It’s a gift. A necessary, absurd, and terrible gift. The British army has decided to donate over eighty thousand helmets to the Ukrainian army. In this photograph, taken in Donnigton, England, the soldier in the foreground weighs a helmet, ready to be packed and shipped. It is a generous contribution from the Royal Anglian Regiment; and it could be said that the image is much less distressing than those that arrive every day from the Ukrainian front. But is it really so? Those helmets will be worn. It is not the piece of armor of nonexistent knights. It will be on the heads of thousands of men in flesh and blood, people whose registry office in many cases is not from the twentieth century. Boys born in this century. The helmet that protects them at the same time exposes them. The help they receive is also confirmation of how much they are at risk. Thus, a shadow hangs over this photograph, the threat of the future is pressing.
Telling his century – the other, the twentieth – the German writer Günter Grass evoked a Belle époque greeted with glee by straw hats, hats
of a triumphal yellow buttercup.
On an unexpected day, those straw balls were thrown into the air, just as a communiqué announced the state of war. And it ended up that those light hats became
For many, definitely. On the last page of the book, the writer’s mother takes the floor: she has lived through two world conflicts, and she looks to 2000 with confidence.
Let’s see what brings us for a while… As long as it’s not war again… First over there and then everywhere….