Explaining World War II to a young person

A friend’s son was playing violin in a chamber music concert recently. At the after-party we were chatting about summer plans with the violist. I mentioned plans to go to Oshkosh (more propertly, EAA AirVenture) and noted that people who have restored World War I and World War II airplanes will fly them in. She looked politely blank so my friend said “Those were wars before you were born.” I added “Donald Trump was leading the Germans in World War II. Well… actually it was someone who was very much like Donald Trump.”

15 thoughts on “Explaining World War II to a young person

  1. Trump is the German leader reborn. Their respective birth and death dates can allow that possibility.

  2. I’ll say to her…

    “Interesting… If Donald Trump is like the German leader, why is media allowed to say negative things about him 93% of the time? Why haven’t we annexed Canada and conquered Mexico yet? Why are the ILLEGAL ALIENS and DREAMERS not in death camps? Why haven’t long knives been stuck into the sides of the likes of John McCain and all the other RINO #NeverTrumpers? Oh, and why aren’t you dead yet?”

  3. dwight: Hitler was elected in 1933 and did not annex the Sudetenland until 1938. So Trump is not due to annex Canada until roughly 2022. Germany did not create true “death camps” until after the 1942 Wannsee Conference. So the U.S. would not be due for those until 2026.

    The Nazis did well in an election in July 1932. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_of_the_Long_Knives was July 1934. So we are not due for a political purge until November 2018.

  4. Mymymy corollary to Godwin’s law, in any online discussion, the probability that Trump will be compared to Hitler approaches certainty the longer the discussion goes on.

    Back on topic…

    Movies and miniseries are your friend in teaching history:

    Big Red One, starring Mark Hamill (!)

    Patton, with George C Scott

    The two miniseries, Winds of War and War and Remembrance, with everybody and Robert Mitchum.

    Attack (1956), with Jack Palance, is an obscure personal favourite that made a strong impression on my young son.

  5. Germany and the Soviet Union (Russia if you will) made a secret pact which led to them carving up Poland in 1939. That pact ended in 1941 when Germany invaded the Soviet Union. After the Soviet Union initially had suffered horrendous losses the Red Army managed to destroy the German Wehrmacht and end the war in Europe in 1945.

    From 1938 on it was really uncomfortable to live in Germany and areas controlled by Germany if you were undesirable as defined by the new laws from 1935. My country did not wish to have a mass-immigration scenario, so a policy of denying refugees entry was adopted. This policy was in effect until about late 1942 when it was tweaked slightly. After the war it was more or less agreed upon that that policy had perhaps had some rather unfortunate consequences.

    Over the years since then the policy have changed to allow for a number of additional reason to grant asylum to refugees. The latest test of our policy was in 2015 when we actually did see a mass-immigration scenario.

  6. Jonas: You’re in Sweden?


    shows that your recent immigration policy is helping save a lot of folks from death camps that they’ve organized in Finland and also the death camps that Thailand is running for women (30,349 immigrant women from Thailand and only 8,443 men). The situation in Afghanistan and Syria is apparently reversed. You’re getting more male immigrants than females from those countries.


    says that Sweden “2016 law is restricting family reunification to only those granted refugee status” (good news for those working as refugee bureaucrats since the volume of applications to consider will go up?) and “For a country recently rated the best country to be an immigrant, asylum seekers are now facing deportation and local governments are seeing a significant decrease in funding for aid to recent immigrants.”

    This last part is confusing. U.S. taxpayers are told by politicians that immigration, regardless of the skill level of the immigrants, provides a huge boost to an economy. Yet in Sweden it seems that low-skill immigrants are regarded as a drain on the public treasury.

  7. Also, if a country’s immigration policy is established with a goal of helping those most vulnerable, why favor migrants/refugees who are young and healthy enough to travel thousands of miles overland? As I noted in http://philip.greenspun.com/blog/2015/11/18/if-helping-migrants-is-a-moral-imperative-what-about-non-migrants-from-the-same-countries/ why wouldn’t you instead send Airbus A380s out to pick up the oldest and sickest and bring them back to Sweden?

  8. Rob: Of course! What do you suggest for a time/place? I should be there Monday evening late through Saturday morning early.

  9. Sweden is correct yes.

    Immigration policy and right to asylum is not the same thing. I am mostly talking about right to asylum.

    The right to asylum has never been meant to mean right to permanent residence. In recent history we have however not forcefully repatriated large number people once granted asylum. For example there are still Iraqis from the early 1990s living here. I suspect we will be repatriating more people.

    It is always easier to sympathize with refugees who share your cultural background. From a public opinion standpoint denying German Jews entry in the 1930s was for the most part a non-issue. Norwegian and Danish Jews in 1942 and 1943 was a different matter. (If you were a skilled Danish, business person with contacts at say ASEA in 1943, you would be set up within days.)

    We have tried the idea of actively seeking out people before. At the end of WWII we sent buses to Germany. One major problem with that approach is that you need the approval of the local authorities. Then as now, regimes gassing their own citizens are probably not that interested in humanitarian initiatives.

  10. Phil,

    I’m still not 100% sure I’ll be making it this year, but if I do it will be early in the week – probably Sunday through Tuesday. So Tuesday sounds good!

    I’ll reach out again when I know for sure. It might be fun to combine it with some of the other meetups I’m aware of that some of the aviation podcasts arrange.

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