A message of peace

Letters of a soldier from the first World War

French Ambassador Mr. Laurent Pic. Martin Beyer, Director Alliance Française. Jenny Tutein Nolthenius and husband. Richard Schreurs, Director Alliance Francaise. The Alliance Française de La Haye presents in collaboration with the Carnegie Foundation and the Peace Palace Library, an exhibition of handwritten letters, photographs and memorabilia of the soldier Reymond Molle who died in combat in the French Vosges on April 17, 1915 during the First World War.

With the ‘Letters of a Soldier from the First World War’ the Alliance Française wants to remember the life of the French soldier Reymond Molle. He was a soldier amongst others, who died during the first year of what France would later name ‘The Big War’. Today, no one from this family is still alive. Reymond Molle represents perfectly the destiny of the ‘unknown soldier’, killed at the battle front, too early, too young, and then forgotten.

This correspondence of some one hundred letters which the soldier had sent to his wife who stored them away carefully at Les Bergerons, an old small farm in the department Ardèche in France, does not contain one single word of violence, nor hate, nor fatalism. On the contrary: between the lines of the day-to-day reports of the soldier’s existence in the camp and the advice that he gave to his wife of how to run the farm, the reader will discover words of hope, peace and dignity.

Published on lettresdunsoldaten.wordpress.com 100 years later, day for day, after the original manuscripts were written, the letters of Reymond Molle show the high degree of  humanity embodied by just a simple soldier.

The exhibition of the manuscripts, photos and souvenirs is used as an accompaniment to the digital publication and illustrates the historical context of the beginning of the First  World War. Just one year after the inauguration of the Peace Palace in The Hague in 1913, the First World War started. How stupid. How sad. What a waste. With the Carnegie Foundation, the Alliance Française thus wishes to honour the ordinary, unknown, almost forgotten and universal soldiers. They were the first ones, at the front, and they paid the highest price – with their life. They all had a name: case in point – Reymond Molle.

The Alliance Française thanks the owner of the letters and today’ landlord of Les Bergerons : respectively the sisters Julie & Jenny Tutein Nolthenius, as well as the translators of the project Ilda & Martijn Giebel (NL), Eva Hütte (DE), Nicole Pierre (EN) and Clémence François (FR), Malik and several volunteers. This project has been made possible thanks to the Carnegie Foundation – Peace Palace Library, the Foundation Alliance Française – Paris, the French Embassy to the Netherlands, the Institut Français in Amsterdam, LEntl, the Reclamewinkel Den Haag and TV5 Monde.

A special thank you goes to the French Ambassador Mr. Laurent Pic for his support at the opening on the 14th of November at the Peace Palace and to the German Ambassador Mr.  Franz Josep Kremp for his contribution for the film projection of ‘Merry Christmas/Joyeux Noël’ on the 18th of November. The Alliance Française then also contributes to the classical peace concert on December 4th at the Kloosterkerk on Lange Voorhout with the Orchestra for Peace including musicians from Jewish, Muslim and Christian origins.

Reservation can be made through the website of the Peace Palace.

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