- Sassoon's importance
- Early experiences
- 'War on war'
- Hospital and afterwards
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After the war Siegfried Sassoon edited and promoted Wilfred Owen's poems. Owen had been killed a week before the Armistice, but Sassoon ensured his lasting fame. Sassoon also became involved in left-wing politics, edited a left-wing newspaper, and wrote his autobiographies.
He became a sponsor of the Peace Pledge Union, and read some of his poems at the PPU's first major rally at the Royal Albert Hall, London, in 1935. In 1940, however, he found he had reservations about total opposition to the Second World War, and quietly withdrew. But for the rest of his life (he died in 1967) he never withdrew from his strongly-expressed criticism of war, 'the hell where youth and laughter' are sent.
Near the end of oneof his memoirs, published in 1936, Sassoon wrote bitterly: 'It seemed that I had learned but one thing from being a soldier - that if we continue to accept war as a social institution...militarism must be taught to children in schools. They must be taught to offer their finest instincts for exploitation by the unpitying machinery of scientific warfare. And they must not be allowed to ask why they are doing it.'
Are we aware - aware enough - that militarism is indeed being 'taught', today, even if in disguise? We need the writings of Siegfried Sassoon, and of other people who show how wrong and destructive war is, to keep us alert. In one way and another we're being told every day that war can be right and necessary. It isn't, and, like Siegfried Sassoon, we must look for ways to say so.