For today’s regimental day of the “Riding Artillery Division No. 2”
A commemoration in awe.
The writer Franz Kafka noted in his diary on 1 August 1914: “Russia declared war on the monarchy. Afternoon swimming school.”
However, with this formulation, which seems incredible to us today, Kafka expressed the expectation of many of his contemporaries. A short, successful military campaign, as in 1878/79, during the occupation of Bosnia-Herzegovina – followed by a return to peaceful normality: that was the expectation of the majority of the population in the first days of August 1914 in all the provinces of the great monarchy.
But it turned out differently. It began a four-year bloody war with millions dead. In short, it became the “original catastrophe of the 20th century,” as the American historian and diplomat George Kennan has described it. Today, 100 years after the outbreak of the First World War and 75 years after the beginning of the Second World War, we commemorate the victims of war and tyranny. We remember the artillerymen of the RAD 2, but also – symbolically – all the soldiers, the civil war victims, the victims of later massacres and genocides.
The term “grief” comes from the Old High German “truren” and means “to be sad”. In this mourning today we want to stand before the memorial inscription and the estate of the “Riding Artillery Division No. 2” and commemorate their personal great sacrificial performance and their loyalty to the emperor and the empire.
Ultimately, these sacrifices were not in vain, for they remind us: Never again war in our lands!
In this sense we now speak together “Our Father”.