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Gove Gives Everyone A History Lesson On Ww1

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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2532923/Michael-Gove-blasts-Blackadder-myths-First-World-War-spread-television-sit-coms-left-wing-academics.html

Left-wing myths about the First World War peddled by Blackadder belittle Britain and clear Germany of blame, Michael Gove says today.

The Education Secretary criticises historians and TV programmes that denigrate patriotism and courage by depicting the war as a ‘misbegotten shambles’.

As Britain prepares to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the war, Mr Gove claims only undergraduate cynics would say the soldiers were foolish to fight.

In an article for the Daily Mail, Mr Gove says he has little time for the view of the Department for Culture and the Foreign Office that the commemorations should not lay fault at Germany’s door.

The Education Secretary says the conflict was a ‘just war’ to combat aggression by a German elite bent on domination.

‘The First World War may have been a uniquely horrific war, but it was also plainly a just war,’ he says. ‘The ruthless social Darwinism of the German elites, the pitiless approach they took to occupation, their aggressively expansionist war aims and their scorn for the international order all made resistance more than justified.’

More of Gove's first rate analysis at the link.

Support from Hannan as well:

Should Britain have joined the First World War?

..

I've changed my mind back and forth, and currently think we should have remained neutral, but there are respectable views on both sides. What is not respectable is the almost jeering attitude which is now so widespread. Britain went from Dulce et Decorum est (the horror outweighed any justification) through Oh What a Lovely War (upper-class twits threw lives away in a futile exercise) to Blackadder Goes Forth (the whole thing was so awful that it would be a huge joke but for the scale of deaths).

In a judicious article this morning, Michael Gove politely corrects this attitude, which has crept from popular entertainment into academia. (Has any Education Secretary had a finer appreciation of history? One of the reasons NUT types resent Gove is that they know he'd be a far more impressive teacher than them.)

..

Precisely the same consideration applied in August 1914. As I say, on balance I think we should have stayed out – in other words, we should never have entered into the Triple Entente. But to dismiss the case for war out of hand shows a massive failure of historical imagination. Even the strongest opponents at the time were never contemptuous or sneering in the way that later generations were to become.

..

Mr Gove, who has rewritten the school history curriculum to give pupils a better grasp of the broad sweep of British history, reserves his greatest scorn for those who have sought to depict the soldiers as lions led by donkeys.

..

‘But it’s important that we don’t succumb to some of the myths which have grown up about the conflict in the last 70 or so years.

‘The conflict has, for many, been seen through the fictional prism of dramas such as Oh! What a Lovely War, The Monocled Mutineer and Blackadder as a misbegotten shambles – a series of catastrophic mistakes perpetrated by an out-of-touch elite.’

..

Blackadder Goes Forth cast Rowan Atkinson in the title role as a captain in the trenches of Flanders during 1917.

It focused largely on his cowardly attempts to avoid certain death through going ‘over the top’ to engage the enemy.

Under the misguided leadership of a general played by Stephen Fry, and with little help from the hapless Private Baldrick (Tony Robinson) plus a twittish ex-public schoolboy played by Hugh Laurie, it chronicles his increasingly gutless efforts to dodge the action or escape the trenches.

Not quite sure Gove has watched Blackadder my view is Blackadder was attempting to avoid certain death by going over the top and when he finally did go over the inevitable happened.

Perhaps we should see if Gove will charge into a machine gun and see how gung ho and loyal he is to king and country?

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"plonker" is a title too high for him! ;)

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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2532923/Michael-Gove-blasts-Blackadder-myths-First-World-War-spread-television-sit-coms-left-wing-academics.html

More of Gove's first rate analysis at the link.

Support from Hannan as well:

Should Britain have joined the First World War?

Not quite sure Gove has watched Blackadder my view is Blackadder was attempting to avoid certain death by going over the top and when he finally did go over the inevitable happened.

