'Cheshire Regiment at the Somme, 1916', courtesy of Wikipedia

Academics, actors and politicians are among those who criticise Britain's plans to mark the Centenary of the First World War

Posted on centenarynews.com on 21 May 2013
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A wide ranging group of British public figures have signed an open letter, published in The Guardian, criticising the nature of national plans to commemorate the First World War in Britain.

The 49 signatories of the open letter include actors, authors, directors and political figures. Amongst them are the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, the former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone and British actors Jude Law, Alan Rickman and Patrick Stewart.

The open letter declares that the First World War was "far from being a "war to end all wars" or a "victory for democracy"". Rather, that the conflict "was a military disaster and a human catastrophe".

The letter questions the British Prime Minister's "plans to spend £55m on a "truly national commemoration" to mark this anniversary".

The signatories are critical of comparisons of the Centenary of the First World War to events such as Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012:

"We believe it is important to remember that this was a war that was driven by big powers' competition for influence around the globe, and caused a degree of suffering all too clear in the statistical record of 16 million people dead and 20 million wounded".

The signatories declare that they will be "organising cultural, political and educational activities to mark the courage of many involved in the war but also to remember the almost unimaginable devastation caused".

To read the letter in its entirety, visit The Guardian website here.

Date of article publication: 21/05/2013

Posted by: Daniel Barry, Centenary News