Remembering the Fallen Soldiers

& Lampedusa Refugees

NOVEMBER is the month of remembering the fallen soldiers and the deceased. The British Prime Minister David Cameron was depicted in a press-photo laying a plastic flower among a sea of scarlet tulips. It was in memory of the 17 million dead of the World War I. That's the reason why 888246 ceramic tulips were planted around the Tower of London, with a traditionally clad Beef-Eater sentinal in the centre of the tulip field, for every tulip stands for a dead soldier of the British Armed Forces and the Armies of the British Colony (Africans, Chinese, Indians and Nepalese Gurkhas).

Today we were gathered at the War Memorial in a hamlet called Kappel, which belongs to Freiburg, for it's Volkstrauertag, the day the people of Germany think and pray for the sons of Kappel (and other hamlets, town and cities) who fell in the two Great Wars. The World War I was fought 100 years ago. A well-documented war in which people had no idea what they'd experience and how violent and gruesome it would be with mustard gas in the trenches. It wasn't a cricket match and a good many didn't return for Christmas to their homes.When the wind blew in the wrong direction the wrong armymen became the victims.

Erich Maria Remarques' novel 'Im Westen nichts Neues' is still regarded as the most important anti-war novel of the World War I. A lecture has been organised by the Joseph-Wirth Stiftung together with Freiburg City, the Goethe Institute and the French Cultural Centre. The theme of the lecture is 'Finally the Truth about the War.' Remarques relates in his novel about his own war-experiences with reports of other wounded solciers depicting the nightmare of the battle in the trenches of the Western Front.

It must be mentioned that this book, which was filmed in 1930, was forbidden by the national Socialists in Germany after they came to power.

The people in Europe and all over the globalised world are well-informed about the wars in the Near East, in Syrian and Iraq, as well as in the Ukraine, where the pro-Russian separatists are being assisted by Putin's Russia. Peace has become so fragile in a world where geopolitical and religious fanatism are showing their ugly heads. In the case of the countries attacked by the Islamic States, humanitarian help alone does not suffice, as our German President Gauck has often emphasised.

On the other side, the skirmishes between the Nato and Russia have been taking a alarming form of late. Nato military jets have carried out sorties against Russian warplanes over 100 times in 2014, three times as much as last year. There were 40 touch-and-go situations with the Russians which could have got out of control, according to the European Leadership Network based in London. The tension between Russia and the Nato has increased since the annexation of the Okranian Crimea by Moscow in March, 2014.

The Quiet Catastrophe: Meanwhile, the flow of refugees to Italy, on their way to friendly European countries is dramatically increasing. In his blog 'Fortress Europe' the Italian journalist Gabriele del Grande writes about people who have tried to reach Europe and are either missing or have died. Since 1988, 18,673 people have died in their endevour to gain freedom in Europe. 2011 was the saddest year when 2,352 humans from various nations died or were missing on their way to Lampedusa, which has become the outer border of the European Union.

Lampedusa in the Mediterranean Sea, has 5,000 inhabitants engaged in fishing and tourism. In the past years, an increasing number of refugees from Africa were stranded with the hope of acquiring asylum in Europe. They reached Lampedusa in rickety boats but in Lampedusa they were (and still are) greeted by a reception committee of 500 Italian policemen. The Carabinieri drive with blue-lights and bring the refugees to a crude, make-shift refugee camp.

The Schengener Agreement proclaims that a non-EU refugee can settle down in Europe only when he or she has a professional qualification which is deemed useful to an EU country or when he or she's politically persecuted. But can you really prove a persecution? If your life is in danger, why, you run away if you can. A lot of East Germany did it during the socialism rule under Eric Honnecker. They were ingenuous and crossed the GDR-FRG border by secretly digging tunnels, using balloons and even small, self-made aircraft or swam across the border.

It might be noted that after the Holocaust in which genocide was committed by the National Socialists in Germany and its conquered territories, the United nations proclaimed in 1951 the Geneva Refugee Convention, according to which a refugee is defined as a person who is persecuted for his or her political beliefs, nationality, race or religion. Furthermore, in the Treaty of Dublin, which was signed by the EU countries, as well as non-EU states like Norway, Iceland and Switzerland, it was declared that a state has to consider the asylum application in which the refugee first enters or disembarks. This was a clever decision because only a low number of refugees come by plane to Paris (France) or Berlin (Germany). The consequence and the problem was thus ironically passed on to the Mediterranean stated like Spain, Italy and Greece.And thereby hangs a tale.

Moreover, Schengen and Dublin are known for their data-banks. The Schengen Information System (SIS) stores every data of persons who have been banned to travel in the Schengen signatory countries for the main reason that they came without visa. On the other hand, the databank Eurodac stores the fingerprints of all persons who have illegally entered the member states or who have crossed the outer border of an EU member state. This ensures that asylum can't be sought and granted in other EU countries and to thwart any attempt to seek asylum in the country. Nevertheless, there are cases of people who try again and again via dangerous paths to gain asylum in the well-guarded Fortress Europe.

The European border is big biz for Frontex which makes risk-analyses and recommends the European states to send personel, logistics to places where the most refugees are to be found who attempt to get to EU countries. Border observation and control mean a great deal of money and involves observation cameras, infrared cameras and satellites. All these costs the European Union 110 million euros, and there's even an European Day for Border Guards. The press isn't invited to this exclusive event because it's a pow-wow of border guards, security firms and the armaments industry.

This way, refugees become roofless, experience poverty and get provoked and attacked verbally, psychologically, and physically with the passage of time, especially whenever there's an economic crisis in a good many European countries. In Germany the refugees have become the targets of soccer hooligans and the neonazis, a volatile combination, which needs to be curbed by Chancellor Merkel and her government.

Meanwhile, Green City Freiburg remembers the bombing of the Black Forest city during the First and the Second World Wars. Freiburg was bombed on November 27, 1944 and 3000 people died and a great part of the town was destroyed by Allied bombs (not to speak of the British dead caused by the Luftwaffe). 'Dem Vergessen entreissen' is the name of a book published jointly by Freiburg City, the Landesverein 'Badische Heimat' and Romberg verlag and deals with the victims of the memories of time-witnesses, who lived or still live, in Freiburg. A Freiburger historian named Carola Schark has gathered the names of many victims and written their stories of civil courage in the face of emergency. There's also mention of Freiburg's role during the Third Reich and about the protective measures around Freiburg's cathedral during the war.

On November 9, 2014 Freiburg also remembered the destruction of its Jewish Synagogue by the Nazis. It is heartening to note that the Society for Christian-Jewish Partnership, as well as Freiburg City and other organisations held a memorial event at the place where the olde synagogue stood. You could even take part in a guided-tour with the title 'The Jew.' Additionally, a portrait of Gertrude Luckner painted by Miron Lvov-Brodsky was also revealed, followed by a talk on Freiburg's Stolperstein by Ms. Marlies Meckel. If you come to this Schwarzwald metropolis you'll come across a lot of bronze cobbled stones with names of the Jews engraved on them. These were the Jews who once lived in Freiburg but who were murdered in the concentration camps through the use of Zyklon B, a nerve-gas, used by the Nazis. A ghastly reminder of a tragic and sad chapter in the history of Germany and this city.


More by :  Satis Shroff

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