The World Growing a World War II Remembrance
When Adolf Hitler invaded Poland on September 1,1939, it would be the start of a cruel, bloody, miserable, and long war for the
World. It would come with pain, loss of innocent lives, betrayal, torture, instability, attack, and pure hatred between forces. When France and Britain declared War on Germany, it would be the beginning of the most destructive international conflict in history. It would cause a severe damage to the economy, an incomprehensible number of casualties, and it would lite a fire in the hearts of many individuals. That meant incredible pain for some, and for others, it was the strong desire to defeat an enemy. As we know, the war ended in a victory and triumph for the allied forces of The United States of America, The United Kingdom, Canada, China, Brazil, and many other Allies, but the War will never be forgotten as the most tragic to occur in History, killing an estimated 60 million people.
The war began with the first German invasion in Poland. Hitler invaded Poland from both the East and West. With strong forces on both sides, Poland was easily overthrown by the newly powerful Soviet Union and Germany. Hitler was the cruel dictator of Germany. He is responsible for the Holocaust, the killing of millions of jews, and ultimately the start of the war. Hitler had a strong desire to expand territory, and that drive was largely driven by his pursuit to unify German people. Since Germany resented the outcome of World War 1, Hitler grew with an ambition to achieve what he desired. With Germany and the Soviet Union now in control of Poland, plans grew in the minds of France and Britain, who had just recently declared war. Continuing on with the war, Germany grew in power by invading and taking control over many areas. On April 9, 1940, Germany invaded Norway and took control over Denmark. German forces raced through Belgium and the Netherlands in May. This became known as blitzkrieg, or the Lightning War. They struck French forces at Sedan three days later. With France near to collapsing, Italy put it’s Pact of Steel with Hitler into play, and they declared War on Britain and France on June 10th. In order to prepare for an ambitious invasion, Germany bombed Britain intensely in the summer of 1940. Hitler now had two major plans. The first plan was to invade the Soviet Union, which would give Germany the territory and power it needed. The second plan was to exterminate all of the Jews in German occupied Europe. Over the next few years, a few million Jews would be forced into miserable concentration camps, based mainly in Poland. They would have to endure separation from families, watching their loved ones die, starvation, mental and physical pain, and for many it led to death.
No one could really understand what the innocent Jews went through in the bloody war when you simply did not experience it
first hand, but millions of Jews, including many children, went through torture and discrimination just because of their religious beliefs in The Holocaust. Because I knew well that it would be impossible for me to give full insight on how it felt to experience what the Jews underwent, I was very pleased to have the opportunity to meet with a survivor from the Holocaust, Dr.William Samuelson. He was only 17 years old when American soldiers found him and the other survivors of his concentration camp and declared them free. He said he remembered seeing their big boots march in, for him and his brother were hiding underneath a bunk bed. Because they were skinny and light (due to starvation), one of the soldiers was able to pick them both up at the same time, one in each arm. Since Dr.Samuelson had only ever known the cruel German soldiers, this was the first time he had ever seen an African American soldier. He has told me many various stories about his experience in the Holocaust, including his separation from his mother and baby sister, and when he was first placed in a camp at the age of 11. From what I understand, he dealt with much tragedy in his experience, but what made him one of the lucky ones was the people he met along the way that helped him. It seems as if the small gestures along the way added up, and that’s why he survived. He has decided to share his story in many ways including his public speeches and published books. A few of these books include, One Bridge To Life, Near and Distant, English the American Way, and Warning & Hope. He is now ninety years old, and I have learned so much from hearing his stories about his experience with the German Nazis and the Holocaust. This experience affected our world, because many countries now know what it really means to have freedom and rights, this includes the United States, which is the democracy I have the pleasure of living in. It is a place where I have basic rights to choose things like my own religion, which I know is a gift because of the events that have come with the Holocaust.
The war went on with the devastation only growing stronger. Many events led it along while different countries tried to tug at each other.
Germany unsuccessfully invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. Soviets fought hard, which kept the Germans from ever officially taking control over them. This was followed by the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Japan’s attack on the U.S on December 7, 1941 officially drug the country into the war. The Allies invade the beaches of Normandy, France on June 6, 1944. Germany surrenders to the Allies on May 7, 1945. The United States drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in August later that year. Japan surrenders to the Allies on September the 2nd, officially ending World War II. Every single one of these events will be remembered by all of those who were affected, all who knew those who were affected, and everyone that heard of the devastation. Thousands of books, articles, and reports have been written about the events of World War II because of the ongoing memory of them. Although they all led to a time of sadness, death, and instability for thousands of people, all of the events ultimately worked together to weave the history that is World War II.
Behind the brokenness of it all, there is several reasons for the start of the war. A big part of it was Germany’s conditions after World War I. They were in harsh economic conditions due to the Treaty of Versailles, and the reparations they had to pay embarrassed them. Another major reason was the rise in dictatorships in Germany, Italy, and Japan. The most well known of the dictators being Adolf Hitler, who would later prove to be an overpowering and cruel man in the war. When you really strip the events down to the core, I believe you will come to find that the war was ignited by the selfishness, hate, and strive for power. When you are faced with the choice to take power over the protection of millions of people, would you take it? Was it really worth it? Was the gain worth the pain? Was the victory worth the loss? Was the power worth the death? Was the triumph worth the tragedy? In my favorite book by William Samuelson, One Bridge to Life, he writes,this book is a tribute to life, not a capitulation to death. It is triumph of love over hate; a victory of faith in humanity over despair. I can never come to a conclusion on how he was able to forgive the Nazis for putting him through the darkness he experiences for years, but what I do know is that he did. It took him decades to remove himself from the fury and hatred he felt. Somehow, through the storm, he was able to come out into happiness again. The events of World War II will never be fully understandable to anyone. It’s simply incomprehensible to think that the desire to control could lead to so much death and terror. We only know the history, the facts, but we also know that the world is forever changed because of the war. We will never be the same, but we may never learn. Some may argue that history is doomed to repeat itself, but what we do know is that the perspective of war will never be the same.