A Memory of Solferino

A Memory of Solferino is one of the goriest readings that our class has had, especially regarding the gruesome descriptions of the death of soldiers through what was equivalent to torture in The Battle of Solferino.

Some of the descriptions of the fighting that really stood out were the explanation of horses crushing brains, limbs flying everywhere, and piles of bodies around the battle grounds. One of the hardest things to read was the description of the dead soldiers pasts, explaining how they had families with kids and wives and describing the sweet people that the soldiers were before war. One paragraph explained how the parents raised their child with compassion and love, and were proud of him and his service, just to get a short letter explaining his death in a battle.

Reading about war and death is very difficult, but learning the pasts of people that die in war, and hearing their stories about their families creates a mild attachment and makes these descriptions of death even more challenging to learn about. After the descriptions of fighting there were descriptions of hungry soldiers that had almost no medical care with hollowed out eyes and faces full of pain.

This part of the reading was just as painful to read as the stories of fighting. One quote that summarized the amounts of torture following the war was “I slept quietly without being suffocated by foul smells and harassed by flies (which, having had their fill of dead bodies, must need to come and torment the living)” This explanation about the flies made it evident about the extensive amount of deaths and gave me visuals of the dead bodies getting swarmed with flies.

The remainder of the book described people who went out of their way to help the injured from war.  This last section gave hope after the tragic parts of the battle and was a nice way to end the reading A Memory of Solferine. But, after this reading, the part that left the biggest impression was the recalling of the gory and deaths of the Battle of Solferine. 

Questions:

What could’ve caused Dunant to lose his hope in his older years of life after having so much hope during the war in his younger years of life?

The word genocide was never mentioned during this reading, because these mass amounts of deaths happened in a battle does that mean it is not a genocide despite one side doing much better than the other? Are war or battles never considered genocides or close to genocides even in special circumstances?

What are the circumstances that usually qualify something as a genocide? Is it moral to consider a situation a genocide or not a genocide, is using the word genocide used too loosely or not used enough?

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