Easter Rising and the Somme

Published in Issue 3 (May/June 2015), Letters, Volume 23

Sir,—The suggestion of a joint remembrance of the 1916 Rising and the Battle of the Somme would definitely be inappropriate, if not divisive. Gerry McAllister’s statement in his letter (HI 23.2, March/April 2015) that the Battle of the Somme was fought as part of an imperial war may be correct, but it is still being debated nonetheless as to whether it was just that—an imperial war. It is also debatable as to whether the 1916 rebellion was an anti-imperial struggle, especially when the Proclamation refers to ‘gallant allies in Europe’, meaning the Central Powers, who would have sought favours in return for the aid given. There is also the story told by Desmond Fitzgerald, who was in the GPO in 1916, that the leaders of the rebellion while in the GPO were talking about which German prince they would make the monarch of Ireland if they succeeded. This may, of course, be just that, a story, but it does raise questions regarding the bona fides of the leaders and their commitment to a republic. There is most certainly a truth about the way Belgium treated the people of the Congo during the late nineteenth century, but he neglects to state that Kaiser Wilhelm II had undertaken genocide of quite large proportions in south-west Africa, which, like that of the Belgian Congo, has also been forgotten. See The Kaiser’s holocaust: Germany’s forgotten genocide and the colonial roots of Nazism by David Olusoga and Casper W. Erichsen.—Yours etc.,



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