By Max Musson:
I have, as everyone else in Britain will have done over the last few days, been paying my respects to those brave men and women who sacrificed their lives in the great conflicts of the last 100 years.
I always give generously when I buy my poppy each year and I always try to observe two minutes silence on the eleventh hour of the eleventh month. Both of my grandfathers suffered permanent injury during the Great War and every male member of my father’s generation in my family, with one exception, was injured in battle during the Second World War, my father and his oldest brother most severely. Only my Uncle Jack survived the war unscathed.
As the commemorations this year for the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of the Great War have unfolded, I was at first moved in a way that was heart warming by the beautiful tribute to the dead of that war in the form of the ceramic poppies planted in the moat of the Tower of London. It seemed to me a fitting way to honour the sacrifice of those young lives.
As the days have passed however and as I have seen the sea of ceramic poppies grow, each one representing a life lost, the visual impact of that display has turned my admiration and respect for the brave souls who died into a raging anger at the callous stupidity and the criminal negligence of those who sent so many men off to die – the leaders of our nation during the First and Second World Wars who were so stupid that they thought a country such as ours could afford to lose so many men in such a short period of time without it blighting the future health and welfare of our nation.
Only today when one sees in one place a stark visual display such as that provided by those ceramic poppies does the enormity of our national tragedy become apparent, but those leaders of the past must have seen the endless columns of those cheery faced young men marching to their doom, they needed no field of ceramic poppies to realise what they were doing. And for what?
Prior to the Great War, Britain was the pre-eminent world power. Life was far from perfect in Victorian and Edwardian Britain and our working classes often suffered terribly from poverty and neglect, but as a nation we commanded the largest empire the world had ever seen, our people were world leaders in almost every field of endeavour and our industrial heartlands were the ‘workshop of the world’.
By the end of the 20th Century however, we had been financially bankrupted by war, our people diminished by the loss of so many of our most vital elements have been left apologising for our past accomplishments, our industries reduced to a shadow of their former glory and foreign owned as is much of the commercial life of our nation.
We grieve each year for the loss of those men who fell in battle, but no-one thinks of the women from two successive generations who had no young men to marry, who had no husbands to father their children and who whiled away their most productive years as spinsters and who now die alone in residential care homes, having no living relatives left to care for them.
A hidden consequence of that Great War in which we lost 888,000 men, is that 888,000 young women’s lives passed unproductively and the genetic line of roughly 1,776,000 people came to an abrupt end. Some of the men will have fathered children before they went off to fight of course, but probably not the full complement that one might have otherwise expected, but most of them will have died childless. If we take these factors into account, and estimate that 700,000 couples were deprived the opportunity of marriage and of raising a family, then at 3.5 children per family, which was the average during the early 20th Century, that means the loss of over 2.4 million children that otherwise would have been born in the 1920s and 1930s. Furthermore at 3.0 children per family, which was the average during the 1950s and 1960s, the loss of that 2.4 million children translates into a loss of 3.6 million children in the next generation.
This exercise can be conducted for each of the nations of Europe and only then, in today’s world in which White people are a shrinking minority, do we fully appreciate the ghastly folly of the Great War alone in terms of the loss of power, vitality and prestige of our race.
The leadership of a nation is an onerous undertaking with great responsibility, not just for the generation that lives today, but for the generations that have passed and the generations as yet unborn. What separates the fate of one nation from that of another is the quality of its people as well as the quantity of its people and anyone who aspires to lead their nation should be cognisant of their duty to conserve and protect the human riches under their command.
- That it is under attack or threatened with imminent attack from another belligerent nation and has no choice but to defend itself; or
- There is a real prospect of acquiring assets in terms of living space and natural resources, such that these assets will more than compensate the nation for the loss of life and resources expended in winning that war.
In neither the Great War nor World War Two were these potential reasons for involvement in those wars present. Kaiser Wilhelm had no intention of militarily threatening Britain and neither did Adolph Hitler. Furthermore, in neither case did we have any prospect or intention of territorial gain from winning those wars. There was nothing to win and everything to lose.
Our involvement in the two world wars was akin to digging an enormous pit, filling it with people, money and natural resources and then setting it on fire, twice! And so, when I look at the moat of the Tower of London, filled with that bewildering number – that sea – of ceramic poppies, one side of me is choked with sadness and regret for the tragic loss of life and the lives that were not lived, or which were blighted by the war, while the other half of me is filled with rage that any king or minister of this great nation could be so criminally negligent of their duty to our people that they allowed such obscene carnage to take place in their name.