I’ve been reading a ton of letters and diaries, and it is proving to be every bit as engaging, upsetting, and difficult as I had imagined. In Lionel Sotheby’s Great War, we catch a very interesting and different perspective. By this point, early in the text, he has expressed tremendous admiration for the German nation, culture, and people. This is from the February 2, 1915 entry:
I should just like to mention the fact that I visited the very old church. It is most beautiful and must be most aged, perhaps the 13th century. Its tower is massive and very thick standing close on 200 feet off the ground I should judge. I wonder that the Germans have not shelled it. It is a great landmark on this flat country and a great observation post. I think it proves that the Germans do not make a habit of bombarding churches, and that perhaps the papers exaggerate too much when they talk of the Germans’ so-called “atrocities.” After all it is very easy for a shell to strike a church by mistake and to cause so much damage as to lead one to expect many shells had fallen.
A healthy suspicion of information received through the filter of the state and affiliated media interests seems like a sensible choice at all times, though it may lead one to conclusions rooted more in a desired structure of things than in their actual unfolding in time. Here is a picture of the church, in 1918.