Debunking the debunking of myths about the First World War

We are now in the centenary year of the outbreak of the First World War. No doubt some events will be incorporated into the ongoing commemorations, while others will be forgotten despite their seeming relevance at the time, like the trial of Madame Cailloux that enthralled the public in July 1914 just as the crisis in the Balkans unfolded. Memory – the combination of history that is remembered and forgotten – is hard to distinguish from history for non-historians. This is precisely why, as we've discussed before, it's important that the memory of the war be reasonably and clearly debated in the public forum. Though we might accept that the government has some license to instil a patriotic narrative about the war, it's equally vital that this narrative not overpower some of the basic historical facts put forward by historians. Outing “myths” about the war is especially useful for remembering what happened one hundred years ago and what has been forgotten.

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