Living Through History

At the moment, the world is bewildering, frightening, illogical, frustrating, formidable, dire, demoralizing and daunting. I am filled with alarm, fear, distress, and despair. I think about the past: the errors and the successes. I think about how it appears that our rulers, governments and the people have forgotten the reality of the past.

Recently I have been given a number of books on the build-up to World War II. The 1930’s. It is fascinating to see all the “near misses” by which the war could have been avoided – if only people had listened and observed the reality rather than the sham actions which were performed to misdirect the world from the real process of creating an absolute dictatorship aimed at annihilation of certain groups of people. We look back, and it is assumed that the West were the victors, the “goodies”. But before the war the Western politicians did not take notice of the events in Berlin and elsewhere. They assumed that if they could talk to Hitler, war was very unlikely – after all, he was (apparently) charming, quiet and intelligent.

He smiles…and cuddles …and she is blonde….just like all the Trump women
Hitler smiling and chatting to fans (circa 1934)

Germany was in the midst of advertising their nation as being a wonderful place for a holiday. And so visitors flocked to Germany.

1935 Advert for Holidays in the Rhine


Holiday Advert 1930: Looks grand!

They loved the scenery, the young people who were all strong, fit and blonde. Who stayed in youth hostels in gaggles (this was the Hitler Youth – already brainwashed).

Advert 1934 – Join the Hitler Youth
Very young members of Hitlers Youth (mid-1930’s)

circa 1935: Eleven year old boys in the Hitler Youth organization learning how to fire a rifle. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

The SS had been formed and were in the background in case of any dissent. Some holiday goers (and diplomats) were even taken to visit the “highly successful labour camps” – they came away impressed at how well the “guests” were looked after – it turns out that the inmates they saw – were prison guards dressed up nicely and smiling. There was little enquiry as to why there were camps at all.

Labour camp opened in 1933
Labour camp opened in 1933

In addition, I got a fright reading about all the English and Americans supports of fascism, racism and even nazi-ism.

And, in my humble opinion, it seems that quite a large chunk of humanity has yet again bought into the rhetoric of fascism and populism: oblivious to reality and utterly devoid of empathy, respect and integrity.

I am scared. I am getting “scarder”. And I am petrified of the future my children are having foisted upon them, It seems unfair (but a huge compliment) that it is the youth that will have to redress the wrongs of this generation. But they are intelligent, tech-savvy, globally aware and compassionate. I believe that they can achieve great changes for the better. I don’t believe the older generation can (especially if they keep harking back to “we won the war” – actually “we” didn’t; dare I say that was the cold war’s arch enemies – the Russians, that actually turned the tide.)

What is happening is that we are Living through History. As unpleasant as it is. The following quote (Daily Stoic) helps me:

It’s strange to think that we can take comfort from this, but we can. Marcus Aurelius wanted us “to bear in mind constantly that all of this has happened before. And will happen again—the same plot from beginning to end, the identical staging.” Everyone who’s ever lived, including you, lived through history. They experienced the sausage being made—and that’s never pretty.

Realize that that’s what is going on right now. That’s what the Trump presidency is. That’s what COVID-19 is. That’s what climate change and Black Lives Matter protests and so many other things are. These are historical events and you’re living through them. It’s up to you whether you live through them passively, or actively. You have the chance to influence that history. Some of us in a big way, others in a smaller way. But we all have the opportunity to face them with proper Stoicism—which means not panicking, not betraying your principles, that means acting with courage, moderation, justice and wisdom.