Memories of war

In the bookshop, an old bloke had bought something about WW2. For minute or two he reminisced about Churchill and Stalin and victory in Europe. The bookseller, a woman perhaps in her late 30s or 40s, nodded, being polite, fairly obviously not understanding the significance of the events he was describing.

When I was born it was 25 years after WW2 finished. Many veterans still lived among us. It was still there, prominent in people’s minds — you can see it today in episodes of Fawlty Towers made back then, or other writing of the time. My mother used to ponder what life would have been like if the Germans had won. The owner of the shop where I had a part time job in my teens had fought in WW2, on the Kokoda Trail.

This year it’ll be 62 years since WW2 finished. It’s further in the past than WW1 was when I was born. There are fewer veterans left, with them the memories of (almost) an entire planet at war are fading. Soon all will be left is SBS’s weekly Hitler documentary.

Of course there are those who have since fought in smaller conflicts, but it seems the firsthand experience of wartime is no longer part of the common collective consciousness.

Not that that’s entirely a bad thing, of course.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

4 replies on “Memories of war”

It’s a shame that the only legacy we seem to have from the Vietnam War is a whole lot of elderly hippies on motor bike.

While I agree that a collective consciousness of war is not such a great thing, I suspect there could be a link between the decline of the remembrance of the World War and the willingness of leaders on all sides to make war. Maybe once enough people have suffered the effects first hand, maybe then the leaders will work for peace… until we forget again. And so the cycle continues.

I wonder if the collective consciousness is actually a good thing. It seems that the further we have moved away from the great wars the more people are losing respect for others particularly their elders. This probably seems like a big leap but when children were aware of war and the things that people they personally knew had gone through it seems to me that they were a lot more respectful.

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