I can’t escape. I try, but I can’t.
“The World at War: The Ultimate Restored Edition” – this has got to be the very best documentary on World War II that has ever been made It runs about 24 hours long – plus, an additional 12 hours, or so, of extras.
So, I figured I’d get lost in that for a spell and never once think about the politics of today. Wrong. I should have known better. It’s all connected.
First, the program: Extremely comprehensive with fantastic footage and, having been initially created in the early 70s, never-again-type interviews with people who lived through it, perhaps, most notably Adolf Hitler’s secretary, Gertraud “Traudl” Junge. The opening sequence of the series is one of the best moments of television I have ever seen. Narration by the great Lawrence Olivier is understated, concise and perfectly delivered. I used to think “World War II in Colour” [narrated by Robert Powell], was the best of it’s kind, but this one is clearly better. Covers the War from post-WW I Europe through the Atomic Bombs. Intense footage dealing with “The Final Solution.” A very objective telling of the whole story. Yet, detailed as it is, I found myself wanting more.
And then, there’s politics. Liberal or Conservative, you can find yourself paralleling many of the actions & events to today’s world. I know I did. I often found myself thinking, “Just like the ‘liberals,’ or just like ‘conservatives.'” Cannot be escaped. I am trapped. But really, that’s the wonderful thing about history. It really is all connected, like it or not.
There were many extraordinary moments in this series, but 2 things really gnawed at me – in light of today’s goings-on:
1 – The infamous book burnings. Just like today. Trying to bury the history we don’t want to deal with … and led by large numbers of teachers & students – just the people who should WANT to know and remember history.
2 – Adolf Hitler rose to power in post-depression Germany in the early 1930s. One of his first projects was an industrial infrastructure effort, the Reichsautobahn, an Interstate highway system, if you will. It was an extremely successful, and popular, project. In addition, he wanted to have every German own an automobile, thus, the People’s Car – Volkswagen. Yep, he was instrumental in the design of the VW Beetle. Here’s the thing — today, we tear down statues and remove flags and memorials that we just “don’t like.” Part of our heritage here in America. I just wonder how many folks who feel that way are driving around in one of Nazi Germany’s, “car of the people” … and never give it a thought.
Excellent history and thought-provoking series! Gives you a real reason for resistance!