Agence Europe this morning carried a wonderful and touching story which (I am sure they won’t mind) I am cutting and pasting below.
While twenty-seven EU heads of state were attempting in Brussels to solve the challenges of the day (thankfully not related to war), a moving ceremony was taking place on a farm in eastern France, not far from Verdun, where the Robert Schuman European Centre (CERS in Scy-Chazelles in Mosel) was reading out a message of peace written by German soldiers fighting in the battle of Verdun, who were stationed at a farm in Fiquelmont. On 17 July 1916, when they left the farm, they left their message in a small bottle of Schnapps that they hid under a roof tile. This ‘message in a bottle’ was discovered by the farm’s owners and on Friday 20 March 2009, it was symbolically handed to a group of French and German schoolchildren. After reading out the message, written in French and English, the bottle and its consents were given to Jean-Luc Bohl, chair of CERS and Vice-President of the General Council of Mosel; Paul Collowald, chair of the Robert Schuman Association; and Richard Stock, Director-General of CERS, who will use the message during European events for young people at Scy-Chazelles which attract some 4000 visitors a year.
There follows an extract for the message by Karl Wahl of Leobschütz in Upper Silesia, Heinrich Peschel of Elsterwerda in Saxony, Willy Gissen of Krefeld, Corporal Franz of Altenroda Bad Bibra, Cavalryman Krahmer of Hamburg and Cavalryman Grünewald of Münster in Westphalien. ‘War is a brutally dangerous business and the communities of the occupied territories have had to endure horrendous suffering, such horrendous suffering. This suffering is generated by bitter hatred provoked by leaders, by the powerful. We soldiers do not share these ideas. We hate war and long for peace. The legacy for our grandchildren as the price of this senseless fighting, the legacy that must haunt the hearts of this world, in good times and bad, for some as a sign of what the future will bring and for others as a reality, a Utopia and a genuine Eden, whether people like it or not, the legacy of this war must be a Europe whose peoples are united with each other, a united Europe of friendship among the peoples and the realisation of the fact that we are all brothers.’