Turkey may have shot itself in the foot. It has become an increased concern for the head officials of the European Union that the hostility from Turkey towards opening its ports to Cyprus could hinder their ability to join the EU. The Chancellor of Germany, Angel Merkel, is trying to get Turkey to find a solution so that they can further their opportunity to join the EU. Merkel is set to take the Presidency, where she has plenty of ideas to lay out before the head officials of the EU. These plans being involved with energy and Bureaucracy cutting with in the Organization. Merkel has even went on to make a comment that she was willing to work with countries hoping to join the EU, but there is no promise of full membership. Understandable considering the financial issues currently occurring in Europe.
EU map (members and hopeful future members is available here.
The opening sets the tone, “When the American War Correspondent Martha Gellhorn first set foot in Italy in February 1944, she could hardly believe her eyes; no hurricane could have done more damage than the German-American frontlines as they slowly rolled back.” (Mak 506) Such an image leaves a feeling of chaos. Italy was in a state of chaos through out the time of the second world war it would be safe to say. A leader who was adored, but later looked at as an enemy of the country just as quickly. The King abandoned them when Germany marched in. “The Italians never forgave their king; in 1946 they voted overwhelmingly to abolish the monarchy” (Mak 509) Chaos, the town of Cassino as described by Mak is merely a town with an history that left a once happy town to be a town of what he calls a city with out a heart or memory. While Casino is a town of history, it is overwhelmed by a dark past because of the failure of leadership.
The axis in the beginning were taking Europe like the fire takes a forrest. They were not challenged. Japan and Germany where taking countries quickly. Although towards the middle of the 1940s as the war we know started to wind down the tables turned and the Germans were starting to see their downfall. The German leadership began to see the collapse and it’s effects on their great leader, Adolf Hitler. Hitler who had been almost killed by one of his own Generals. A powerful quote to describe leaves a good picture of the state of mind of Hitler at the time. “The Fuhrer, both of them felt, had ‘aged fifteen years in the three and a half that the war has lasted’”(Mak 512) Hitler mental health was in question and left his subordinates deeply concerned.
Cassino was a town that has seen the worst. To this day the memory of that time is left haunting the surrounding area Mak descirbes through past observations.
Image of the battleground;
The author, Mak, allows the reader to visualize the setting of where Cassel is located. “Late in the afternoon I drive to Cassel, just across the French border. The sun is hanging low over rolling fields, a huge orange ball about to sink into the ground.” (Mak, In Europe,98) With this image, it sets the tone for a peaceful country side, but as Mak continues to discuss Cassel there is an image that overlaps that of the peaceful one. An image of the Great War, where men ran over the fields of trenches, being slaughtered in great numbers.
Discussion of how the officers would hang in the back and care little about their men. Some of the officers Mak would state would refuse to be told how many of their men were killed because it would on be a “distraction”. Little remorse was felt by the officers as they sent these men into the field. This war as described as being strictly fueled by a sense of nationalism and pride. Great Britain and France even at a point combining their economies to help fuel their efforts according to Mak. This being a step towards modernisim as we see today.
Cassel today still has remains of the war at that time. “Even the tranquil garden has remained unchanged, including the sign inviting one to ‘come into the garden and forget about the war’ (Mak,In Europe, 101).
Men that fought in the war the author states were often driven to fight in the war to feel like they contributed to the cause, that they took pride in their nation. The quote that left one thinking about the determination of these men was of a man who was shot, “What a waste! All of those months of expensive training, and I haven’t even fired a shot!” (Mak, In Europe,102) Pure determination was in the mind of these men, to prove themselves worthy of the fight. Mak states that family’s, neighbors, and people of the same village would volunteer together, as well as going over the top with them. This shows the bond these people felt during the Great War, even as those same people were being killed before them.”
As the chapter winds down, the author talks of Generals stating that the men were not afraid of going over the top and being killed, but were afraid of killing. To end the chapter Mak tells of a man who killed a German Soldier with his bayonet, and how it still haunts him leaving him with sleepless nights. Cassel now lays in a peaceful state, but a history of men being killed over pride lays in it’s remains.