Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Bridge Too Far

Day 7 - It's late 1944, and the Allied armies are confident they'll win World War II and be home in time for Christmas. What's needed, says British general Bernard Law Montgomery, is a knockout punch, a bold strike through Holland, where German troops are spread thin, that will put the Allies into Germany. Paratroops led by British major general Robert Urquhart and American brigadier general James Gavin will seize a thin road and five bridges through Holland into Germany.

This is the trailer for the movie "A Bridge Too Far." The bridge "too far" is in Arnhem but one of the other bridges is in Nijmegan, the Netherlands oldest city, and was the site of an important battle in WWII - Operation Market Gardens. The operation did not succeed and I recommend you read a book or see the movie to understand the entire history of this failed attempt. Here is our ship docked with the Nijmegan bridge in the background.

In the afternoon we went to the National Liberation Museum which covers the period preceding WWII, the Netherlands' occupation and its rebuilding following liberation. Being in a precarious geographic location, the Netherlands suffered greatly during the war. What I found interesting was the attempt to tell people what led up to the war. The only picture I took was of a memorial that listed Ancel D. Mullins' death on the date of Ted's birth.

However, I want to share a few things I read on plaques.

Facism and its characteristics

The state or the party control all segments of society and enforce obedience with secret police.

Blind faith in the leader that thinks and decides for the entire population.

Heirarchy among races.

All citizens are continuously immersed in party ideology.

Emotions, not rationality, of the average person on the street, are addressed.

Causes of Fascism in Germany and Italy

Severe poverty and unemployment due to the economic crisis of 1921 and 1929.

Fascist leaders use modern media to exploit mass psychology and thus influence large masses of people.

There was also a poem I'm sure most of you have heard at one time or another but I think it bears repeating here.

First they came for the communists
And I did not speak up
Because I was not a communist

Then they came for the social democrats
And I did not speak up
Because I was not a social democrat

Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak up
Because I was not a trade unionists

Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak up
Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for the Catholics
And I did not speak up
Because I was a Protestant

Finally they came for me
But by then there was no one left
To speak up for me

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