Perhaps we should see if Gove will charge into a machine gun and see how gung ho and loyal he is to king and country?

Quite right. Let the politcos have a go if they think it's such a good idea.

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Blackadder left wing? Marvellous how "left wing" is slung around as a pejorative these days. If "left wing" == the proletariat, and "right wing" == the established aristocracy, we can see clearly how Gove thinks of most of us. Cannon fodder.

I refuse to "celebrate" war in any way. If my children, or grandchildren, are taught false history a la Gove, I shall take it upon myself to correct them.

Now and again, instead of buying a poppy (another thing I refuse, since it has suffered drift from it's original purpose), I go and sit in a local churchyard, next to the war memorial. I read the names. I look at the houses that would have been in the village in 1914. A hige number died relative to the size of the village at the time. And these men, died, for what? To ensure the British aristocracy had the upper hand over the German nobility? Or was it to stop the construction of the Berlin-Bhagdad railway?

Gove is a ****.

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Well done, Gove. Add that to the list of things you've done to undermine the UK economy irreparably.

Runaway borrowing and spending? Check. Re-inflating the housing bubble? Check. Unlimited stealth immigration? Check.

Pick a year-long fight with our biggest trading partners for no good reason? Check!

You'd be forgiven for thinking there were a bunch of fifth columnists pushing the miniature battleships around at Tory HQ not patriots.

.

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Regardless of whether it was a shambles or justified it was a disaster for Britain as a world power and marked out the path of our future decline. It also begs the question why did Britain give up its long and largely successful historic alliance with Prussia and throw in its lot with the French. Such Anglo French collaborations have historically been failures from the Crimea to Concorde. In fact the greatest catastrophe in British military history the first day of the Somme was almost entirely due to the French insisting on a half trained British army attacking on 1st July 1916 over a month before Haig thought they would be ready for action. Over 20,000 Britons died on that one day just to ensure the Frenchmen would not have to do the same at Verdun. The mystery of the 20 th century is why did a million Britons die fighting to defend France a country that has always despised them. Answer that one Mr Gove.

In fact the Great Wars set the template for many future conflicts right down to the recent debacles in Afghanistan and Iraq where British politicians have shown a remarkable enthusiasm for throwing away British lives and treasure fighting in conflicts which have served the interests of our 'allies' rather than ourselves.

Anyway it is highly dubious to claim that the cause of the British, French and Russians was more ' just ' than the Germans and Austro Hungrary in World War 1. Certainly it could be argued that the central powers were no more enthusiastic for aggressive imperial adventures in the years running up to the conflict than any of their rivals. French and Russian imperial expansion in the 19th century was every bit as militaristic as anything attempted by Bismarck and the Kaisar. People also tend to forget that it was Napoleon III who initiated the Franco Prussian War of 1870 which France resoundingly lost and which ultimately led the French to seek out 'allies' who could protect them from suffering similar humiliation in the future. The rest as they say is history...

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Gove, of course, was the chap who was dragged out of the House of Commons, all foamy-mouthed, because some Tory MPs had the temerity to vote against intervention in Syria.

Apparently, according to Gove, MPs representing the views of their constituents and voting against close air support for Al Qaeda under the pretext of crooked intelligence reports, makes them a 'disgrace'

A profoundly unpleasant little man afaic.

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War has changed unrecognisably over the past century. i think the attempts to draw parallels are misguided.

People have less allegiance to nation states now; many nations are defined by arbitrary lines on maps (particularly the middle east); loyalty is to religion, political grouping, or even brands.

Superpowers have armed fights with each other only by proxy.

WMD makes all-out conflict unthinkable.

Interconnections, particularly regarding the supply of fuel and money, makes some nations remarkably vulnerable.

War is being constantly waged anyway, in cyberspace.

Conventional armies, navies and airforces, exist mostly to provide revenues for the MIC,

...and finally, when your Government spends hundreds of bilions to spy on your every thought and act, you realise who they think their enemy really is.

