Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A World War 2 "Kick"

Yep. It's happening. I'm officially on a World War 2 kick (hereafter to be referred to simply as "the kick"). I've been on such a "kick" before, but not this bad. I think what makes this current "kick" so potent is the time and resources I have to really study what happened in our world from 1933-1945--something I have not had during the last four years of seminary.

(I also think Ken Burns' series entitled "The War" on PBS also got me going...not to mention the new WW2 strategy game I've been playing lately).

Anyway, the latest chapter in my "kick" was the purchase of an illustrated book called The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by Chris Bishop and David Jordan. It is a fairly in-depth account of every major event involving the Nazis from 1933-45. It is a large, fascinating book with many pictures and over 100 maps. I did a double-take when I looked at the price-tag in Borders yesterday...only eight bucks on sale! I had some left-over money on an old Borders gift card so I bought it...

And a latte.

As I read this book, I am so fascinated by the people who lived during that time...for a variety of reasons. First of all, I am quite fascinated that an entire nation of people could ever follow a short, really loud guy whose native language ensures that every other word will result in large amounts of saliva being flung in a ninety degree arc in front of him. Maybe they liked the mustache.

Name: Adolf Hitler. Interests: I like small, furry animals; lazy days by the beech; Sunday afternoon drives in a Panther tank; taking trips to places I have conquered; and mustaches that look I like I forgot to wipe my upper lip after drinking some chocolate milk. If interested: Please contact Herr von Ribbentropp or Hess. If you survive the trial based on ridiculous, trumped up charges we like to use to convict people we dislike purely based on their ethnicity, maybe we can go out on a date. I haven't conquered India yet. That might be something fun we could do.

But then I am reminded of the social situation in post-World War 1 Germany. These people were ready to follow anyone who promised to restore their national pride, help them escape from the punitive terms of the Treaty of Versailles, and fix the economy so that a loaf of bread could cost less than $20. This doesn't excuse the incredible atrocities of Nazi Germany or the part that the citizenry had in empowering those atrocities. But it does make me pause and ask the question, "If I had been living in Germany in the 1930s, would I have been caught up in the pageantry, display of world-class power, and the gratifying, unifying feeling of extreme nationalism?" Quite honestly, the answer scares me. I don't think I want to know the answer. I guess I would hope that the Lord would help me run into someone like Dietrich Bonhoeffer in such times as those. I would need someone to help me drop my sword...someone to help me suffer for righteousness. That would be tough. I love my sword and I hate suffering.

Anyway, I have a lot more to say about WW2. Gotta go for now...


Ellen Buerger said...

I love the "kicks" you get on Babe. I attribute all my expertice on Aldoph Hitler to you.
I love all your blog posts so far! You make me laugh and challange my heart and mind. Thanks for sharing your heart on the internet for all the world to see.
Ellen B

Kayla Vernise said...

i tend to get on "kicks" myself, but rarely (and by rarely I mean never) get on kicks about history. maybe i should try it sometime. i usually "kick" on diet coke, running, and dance parties. ~k

John Buerger said...


I have yet to get on a kick about diet coke, but I am currently on a running kick. It's kind of fun. The most fun part is how my incredible physique now allows me to run over a mile without curling up in the fetal position on the floor for the rest of the day. My next goal is to make it to two miles. As for dance party kicks, I will admit that I had quite a dance party kick at my sister-in-law's wedding last spring. Just ask anyone who was there. I was one rad, bad, dad of a rug-cutter.

I highly recommend getting on some kind of kick about history, though. History gets a really bad rap on sit-coms, the movies, and in too many classrooms because I don't think it is taught very well, most of the time. It's really not about names, dates, and really old places that don't matter anymore. Instead, it is the story of how we got to where we are now. And I have found that understanding that has greatly helped me understand others, where they're coming from, why they're coming from there, and how I should think about it.
But I'm also a nerd--someone who, by definition, isn't supposed to be fun. If I were you, I would definitely take that into consideration.