Hitler to Putin

For Christians, the Easter season is a time for reflection and rededication.  This year my reflection got stuck on change, change in humans and my belief that I have helped some humans make some change in their lives

One of the things that I have had to deal with in my sixty years of teaching is the conflict between my desire to help people change and the reality of the results of my work.  The human race does not change easily.  I am beginning to wonder if the basic human being changes at all.  Nowhere has this been made more obvious than in the recent events between Russia and the Ukraine.

In 1938 Adolf Hitler determined that Austria should become a part of Greater Germany.  When the Austrians decided to vote on the issue, Hitler maneuvered a crisis in Austria and then sent in some of the German army to “restore order”.  Then he engineered a crisis with Czechoslovakia over the Czechs treatment of German citizens who lived mostly in the area adjacent to the German border.  This brought the British and French governments (which had defense treaties with the Czechs) running.  The result of this was the Munich conference at which the Czechs had to give up that border region to Germany.  According to Hitler, this was his last demand.  As we all know, that wasn’t true.  Annexation of Czechoslovakia was next.  He moved on to Poland and demanded that Germany be given a corridor through Poland to the free city of Danzig which had been back and forth between Prussia and Poland through the centuries.  At that point Britain and France said this is too much, but Hitler didn’t believe them and we know what happened then.

Well, Vladimir Putin bears more than a passing resemblance to Adolf Hitler.  His take over of the Crimea follows the path of Hitler in Austria.  His bleeding heart for Russians in the Ukraine generally has led to the kind of disturbances in various parts of the Ukraine that Hitler stirred up in countries on his border.  His profession of lack of interest by Russia in further Ukrainian territory follows Hitler’s script.  The fact that Hitler lost at tremendous cost to Russia and the rest of Europe is about the only thing that has escaped Putin.  However, it is not out of the question in the future.

The reaction of most other European countries both times has been hand wringing and verbal admonitions short of threats of action.  Both times governments have basically said “what can we do?  We are dependent on them.  We really can’t do anything to stop them.”  And, it seems that short of war, this is a realistic attitude.

As for me, I lived through World War II, served in the Navy to help prevent the North Koreans from conquering the South Koreans, watched the Vietnam War on TV every night at dinner (while shouting at the TV) and had the continuing round of involvement in war since then flowing over me, I can’t help but wonder what have we accomplished in my lifetime.  Our involvement in war in so many different places doesn’t seem to have made the world a better place to live in.  Hitler to Putin has obviously been preceded by previous lines of one despot to another and I must conclude others will follow.

In addition to wondering what my life’s work in education has meant, I now watch sports and spend little time on the evening news.  I have become one of those people I used to deplore, but I am a lot happier.  The next generation will have to solve the problems created by these bad actors.

  1. #1 by Marvin on April 21, 2014 - 3:32 am

    This is excellent. I find myself become more and more pessimistic. I wonder are there any solutions to so many things we face. Yet we are not living in the Stone Age so we have advanced.

  2. #2 by John Boswell on April 22, 2014 - 2:40 pm

    Marvin, Your comment that we have advanced struck me as being something I overlooked in my blog. While I stick by my feeling that we repeat some of our history, my personal life is certainly better than that of my parents and grandparents. Medicine has come so far from the days of my parents, I have lived a comfortable life with the love of my life and our four children, I have spent almost 60 years doing work I have loved and I am now living in active, comfortable retirement. I am also coming to grips with narrowing the scope of my concerns and realizing that foreign affairs is beyond my influence is one thing I am working on.

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