Derbyshire 52 - Chesterfield/the great books of the world/commemorating the end of hostilities

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November 18th 2018
Published: December 4th 2018
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There are so many great books in the world . Works of fiction and non fiction. The great religious weighty tomes. The Norwegian sagas and the old welsh historical books of legend . The Mabinogian and the works of modern writers. Who wouldn't want to read the story of Noah and his ark ending up on Mount Ararat and not want to stand on the spot? Who wouldn't want to go to Ephesus and stand in the footsteps of St Paul? The great literature and religious books take us to a world that I would want to visit . The religious works tell us how to live our lives. Not to steal, not to kill , not to covet the property or goods of someone else, not to lie and not to deceive . They all in their own ways give us the same list of rules by which to lead our lives .

" There is no fire like greed. No crime like hatred. No sorrow like separation. No sickness like the hunger of the heart. And no joy like the joy of freedom". These words are taken from the great book the Dhammapada a tiny part of Buddist scripture . Very popular in the West it has become a treasury of gems such as this passage that illuminates my life and inspires it. Thoughts that seem so true when we look at the end of the Great War. Greed , hatred , sorrow and the joy of freedom seem to be very relevant at this time of rememberance.

Since 2014 when the ceramics poppies started their life at the Tower of London our country has been celebrating , commemorating and thinking about the war that should have ended all wars. Things have hotted up since the start of this year as the poppies made their final journeys around our country. Where councils have asked knitters to take out their knitting needles and make poppies for massive displays. The whole country seems to have taken the 100 year commemoration to its heart . Red has appeared everywhere - from small to large war memorial, to plays commissioned to tell the war story, to the organisation of the ringing of all the church bells. From the draping of memorials with garlands, to shop windows with displays of tommies in uniform, from television programmes documenting the last 100 days of the Great war to the last few hours before the ARmistice . The lighting of beacons on the highest hills.

We watched a programme on the tv which detailed the signing of the Armistice at Compiegne. Having been to the small clearing in the forest I have stood inside the replica train where the negotiators met, I stood in front of the Armistice statue of the eagle been held down. But there were things that I did not know about the process itself . The Armistice came into force at 11 am on the 11th November and marked the victory of the Allies and the defeat of Germany. In the surrender there was a cessation of hostilities , a withdrawal of the German forces from the behind the Rhine , surrender of aircraft , warships and military material, release of Allied prisoners of war, reparation and no relaxation of the naval blockade of Germany. Three major players attended - Marshal Ferdinand Foch wrote the conditions which included the cessation of the hostilities , the withdrawal of German forces to behind the Rhine, release of allied prisoners of war and the surrender of aircraft and warships. First Sea Lord Admiral Rosslyn Wemyss who demanded that the Germans gave up all their ships . Those ships ended up scuppered in the Orkneys. Finally the scapegoat from Germany Matthias Erzberger chosen to act on behalf of the country. Whatever he chose to do would have been despised by his country. He was seen as giving away too much and eventually lost his life when he was assassinated. We watched programmes that gave the story from the perspective of New Zealanders who liberated some towns in France , from the French side and from the german. We were amazed to realise that Foch said at the end of the process that this was not a forever peace but one that was only likely to last for 20 years . How true his words were . It didn't take many years before war broke out again and greed for land and power took the world to yet another war.

The commemorations came to an end and the red poppies were replaced with Christmas lights. Rememberance is over for another year. I feel sad to see the displays replaced with Christmas trees and the TV full of Christmas adverts . Glenns mums house has been sold and we can concentrate on selling our own. Finding a new home has proved harder than we expected but eventually we found the right one. By new year we may be back in North Wales and I have started making my lists of places to visit. By now we should have booked the tunnel for our April holidays . With Brexit still rumbling on we don't know if it would be wise to go out of the country in March not knowing whether or not we will be able to return. Perhaps we will need visas to stay in Europe . Perhaps we will know the answers in the next few weeks.


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