We seem to live in a time when the educational system has failed to teach the relevance of history in our schools. One youth, when asked about Isaac Newtown, replied, “Isn’t he the guy who invented the Fig Newton?”
At this moment in time, when Vladimir Putin threatens to take the Russian-speaking sections of Ukraine by force, one’s memory goes back to September 1938. In that month, Adolf Hitler, after taking Austria, gave Czechoslovakia an ultimatum: Return the German-speaking sections of your country to their rightful owner, the German Reich, or suffer the consequences. The remaining European powers failed to take any action — effectively giving the country over to be occupied by Hitler. Does anything sound familiar here?
One year later, in September 1939, German citizens were shown pictures of burning German buildings on the Polish border. They were told the damage was caused by Polish terrorists. In reality, the assaults were by members of the Nazi army. The German army then invaded Poland. Panzer tanks overwhelmed the Polish cavalry, who were still riding horses into battle, and 18 days later the country was completely under Nazi control. Was this really “peace” in their time? Have we learned anything?
It is not a cliche to recall that those who are ignorant of history are doomed to relive it.
The writer is an educator.