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You know, whenever there is a war, battle or skirmish, the bankers always end up richer, the politicos more comfortable, and the hoi polloi always end up deader.

Funny, that.

so the lesson is be a banker, politician or conscientious objector.

or dead.

tricky.

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I remember watching a documentary about ww1 about 20 years ago which told of an attack just before the end of the war. After one attack on heavily defended German trenches the huns were over run and the Tommy`s discovered the Germans had elaborate bunkers built with solid concrete......and the bottoms of the trenches were lined with blue circle cement bags. When they were shipped out of Belgium they saw thousands more bags were waiting to be off loaded...He was still spitting mad 70 years later.

Several of my relatives died in ww1 including various uncles and a grandfather who died after the war from the effects of gas (1922)....we don`t need a history lesson.

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I remember watching a documentary about ww1 about 20 years ago which told of an attack just before the end of the war. After one attack on heavily defended German trenches the huns were over run and the Tommy`s discovered the Germans had elaborate bunkers built with solid concrete......and the bottoms of the trenches were lined with blue circle cement bags. When they were shipped out of Belgium they saw thousands more bags were waiting to be off loaded...He was still spitting mad 70 years later.

Several of my relatives died in ww1 including various uncles and a grandfather who died after the war from the effects of gas (1922)....we don`t need a history lesson.

Amen to that.

My grandfather was born in 1896 and volunteered at the outbreak of the conflict

Four years later he had survived but was in many ways a broken man.

My Dad remembers him chucking his medals on the fire in disgust at the way he and other soldiers were treated after the war was over

That indifference to the suffering of those who have laid their bodies on the line doing military service for their country is still far too evident today in the attitudes of the current government

We certainly do not need history lessons from the likes of Mr Gove as many British famiiles have their own folk memory of the conflict

Anway if people do want to read about life in the trenches they could do worse than buy the late Richard Holmes Tommy: The British Soldier on the Western Front which is a pretty good antidote to the Oh What Lovely War and Black Adder mythologies without needing to resort to the trite sermonising of the likes of the odious Mr Gove. It is also worth laying your hands on the DVDs for the magisterial 1960s BBC series the Great War which gives a pretty comprehensive and balanced account of the whole conflict (even if it is a little Eurocentric). The latter also stands as a sad testament to the current decline in British television since it is unimaginable that a series of such quality could be made today

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so the lesson is be a banker, politician or conscientious objector.

or dead.

tricky.

Yes well..

My old mans diary which I found a few years ago goes as follows...

March 10th 1940 (or there abouts) ....went rabbiting.

March 11th 1940....Germans invade Belgium.

March 12th 1940...went rabbiting.

I guess he learned something.

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I blame the Royal families of Europe. The seed of Victoria and Albert.

It was the King who was able to wage war - not Parliament. Basically, it was a family tiff and no one was prepared to step down - at the cost of millions of lives and 'the flowering of British youth'. It changed our society's make up forever.

Well there is no doubt that Kaisar Wilhelm II played a not insignificant part in ensuring that Britain got dragged into the war. The fact that he was Queen Victoria's grandson and half British by birth led to a huge amount of inter-family rivalry particularly with his uncles and cousins. Moreover, if he had been a true Prussian he probably would not have got his country engaged in the insane exercise of building a huge and ultimately pointless imperial war fleet that was bound to antagonise Britain and be seen as a threat to the UK. That decision alone probably did more to decide the British government to enter the conflict in 1914 than any other single factor

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Amen to that.

My grandfather was born in 1896 and volunteered at the outbreak of the conflict

Four years later he had survived but was in many ways a broken man.

