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Back To The Future

The moment history repeats itself

By Christian BassPublished 4 months ago 8 min read

How to become an uneducated historian

The saddest moment of my life was the day the last holocaust surviver agreed to what I tell for years now. Please, understand me right, because I absolutely love being right about something normally. Just in this case, I better had been wrong. But the signs are clear: history will repeat itself.

All my life, I had an enormous interest in history for two very different reasons, to be honest. First, the background story behind certain, even modern, events interests me and I want to know every little detail so that I can learn from it. The more knowledge we gather, the easier we can come up with the right decisions. And for a lot of modern problems the origin lays deep in our past.

Second, and I bet every author can relate to it, the history of the human species is a tremendous pool of fantastic and unique stories. Writing historical fiction, exploring different epochs, gives me a great pleasure. Over the years, I build up a major knowledge about very different times. During my childhood, I had a brief period where I aspired to become an archaeologist; however, my parents had a different plan for me.

Three eras in particular have piqued my personal interest. Of course, it hasn't stopped there, yet I always return to them.

The legendary treasures of the Egyptian pharaohs and their curse captivated almost every child of my generation. And I haven’t been an exception to that. Just as the newfangled exhibition on the tomb of Tutankhamun went on a world tour, including a stop in Hamburg, this one pharaoh captivated me. That is a story for another time.

Whatever we are today, people laid the foundation in the medieval times. And as it befits a boy who got trained to have dinner with the Queen of England, I fell in love with values like chivalry and justice. I often dreamt of being a famous knight at the court of Camelot.

I easily could bring references to our modern times from those two epochs; however, they are less relevant to what is going on right now. I admit, some of the problems our society faces today have their origin in the events almost a thousand years ago. And we really should start talking about it soon. Before you wonder what I’m referring to, research the Crusades and compare them to what’s happening in the world right now. For example 9/11.

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The darkest chapter of our recent history

As a German, as a child who grew up in a divided country, I guess it is natural to research the third Reich and the second World War. I wanted to understand what happened? And most of all, why did it happen? How could our grandparents and great grandparents become such murderous monsters?

It was simply my way of figuring out a path to escape the collective guilt that was put over us. During my childhood and teenage years, it was almost forbidden to be proud of (West-) Germany because of the past. Obviously, 12 dark years have erased a thousand years of history and all of its positive achievements.

It did not take me long until I realized that to cut the history into smaller pieces, is not helpful in understanding what actually happened. To gain a full understanding, one must accept that everything is connected to each other and nothing could have happened without the previous period. The German Empire (1871-1918) passed into the Weimar Republic (1918-1933), which is succeeded by the Third Reich (1933-1945).

The next thing I realized, we condemn one man to blame everything on him, without allowing us to see the real culprits. Adolf Hitler was the leader of the government as chancellor and head of state as president. So, we hold him responsible for whatever occurred during his time. However, it is not giving us the full picture when we just do that. Many of the anti-Jewish laws were actually passed during the German Empire. In short, it all started with Bismarck and ended with Hitler. One is labeled as pure evil, while the other is hailed as a hero and the father of the nation.

The German Empire brought us into the first World War, the conditions of its peace failed the Weimar Republic and caused the rise of the Nazis. And the Weimar Republic not only failed in economic but also in uniting the country. The conditions of the Versailles Treaty and the illegal occupation of the Rhineland by the French army brought the Germans to their knees. Even the US government at that time saw the problems and did not ratify the treaty; instead they concluded a separate peace treaty with the Germans in 1924.

During the 1920s the German people suffered a lot, and the new republic could not provide a stable government. From 1918 to 1933 we had 12 chancellors. During the Hindenburg era emergency decrees governed the country that overruled the parliament. By the time Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor, the country had already been under a dictatorship for a long time.

By end of the 1920s the Weimar Republic faced many sanctions from the financial elite of the world. And most of them had been Jews.

So when Adolf Hitler blamed the financial-Jews for the suffering of the Germans, he was not lying. And those who went through the torture of listening to his speeches will realize that he never mentioned the hardworking Jew.

