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Twinned towns unite to remember war victims

PUBLISHED: 10:30 15 October 2018 | UPDATED: 10:32 15 October 2018

North Walsham mayor Barry Hester and Friesenried Burgermeister Bernard Huber. Pictures: Greg Garfoot

North Walsham mayor Barry Hester and Friesenried Burgermeister Bernard Huber. Pictures: Greg Garfoot

Archant

People who gave their lives fighting for their country, whether England or Germany, were remembered at a poignant civic dinner in North Walsham.

North Walsham mayor Barry Hester and VIP guests before the Armistice Civic Dinner. Pictures: Greg GarfootNorth Walsham mayor Barry Hester and VIP guests before the Armistice Civic Dinner. Pictures: Greg Garfoot

Ninety-nine names from the town’s war memorial and 49 from twin town Friesenried in Bavaria were read out to guests at the event marking the centenaries of the end of the First World War and the foundation of the Royal Air Force.

In a powerful speech, which earned a standing ovation, Friesenried Burgermeister Bernard Huber said war was not about “guilt or innocence, winners or losers, right or wrong, or good or bad”, but about “millions of victims”.

The soldiers from both sides were “just normal people” involved in “useless fights” and regarded as worthless by the politicians, he said.

The deaths were “not heroism, just manslaughter” and the victims would “rather be alive than heroes”.

Twin towns remember war dead. Table decoration with poppies and flags. Pictures: Greg GarfootTwin towns remember war dead. Table decoration with poppies and flags. Pictures: Greg Garfoot

And he warned against the modern day rising tide of nationalism which “more and more people seem to think is the cure for all problems”, adding: “We can all see where extreme nationalism leads” in a world where hate seems more powerful than love.

North Walsham mayor Barry Hester welcomed other German guests including twinning committee chairman Josefine Mader-Schedel, and war veterans chairman Wolfgang Eckl to the event at the town’s community centre on Friday night. The 91 guests ate a meal selected from 1918 recipes.

Mr Hester praised the community spirit which existed in North Walsham thanks to people organising events ranging from fireworks, cinema on the park, manning a new visitor centre and Matt Smith and North Walsham Play raising £150,000 for two new play parks.

His civic charity for the year is the War Memorial Hospital Friends, and a recent pool marathon raised £690 taking the running total for the Friends’ funds to £1500 in four and a half months.

There were also speeches from Royal British Legion branch chairman Colin Chambers, and county legion president Sir William Cubitt, along with history re-enactor Neil Storey, who recounted tales of local men who fought in the Great War, and urged people to “remember them but move on”.

What event are you organising to bolster Anglo-German relations? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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