People during the First World War were sacrificed to the fallacy that war can end war.
The Great War was a total war. Not only armies, but the whole society was involved between 1914 and 1918. The WWI monuments, all over Belgium, tell us that also a lot of civilians victims fell during the war. They were as much a victim during the war as the soldiers.
For the first time in history, chemical weapons were used as weapons in warfare. Mass destruction weapons became more important. A new level of violence was reached. The memorials to the missing from the First World War are the proof of this evolution.
The history of the First World War is a shared history. People from five different continents and more than fifty different countries and cultures took part in the war in Flanders.
The contemporary landscape of the West Flanders front region is one off the last true witnesses of the war history.
In a country where war was fought, it lingers, even if that war is already a century behind us.
For each of the more than 600.000 dead who fell here, for each of the more than 425.000 graves and names on memorials and for the hundreds of traces and relics in the front region, for each of the millions affected (physically or psychologically wounded, refugees and displaced persons) there is a story of suffering, pain and ordeal somewhere in the world.
In the First World War (and all other conflicts) there are no winners, only losers. Because the common consequence of the war in all participating countries was the loss of human lives.
The link with the war past is important for those who want to speak about peace and war today.
Learning about WWI can be a start to reflect on violence and peace and moreover may inspire young and old to develop a critical sensibility for war mechanisms. Education on the First World War is therefore a very important aspect of the commemoration of the war.