Friday, April 29, 2016

Sepia Saturday 328 : The Omnipresent Refugee


Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week shows two refugees fleeing their homes 100 years ago and carrying a family heirloom - an old painting. It dates from an era when refugees wore familiar clothing and came from familiar places. 100 years on and the names and places might be different, but the tragedy of the refugee still exists as does that most terrible of causes - war. At times I wonder whether some of the compassion has drained away from us over the last century: if the two ladies in our theme photo made it to the border today, they no doubt would have been made to hand over the painting.

I have no pictures of refugees to reflect this week's theme image: I have never had to face the horrors of fleeing conflict. I am, however, sharing, two vintage postcards that date from around the same period as our theme image, and reflect the same conflict. The main picture is a stylised version of the "deliverance" that followed invasion and occupation. With its waving caps and happy, well-fed, fully-limbed children, it is somehow in stark contrast to the gritty reality of our theme photograph.

My second postcard seems even further removed from reality, depicting, as it does, a well presented king greeting "peasants at the front". Maybe the two women in this photograph are the same two women as in the theme image, worn down into old age by four years of conflict. Somehow I doubt it.


You can see what others are doing with the theme image for Sepia Saturday 328 by visiting the Sepia Saturday Blog and following the links.


13 comments:

  1. "At times I wonder whether some of the compassion has drained away from us over the last century."

    I don't wonder - I know. I find it incredible how selfish some are.

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  2. I don't know. People could be cruel and selfish during all times. Denying refugee Jews from Germany the right to land. Rounding up Japanese citizens for concentration camps. Lynching neighbors.

    Finding Eliza

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  3. Cruelty and selfishness are here to stay. Even so, I cringe to think that today the sisters might be made to hand over their painting. I've heard some pretty terrible stories from people around here who are political refugees from Guatemala. Many of the cruelest acts were done to the new refugees by those already settled here and taking advantage of their fellows. Go figure.

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  4. It's all very well to see a patriotic picture of your king, (or premier or president for that matter) reassuring the poor foreign peasants and promising an army to "liberate" them. It feels like the "right" thing to do. But should those same benighted peasants flee their homeland and endure great hardship to arrive in your homeland, that's when national compassion is truly tested. Such collective empathy has always been a rare commodity. It seems notably absent in flaky politicians and noisy pundits.

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  5. A sad state of affairs then and now. Why can't we learn that war isn't worth it.

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  6. And the beat goes on. And on. And on. 'Man' has a very faulty & short memory I'm afraid.

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  7. You featured photographs, Alan, which still strike such a timely chord in today's troubled world.

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  8. I think some of my ancestors on my mother's side might have been at certain times refugees until they settled permanently in Austria. On my father's side they came very early with the Romans over the Gotthard and settled in Switzerland since ever. I think today people are better educated and are more welcoming to refugees then they were in earlier times. Warlords have always haunted the world.

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  9. I wonder if the King was conversing in French like our present Queen can. Here in Australia we have welcomed many many different cultural immigrants since the 1950s but we're really bad at taking the trouble to learn a language other than English. And at the moment we are really bad at allowing refugee boat people to stay here - because they've 'jumped the queue'.

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  10. I agree wholeheartedly with you and with Lorraine. Both are excellent photographs to ponder.

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  11. Oh, it's the little girl who isn't be deceived by any of it that I love.

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  12. Isn’t there a wonderful scene in Monty Python’s ‘Holy Grail’ where the king addresses the peasants.

    “I am your king!”
    “Well I didn’t vote for you.”

    That probably sums up the feelings of the peasants in your second postcard, poor souls.

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  13. nothing changes except the cut of the cloth?

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