World War I: lessons for future

Mr Jordi Xuclà, Spain
Mr Jordi Xuclà, Spain

25.06.2014 "Never again do we want to see war between brothers - only freedom and democracy" - said Jordi Xuclà in a debate commemorating the beginning of the World War I. Read more...

In Sarajevo 100 years ago on 28 June, an assassination precipitated a conflict and the end of an era. The novel "Embers" by Sándor Márai is a brilliant evocation of the end of that era. From today's vantage point, knowing the consequences, it is surprising to realise what a febrile climate there was 100 years ago. Ernst Jünger, the German intellectual who fought in two world wars, described it in immortal words in "Storm of Steel". He said that we had grown up in a climate of security, so we were attracted to the unusual and the dangerous and that it had seemed to us like a virile event - a sort of merry shooting match on a flower-filled meadow, on which blood was the dew.

In 1914, a catastrophic chain of events commenced that did not end until 1945. Winston Churchill called the conflict that erupted in 1914 the second Thirty Years War. It gave rise to trench warfare, devastating, suffocating gases, bolshevism and fascism, war thunder and the various genocides of the 20th century. From Sarajevo to Auschwitz, we saw the worst in ourselves; we witnessed pure evil.

Translation The age of la belle époque came to an end in 1914, and we were faced with a collective breakdown of governments, diplomacy, conservatives, socialists and liberals. However, as Europeans we have managed to salvage some lessons from such disasters. Even countries that did not take part in the First World War, such as Spain, have learned lessons. Spain suffered from a civil war that served as a kind of test bed for the Second World War. We have all learned that the only response, after those millions of deaths and that moral desolation, was to build peace. We responded by building European institutions - by establishing the Council of Europe.

Having managed to learn all these lessons, we have realised that it is not so much a matter of striving for good, which has given rise to such abominations, as much as of avoiding evil. Tzvetan Todorov, a French philosopher and historian of Bulgarian origin, explains that brilliantly in his essay "Memory of evil, temptation of good". We must strive to avoid evil while at the same time being very wary of some of the prophets of good. We should honour the dead, whom we are commemorating today, and never again give in to the temptation of the memory of evil. We should commit to societies of free men and women with rights protected by law who can live their lives in dignity. Never again do we want to see war between brothers - only freedom and democracy.-- Jordi Xuclà


Added on 25-06-2014

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