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Posts Tagged ‘history’

I’m watching a show called Finding the Fallen on BBC Canada. Not a show I’ve seen before. It seems to consist of a team of archaeologists who dig in former war zones to find fallen soldiers who never got a proper burial.

The episode I’m watching centres around three German soldiers who were found in a field in Ypres, where they fought and died in 1914.

Having found these three boys, the archaeologists want to re-enact their journey from the training camp to the field where they died. Which, conceptually, is a wonderful idea. It is certainly bringing the lives of these boys to life and giving tragic context to the pile of bones that has been dug up.

What’s making me a little uncomfortable, though, is that the archaeologists are re-enacting this in costume.

Partly, I feel like this turns it into a game. Scholars playing dress-up. It lets them think they really know what it was like, and they cannot possibly. I feel like this cheapens it, somehow. Like they’re not showing respect.

But, also, part of me feels like it’s tasteless for British men, who were the victors in that war, to dress up in the uniforms of the army that lost and parade through the streets of a German town.

On the other hand, it has been more than 90 years since that war. No one who was alive then is around to see them and be offended. Is it purely history now? Or is it still too close for this to really be in good taste?

I’d be curious to know what other people think.

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