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Actual quote, "The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime." Sir Edward Grey, British Foreign Secretary, 3 August 1914

2009-01-02 05:20:22
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What does the lights are going out all over Europe you won't see them lit again in your lifetime mean?

The actual quote is "The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime". On the evening of 3 August 1914, the day before Britain officially declared war with Germany, the British Foriegn Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, was watching the gas lamps being lit in London. He knew that war in Europe was now inevitable and he was deeply affected by the failure, including his own failure as Foriegn Secretary, to stop it. Moreover, he foresaw that such a war would have terrible consequences, far beyond that of the military conflict itself. And so, as the lamps were being lit in London, he was moved to observe, by way of metaphor, that the light of Europe was being extinguished and that the coming war would caste a shadow over Europe that would not be lifted in his lifetime. He died in 1933, a time when the consequences of WW1 were leading inexorably to the the rise of the Third Reich and WW11.

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