Today we commemorate that 100 years ago in a train wagon in Compiegne (France) on the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 the Armistice was signed (see picture). This agreement ended all fighting between the Allies and their opponent, Germany. The Great War, the first war that effected all continents and that had taken the lives of so many, had come to an end.
In this news article, I want to present a dear childhood memory of my father Ad Omtzigt. He often told me about a book that he had read in his youth and the story line remained very much alive to him. The book is called “All Quiet on the Western Front” (German: Im Westen nichts Neues), a novel by Erich Maria Remarque, a German veteran of World War I.
The book tells the story of a group of youngsters who, through the patriotic speeches of their teacher, decide to register for active service in the German army shortly after the start of World War I. During the entire war they are confronted with the most tremendous horrors and suffering. In October 1918 on a remarkably peaceful day, when the war almost ended, the protagonist Paul stands in the trench looking at a bird when he is mortally hit by a bullet from a sniper. The situation report from the frontline states a simple phrase: “All quiet on the Western Front.” The moral is that war is terrible and meaningless.
Today, on Armistice Day, let us dwell on everyone who has suffered so much in World War I.