September has arrived and with it a stark anniversary. The 1st of September is the day Germany invaded Poland and triggered WWII. It has been 82 years now since that war began. 82 years since the Panzer divisions roared across the border to take on the Polish Calvary and the Stuka planes swarmed over the major cities of Poland to drop their terror. I often wonder if the troops involved had been able to get a fleeting glimpse of the future, what would they have done differently that day?
If you think about it for a second, you’ll realize the whole 20th century was nothing but a long war with little spaces of truce sprinkled here and there so everyone could catch their breath.
I say this because there was the Russo-Japanese war at the beginning of the century plus action in the colonies which were precursors to WWI. WWI of course was really horrific in the waste of human life, every bit as much as WWII. Then there was the Spanish Civil war which was like a big dress rehearsal for WWII. Truth is WWII picked up where WWI left off and was in some ways a natural outcome of the inability to get a handle on the Great Depression. WWII spawned the cold war which ignited conflicts like Vietnam which actually had been an issue following WWI. Just more proof even the little things can be related.
It is a statement that with all the conflicts that have occurred since the end of WWII, it is still WWII that hangs over our species like the ultimate tragedy. WWI may have created Gertrude Stein’s ‘Lost Generation’ but no one but history buffs really recall Belleau Wood, Tannenberg, or Ypres. Yet, you’ll get some instant recognition with the Warsaw Revolt, Auschwitz, Stalingrad, or the rape of Nanking.
Modern communication has as much to do with that as anything. The fact information is available on the internet, books can be shipped worldwide, and movies have made the experiences visual in our recollection, makes WWII almost seem like yesterday instead of nearly a century.
I know it is still relevant to me. *TEASER ALERT* I am hoping my next project will be a WWII related one and in the days to come I hope to be talking about that on here and sharing it with you. I am pretty excited about it so keep your fingers crossed.
In the meantime, take a moment to reflect on WWII and the century of horror we survived. Appreciate your good fortune and next time you hear some politician do a bit of saber-rattling, look back over your shoulder at the history that was and take into account what exactly that saber-rattling might mean. In a way, by looking back, you have a glimpse of the future.