So today I spent my ride to work reflecting on the 70th anniversary of the start of World War II. It started today at 02:40 GMT with the Germans leveling of the city of Wieluń; arguably the war’s first atrocity if we ignore the Japanese rape and pillage of Asia. Some historians place the official start of WWII with the Battle of Westerplatte at 02:45. Either way, this morning is something I took the time to think about.
It is amazing when you read and understand the depth and complexities of history how much what happened during that decade still lives with us today. I was reading comments on the BBC from commentators (mostly from the United Kingdom) who suggest we should move on and instead commemorate the war’s end.
We’re lucky and cursed by never having to have experienced the horrors that engulfed the Europeans. But to even greater dismay is hearing from those that suffered greatly the call to forget about it. As the UK twists and chains itself in closed circuit cameras and ridiculous laws banning knives; as masses suffer and die in the droves in Africa; as our own people relinquish personal responsibility to trust a corrupt and self-serving government — did all that blood shed to defeat Fascism go in vain?
Flinging around name calling comparing presidents to Hitler and Stalin is an insult. At the same time, however, we are living in a time where the ultimate in global human slavery to debt and financial servitude has been achieved. Why kill 6, 25, 50 million people when those very people can believe they are free and pay taxes and fuel corporations?
I thought about how the great powers of this world carved up the world in spheres of influence… first with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the Tripartite Pact, and finally, and even more alarmingly; the Yalta Conference. Little countries and peoples who want to learn about the world and live freely get swept up and consumed.
I see how we took the worst of German engineering and turned it on others. We profited from their human experimentation and their terror usage of V-2 rocket technology to do things supposedly in the name of mankind when really we were just honing our long range nuclear strike capabilities.
I read about how Ford plants in Germany were spared and other corporations supplied both sides of the conflict to maximize profits; accountable to no one. I read about hypocrisy in terror bombing Dresden and Tokyo. Hitler, Stalin, whomever… these people were people like you and me. We are not better than our fathers and our fathers’ fathers. The same things live in us that lived in the Romans. Given enough emotional hysteria and irrational conclusion and every one of us can be a tyrant.
Given those things, each and every one of us would want a tyrant to tell us, “Attack and kill them all.” If you don’t see that you’re kidding yourself.
I hope we continue to study and learn from our mistakes and not allow a polarization of things like capitalism versus socialism. When you take things too far in any direction, things break.