Learning From Lessons Of The Past

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Lest we forget!

It is so easy to forget the mistakes and lessons of the past. When World War I ended in 1918, Germany was stripped of all its ability to fight another war by the Versailles Treaty. There was much turmoil until the early 1930s. A lot of us alive today were too young to remember anything about this time. The USA was in the midst of the great depression. The Nazi party was at the center of all of this turmoil. In 1933, Hitler took power from the Weimar Republic that was formed after WW I. It was headed by Hindenburg; I believe he led the German armies in WW I.

In 1935, Hitler occupied the Rhineland in violation of the Versailles Treaty. At that time, the British and French, the strongest powers in Europe could have easily stopped him and he would no doubt have fallen from power. They chose to do nothing.

The next big event was the “Anschluss” of Austria, commonly called “The Rape of Austria.” My German fellow worker, a submariner in the German navy, still called it the “protection of Austria” when I first met him in the late 1950’s. Again, the British and French did nothing. They had problems of their own, I guess. The League of Nations was as impotent as the UN is today when push comes to shove.

The final blow came at Munich in 1938 when Chamberlain caved in to Hitler and then went home and held up a worthless piece of paper and declared “this is peace in our time.” What he had done was to sell out Czechoslovakia. It is doubtful that Hitler could have been stopped after this, so the world was in a tailspin to the invasion of Poland the next year, September 1939. I was 12 years old then, and well remember that day.

The point of all of this little lesson is about what is occurring now. As I said at the start, the next generation does not learn from the lessons and mistakes of the past. This madman in Iraq must be stopped, and now is the time to do it. This is about more than oil although that is important to the whole world. He has the potential to take the whole world into turmoil and only force and power can stop him.

I went in the Merchant Marines in 1945 as an 18-year-old kid, prepared to go to the end of the war. My only experience of the horror of that war was at Guam. A hospital ship, the USS Comfort went silently by us, only about 200 yards, with a Kamikaze airplane inside it and listing I think to the port side. A sight I’ll never forget.

I truly believe that the young people in school today should be made aware of what happened during these times. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich would be a good textbook to study from. It was written by William L. Shirer , a witness to these events.

Aside from President George W. Bush and the last guy, we have been led by people who are our age or older. Now that we have a younger President who has learned from the lessons of the past, let’s all support him. He needs that, and our prayers, because his job is very lonely.

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