The Memory of the Great War in Europe: How it Changed Over Time and the Lessons Learned
Anthony Ambrosius Aurelius
“Adolf Hitler believed that the German military had not been defeated in 1918 but that it was fighting heroically upon foreign soil, only to be stabbed in the back by communists and pacifists in Germany, with the Weimar Republic (pronounced “vai-mar”) selling out by accepting the vindictive peace terms of the Treaty of Versailles (pronounced “ver-sai”). Hitler celebrated Germany’s centuries long effort to become a global power, but turned in fury toward World War I citing that the entire world had turned against the German people. Hitler argued that World War I had reduced Germany to a small, splinter of a country, comparing it to Poland, Serbia, and Croatia. Hitler lusted to make Germany a world class empire once again, a stark contrast from the feelings of most people during the period who still had fresh memories of World War I just a quarter of a century prior.
Hitler was able to convince millions of German citizens that the Weimar Republic was as bankrupt as Germany’s economy, maneuvering his way to becoming Chancellor of Germany in 1933. Soon after an arms race developed between Germany and England, nearly identical to the one which preceded it in 1914.
Charles Boorman, editor of the Ilford Recorder on the edge of London, wanted the League of Nations to place pressure upon Hitler and as such he created what started as a local campaign going door to door with a questionnaire to poll England and garner a consensus. Today the League of Nations Union has largely been forgotten, but in the 1930’s it was a massively powerful organization with the ability to produce political pressure. Inspired by the belief that peace was the most sincere way to remember and honor the dead of the Great War, Boorman’s idea had a profound effect upon and extraordinary reach into, British society. By 1931, the League of Nations Union had over 400,000 members in 3000 branches across the U.K., with links to rotary groups, trade unions, and women’s institutes.
In Ilford, 26,000 people responded to Boorman’s appeal with Boorman arranging a specialized meeting at the Ilford town hall in February of 1934 to present the results to the press and the public. Cecil was invited as a guest of honor, and because he was deeply impressed with”