Tag Archives: Europe
The comparatively static nature of the front line in the west for much of the war meant that, after the first three months, most of France and Belgium was not directly in the fighting zone. But for those trapped in the areas of German occupation the war took on another meaning. Some were interned in concentration camps and others held as hostages. For the remainder, the pattern of the day was set by German time; they required passes in order to go about their daily business; family life was disrupted as women were deported as labourers; class was reversed as bourgeois families found themselves short of food and humiliated by the invaders.
From about 1550 the climate again grew colder with the intensification of what is known as “The Little Ice Age” which had begun in 1320s. In February 1565 Pieter Brueghel the Elder painted his famous picture Hunters in the Snow, one of the first landscape paintings ever to be painted, which started a fashion for Dutch winter landscapes. It was the coldest winter in living memory, and a symptom of the sharp deterioration of winter temperatures that brought snowfalls to the Swiss Alps twice as often as in the previous twenty years.
Seventy years ago, interned by the Germans in Buchenwald concentration camp, the Dutch professor Peter Geyl tried out on the inmates his view that the place of Napoleon in history should be reconsidered in the light of Hitler’s tyranny. Although Napoleon was not the author of genocide and was wedded to equality and the rights of man, Geyl nevertheless thought that Napoleon was responsible for murder and massacre on a grand scale.
Publisher: Icon Books
Reviewed by: Nigel Jones
Price (RRP): £25
There are two conflicting schools of thought in the historiography of how the Great War – probably the biggest disaster in human history – began.