I personally believe, it is never okay to blame anything on just one group of persons, but I can understand why he did it and how it could lead to the unfolding evil later. Hitler caused the reinforcing anti-Semitic sentiment in the country and did nothing to prevent it, leaving his ministers to deal with it. There first plan was to go by the laws that already Bismarck had created and fulfill the Jewish wish to emigrate to Palestine. So they had to give up all their belongings and wealth in favor of the government and got put on a ship.

Unlucky for all sides, those ships got send back to the Third Reich. This solution failed. In 1942, Himmler played a key role in pushing for the decision to systematically exterminate the Jews. Adolf Hitler was unaware of the Wannsee Conference and it is likely that he later signed the law without reading the paper. With the backfire of the Russian Campaign and the trouble in the war he simply had other worries to deal with.

I by no means want to convince you that Hitler was innocent; however, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that there had been other perpetrators who acted on their own. So Hitler was not the all-powerful Fuhrer as the modern history claims, but only the leader of his government. And to make it even worse, he was the elected leader of a rightfully elected government.

To be clear, neither the deportation nor the holocaust should ever had happen. And most importantly, we should never repeat it and yet, we are close to do it all again.

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The modern downfall and the rise of the new Nazis

“It makes me very, very sad, the whole story. I never thought it would happen again. Because that’s how it started back then. We are the ones who experienced this. Some of us are still alive now. It is particularly diffictult for us to understand. And very sad.”

- Holocaust surviver Margot Friedländer

There are many similarities between the rising of the NSDAP and the Afd of today. Both use the same rhetoric, they use the same collective blame and most of all they do it within the boundaries of the laws. Few years ago I already realized that we run towards the repetition of history.

During the last month, especially after the Potdamer Treffen, even the last holocaust survivor warn us and state that it had started the very same way as it is starting now. When the AfD is talking about the `remigration´ of foreigners, the revocation of the German passport of undesirable persons, they do exactly at the NSDAP did in the 1930s.

Exactly like the old Nazis they want to send them out into another state. But what will happen when those states close their borders? As the British have done with Palestine in 1938? We are talking about approximately 20 million undesirable persons who cannot leave Germany then. A final solution that involves gas chambers is no more new to us.

With the introduction of the AfD in Germany, the election of President Trump in the USA, we lost our faith in the truth. Better, we stopped believing those who say they are telling the truth. But the fact is, we lost our faith a long time ago and most of all; we lost it because we had to face way too many smaller and bigger lies over the last decades.

Suddenly we all are in a position where we are no more sure what is right and what is wrong, the same climate the NSDAP had created during the late 1920s.

The leaders try to blame certain persons for the dissatisfaction instead of questioning themselves. For some years now, we started to re-questioning the facts, and when we don’t like them, we ignore them as long as we can blame everything on someone else.

History clearly shows that none of that is new. However, this part is hardly taught in schools. In fact, they taught us how to blame everything on just one person, ignoring the rightful process that led to the results we know. How can we trust facts after we learned that they can be manipulated in favor of opinions to serve a greater cause?

And it is not only Germany that faces such danger this time. I can see the Rwanda bill in the United Kingdom. I hear what Donald Trump is saying in the USA and can see what Putin’s Russia is doing. The entire world comes close to the brink of collapse and the beginning of a new World War.

And it all started with small and unimportant lies that poisoned the mind.

Even though it looks all dark now, there’s still a little spark of hope burning. And we should start to learn our lessons from the history. But to do it, we have to start to be honest about what happened and analyze the events without reservation or the fear of consequences. I am aware that it will mean that we have to accept that some evil events were unavoidable and many more factions were involved.

The events are always a summary of everything and not just based on only those facts that are in favor of our own opinion. The better the education will be, the more honest the reports about happenings are, the less suffering and hatred they create.

Instead of blaming others, we should look for common grounds. Instead of blaming others for our suffering, we should look for solutions. Instead of hating each other, we should learn from each other. The moment we unite in our diversity, we open a gate to paradise.

“I say be human. We are all the same. There is no Christian, Muslim or Jewish blood. There is only human blood. Everything is the same. If you are human, you will know that a human would not do such a thing.”

- Holocaust surviver Margot Friedländer

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About the Creator

Christian Bass

An author, who writes tales of human encounters with nature and wildlife. I dive into the depths of the human psyche, offering an insights into our connection with the world around us, inviting us on a journeys.

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    Christian BassWritten by Christian Bass

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