Why history matters [redux]

| May 20, 2007

[UPDATED 05/20/07 – 2056 MDT]

First, thanks to Glenn for the Instalanche[tm]! And welcome all, however briefly it may be.

Second, this comment from friedaK deserves to be called out:

I was 6 years old when the war ended in Germany. Our little town was pretty close to where the Russians stopped and we were overrun with refugees. Homeless bands of people roamed the country. Lawlesness, crime, sabotage were rampant. We had nothing to eat except what we could get from the GI’s when they had finished their lunch or what we found in the fields. This went on for years. Since my family were not refugees we got no help or care packages. My father was in a Russian prison camp until 1949. Until then my mother had no income. And when he came back he could not find work – too sick and there was no unemployment or other kind of welfare – after all we were not refugees.

When I hear about the chaos in Iraq and how much better things were in Germany I get very angry. Americans have no idea about the chaos of war.

Among many other things, sadly.

[ORIGINAL POST]

I daresay that many of the people hyperventilating about conditions in Iraq have little or no idea of the tremendous chaos, destruction, and suffering that filled large portions of the world (Europe, Russia, Japan, the Pacific) for years after the end of World War II. To wit:

A bleak picture springs with stark immediacy from typewritten reports by the Allied officers, found in the massive archive of the International Tracing Service in the central German town of Bad Arolsen. The Associated Press has been given extensive access to the archive on condition that identities of victims and refugees are protected.

Far from scenes of joyful liberation that should have greeted the end of Nazi oppression, the files reveal desperation, loss and confusion, and overwhelmed and often insensitive military authorities.

Many had nowhere to go, their families among the 6 million Jews consumed in the Holocaust, their homes destroyed or handed out to new occupants. Those who wanted to get to Palestine were shut out by a British ban on Jewish immigration to the Israeli state-in-waiting.

“Owing to ill treatment by the Germans, most DPs have a distrust and fear of the Allied authorities,” said a September 1945 report signed by British Lt. Col. C.C. Allan. “Many DPs have sunk into complete apathy regarding their future.”

Liberated concentration camps were transformed into DP camps. Food was still scarce — often just coffee and wet black bread — and medical care was insufficient, said a report written for President Harry Truman.

We call this “the Good War” and those that fought it “the Greatest Generation” — and rightly so. But in so doing, our disparagement of the current US government and military in its invasion and post-invasion efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq loses credibility. ..bruce..

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Category: Geopolitics, Humor, Main, Military, US Politics

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at bwebster@bfwa.com, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

Comments (1)

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  1. friedaK says:

    I was 6 years old when the war ended in Germany. Our little town was pretty close to where the Russians stopped and we were overrun with refugees. Homeless bands of people roamed the country. Lawlesness, crime, sabotage were rampant. We had nothing to eat except what we could get from the GI’s when they had finished their lunch or what we found in the fields. This went on for years. Since my family were not refugees we got no help or care packages. My father was in a Russian prison camp until 1949. Until then my mother had no income. And when he came back he could not find work – too sick and there was no unemployment or other kind of welfare – after all we were not refugees.
    When I hear about the chaos in Iraq and how much better things were in Germany I get very angry. Americans have no idea about the chaos of war.