WW1 and Popular memory. This week we note several anniversaries related to WW1 – the Treaty of London (1839), the first day of the Second Battle of Ypres (1915), death of the Red Baron (1918), and the world premiere of the film ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ (1930). Later in the week we remember the Gallipoli Campaign, the feature event for this month.
WW1 was one of the pivotal events of the 20th century . At the time, it absorbed the focus of most of the world (military, political, industrial, social etc.), and triggered a multitude of major and minor events for decades to come. The men and women who experienced the war at first hand have long since died, but in the former belligerent countries there are many obvious reminders – public monuments, public commemorations (ANZAC Day, Remembrance Day etc.) and in a continuing stream of movies and television shows.
The Gallipoli Campaign, as an example, continues to inspire the production of Movies and TV. In contrast to the cinematic portrayals of some other wars and campaigns, loss of innocence and the waste of life are enduring themes of these movies – and an overwhelming sense of pointlessness. In the case of the Australian and New Zealand depictions, the tragedies of the campaign also represent a national baptism – the ANZAC ideals of mateship and endurance are celebrated as national virtues, and the Gallipoli Campaign is remembered as the birth of these respective nations.