I mentioned in the Christmas posting that Maryann received a copy of Ken Burn's, The War. Last night we watched the last of the seven episodes. It is a magnificent piece of work. I recommend it to all. I can see so many parallels to things that are happening in the world today. It is saddening, aggravating and pitiful. Santayana was on to something when he said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." There seems to be the same kinds of things happening today that are very similar to Hitler's aims. I can remember some of the stories, news reports, news reels that were shown.
When I was in the fifth or sixth grade, we lived with another family. The man had been an MP in the Army during the war and had been among the liberators at Auschwitz. He had some photographs he had taken of pyramids of human skulls and bones that were piled up there.
On our first trip to Europe, we spent almost a week in Germany. We did day trips from Munich. One of them was to Dachau. At first I wasn't sure I wanted to do it. I am glad I did. There is something strangely spiritual about walking into the buildings where the furnaces were. I could not remain in there for very long. When I came out there was a teen-aged girl standing nearby. We never openly acknowledged each other's presence, but I am convinced we were having a similar emotional experience. The sadness and horror were palpable. If, for no other reason than that chance encounter, the trip was worth it.
To follow the wars impact, Burns selected four communities - Waterbury, CT, Mobile, AL, Sacramento, CA, and Luverne, MN. The film follows a number of individuals from each of those communities.
The film is not for the squeamish. There are photos of bodies in all forms of death, dying and wounded. It is tragic and heroic. It is sobering and inspiring. It conveys a message that will be lost on the fanatics of all stripes. As an example, just listen to those who claim the holocaust is a myth. (I bet they would quibble about the use of the word holocaust to distract from the photos of bodies, bones, dying and dead humans.)
If you have the opportunity watch the film, do so. The running time for all of the episodes is approximately 15 hours. It will take a few days to get through them all. It is well worth it.