World War II was one of the most terrible tragedies in the history of the mankind. World War II affected the life of all people regardless of their social status, wealth, race, religion and political ground. In this respect, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that World War II affected the most ordinary individuals, who could not influence decision-making process which led to the outbreak of the war and numerous casualties brought by the war.
In this respect, it is worth mentioning the fact that traditionally, the war w as defined as a noble act of the protection of the motherland, nation, family and so on. For instance, such acclaims were very popular during the war: “No compromise is possible and the victory of the democracies can only be complete with the utter defeat of the war machines of Germany and Japan.”¯ (Keegan, 198). The same idea can be traced in the saying of Winston Churchill, who said that “We shall defend our island whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on beaches, landing grounds, in fields, in streets and on the hills. We shall never surrender”¯ (Keegan, 211). At the same time, it is not only allies, who appealed to the patriotic feelings of people in the war. The same trend can be traced in speeches of Nazi leaders, including A. Hitler: “I am asking of no man more than I myself was ready throughout four years to do”¯ (Keegan, 215).
In such a way, political leaders and decision-makers appealed to patriotism of ordinary people involved in the war.
However, what the war actually brought to people was terrible and unbearable for normal people. In fact, the war brought humility: “Humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in blood of his followers and sacrifices of his friends”¯ (Keegan, 175). Soldiers involved in the war could not afford the war they just wanted to go back home: “Sure, we want to go home. We want this war over with. The quickest way to get it over with is to go get the bastards who started it”¯ (Keegan, 223). At the same time, it was obvious that World War II aimed at the protection of interests of a few or as Winston Churchill said about World War II: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”¯ (Keegan, 235).
The war destroyed the life of ordinary people. As it has been already mentioned above soldiers wanted to escape from the war and so did the overwhelming majority of people, who just wanted to do their routine jobs and lead a normal but peaceful life. In this regard, it is possible to refer to E. M. Remarque, who depicted the life of real people both soldiers and civilians in the wartime. He stressed that “a hospital alone shows what war is”¯ (Remarque, 76).
This means that the war caused severe injuries which affected and change the life of millions of people, who became handicapped because of the war. In such a context, it quite ironic that the war was brought by a few people, who were in power about which Remarque points out almost sarcastically: “It is very queer that the unhappiness of the world is so often brought on by small men”Ā (Remarque, 101). In such a situation, the author depicts feelings of ordinary soldiers and people, who have witnessed the war with their own eyes for the first time: “We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces. The first bomb, the first explosion, burst in our hearts. We are cut off from activity, from striving, from progress. We believe in such things no longer, we believe in the war.”Ā (112). Obviously, the war was a great shock for young people, who could not afford the horrors of the war and suffered not only from physical injuries but also from profound psychological traumas.
At the same time, people involved in the war did not become thoughtless beasts. In stark contrast, whatever side they took, they preserved their human nature: “But now, for the first time, I see you are a man like me. I thought of your hand-grenades, of your bayonet, of your rifle; now I see your wife and your face and our fellowship. Forgive me, comrade. We always see it too late. Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that we have the same fear of death, and the same dying and the same agony–Forgive me, comrade; how could you be my enemy?”¯ (Remarque, 187). Nevertheless, World War II had a disastrous impact, especially on young people: “I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. I see how peoples are set against one another, and in silence, unknowingly, foolishly, obediently, innocently slay one another.”Ā (Remarque, 198). In such a situation, it is quite symbolic that people do not have some exorbitant needs. In fact, the war could be easily prevented: “Give ’em all the same grub and all the same pay/And the war would be over and done in a day.”Ā (Remarque, 39). However, as the war carried on, people grew more and more exhausted, both soldiers and civilians: “Let the months and years come, they can take nothing from me, they can take nothing more. I am so alone, and so without hope that I can confront them without fear. The life that has borne me through these years is still in my hands and my eyes. Whether I have subdued it, I know not. But so long as it is there it will seek its own way out, heedless of the will that is within me.”Ā (Remarque, 214). Being overwhelmed with horrors of the war, ordinary people forgot the normal lifestyle and what it was to be a human: “A man cannot realize that above such shattered bodies there are still human faces in which life goes its daily round. And this is only one hospital, a single station; there are hundreds of thousands in Germany, hundreds of thousands in France, hundreds of thousands in Russia. How senseless is everything that can ever be written, done, or thought, when such things are possible. It must be all lies and of no account when the culture of a thousand years could not prevent this stream of blood being poured out, these torture chambers in their hundreds of thousands.”Ā (Remarque, 225).
In such a situation, people need to learn lessons from World War II to avoid the disastrous impact of the war on their own life. In this respect, it is important to remember that there was no one, who lived in that time and who could have escaped the impact of World War II. Today,”¯the world must know what happened, and never forget”¯ (Keegan, 138). World War II was one of the most notorious tragedies in the history of the mankind: “Historically, democratic societies have been slow to react to gathering threats, tending instead to wait to confront threats until they are too dangerous to ignore or until it is too late. Despite Nazi Germany’s repeated violations of the Versailles Treaty and its string of provocations throughout the mid-1930s, the western democracies did not take action until 1939. The US Government did not act against the growing threat from Imperial Japan until the threat became all too evident at Pearl Harbor.”¯ (Dr. Condoleezza Rice, US National security advisor, 2004). In this respect, it is important to remember that the war was a true slaughter for soldiers where they had to kill each other because: “No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country”¯ (Coppola).
In such a way, people should remember about the horrors of the war and avoid it by all means.