Oberursel’s War Memorials

The 11th November is a strange day to be in Germany.  My instinct tells me it is Remembrance Day in many parts of the World, and when I first arrived here there was even a shop in Frankfurt taking part in the Poppy Appeal.

And yet in Germany the day means something else to most people as ironically it is the official start of the carnival season!

This does not mean that people in Germany do not remember their war dead, they just do it at a different time.  Volkstrauertag, the equivalent of Remembrance Sunday,  is the second Sunday before advent, which usually places it a week after everyone else.  This year (2011) it happens to fall on the same day.

But another difference can be found in the attitude towards war memorials.  I would image that most people of my generation who grew up in the UK would know where their local war memorial was as they can be found in most towns there.

In Germany, however, I admit that this is not something I had taken much notice of until recently.  I certainly could not have said where one was to be found in Oberursel, let alone in most other towns, and I do not know how many of the local population could either.

And yet they are there, as I recently found out on a guided tour of some of Oberursel’s memorials. [Read more…]

Watching the Cenotaph

Every year on Remembrance Sunday I sit down at 11:45 to watch the wreath-laying ceremony at the Cenotaph in London, and from year to year doing so is getting more and more difficult.

Obviously this is a ceremony that is not shown on German television.  Germany itself has its Remembrance Sunday (Volkstrauertag) a week later.  For them, the 10th of November is the day to remember the Kristallnacht of 1938 when jewish shops and synagogues were attacked throughout Germany.  The 11th of November is the start of the carnival season!

When I first arrived in Germany I was able to watch the ceremony each year on Sky News via satellite.  Indeed, in those years the English bookshop in Frankfurt even collected for the Poppy Appeal.  But when Sky switched to digital I was no longer able to receive them.

For a few years I was able to watch on “BBC World” on cable, but where I now live this is not available on Sundays.

So for many years I gave been glued to my computer screen and have watched the ceremony in a small window on the BBC News website.

But not today.  After waiting for the link to the live feed to appear, just before 12:00 I started looked for alternatives.

First I tried the BBC World Service, and was at least able to hear the audio feed.  Then at 12:03, just as the Last Post was sounding, the “live” button appeared on the BBC News website.  But alas, when I clicked on it I received the message “Sorry, this media is not available in your territory”!

I tried the BBC News International site, but there was not even a mention of Remembrance Sunday on it!

Finally, I visited the Sky News website and found what I had been looking for: a large “Live Video” graphic.  So I watched the end of the wreath-laying and the service online via Sky News.  It was a good thing that I found this feed, as at around 12:15 the BBC World Service moved on to “World Briefing”.

So thank you to Sky for broadcasting this important piece of British history over the internet, and shame on you BBC for blocking viewers outside the UK!

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