Saturday, April 07, 2007

The real history of Vimy/ Vimy – la vraie histoire

Almost immediately after I learned of my friend’s daughter’s trip to Vimy, I started an Internet search about Vimy and WWI. Because of my fluency in both English and French, I was able to access and study websites in both languages. Very quickly, I realized that stories abounded on the various aspects of WWI and not all agreed. Michael Valpy’s article in the Globe & Mail on the myth of Vimy Ridge confirmed my misgivings.

I grew up in France and was influenced by the perception of WWI (and WWII) which prevailed at that time – that these had been horrible wars, that they had been fought justly, and that the dead should be honoured.

In the early sixties, I was able to visit many a war cemetery in Belgium, Luxembourg and France which drove one point: regardless of the side the combatants were on, war was horrible, senseless and futile.

I will definitely watch the proceedings in Vimy on Canadian television as there are always new things to learn, but as the saying goes – I will take the rhetoric “avec un grain de sel”.

It is rather interesting that there is an organisation in Germany that promotes work camps for young people 14 to 25 to spend their summer holidays while working on the maintenance of French and German cemeteries. Pour mes lecteurs français, voici le lien à la version française du même site. Their aim: to provide an opportunity to live in an international and multicultural setting, to practice languages, to be the witness of French and German history, and to help maintain military cemeteries which represent monuments for peace.

Maybe our young Canadians might be interested in this as well?

Read what they think in Ottawa.

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