WPC Numbers: War Memorials (World War I and II)

Today’s entry for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Numbers is just a few of the photos I collected around Europe showing the numbers of people who died in the two world wars.

Britain's highest war memorial, on Ben Nevis,
Britain’s highest war memorial, on Ben Nevis, taken with my phone because I wasn’t climbing Britain’s highest mountain with an extra 2kg of photographic equipment!! Taken August 2015.
Britain's highest war memorial, on Ben Nevis,
A zoomed in crop to show the words on Britain’s highest war memorial, on Ben Nevis. They aren’t being taken care of and are in danger of being lost as the lichen grows over them.

In Britain, every town, every village, every city has its war memorial.  It is a constructed object, such as a sculpture or a stone alcove, which serves to remind us of the people who never came home from World War I and World War II.

I once had the fortune to actually visit the war graveyard in Huddersfield.  It’s not for the faint hearted and I remember trying to read every single headstone, the name of every single person interred there.

The number of people who died on both sides in World War I and II is staggering.  When reading/experiencing that aspect of history, it tends to make me have a panic attack; the sheer inescapability of death was a daily reality for most of these people.  Having PTSD, I find this immensely triggering and tend to suppress the anxiety, leading to the delayed reactions I keep getting told are really unhealthy – the migraines, the vomiting, feeling angry (because I’m feeling so shaken) for hours, sometimes days afterwards.  I hate thinking about these wars, but I feel like I should, because they happened, and these people’s lives are over as a result, and the world would be very different if they had not happened.

The writing explains who the Wild Geese were.
The writing explains who the Wild Geese were. Dublin Museum’s exhibition on Irish Military History, Ireland, 2015.
Gottfried von Banfield's Order of Maria Theresa
Gottfried von Banfield’s Order of Maria Theresa, Dublin.
Wild Geese Gottfried von Banfield Order of Maria Theresa Ireland
Gottfried von Banfield, son of Patrick Banfield from Cork, Ireland, was the last person to be awarded the Order of Maria Theresa. He died in 1986 in Trieste, Italy. He was the last of the Wild Geese.

I wasn’t born then, so of course I never asked them to go to war for me, to ensure my future survival, but they did anyway.  Whichever side these soldiers were on, they were treated like millions of expendable ants at the beck and call of their country.  For that, for the fact that they were put in this shitty impossible situation with no real chance of surviving it, we should be fucking grateful to them.  We should have some empathy.  It makes me angry to think that some people pretend these wars never happened, people pretend that the Holocaust never happened, how can anyone really believe that?  I think in their hearts they know it to be true.

Memorials for Jewish deaths in Salzburg
Many of the victims of the Second World War were innocent people trying to go about their daily lives. These four people were all killed in concentration camps.

I’ve talked before about the memorials in the photos above in Impressions of Salzburg.  What I’ve never talked about was my experience in Salzburg Museum, because it set off my PTSD and made me sickened and pretty depressed. The Salzburg Museum’s exhibition of the First World War was a particular eye opener.  The Austrian point of view is that they were defending their assassinated archduke.  The exhibit explained an awful lot about World War I that we in England tend to not get told, and English speaking resources tend to follow suit.

World war 1 great war first world war Austria memorial cards German soldiers deaths
These are Austrian memorial cards, with names and photos, of dead soldiers. Relatives at home will have had these printed when they were told their loved ones had died in the trenches. Taken in Salzburg Museum.

I would strongly urge anyone with an interest in the history of the Great War to research original non-British primary sources as well as the English sources we’re used to seeing, to get a more balanced view of the First World War, who was actually fighting it, and how it caused the second.  I’m not taking sides here, but it’s damn scary to see how Britain actually contributed to the rise of Fascism and Nazism, and I think there’s a lot of lessons we aren’t learning while we pretend our government wasn’t part of the problem in that first war.  The individual soldiers, of course, had no idea of this.  The only people who should have been involved in that war were Austria and Serbia, and as a result of ridiculously convoluted diplomatic ties, millions upon millions of lives were lost for no reason on all sides.  Many were aged 16-18.

We need to remember them, otherwise we could *be* them.

A quote from Karl Kraus, printed on a white board as part of the Great War Exhibition at Salzburg Museum, August 2014
A quote from Karl Kraus, printed on a white board as part of the Great War Exhibition at Salzburg Museum, August 2014

Born To Raise Hell: Rock Legends Pay Tribute to Lemmy.

Some people might be wondering why I didn’t preclude Lemmy with “Rock God” or “Founding Father of Metal” or whatnot.  I think his name speaks for itself.  There’s Rock Legends, Rock Gods, Founding Fathers of Rock, then there’s Lemmy.  He’s so fundamental and integral to the fabric of sound that any describing words would be hollow and puny by comparison.  Yeah that was the present tense; the universe isn’t going to demand that we undo all music just because Lemmy’s gone – he’s still gonna influence it all just the same.  He lived fast and somehow died old.

