It’s Armistice Day. A day for remembering, and heeding the lessons of wars past.
My parents and their generation, who lived and fought through the Second World War, wanted only to put that past behind them. This culture extended to schools, where we were not taught about the war and its history, even though Britain was a victor and the defeated regime vilified as an abomination that we might learn from.
In the newest war, in the Middle East, thousands of children are being killed and the British Home Secretary would like to ban a march for peace, calling it a “hate march.” Who is the abomination now? Who will stay the hand of the twisted men with murderous ideologies?
I didn’t read Shirer’s book until my mid-twenties, by which time I had studied German, made German friends, and the war was long confined to the past. Before I could begin to understand the how’s and why’s Hitler’s rise to power and the war, I needed a book that laid out what happened and when. This history does exactly that.
My father was just 16 when he joined a Royal Navy ship at the beginning of WWII. He had an intense dislike for what he called “war bores” and never spoke about his experiences to us kids, although he opened up a bit in later years. He survived the war, but emotionally he never really recovered.
If he were alive, today would be his 100th birthday, and I'm remembering.