We must remember the dead of WW1 by asking what did they die for: Anti war movement

The Irish Anti-War Movement have revealed they will hold a vigil at the entrance to the Irish National War Memorial in Island Bridge, Dublin on Sunday morning from 10am to 11am to remember all those who died and ask "what  did they die for?".

The group revealed this is to coincide with the World War 1 Armistice People’s Remembrance organised by the Royal British Legion that is taking place in the Memorial Garden from 10.45am.

The IAWM said the vigil will remember all the dead of WW1 – Irish, British, German, Turkish, soldiers from the colonies etc. and the millions of civilians that died.

"We will ask one simple question - What did they die for?," said Jim Roche the PRO of the IAWM Steering Committee.

He went on: "This is the title of our pamphlet published four years ago at the centenary of the beginning of the war along with a statement signed by many prominent Irish people. We encourage people who attend to wear white poppies as a symbol of peace.

"WW1 was the opposite of a "war to end all wars" and a "victory for democracy". It was instead a military disaster and a catastrophe for humankind which left 16 million dead, 20 million horribly wounded and millions of civilian refugees. Those who survived were deeply scarred with many suffering debilitating long-term effects."

Mr Roche suggested the prime reason for WW1 was the intense competition between the then world’s major imperial powers where political and military leaders were willing to sacrifice the lives of millions of young, mainly working class, men in their quest for imperial advantage.

"While we cannot judge why so many young men joined up it is clear that in Ireland at least they joined in large part in order to survive and feed their families - in a form of economic conscription. We wish to remember their sacrifice and to hold to account the people who sent them to horrible deaths.

"The so-called ‘war to end all wars’ was by any understanding an obscene spectacle of mechanised mass murder and a terrible crime against humanity, orchestrated by a small number of political and military leaders and greedy, profiteering arms manufacturers.

"The utter callousness of the military leaders is amply demonstrated by the numbers of men killed and wounded on the last day of the war. Despite the fact that they knew the war was over and that the armistice agreement would be signed at 11am on 11 November 1918 the allied forces kept firing on the German lines resulting in 11,000 casualties and the deaths of 2,700 young men. Over 800 American soldiers alone were killed that day."

The IAWM spokesman went on to suggest the punishing terms of the armistice certainly helped beget WW2.

"The imperial carve up of the Middle East after 1918 has led to continued war and suffering in that region with major imperial and local regional powers striving for control.

"The western led wars on Afghanistan and Iraq and the current proxy wars in Syria and Yemen are being prosecuted with similar imperial ambitions and profiteering to those of the warmongers and arms manufacturers of WW1.

"The IAWM questions the appropriateness of the official centenary memorial events where politicians, military leaders and members of the establishment, who support the current wars in the Middle East, are to the forefront of remembering the dead of such imperial slaughter that occurred in WW1."

Digital Desk


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