August 19434th - German troops move toward Leningrad and Stalingrad in Russia
My father, a 23 year old medical doctor was drafted too.
6th - President Roosevelt names General Eisenhower to coordinate the landings in Europe.
9th - Japanese sink American and Australian fleets near Solomon.
19th - A British Comando Troop gets beaten up at Diepe in France.
20th - I was born in Vienna Austria. At this moment Austria was already part of Hitler's Germany.
22nd - Hitler orders the attack of Leningrad.
28th - Brazil declares war with Germany.
What happened this August?
Any ideas how wars get started?
People and especially their leaders have ego-problems. They cannot get enough, want to have what others have, and believe in all kinds of Prophets and Gods. Even believing in the same God but in just a little different way can be reason enough sustain a bloody war for 30 years such as we saw with the Irish Protestants and Catholics and now the different Moslem sects in Iraq.
The wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time.
It can be an extremely fatal mixture. 1930 Germany had to deal with a worldwide economic crisis, very high unemployment rates, poverty, unrest, corruption, and the wrong new leader. People needed to believe in something. Hitler filled the vacuum. He was a Nobody with very little education but lots of failures in the past, and worst of all, an astronomic ego-problem. As if this wasn't already enough, after the First World War, Germany suffered from heavy retribution of greedy victors in the Treaty of Versailles. (Churchill warned them).
The straw that broke the camel's back.
Germany had no opportunity to respond to that Versailles contract. They could not participate in the discussions. One of the many absurd items in this contract was awarding of Danzig (a city of Germans) to Poland. The result was punishment, persecution and killings. Hate producing more hate and, as in this case, a war that started on the 1st of September 1939 at 4:45 in morning, and without a war declaration that left 50-60 Million mostly young people dead. Half of the war-victims were innocent civilians including children.
The most important ingredients to start a war.
The ingredients to get started are always pretty similar. First hate has to build up on at least two sides or parties. Reasons for this hate are freely provided by political and / or religious leaders through their campaigns. These leaders think that this is the fastest way to accomplish their ideas or goals.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of the people can too easily be manipulated or influenced. They need or want to believe in something so they don't have to think and doubt about things. We too often act based on our emotions than on our intellect. It's so much more fun to fall in love than create a relationship, buy a house because we like the color of the living room, and go to war in Iraq to stop terrorism. There are even those who believe our planet was built by a God a few thousand years ago and that dinosaur bones are propaganda material from the devil. There are even potical leaders in the USA who believe this nonsense.
It's that same mass mentality that a few hundred years ago burnt around 1500 witches every day to clean the world from evil. The same mindless claim that their holy book was written by God (I wonder what kind of writing utensil was used to write such a book?). But it is exactly that kind of thinking that fuels another war and keeps it going and going and going.
Why are so many leaders interested in wars?
Of course there are dozens of good reasons for many leaders to start a war or keep one going. Many of these leaders (just like really bad criminals) must have got the front-lobes of their brains damaged in childhood and lost the capacity for empathy. How else could they allow all the sufferings of families and children?
It must be that greed supercedes these emotions - there are lots of profits to be made from war. Maybe they are stock-holders in the oil-, chemical-, or weapons industry. Every bomb that drops, costing a million dollars each, makes somebody richer. The same happens when oil prices go up. Look at oil exporting countries, such as Dubai, building artificial Skiing Slopes in the middle of the desert while half the world starves to death. For some of them, the profits from any war must be a blessing.
It also could be that elections are coming up and people love to have a strong (macho) president. One that can show a strong stand against the "enemy". But keeping the war-machine going requires money, lots of money, the Iraq war costs about $10 billion a month, which means lots of borrowing. I often wonder how my eight grandchildren will face the burden of these debts the world is making. What problems will these kids face in the future? Deserts and hunger is growing, forests and wildlife disapearing, or as Bob Dylan said: "At 100 miles an hour in a dead-end road".
When will there be peace?
I personally think the only hope lies in our education. We have to teach our children about expressing their anger without a fight. We have to teach them that life is a journey and the only thing that counts is a happy day one at the time. Lessons are best taught by example. Religions are meant to teach tolerance, love, and empathy. They are meant to give us a moral guide-line, to help the weak, so we can feel good about ourselves and our destiny. Unfortunately many do exactly the opposite, creating hatred and fanaticism.
At an early age, we should teach about Democracy and not Nationalism, we should teach to love our neighbors and not fight them or think that we are better then them. We should teach our children, like Gabriel García Márquez in his Good-bye Letter said, to never look down at another man except for helping him up. Leaders should try to slowly open borders to give all people of this planet a similar opportunity as is described in human rights.
Children need to understand at an early age that nobody had personally anything to do with when, where, and with what skin color he was born. We should show them how to be happy rather then how to win, to love rather than to compete, to share rather than to defend, to help others rather than beat others and we should not wait until the end of our lives to realize that what is so profoundly valuable are the happy days we manage to live and share with others.
Another thing that makes perfect sense to me, and I suggested it many years ago when I was leading a "Parents Anonymous Group" in Pennsylvania: Animals that eat meat kill other animals. They need to be aggressive to do that. If we would reduce our meat consumption, I believe, we would become less aggressive at home and behind the wheel. People would be healthier; less stressed, and have fewer cancer problems. And there would be food for the whole world rather then for the cattle we eat. Did you know that more than half the grain grown in the US (requiring half the water used in the US) is fed to livestock, grain and water that would feed far more people than would the livestock to which it is fed? Just another thought.
Have a happy day. Jörn Malek