Tuesday, January 22, 2008

History as Nightmare, Pt. 2

From Der Spiegel: the last German World War I veteran is believed to have died.

The last surviving German army veteran of World War I is reported to have died in Hanover, aged 107. No official confirmation was available nor is it ever likely to be. Germany keeps no official records on its veterans from the two world wars. Dr. Erich Kästner, who was born on March 10, 1900, died on January 1, 2008, according to an announcement posted by his family in the Hannoversche Allgemeine newspaper...

The death on Sunday of one France's last two surviving World War I veterans, Louis de Cazenave, made national and international news. De Cazenave, who took part in the Battle of the Somme, died aged 110 at his home in Brioude in central France, where he was buried on Tuesday.

"His death is an occasion for all of us to think of the 1.4 million French who sacrificed their lives during this conflict, for the 4.5 million wounded, for the 8.5 million mobilized," President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a statement.

Chiari said Germany's memory of World War I was tainted by the crimes of World War II. "Any form of commemoration of military events is seen as problematic here," he said. "Our veterans only take part in public ceremonies when they are invited abroad to join commemorative events with veterans from other countries. World War I is seen as part of a historical line that led to World War II. You can't equate the two but there is much debate about it."

See History as Nightmare, Pt. 1: the death of the last veteran of the Irish war of Independence.

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