My Dad remembers him chucking his medals on the fire in disgust at the way he and other soldiers were treated after the war was over

That indifference to the suffering of those who have laid their bodies on the line doing military service for their country is still far too evident today in the attitudes of the current government

We certainly do not need history lessons from the likes of Mr Gove as many British famiiles have their own folk memory of the conflict

Anway if people do want to read about life in the trenches they could do worse than buy the late Richard Holmes Tommy: The British Soldier on the Western Front which is a pretty good antidote to the Oh What Lovely War and Black Adder mythologies without needing to resort to the trite sermonising of the likes of the odious Mr Gove. It is also worth laying your hands on the DVDs for the magisterial 1960s BBC series the Great War which gives a pretty comprehensive and balanced account of the whole conflict (even if it is a little Eurocentric). The latter also stands as a sad testament to the current decline in British television since it is unimaginable that a series of such quality could be made today

Stone me.

The only book I can remember and suggest is "so it`s goodbye to all that" by Robert Graves (I Clavdivs!) and tells of him running around in no mans land armed with a Bowie knife (the weapon of choice apparently)

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Stone me.

The only book I can remember and suggest is "so it`s goodbye to all that" by Robert Graves (I Clavdivs!) and tells of him running around in no mans land armed with a Bowie knife (the weapon of choice apparently)

Graves book is an excellent if idiosyncratic and retrospective account of his experiences. He was also wounded on the Somme in 1916 and basically sat out most of the latter part of the conflict in Britain. One of the staggering facts of the conflict is how British casualties multiplied after 1 July 1916. In fact the vast majority of British killed and wounded occurred after that date.

Very few soldiers saw out the entire war. Many often only spent a few months in the trenches before they were casualties. This was particularly true of junior officers who had a very high attrition rate.My grandfather was driver with the artillery which is probably why he spent so long at the front and why he survived. Of course, while he did not have to go 'over the bags' in attack it did not mean he was safe and sound since his unit were well within range of the Germans own guns. He also saw lots of horrible sights. In many ways the latter were more damaging to him than the fighting itself.

Anyway as Richard Holmes points out in his book what disillusioned him and so many other soldiers was not the serving, the fighting and the dying on the western front but the shabby way their generation were treated after the conflict and particularly in the 1920s and 1930s. It is that post war betrayal by an indifferent nation and particularly its political class that led to so many seeing the war itself as futile. The lesson of the Great War for the current generations and all future ones is that the British establishment is not worth sacrificing up ones blood, health, life and future to protect.

Mark that point and learn it well children so you do not fall for the lies of the likes of Gove

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Graves book is an excellent if idiosyncratic and retrospective account of his experiences. He was also wounded on the Somme in 1916 and basically sat out most of the latter part of the conflict in Britain. One of the staggering facts of the conflict is how British casualties multiplied after 1 July 1916. In fact the vast majority of British killed and wounded occurred after that date.

Very few soldiers saw out the entire war. Many often only spent a few months in the trenches before they were casualties. This was particularly true of junior officers who had a very high attrition rate.My grandfather was driver with the artillery which is probably why he spent so long at the front and why he survived. Of course, while he did not have to go 'over the bags' in attack it did not mean he was safe and sound since his unit were well within range of the Germans own guns. He also saw lots of horrible sights. In many ways the latter were more damaging to him than the fighting itself.

...Yes I often thought about the death rate, roughly 800,000 from 5.5 million? smells of a cover-up...

And yes indeed a good many of my relatives seem to have died in 1916. To my shame I need to do more (some!) research.

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...Yes I often thought about the death rate, roughly 800,000 from 5.5 million? smells of a cover-up...

And yes indeed a good many of my relatives seem to have died in 1916. To my shame I need to do more (some!) research.

