Passchendaele and posterity, 1917-2017
- Date: Wednesday, 13 December, 2017
5.30 – 7pm
Te Ahumairangi (ground floor), National Library, corner Molesworth and Aitken Streets
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Over the last century New Zealanders have been repeatedly dragged back to the Great War. However, the sentiments that have accompanied this ongoing engagement have been remarkably transformed. According to military historian Hew Strachan this constitutes the ‘outstanding question’ for former belligerents:
‘How did a war seen by so many in 1914 (including New Zealanders) as unequivocally just and necessary become transmogrified into a war without purpose? … How did a conscientious objector like Archibald Baxter make the journey from persecution and isolation to prominence and even renown?’
New Zealand’s consideration of Passchendaele provides a case study of this phenomenon and this talk considers how the battle has been presented in different eras. The obligation of the present to remember constitutes a key feature of conventional remembrance tradition. However, in remembering the past we might also remember how we have remembered.
 Hew Strachan, ‘Foreword: New Zealand Society in the Great War’, in Steven Loveridge ed., New Zealand Society at War 1914-1918 (Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2016), p.14.
About the speaker
Steven Loveridge works from the Stout Research Centre for New Zealand Studies and has studied, written and taught on numerous aspects of the Great War. His first book Calls to Arms (VUP, 2014) examined the social and cultural dynamics of New Zealand’s wartime commitment. More recently, he was the editor and a contributor for New Zealand Society at War, 1914–1918 (VUP, 2016), an edited collection featuring essays by leading scholars on how elements of New Zealand society experienced and responded to the war.