So anyway, I was browsing through what was trending on Youtube, and among all the “monkey meets cat” and “Russian doctor punches patient” type videos, I found the following videos from Lemmy’s funeral (that bloke from Motorhead, in case you don’t know who Lemmy was). If you were at all saddened by his passing, you need to watch these. I don’t know what order these speeches were made, so I’ve put them in order myself, starting with Mikkey Dee (Motorhead’s drummer) who had a brief word:

Scott Ian, the Bassist of Anthrax, gave a speech about what Motorhead meant to him in 1980, which I think a lot of us can relate to (and this is the funniest speech I heard at a funeral):

I was particularly moved by the fact that Slash gave a speech, since I’ve commented before on the fact that they’re kindred spirits. Here was someone who isn’t usually comfortable with being the centre of attention, doesn’t usually say a word during his performances, but who was speaking up about what a great guy Lemmy was:

And, I believe this came at the end because the video ends with someone saying “Lemmy has left the building,” Dave Grohl from Nirvana and Foo Fighters. The sound and picture goes around 1:52 (and again at 7:11) but the first thing Lemmy said to Dave Grohl was “I’m sorry about your friend Kurt.”
From there on, the sound becomes difficult to make out, maybe if you turn it up and have actual speakers instead of shitty headphones in a laptop, you might have better luck with it than I, but sadly it’s a 10 minute video with bad sound. Worth persevering if you’re a hardcore fan and want some closure on this though. If you ARE on headphones, take them out at 7:32 to avoid the high pitched whistling noise at 7:35, but then the sound comes back at 8:00 and it’s worth hearing:
(UPDATE: LINK ADDED OOPS):

If you need to see more Lemmy, this is the German interview that he gave shortly before his death, which Scott Ian (or was it Slash) refers to in the memorial service:

This Swedish interview from 1985 is also a laugh a minute, really shows Lemmy’s personality:

And I’ll shamelessly leave you with my favourite Motorhead song (I know it would have been cooler to pick something more obscure but oh well) I hope you’ll join me in getting your cigarette lighter out for the guitar solo,

BECAUSE LEMMY WAS FUCKING BORN TO RAISE HELL:

Lemmy’s work on Earth is done, which leaves us with one question:
Who’d win a wrestling match; Lemmy or God?

RIP Banacek: Rabbit, person, and our dearest companion.

Sunday was Banacek’s funeral. We buried him in a cardboard rabbit carrier, with his favourite toys; the chewy hemp carrot, the chewy sticks, his first cuddly rabbit (stuffy), as well as his drinking bowl. We rested him on a piece cut from his favourite blue carpet out of his bedroom, then we tucked him in with his favourite towel, the one he kept pulling under him after he got neutered.  We read him the story of Snuggle Bunny, our rabbit book puppet with the adorable bedtime story (hey, I don’t judge YOUR insomnia tactics).  The book still has a little nibble out of the spine from the time Banacek “investigated” it.
We dug a big hole and gently laid him in it, then covered him over with soil, it was absolutely pouring it down with rain and we fenced it off with rabbit run panels so he doesn’t get dug up by foxes. He’s next to Katie and Neville.
The cynical part of my brain observes that there is literally no room left for vegetables in the garden.  I was going to put in a picture of him in his little box, but WordPress crashed when I tried to upload the picture (why didn’t they put an “add pictures” button in the ‘New Posting Experience FFS), and I had to restart the whole internet to restore this backup, so I’m going to leave it with what’s already in this post.

 

Banacek bunny
Sleep well, little rabbit.  A picture from brighter times.

 

Banacek bunny cute soft
The house just isn’t the same without you.

It’s been colder in the house since he died, and we all keep expecting him to run up and down the stairs, to hop into the living room and investigate the food situation, or to try  to get into the bathroom or kitchen.  The house just feels so big and empty now.  It’s like the colour has just disappeared out of the whole house, and everything is much greyer and duller than it was before.

As the days have gone on, we have realized that we’d built our whole life around Banacek; everything from how we organize our day to the furniture in the house, the fact that we redecorated the living room with adhesive tiles to stop him chewing the first two feet of wallpaper, the stairgate-type barriers in the doorways of our bedroom and the bathroom, to stop him getting into danger.  He had his own bedroom in the house, a room which was predominantly his giant 6′ by 6′ rabbit hutch, and his upstairs toys scattered around.  Every corner of the house has a sawdust litter tray so he didn’t have to get caught short, and our Hoover is the special pet one to pick up his fur from the carpet.  The kitchen is full of a variety of dry rabbit foods, toys and accoutrements that were in rotation so he never got bored, since he didn’t have an outdoor run any more (Fifer kind of stole it), and we specifically chose and modified our furniture and electricals to make a safe, accessible and stimulating environment for him.  We only got Cleo to be his friend because he was getting lonely, and we worried that we’d have to cope with his grief when she died of old age, since she’s 11 and he was only 3.  Before we adopted Cleo, we used to take Banacek on bunny playdates with other houserabbit owners so he could socialize with members of his own species.

Nobody really gets this, but this is definitely harder for both of us than losing the baby.  I think the reaction from other people, that “meh, it was just a rabbit” response, has made it so much worse, because it’s made us realize Banacek’s profound impact and amazing presence didn’t really extend past our house.  Banacek was so central to our life that not having him here to greet us, wait for us, harass us for things he doesn’t need, to give us affection, to focus our attention on, to adore and lavish with love and snuggles…  All our little every-day rituals, all the songs we’d changed the words to so Banacek was the focal point, all the tiny bunny crockery for his different nibbles… He was interested in literally everything we did, and everything that he did was naturally awesome.  I even started this blog so I could share the delight of Banacek with the world.  And everyone who came to the house was always so taken with him; how can people be so fickle and heartless about such a wonderful bunny?

The house just feels empty.  My soul feels empty.  Everyone in the house feels the same right now.  My Dearest explained it best this morning, when he said “I keep putting the central heating on, but I feel so cold on the inside.”  The house is a balmy 16 degrees right now and I’m huddled under a blanket in my dressing gown, and I’m still freezing.

Banacek was the life and soul of the party.  And now the party’s left, and we’ve just got a big empty venue to clean up, and that one sick girl to look after who drank too much.

How do you find meaning and purpose when you had it, you were happy with it, and it got taken away from you?

Now he’s gone, I’m coming up with nothing.

We’ve lost our best friend, our confidante, and our baby bunny all in one.   Banacek was our world.  If you think that’s hyperbolic you just didn’t know how amazing Banacek was.

I promise my next post will be something upbeat, but today I needed to tell the world about how important Banacek was.