7 March 2013

Games and Reality: The real Flames of War

Games and Reality: The Real Flames of War

So I am on call yesterday. Called to a rest home to certify a death at 7 pm.
(I'm a doctor by trade)

Miffed cause I'm gonna be late for Games Night at the Wargames Club.
A patient of one of my partners, don't know her from a bar of soap...

Keen to try out my new Daemon Army Book, or use my Late War Germans...

Deal with the grieving family. She had a long life, ripe old age, had been struggling with cancer for the last two years. Condolences, clinical examination, paperwork....

No religious rituals, family don't believe in that stuff ... just for simple cremation.

To fill out the death and cremation certificates I need to go through her file.

Born 1925
German name, Kiwi surname.
Born and grew up in Berlin.

Jewish Ancestry.
Father taken away by Germans and killed.
Escaped with mother and sisters, aged 15.
Married twice, 4 kids, 2 failed marriages.

Shadow of war tainted her whole life...

I'm thinking about my own son and daughters, waiting at the table for me to come home for supper.
I'm thinking what it would have felt like to have your father ripped away from you and killed simply for being who he was.

I'm thinking about the real Flames of War, and how they still burn, even 70 years later.
And how even in her death, after all these years, that echo still resounds.
No funerary rites for him, none for her...

I'm thinking of my German Ancestry, and what befell the people of Europe at the hands of the Germans.
And how I love to march my German Army across the table top.

Historical battles, Flames of War...
How that flame burns, long after the last gun had fallen silent, and the last fire had been doused.

I am not Jewish, but I am familiar with their funerary rites.

No-one is likely to say an El male rachamim or Kaddish (Prayers for the dead) for her.

So here is one, as they would have offered for her father, after he had been killed:

(This one is for victims of the holocaust, which she was, even 70 years later, still a victim...)

So I went home, had supper with my wife and children. 
It was too late to go to the wargames club.
I had decided to stay my guns for the night anyhow...

" I can see a fiery, fiery glow
  Even as the sun is sinking low
  I can see a horseman on the run
  Oh my daughter, Oh my son"
                                              Laurika Rauch, from Hot Gates (Thermopylae)


  1. A moving and thought provoking post Herman, thanks for sharing.

    There are times when I ponder whether I should gain enjoyment from playing with toy soldiers of German forces... but at the end of the day... I am just playing a game with toy soldiers... I am not playing ethics or politics... just a game with friends... and we make light of it... but as you have done, sometimes its good to think about it, to respect understand and remember what has gone on before... and hope our leaders can do the same...

    North Korea is sabre rattling again, and it makes you wonder what may befall us all before then end... Atomic oblivion, I hope not???

    1. Since you missed out on your game last night, if you wish to join us, Paul and I are playing FOW at my place... 7pm. You are more than welcome.

    2. Hi Scott, thanks. I have long made peace with my liking for the German war-machine. My sentiments are the same as yours. The mechanics of the game could just as well be chess pieces, but historical models (or fantasy ones for that matter) just make things a lot more interesting.

      Germans did have the best looking and best engineered machines in WW2 as far as I am concerned. The fact that they were (in the hands of some) instruments of evil do not necessarily make models of the objects inherently evil; or playing wargames for enjoyment evil.

      I agree that we should learn from the mistakes of the past. Playing wargames and having an interest in history makes my life all the richer, as did this unexpected brush with history.

    3. Ps Thanks for the invite, but I'll have to take a rain check. My wife's working both tomorrow and Sunday (Relay for Life Event), so won't see much of her. Don't think gaming tonight will make me very popular.

    4. That's cool and I agree with your comments too.

      The other fact that is so often forgotten or glossed over is that, whilst quite rightly the German armed forces of the time were led by a truely 'Evil Empire', their main opponent on the eastern front, was to be frank, much the same.

      Stalin and his Soviet regime were probably just as bad if not worse, murdering millions of his own peoples, yet this rarely seems to be rememebered...

      It adds a little 'perspective' to the matter...

      As for gaming - I managed a long awaited for victory with my Wehrmacht forces last night in a defence against the Soviet red tide... :-)

    5. I think all empires are inherently evil, as they have to conquer and subject other people to their will. (However, that is a law of nature- (Only the strong shall survive - and of course the devious) Only for the last century has history been recorded in easily accessable format, and disseminated to the masses through the media. And of course, history is written by the Victor. Stalin was a good example of that. The Allied bombing of Dresden and Koeln caused as many civillian casualties, as did the A-bomb attacks. But we justify it, as it was to get rid of "Evil regimes". It is all about perspective, winning and losing, good and evil.

      Congrats on your win. The FoWs historical accuracy makes it difficult to pull out an Axis win in the late war.

  2. Wow, that was hardcore. I knew you'd be called out not to come to the club last night, especially when having hooked up 2 games. But it's cool and very understandeable, and besides there is always next week.

  3. Have to admit, sometimes you get a broadside from where you least expect it in my job. Won't put me off my gaming though, just a sobering thought when we gaily field out plastic and tin soldiers, fantasy or historical. Behind it lies a very grim reality of life and death. It has been written that Man's second favourite pastime is making war. After that comes hunting. Basic male instincts. We sublimate it to the table top and the shopping mall. No-one gets hurt or dies for real, and we all part as friends at the end of the day (Well for most)