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Another week, another selection of the best European reads, brought to you by two of E&M's editors. Frances and Bettina share a few gems they've come across online, ranging from an article about British POWs in Germany during the First World War to attempts to set the most recent outbreak of the Gaza-Israel conflict in its cultural and historical context, highlighting the role of regional and international stakeholders and Europe's hypocrisy in the affair.
Frances, Sixth Sense editor
At home in enemy territory
Ever since visiting the exquisite Italian Chapel in Orkney, which was built by captured Italian soldiers during the Second World War, I have been intrigued by the fates of prisoners of war – both military and civilian. So it was with some interest that I stumbled upon Stephen Evans' recent article on the BBC website about the 5000 British citizens interned at Ruhleben on the edge of Berlin between 1914 and 1918.
These men were not soldiers, but civilians who happened to be in Germany when war broke out across Europe: everyday folk simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Despite many privations, they were determined to make the best of their lot and set about establishing not just order, including class and racial hierarchies, but also a degree of comfort. As Evans engagingly explains, they grew flowers in biscuit tins, organised rugby and cricket matches, put on plays and, in fact, ended up far better off than the people living in the German capital at the time. Even the name of the detention camp is somehow appropriate: roughly translated, it means "the quiet life".
Photo courtesy of Simon de Grève
European Peace Walkers en route to Italy
To mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, the European Peace Walk has set up a transnational walkway along the borders of Central Europe. Since 28 July groups of walkers have been embarking daily on a 550km journey from Vienna in Austria to Trieste in Italy. E&M's Frances Jackson caught up with Peace Walk participant Simon de Grève, a 22 year old engineering graduate from Belgium, whose group set out on 29 July.
E&M: How far have you got so far?
SdG: We arrived in Croatia today and have walked about 250km over the course of the first 11 days, so we're almost half way and there is a really good atmosphere in our group.
E&M: Why did you decide to take part in the European Peace Walk? Did your decision have anything to do with the fact that you're from Belgium, a country that was so very badly ravaged by the First World War?
SdG: I finished my degree in June and for my last 'long holidays' I wanted to do something different or special before embarking on my professional career. A Spanish Erasmus student who I met during my final internship abroad told me about a 23-day walk that she was planning to attempt in August with some friends. I found the idea of the walk a really interesting personal challenge and eventually I decided to try the adventure myself. My internship in a foreign country also opened my eyes to people from other countries and I was looking for an opportunity to find other people who might share my interests and style of life. My decision to take part in this walk thus has nothing to do with the war, only with the expectation of meeting new people and a desire to test my limits and complete a challenge.
Photo: Ana Röell
Fans celebrate after the Netherlands' opening victory against Spain
Ana Röell looks back on an emotional night of football during the World Cup and reflects on the power of sport to unite people of all backgrounds.
Whenever I start thinking about a more united Europe, I like to look for unifying elements around me. And last month there was one particular aspect that could be neither missed nor ignored: the football.
I'm from the Netherlands and when a huge loss was predicted for our first World Cup match, I felt naïvely positive that this would be the case (we were playing against the former champions Spain, after all). I decided to watch the match in a popular cafe down the street – one that is usually known as an alternative place and attracts a large variety of people. Young and old, well-heeled or practically homeless, businessmen and hooligans, and even several street "gangs"; an unexpected crowd had prepared itself for the game by dressing up in our national colour and drinking loads of beer.
At first, I was surprised to see the supporting crowd bound together in orange and I began wondering how things might turn out. After the opening ceremony and my first beer, some intense squabbles broke out behind me, and the tension between a number of individuals began to grow. Then it was time for the kick-off, and the game began. Eyes glued to the screen, everybody was watching as if they were the ones on the pitch, embodied by our players. For a moment, we were all one and the same; one great happy nation.
They say a picture paints a thousand words, so we're setting out to discover what photography might be able to tell us about today's Europe.
Here at E&M, we don't just want to know what young Europeans think about Europe, we also want to find out how they see and feel the continent. So we're introducing a new competition Europe Through a Lens to Sixth Sense and are going to be publishing a selection of our readers' photographic work on a regular basis. All you have to do is submit images that you think best represent our European theme of the month.
With the summer holiday season upon us, we're kicking things off with the theme "Summer in Europe". So think maybe beaches, sunshine, sandcastles... In the end though, it's up to you and your powers of imagination: everyone is completely free to interpret the theme as they wish.
The top three entries will be published on the E&M website each month, but we'll also aim to use as many entries as possible within future editions of magazine, so you can show off your skills and get your photos out to a wider audience.
Our judges will be on the lookout for particularly creative and original images. These might tell a story or illustrate an unusual aspect of European society. One thing's for sure, though; they'll all exhibit a deeply personal approach to Europe.
Closing date for this month's competition: 25 August 2014
Come on, get snapping!
You can send your entries to photo [at] europeandme.eu
Before submitting, please take a good look at our Terms and Conditions.
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