If you visit the British military cemeteries on the western front as I did about 10 years ago you will be surprised to find how many died in later World War battles fought on the Somme in 1918. They are almost as numerous as those from 1916 but their deaths have largely been lost from popular memory because the 1 July 1916 is seen by most people as the archetype of a First World War battle with soldiers advancing in open line to be mown down by German machine guns. In fact the first day of the Somme is pretty atypical of the conflict and those tactics were not generally deployed either before or after that date. They had only been chosen because the Kitchener army troops were not fully trained and the generals did not think they would be able to handle more complex forms of deployment. If Haig and the generals had not allowed the French to bully them into attacking prematurely they might have used better attacking tactics and not lost so many lives. That said even using the pretty good 1917 British army manual instructions did not stop the British army taking heavy casualties even during then final successful 100 day offensive that ended the war.

There is no doubt in my mind that British soldier at the end of the Great War was probably as well trained, equipped and led as any fighting man in this country's history. The British military achievement in holding and then driving back the German army in 1918 probably makes the army of that era the best that Britain has ever fielded. However, while I accept that the military advances made in the the Great war were genuine and that the generals were not all knaves or fools that does not necessarily make the Great War itself worth all the lives and money that was expended on it . It is this latter point where self serving historical revisionists like Gove with their own particular political axes to grind need to be challenged. The war was the fault of the political elites across Europe and millions did die because of their self serving folly

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BBC parliament had a lecture couple of days ago on the start of the war - complicated (Max Hastings' journo-history got slagged off), but Britain's immediate motivation was to stop the Germans gaining control of ports in northern France/Lowlands. Pretty much the same challenge they'd faced from Spain around the time of the Armada. No option.

That made the justification of defending the sovereignty of Belgium and other small nations plausible. Then Ireland kicked off, and the other little fellas joined in.

ps. Amen to criticism of the treatment of sailors after the Armada, but I think they were mostly privately contracted.

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Did he watch the last episode?

I always thought it was a sitcom not a history documentary. I would rather people watched than than knew nothing about that war.

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BBC parliament had a lecture couple of days ago on the start of the war - complicated (Max Hastings' journo-history got slagged off), but Britain's immediate motivation was to stop the Germans gaining control of ports in northern France/Lowlands. Pretty much the same challenge they'd faced from Spain around the time of the Armada. No option.

That made the justification of defending the sovereignty of Belgium and other small nations plausible. Then Ireland kicked off, and the other little fellas joined in.

ps. Amen to criticism of the treatment of sailors after the Armada, but I think they were mostly privately contracted.

The theory that Britain had to go to war in Europe over the past 500 years to stop the ports of Northern France and Belgium falling into the hands of its enemies was regularly trotted out by teachers when I studied history at school. However, i am not sure it really stands up to much rational analysis. Both Napoleon and Hitler controlled all these facilities yet Britain did not get invaded. Similarly, Spain had already captured Antwerp and much of the Spanish Netherlands prior to the Spanish Armada yet it still failed. France has pretty much continuously held the major French ports from Calais to Brest for the last 500 years without managing a serious successful naval assault on Britain. The Kaisar already had access to the North Sea for his fleet using Hamburg, Bremen and the Kiel canal in 1914. His fleet still did not manage to gain control of British home waters and spent most of the war bottled up in port. When Britain and its allies invaded Nazi Europe in 1944 they went via Normandy not the Pas De Calais or the Low countries. Similarly the last successful foreign invasion of England, the Norman conquest of 1066, was launched from Saint-Valery-sur-Somme which is hardly the worlds most famous port. In fact Duke Williams invasion would probably have failed too if the English crown had not faced a simultaneous threat from a viking army under Harold Hardrada in the North. Indeed, during the Dark ages seemed to quite easily ravage the coasts of England, Scotland and Ireland from bases in Norway and Denmark without the need for a channel port or control of the low countries.

The reality is that the Germans invaded France in both World War ! and World War 2 via Belgium in order to avoid French fixed defences. There is no doubt that capturing the channel ports was also an objective but the main reason for doing so was to prevent Britain supplying and supporting the BEF which had been sent to fight alongside the French. Moreover, Britain and Frances ostensible reason for going to war with Nazi Germany in 1939 was because it had invaded Poland. I have yet to see any historian come up with an explanation of how Hitler planned to conquer these islands using Danzig as a naval base.

