Forties (English version)

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In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

November is the month of poppies in England. Everyone wears one on his lapel, coat, sweatshirt or car. Emil and Theo explained what they had learned at school about it: the battle fields in the first World War looked like poppy fields when viewed from a plane because so much blood had been shed. Or the other way round: When flying over poppy fields the RAF pilots were reminded of their comrades’ down in the trenches.

What really happened was that poppies were the first flowers to come to bloom on the graves of dead soldiers in Flanders. Inspired by these red blossoms the Canadian doctor John McCrae wrote the poem In Flanders Fields, the first stanza of which you can read above.

Similar to the Sunday in memory of the dead (Totensonntag) in Germany, the English commemorate their dead soldiers on 11 November. Other than in Germany, remembrance is omnipresent through the poppies. Beginning in October you can get these little paper and plastic blossoms everywhere at the checkout in shops, in pubs, cafés and on every street corner. You throw a few coins into the collecting box for the families of the dead soldiers and take a poppy to pin to your chest. Once a year the English are all united in this one cause.

On 11 November, the day when in 1918 the ceasefire between the allies and the German forces took effect at 11 o’clock in the morning, the English join in two minutes silence to commemorate their soldiers killed in action since the World War One.

We also got poppies for ourselves. Not only to stop the questioning looks in the streets. Much more because I strongly believe especially we in Germany have a lot to be thankful for. It is our way to express gratitude for the sacrifices the English made to liberate Germany and the world from the terror regime of our Nazi ancestors.


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One Response to “Forties (English version)”

  1. » Blog Archive » Forties Says:

    […] Click here to read the English version of this article. […]

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