The UK Government has been accused of trying too hard to avoid upsetting the Germans by making sure the centenary of World War I is not too triumphalist or patriotic, reports the Daily Telegraph.
The newspaper reports that Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, has defended the Government’s position, arguing it would be terrible if events were to cause tensions between European countries.
‘It would be a tremendous tragedy if this just became an anti-German, anti-Turkish festival,’ he said.
‘Equally, it would be a tragedy if we forgot what happened, if we forgot why we fought, if we forgot we won.’
Pickles’ comments came after Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, said the Government will maintain a neutral stance about who was to blame for the conflict.
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Goodness gracious me! I thought I may sympathise with Eric Pickles. I have a similar dilemma about recording the success of a Battalion on 1st July 1916 and then recording the survival of my grandad.
Nevertheless, we should not shy away from commemorating the successes and losses of the War, just because we were on the winning side. Equally, I have reported the losses of the 17th Manchesters and other Battalions alongside the joy that Grandad survived to tell the tale.
I believe the Germans and her former allies will have enough respect for the men we wish to commemorate to support sensible commemorations that will inevitably consider losses on the German side.
I have readily accepted the commemoration of a German soldier. He was a volunteer soldier fighting for his country that’s good enough for me and enough for Mr Pickles to reflect upon for the German’s perception.
Perhaps I don’t sympathise with Eric P after all….