Reading through the various news sites, a few stories caught my attention this morning. All three are WW2 related. One is a story about MIA’s, the other two Holocost related. Each has its interesting aspects, and one might be far more important than seems on the surface.
First off is the tale of 3 MIA’s from WW2 being identified:
I need to look into the numbers, but IIRC, several thousand soldiers, sailors and airmen remain missing from WW2. There are even still MIA’s listed from WW1 and the Spanish-American War. This is proof that even though WW2 is long over, and our “Greatest Generation” is disappearing at an alarming rate, we still take full advantage of each possibility that arises to determine the fate of our missing soldiers (Ted Sampley not withstanding).
The other two stories are a bit more, “sordid,” and have a certain dark aspect to them. But don’t let that disuade you. These are the sorts of stories that must still be told.
First off, aformer SS guard was deported from Canada to Italy. The man dubbed the “Beast of Bolzano,” Michael Seifert, was extradited from Vancouver to Toronto then on to Rome. He had been tried and convicted in absentia in 2000 under an Italian Military Tribunal (where have I heard of those before Hmmmm?). Canadian authorities tried to strip him of his citizenship for having hid his past when he entered the country in 1951. The Canadian Supreme Court finally ruled against him, and off he went. Read the story here: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,330809,00.html
The other story comes from France, where they are still dealing with their role not only in WW2, but in how the nation reacted to the attrocities of the Holocost. This has been a sticky issue in France since they were liberated in 1944, more so as it applies to the Vichy regime. Some such as the right wing loon Jean Marie LePen, have and will argue against this sort of thing, but that’s part of the whole problem in France and its national memory.
To combat this in a small degree, French President Nicholas Sarkozy has proposed a plan for French school children to “adopt” a Holocost victim. The story is here: http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/02/15/france.sarkozy.ap/index.html
I find this to be an admirable effort on his part. The resistance from the Teacher’s Unions, and the LePen rightists is not going to win out hopefully. I like the concept honestly. Each school child would “adopt” a child sent off to the camps, learn about them as people, and their eventual fate. My only disagreement is the level of schooling that this would be implemented for.
I have an 11 year old daughter in the 5th grade. While she is very intelligent, very observant, and handles complex issues well, I’m not sure or convinced that she has the necessary life experiences and knowledge base to handle such a task. If this was targeted at 7th or 8th graders (or the French schooling equivalent), I would have no issue at all.
We don’t have a standard program like this in the US as far as I am aware. Much of this varies from state to state. Here in NY we have mandated progams not only on the Holocost, but on the Irish Famine of the 1840’s, and on the Armenian Genocide. But nothing quite so personal as Sarkozy’s proposal.
As Sarkozy said, “If you do not talk to them of this tragedy, then you should not be surprised if it repeats itself,” Sarkozy said. “It is ignorance that prompts the repetition of abominable situations, not knowledge. Make our children into children with open eyes.”