Nationalism and the First World War Centenary: Post 19

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Steve Marti of the University of Delaware brings H-Nationalism another monthly update on nationalism and the commemoration of the First World War.  Please feel free to respond to this post. Interested in contributing to this series? Drop Steve a line at

In the aftermath of commemorations for major battles such as Verdun and the Somme, August remains a relatively quiet month for centenary events. Following on a variety of editorials on the relationship between the centenary of the Battle of the Somme and the Brexit referendum, mentioned in the last post, Edward Madigan published an essay in History Today on the limited impact of a Brexit on the steady rapprochement between commemorations of the Easter Rising and commemorations of Irish soldiers who served with British forces during the First World War.

Camp Gallipoli once again fell under scrutiny for questionable finances. The controversial charity, mentioned in posts 6, 16, and 17 of this series, marketed a series of overnight commemorations of Anzac Day across Australia as charitable fund-raisers for veterans’ causes. The charity is currently under investigation for pocketing a suspected $60,000 in profits.

In an example of transnational remembrance, a jury of French and New Zealand officials announced four finalists for the competition to design a memorial to France at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington. The French Memorial, as the project is tentatively called, seeks to commemorate the shared sacrifice of French and New Zealand soldiers during the First World War.

Pakistani artist Imran Qureshi began painting the pavement of two city parks in Bradford, England to commemorate the service of Sikh, Muslim, and Hindu soldiers who served during the First World War. The Qureshi received support from the WW1 Centenary Arts Commission, which also sponsored such notable public commemorations as the London Tower Poppies and “we’re here because we’re here.”

The Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre in Burnaby, British Columbia unveiled a new plaque to commemorate the service of Japanese-Canadian soldiers who served during the First World War. While the Canadian military did not include any explicit policies of racial exclusion in its recruiting regulations, recruiting officers in British Columbia consistently turned away Japanese-Canadians who volunteered for service. Japanese volunteers travelled to the neighbouring province of Alberta to enlist.

A Belgian tourism company established an office in Halifax, Nova Scotia hoping to capitalize on Canadian demand for First World War battlefield tours.