Perhaps it was ever so, or even more so 100 years ago.
Aline Murray Kilmerwas the wife of American poet Joyce Kilmer, most famous for his poem “Trees.” Joyce’s status as a World War I poet is secured by poems such as “Rouge Bouquet” and “The Peacemaker,” both written shortly before his death in 1918 at the Second Battle of the Marne. The fact that Aline was also a poet is not well-known, and the possibility that her work addressed or was impacted by the Great War even less considered. Was Aline Kilmer a war poet? And how are her poems war poems? And what are the threads that connect her to today’s military spouses?