Making sure WWII never becomes 'just a war'


#1

Hello All,

Maybe this post is beyond off-topic, but it has been on my mind for years now and maybe this is a place to discuss this.

I have been a teacher (IT-sciences) at a vocational training college (for Dutch readers: ‘MBO’) until a few years ago. As a teacher i saw it (also) as my ‘duty’ to sometimes go beyond what was in the books and discuss the news (when it had an IT-component), get my students to to vote at the elections (at least to vote) and, at the beginning of May my students and I always talked about ‘the War’ (meaning WWII in this part of the world).

Among my students i noticed an attitude of “that is ancient history”, “we heard someting about this during history-class” or “another war, like the others.”

For me the Second World War isn’t a war like all the others, never before in history a war was so costly in human life and never before was one of the main objectives of one of the parties the destruction of complete, ancient cultures, (the Jewish and Roma culture, to name a few). But maybe that is also because my parents were young during the war, but old enough to see what was happening to their neighbours, classmates and friends.

As you might understand, i appreciate the efforts of the Timeghost team enormously! But i still wonder, especially now the generations of people with first-hand memories are disappearing. How do we make sure that the Second World War doesn’t end up in historybooks as a war that once was? That historiography of this war becomes a subject of debate between military history enthousiasts, about battle X or operation Y. How do we make sure that this war is and stays different than the Fourth Anglo-Dutch war, as the level of evil, at least in my view, was so much darker than in (most) previous conflicts?

Again, maybe i am going beyond off-topic… I know…


#2

That question haunts me. The mere thought of WWII being obscure, it’s just sad.


#3

Chilling…
I love history. Mainly so that (at least I) don’t repeat it… But realising that WWII is becoming “just another war” is frightening in the extreme.

I live in Australia (New South Wales/Victorian border) and was born in the 90s, so about as far removed from the War as one can get. I have more concern over the debacle that was Vietnam (and who started and/or who made it worse), local emergencies, than realising that total war is much larger than a region…
I was indicating (with appalled glee) that it was ‘only a matter of time’ before World War 3 during the Ukraine and ISIS happenings… Though my feelings were one of ‘appallment’ it does not excuse the fact that I regarded total war as ‘resigned inevitability’…

I hope (and pray) that we NEVER forget the War and how bad it was, because as I said at the start, that is too chilling to contemplate.


#4

I was born in the 70s, so I was fortunate enough to meet actual veterans of the war (including Grandpa and even some WWI vets) and witness the changes in how WWII was taught as the Cold War neared its end (especially in its 50th anniversary). It is scary that the war is becoming less and less relevant. People should be more willing to realize the importance of the war (and not in the “Nazis are bad, meh” way) and the history department really needs to adapt in order to keep it relevant (make it more personal, use visuals).

I feel the same.


#5

There’s quite a lot of oral history recording out there, but I think the problem is that it’s not so easy to make it accessible to people. It was specifically the issue you address that led us to come up with the idea of Letters From The Front (upcoming format) and War Against Humanity. Of course this is nothing we can do on our own, but we can perhaps contribute to the global effort of helping people access the immediate memory of what this war was, because you are so right when you say:


#6

All is dark and doubtful.


#7

I remember a year and a bit ago when visiting my Nan and she received a letter from an RAF charity in the post and it said something like"close your eyes and imagine the sights of British and German planes fighting in the skies over England" to which she then said “Don’t need to, I was there!”.

While it certainly made me laugh, she is 88 now and we are losing people like her with these increasingly rare memories every single day. At the time, she was only 9 years old and before long, people at that age won’t have any real memory of the war.


#8

Even though I had history till the third year of HAVO (dutch secondary school type), which is about 8 years ago, I don’t remember having class about that war. To remedy that I looked at the first 5 google recommendations, but there was not a lot written and gave only a global depiction of the situation. Do you have some sources which I can read?