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1 July 1916 is seen by most people as the archetype of a First World War battle with soldiers advancing in open line to be mown down by German machine guns. In fact the first day of the Somme is pretty atypical of the conflict and those tactics were not generally deployed either before or after that date. They had only been chosen because the Kitchener army troops were not fully trained and the generals did not think they would be able to handle more complex forms of deployment. If Haig and the generals had not allowed the French to bully them into attacking prematurely they might have used better attacking tactics and not lost so many lives. That said even using the pretty good 1917 British army manual instructions did not stop the British army taking heavy casualties even during then final successful 100 day offensive that ended the war.

Tactics on the first day of the Somme were left down to divisional commanders and varied considerably. Going from memory, the two divisions on the French flank (a Manchester division and a Surrey division) achieved all their objectives.

Yes the French did put pressure on Haig but they had taken horrendous casualties. An excellent French film I saw recently is A Long Engagement: romantic, tragic, moving a real tearjerker and also a saving private Ryan for WWI:

There is no doubt in my mind that British soldier at the end of the Great War was probably as well trained, equipped and led as any fighting man in this country's history. The British military achievement in holding and then driving back the German army in 1918 probably makes the army of that era the best that Britain has ever fielded. y

The British Army took more prisoners and captured more guns than the French and Americans combined - nuff said.

Of course, in fairness to the French, there wasn't a lot left of them by then.

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The Norman leaders of this country care not a jot for the ordinary men.

"Thank you for your contribution, my good man. Now sod off back to the gutter."

beggar_zps19253c37.jpg

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Tactics on the first day of the Somme were left down to divisional commanders and varied considerably. Going from memory, the two divisions on the French flank (a Manchester division and a Surrey division) achieved all their objectives.

Yes the French did put pressure on Haig but they had taken horrendous casualties. An excellent French film I saw recently is A Long Engagement: romantic, tragic, moving a real tearjerker and also a saving private Ryan for WWI:

The British Army took more prisoners and captured more guns than the French and Americans combined - nuff said.

Of course, in fairness to the French, there wasn't a lot left of them by then.

Yes the French fought magnificently at Verdun and they did take horrendous casualties but then they were fighting to defend their native soil so it would be expected they would go the extra mile to avoid defeat (even then it did not stop French armies mutinying in 1917) That does not really explain why Britain should have sacrificed a million of its own subjects to defend Belgium and France (one does wonder how the French would have reacted if the situation had been reversed). The Schlieffen Plan was designed to avoid Germany having to fight war on 2 fronts not to invade Britain .I am still waiting for someone to explain what benefit Britain derived from World War 1. To me it looks very much like this country was dragged into the conflict by a series of alliances organised by the French and using the the guarantee of Belgium neutrality in the Treaty of London as a pretext. It should be noted that the Germans stated that they only wanted to use Belgium as a passage for their armies into France in 1914. They had promised to restore Belgium neutrality after the conflict. Whether that pledge would have been honoured is a moot point but it should not be dismissed out of hand without at least some consideration .Belgium neutrality certainly did not stop Britain and France sending their own armies into the country to fight the Germans. I still think Britain was suckered into World War 1 by France, aided and abetted by German stupidity. I believe it was the single biggest mistake in modern British history

On edit - I should add do not really buy the modern theory that the Kaisar was some form of 'Hitler lite' so worth fighting anyway. Yes he and many Germans were anti-semitic but then so was most of the French high command post Dreyfuss, as well as a large part of the British aristocracy and the entire Russian elite etc. The Kaisar was certainly less of a despot than the Czar of Russia; and Imperial Germany even at its most ferocious would have struggled to come up with a colonial regime in Africa that matched the brutality of that run by Belgian monarchy in the Congo.I do not see anything to suggest that the Triple entente was driven by any higher motives than the Triple Alliance in the lead up to the war.

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