Wednesday, April 11, 2012

An explanation of my love for WWII.

Caution: I'm seriously going to nerd it out in this post. Brace yourselves. You have been warned.

Obviously I don't love WWII as a war. I think it's the most awful war in history. It's the war to end all wars. There was nothing like it and I pray there never will be.

But I still think it's the most complex and intriguing period in history. I adore learning about it. I've read countless books about it. I've done endless online research on it. Since I was a kid, it's been something that's fascinated me. WWII was full of brilliant leaders, unbelievable atrocities and unexplainable occurrences.

One of the most curious parts about WWII involves Adolf Hitler. How did it happen? How could one man do so much? One man who grew up as a nobody and wanted to go to art school and perhaps was just a little bit crazy. How did he grow up to be one of the most powerful men in the world, further pursuing what the great Napoleon aimed and failed to do a century before (building a great European empire)? How did he convince millions of Germans that what he was doing was right, yet rise a despairing nation into one of nationalism and pride? How did he kill millions of Jews with no one stopping him? It's almost unbelievable that so much power could fall into the hands of one person in a not-so-long-ago time.

WWII had the most interesting leaders. Benito Mussolini and Hitler were both fascists, a political ideology that had never really existed before, and Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill are probably the most inspirational leaders in modern history (in my opinion). But how did FDR and Churchill agree to ally with Josef Stalin, a communist that was their political polar opposite? I don't know if that's happened before in history, but to me, that seems like something really special, given the further Cold War conflict that followed the war.

The American homefront is really interesting to learn about, too. I love learning about how the women took all the jobs the men had before they went off to war. I've seen videos of women working in ammunition factories and other dangerous, laborious jobs; jobs that obviously were not obtainable to them in that time period otherwise. Honestly, I don't hear much of women working in these positions even today, though I'm not sure if that's because they don't want to or because they're not allowed to. It's impossible to imagine the difficulties they went through, worrying about the lives of their husbands, boyfriends, sons, brothers, but nonetheless I think WWII really showcased a powerful symbol of feminism in a male-dominated society.

This is pretty much irrelevant, but the WWII cultural period is so interesting to learn about. I love listening to music from the 40s and seeing how war influenced the lyrics of the music, but also the optimism the performers had as they tried to focus on things outside of the horrible war. I just love seeing that even though it was a "total war" (an all-consuming war that involved everyone, both the soldiers and those on the home-front), people still tried to be optimistic. I don't know, that just seems like a really powerful symbol of hope and perseverance to me. Plus, a lot of my favorite movies were made during the WWII era.

Of course, there were so many awful things about this war: the atomic bomb, the Holocaust, the Japanese invasion of China (including the "Rape of Nanking," where Japanese soldiers basically slaughtered all the men, women and children they could see, and raped the women too), the millions of soldiers and civilians that died, and so much more. War is awful, but I think that it's so important to study it. I know that this post probably seems to romanticize war, and I know that I could never possibly understand what the people who lived through it went through, but I want to try. I want the people who lived and died through WWII to know they aren't forgotten, and the only way I can really do that is to learn as much as I can about it.

(Guys I really hope you don't think of me negatively because I love learning about WWII. Maybe it seems like I like war because I like learning about it. Please don't think that's the case!)


  1. WWII fascinates me too. It was a complicated event in history. And like you said, everyone was involved whether directly or indirectly. Like my country, Indonesia. It had been under Dutch colonization for about 300 years but because of WWII, the Japanese invaded and occupied the land, thus ending the Dutch rule. And it kind of sparked nationalism and fueled the independence movement. Sometime later the Dutch tried to reestablish its rule but failed to do so and officially considered the country independent.

    I'm also curious to know more about Hitler. My psych class touched on the psychological aspect of the Holocaust, like the Stanley Milgram experiment on obedience to authority. But there are still questions that remain unanswered. I don't think the things we learn will fully explain everything. Some things will remain unexplainable and intricate, I guess.

    Okay, enough of this babbling. But I would like to say that I definitely do not see you in a negative light for your love of WWII. I think it's really cool that you're interested in it and take the initiative to learn more for personal reasons, haha. :)

  2. What a brilliant post. I find people who are passionate about things really interesting and I love reading things when the person writing it is clearly passionate about it.

    I love History and although I don't love WWII I do find it interesting. And the way you write about it is amazing.

  3. I loved learning about WWII as well, it always fascinated me at school so you're not alone!

  4. I love learning about WWII, it's like a great novel, showing how brutal the world becomes when corruption gets to the top..

  5. I love reading about WWII as well, and I am in general a bit of a wannabe war-buff. I've spent hours trolling on Wikipedia reading about WWII related articles and just branching off from the main topics into little sub-areas. It's such an interesting (but dark) period of human history.

    I do wonder as well how atrocities like those that were committed were brought about. What was the thought process? How was that possibly justified in peoples minds? I mean the war crimes that were committed... seriously, what the actual f*ck. I read about Nanking. Parts of that little saga in history were literally hard to read, much less comprehend.

    As much as we can learn from what happened and how to avoid such events, I think it's a sad fact of life that there will always be conflict between humans. Even now. It's ridiculous to think about, that after so long some people still haven't risen above it.

    There's this quote from Friedrich Hegel that sums it up:
    "The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history."

    Sad, but true, apparently.


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