The other side

Last year we went to Germany in search of the farm my farmer’s great-grandfather left in the 1800s.

He and his brother left to avoid conscription during the Prussian warand never returned.

We found the farm and in the village close by we came across a war memorial on which there were the names of those who had died in World Wars I and II.

Among the names was the German version of Ludemann.

He could have been fighting Ludemanns from New Zealand and Australia who were related to him.

It brought home to me the arbitrary nature of life and death and the tragedy of war which pits ordinary people against other ordinary people who are on one side or the other because of where they happened to be at a time and place.

Today, on Anzac Day, we rightly remember and honour those who served with the allies at home and abroad and especially those wounded or killed.

But at this distance from the awfulness of those wars and in the hope of peace, it’s not inappropriate to also remember that there were people like us on the other side.

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