David Almond’s new, short, book War Is Over is mainly about young John, who in 1918 keeps being told that he is at war. He – rightly – feels he is too young to be at war, as are German children. Whatever the adults say.
This story is mostly about the perception of Germans, and about the ‘cowards’ who earned themselves white feathers, like John’s friend Dorothy’s uncle, who hides in the woods, because he has dared suggest Germans are also people.
John is a lovely boy, and I hope he grew up to do something about this hatred of foreigners.
The book is richly illustrated by David Litchfield, and you’d want to read the book if only to look at and enjoy his illustrations. They are pure art, and so beautiful.
And then, thinking about how Germans apparently are not human beings like the British, I caught some of the Remembrance Sunday ceremony on television yesterday. I watched as afterwards, the President* of Germany led members of the British Royal family away from the Cenotaph.
My mind almost boggled. Here we had been remembering two wars against Germany, and here was the President of that former enemy country, not only present, but important enough that he went before the Royals. I almost had time for the thought ‘isn’t it great how far we have all come for this to be seen as the norm?’
And then I remembered what the politicians are busy doing right now.
(*His name is Frank-Walter Steinmeier, if you didn’t know. I didn’t either.)