Thursday, November 16, 2017

1945: A Savage Peace

This morning I watched 1945: A Savage Peace, a BBC documentary on what happened to the ethnic German civilians living in Eastern Europe immediately after the war.

A brutal film.

I knew that they suffered, that the Russians raped and killed many as they moved west, but I had no idea about how the Poles and Czechs took vengeance on these German civilians.

Some of the documentary footage of Czechs shooting and hanging German civilians is very disturbing.

Also the interviews with the German children who survived this brutality are hard to listen too.

My only complaint is that there is too little made of the German atrocities committed during the war that inspired this revenge.  That seems forgotten, and I wonder if this is simply another way of changing how the world sees the Germans and the war.

Overall, the film tells me once again that war is shit.

The film is available on Netflix.

I recommend it.

Here's a link to a Daily Telegraph article about the documentary. Just click here: Link

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Bad People

Bad People

People being evil?  Why do they do it?

I don't know.  But they seem to be doing it a lot more.  There was that book that came out last year or the year before about how civilization is more civilized than it was in the old days.

I find that hard to believe.  I remember giving a reading/presentation about my parents for a class of college students studying genocide.  I don't know if the students learned anything but I learned that more people have died of genocide since the UN establised it's policies against genocide in the early 1950s than died in the Holocaust.

I'm always astonished when I find out stuff like that.  I look around my house and my neighborhood and my city and my state and my country, and I see that sure there's some bad people here and there but where are the millions of bad people who are ready to kill millions of their neighbors.

One of my favorite journalists is Rszyard Kapuscinski (a Pole who grew up under communism)  who wrote a book called Shadow of the Sun about his travels among the genocidists of Africa.  He went here and he went there trying to track down the causes of the killing.  They were always absurd, meaningless, trivial.

What I took away from that book is that people can do bad things for the most absurd, meaningless, trivial reason and no law of God or man can stop them.

My father -- a concentration camp survivor -- felt that all Germans were evil.  When I was a kid, he wouldn't let me play with kids with German names like Mueller or Rickert or Hauser.

Was he right?  I asked my mother -- also a survivor -- what she thought of the Germans.  She said some were good, some bad.

I guess that's what we have to remember.  Some people can be bad, will be bad.

So here I am a 69 year old still trying to sort out the truths my parents left me.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Found Book

A Found Book

You pick up a book of poetry off of one of the shelves in your study, and you wonder where it came from. 

There’s nothing you remember about it. 

The light tan cover? 

The title?

The author’s name?


Was this author a friend whose name you’ve forgotten? Or did another friend give you the book, telling you to read it because it meant so much or so little to him?

You don’t remember.

You turn to the blurbs on the back and discover the book is 40 years old, and you realize it’s probably been sitting on your bookshelves for that long.

You’ve moved it from one house to another through those 40 years and you never once opened it. It’s sat on those shelves through storms and deaths, through crises and miracles, and you never opened it.

And now you do.

You open it.

And the words are magic.

But only for a second.