Beaverbrook Vimy Prize Blog – August 12, 2019

Discussion on colonialism Delville Wood South African National Memorial

This morning, the students visited the Delville Wood South African Memorial where they discussed colonialism. In the afternoon, they visited l’Historial de la Grande Guerre museum where the head curator introduced the museum and presented artifacts from the collection that students were allowed to handle. They also experienced a virtual reality tour of the Paris Peace conference. (Please note: students will blog in their language of preference). 

 

J’ai beaucoup apprécié la visite de l’Historial de la Grande Guerre, d’une part grâce à la richesse de la composition des différentes salles, d’autre part, car les explications de la guide étaient très détaillées. La particularité de ce lieu qui m’a marquée est le fait qu’une salle soit dédiée au travail artistique du célèbre peintre Otto Dix. C’est très intéressant d’avoir le point de vue d’un ancien soldat profondément traumatisé par cette guerre sous une perspective artistique. Cela peut faire ressentir des émotions et des ressentis différents d’un témoignage écrit. La salle présentant la période d’avant-guerre nous a montré que cette guerre se préparait déjà depuis des décennies sous différentes formes. En effet, les différents pays exerçaient déjà une propagande qui commençait depuis le plus jeune âge et qui s’ancrait bien évidemment dans les programmes scolaires. Cela prouve bien que cette guerre était le fruit de multiples tensions présentes depuis un certain temps. La leçon que j’ai pu tirer de cette journée est que la guerre ressemble à un changement climatique catastrophique, une force destructrice qu’il faut éviter et pour laquelle tout le monde est en partie responsable.   

-Alliya Arifa

 

This morning’s visit to the Deville Wood South African National Memorial was one of the most peaceful and beautiful sites that we have seen so far. Since the monument is set back a hundred metres or so from the road the scene feels very contemplative, which I think is a perfect environment for respectful remembrance. While at the memorial, we had a fascinating presentation and discussion on colonial influences during both World Wars. Learning about the tirailleurs sénégalais was especially interesting, as I knew very little about West African soldiers in the First World War until this morning. The Museum of the Great War in Péronne was also fascinating. Two things in particular stood out to me: the original uniforms from the U.K., France, and Germany, and the propaganda posters displayed on the walls of the museum. The military uniforms were displayed in sunken boxes on the floor, which is reminiscent of dead soldiers in their uniforms. Seeing propaganda posters in person offered a whole new perspective, looking at the size of each poster and hypothesizing about how they each might have been displayed. 

-Philipp Darley

 

Starting the day off at the Delville Wood South African National Memorial showed what our day would be about. It evoked a sense of peacefulness in me as the entire monument is white with grey stones, widens to both sides of the forest, and is tall and is bright like the sky. We saw all the names of the fallen soldiers from South Africa and saw how much the colonial powers relied on their colonies. Maya and I then went on to our field presentation about British and French colonialism from 1914-1945. Our group discussion at the site also connected to the theme of colonialism. We were given a photo from a wartime newspaper depicting a tirailleurs sénégalais and discussed in small groups what the photo was and how it effected “subjects” of the colonies. Through this activity we learned more about the lives of colonial subjects as well as how the colonies were treated during the war. 

Nathan Yee

Evan witnessing the Paris Conference through virtual reality
Philippe and Meaghan examining artefacts at l’Historial
Isaac and Maya having a discussion at the Delville Wood South African National Memorial