Saturday, 8 November 2008
An Unwilling German Soldier
The above portrait is the image of my grandfather, from my mother’s side of the family. I first saw his likeness hang on the wall of my grandmothers flat in the early 1970s on a family Christmas visit to Germany.
Thousands of war veterans will March past the Cenotaph memorial in London to mark Remembrance Sunday. The Queen will lay the first wreath of poppies.
Senior Royals will follow suit,then the PM and leading politicians and other dignitary’s. Remembrance events will take place around the country and in the theatres of modern wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
This years Remembrance Sunday falls exactly 90 years after the ending of World War I, Armistice Day.
World War II was humanity's deadliest war, causing tens of millions of deaths. The total estimated human loss of life caused by World War II was roughly 72 million people, making it the deadliest and most destructive war in human history. The civilian toll was around 47 million, including 20 million deaths due to war-related famine and disease. The military toll was about 25 million, including the deaths of about 4 million prisoners of war in captivity. The Allies lost approximately 61 million people, and the Axis powers lost 11 million.
My grandfather Wilhelm Kahler was killed just weeks before the wars end, away from home in Russia at the ridiculously young age of less than forty years; he was one of 5.2 million German servicemen – that’s three in every ten mobilized, whose lives were prematurely taken along with 2.4 million innocent German civilians. More German soldiers lost their lives in the last twelve months of fighting than in the whole of the war. The crucial point is that to Hitler this monstrous toll meant nothing whatever, he once said; “life is horrible, coming into being, existing, and passing away, there’s always a killing. Everything that is born must later die. Humanity is a ridiculous cosmic bacterium.”
His statement only proving that war is evil, the dark side of humanity, it is the true tragedy, the triumph of disaster.
How can anyone praise war without stopping to reflect on the many horrors of pain and needless loss of life?
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