Re­mem­ber­ing the fallen

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place -

War-wari­ness was at its height when Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Neville Cham­ber­lain sought to ap­pease Ger­man leader Adolf Hitler by agree­ing to Nazi oc­cu­pa­tion of part of Cze­choslo­vakia. When Cham­ber­lain de­clared ‘‘peace for our time’’ had been se­cured in 1938, he did so amid a cheer­ing crowd of Bri­tons.

Less than a year later, he de­clared war and con­demned Hitler. ‘‘His ac­tion shows con­vinc­ingly that there is no chance of ex­pect­ing that this man will ever give up his prac­tice of us­ing force to gain his will. He can only be stopped by force.’’

In 1940, when Cham­ber­lain re­signed, his lan­guage was stronger still.

The over­whelm­ing les­son from World War II is this: Pur­su­ing peace does not al­ways re­sult in peace.

As An­zac Day nears, the lessons of both wars are to the fore in a volatile world.

There is no per­fect for­mula or ide­ol­ogy that makes war ob­so­lete.

Hu­mans are as flawed as they al­ways were, and coun­tries and groups of peo­ple have in­ter­ests to pro­tect.

For the ide­al­is­tic, the trou­ble is that might makes right: The pow­er­ful al­ways have the up­per hand.

Putting pol­i­tics aside, the power of An­zac Day is in its unit­ing mes­sage: We shall re­mem­ber them.

More than 18,000 New Zealan­ders lost their lives in WWI. And in New Zealand, Massey Univer­sity war his­to­rian Glyn Harper has made real-life ac­counts of the Great War ac­ces­si­ble, even to chil­dren.

There are no easy an­swers, but un­der­stand­ing the sac­ri­fices of war – bal­anced by the need to stand up for what’s right – can only be help­ful.


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