A field report – Armistice in Wezembeek and Remembrance Day in Lommel
Armistice in Wezembeek
On 10.11.22 eight representatives of the 10th classes went to the Armistice celebration in Wezembeek-Oppem together with the Realschule class, Mr Flohn, Mrs Stanik and Mrs Kocher. The weather was wonderful. There was singing, poems were recited, the mayor gave a speech, both in Dutch and in French. The Flemish mayor had a little difficulty with German, but he mastered it quite well. Everyone behaved appropriately in front of the monument and the men from the Belgian military. To put it simply, no one laughed or made stupid jokes. If there was any clapping, it was at the end. It was an interesting experience, and at this point, thank you once again for allowing us students to come along.
A day of national mourning in Lommel
On Sunday of the same week, pupils from the 10th, 11th and 12th classes went to Lommel with Mr Schultze, Mr Flohn and Mrs Nozar. The weather was very nice, but compared to Thursday it was cold. Shivering and equipped with thick jackets, hats and long underwear, with the piano and a bas in the boot, we got into the two cars, Mrs Nozar’s car and our beloved IDSB bus, at 9:30. After an hour’s drive we arrived in Lommel. Lommel is a Belgian town located right on the Dutch border.
The German military cemetery in Lommel is the largest German military cemetery not located in Germany.
On an area of 16 hectares, 542 fallen soldiers from the First World War and 38,569 fallen soldiers from the Second World War are buried here.
These numbers are hardly imaginable for a reader, but when I stood in the cemetery, turned around my own axis once and saw only stone crosses, I realised for how many people such a Volkstrauertag is good and important. A man asked us pupils if one of us could take a photo of him in front of one of these stone crosses. Logically, we all agreed, even if only one could take a photo. At that moment, questions like: “Why does such a young man want to take a photo of himself in front of a stone cross. Doesn’t this violate the dignity of the dead?”
The longer I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that this must be one of his relatives who had been buried here. I was not wrong with my theory, because after the photo, he came up to us again and explained what his intention was behind this action. It turned out that he wanted to visit a relative who was a victim of the Second World War and who was only 25 years old at the time. I was shocked, in the Second World War so many soldiers sacrificed their lives so that someone who is a megalomaniac could get closer to his goal of world domination. This happened in the past, but in a similar form the same thing is happening now in Russia. What shocks me is that humanity has not learned enough from the past and does not want to have war anymore, that there are still people who think that anti-Semitism and racism are good. There is one race, one religion, that is better than another.
Actually, this report is about the event, but I think it is important to include my feelings, because I did not go home from this event without feeling.
The many military officials and recruits might have had an impact on my perception. I don’t know.
What I can say for sure is that I really enjoyed all the speeches and our performance.
I was pleased that so many people were invited, ambassadors from all over the world, the mayor of Lommel, the navy brass band, the air force and many more VIP’s like Mr. Ambassador or Mr. Kossmann were there.
It was clear to all, or so they pretended, why they were there and what the occasion was.
There was singing, pupils from a school in Lommel recited a poem and Mr Kossmann, Mr Ambassador, the Mayor from Lommel and Mr Freericks made speeches.
The recruits placed the wreaths in the middle of those gathered.
Again, there was no clapping until the end.
A big thank you to Mr Flohn and Mr Schultze for allowing me to come along and have this experience!
Joséphine Liebherr, 10b