My father should not have protected me so much. I know he did it out of love, but with hindsight, we now know it was not the right thing to do. It was the norm, though, not speaking of what people did and saw during WWII. That was how they coped when they got back. He went to France, and he saw the starvation, the devastation, the horror of one narcissistic man’s egotism. The Germans didn’t, not in the beginning, but if they said anything, they were fired, or later disappeared – never to return. Out of fear, everyone quickly learned to keep their heads down, to do as they were told, and to not say anything.
It took the outside world looking in, to see what had to be done to stop Hitler. It took a bloody war, a terribly long time if you were starving, and a tremendous amount of lives, ours and theirs, to end it. What does the world thinks of what is going on now? Are you tempted to bury your head in the sand? to stop watching the news because it is too depressing? Well, you are not alone, nor the first. An entire nation did that in the late Thirties.
If you don’t like a particular issue that someone is marching for – don’t go – but before you complain – be glad they have the right to march, to say “Hey – we don’t like this.” If for no other reason than because you have that same right too, and once you lose it, we are all in a lot of trouble. Ask France, go to the Holocaust Museum, look at old photographs taken in France and Germany after the war, and then ask yourself what you want your children to experience as they grow up. We’ve had it pretty good, my friend, but that can all change.
My father didn’t want me to see what he saw, but I should have. I traveled to Dachau (one of the concentration camps in Germany) when I was seventeen. I left crying. It was unfathomable – it still is – and I only saw a representation of the horror. My father couldn’t even talk to me about it. What a shame. I so want my grandchildren to know what he fought against, and what is worth marching for.
Muriel, Vince & Mary in the ’40s’