What the Germans can teach us about reconciliation

They’re not guilty of the crimes of their ancestors but they are responsible for building a more peaceful and tolerant country

What the Germans can teach us about reconciliationWhen Germany talked about reuniting as one country after the fall of the Berlin Wall in late 1989, many world leaders were quite concerned, especially British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and French President François Mitterrand. But Germany wasn’t the same country it was in the first half of the 20th century, and today it isn’t…

Stalin, Hitler and the fatal mistakes of Operation Barbarossa

Stalin never lost his penchant for executing his officers. In the catastrophic early days of the German invasion, he shot eight generals

Stalin, Hitler and the fatal mistakes of Operation BarbarossaAdolf Hitler launched the German invasion of the Soviet Union – Operation Barbarossa – in the early hours of June 22, 1941. Initially, it looked like a triumph. The Soviets were caught flatfooted and German troops advanced 480 km into Soviet territory within the first week. It looked like an eastern version of the blitzkrieg…

What did Germans really think of Hitler?

The Nazi approach rested on three pillars: popularity, tradition and coercion

What did Germans really think of Hitler?The question of what Germans really thought of Adolf Hitler has been kicking around for as long as I can remember. Were Germans hoodwinked, intimidated or broadly supportive? Or was it perhaps some combination of all three? Robert Gellately is a Canadian historian who has written extensively on Nazi Germany. And his latest book, Hitler’s…

Bringing the Architect of the Holocaust to justice

Was Adolf Eichmann a monster or just a loyal officer in a role that largely revolved around establishing train schedules?

Bringing the Architect of the Holocaust to justiceOn May 23, 1960, Israel announced the capture of Adolf Eichmann. An undercover Israeli security services team had snatched him 12 days earlier in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and smuggled him out of the country by air. The story was an immediate international sensation. If you were only moderately conversant with the Holocaust, you might never…

Don’t sacrifice truth for illusion of security

Very few people have ever had the freedoms Canadians enjoy today. May we always be mindful of this

Don’t sacrifice truth for illusion of securityLike many of my generation of German descent, I’ve had to grapple with an uncomfortable family history. Though I know he came to regret his decision, my grandfather was a member of the Nazi Party and was part of the populist movement that brought them to power. I could make excuses for his decision and…

Three generations of courage and commitment

When you search the name Henry Morgenthau, you find remarkable legacies left by three men of one extraordinary family

Three generations of courage and commitmentAs I examined the history of human rights in America, one name kept coming up: Henry Morgenthau. It turns out I was actually learning about three men: Henry Morgenthau Sr., Henry Morgenthau Jr. and Henry Morgenthau III, father, son and grandson. All of them spoke with courage and together advanced the cause of human rights…

A dose of COVID-19 reality

We need to put the numbers in context, take a close look at Germany's health-care system and be prepared to exit the lockdown

A dose of COVID-19 realityLast week’s column was my first on COVID-19. Here are some further thoughts. Numbers in context A perpetual peeve relates to raw numbers being headlined without reference to the relevant denominator. If you don’t have that context, you get a potentially misleading story. COVID-19 deaths are a striking example. There’s been much focus on the…

Fall of the Berlin Wall was just a starting point

We can never forget the love of freedom and the demand for the respect of the rights of each individual that brought about its fall

Fall of the Berlin Wall was just a starting pointNov. 9 marked the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  This was most significant global event of my lifetime (I was born in 1962) and it’s worth remembering for many reasons. First, it’s significant to note why the wall fell. It simply couldn’t withstand the human desire for freedom. Throughout the communist…

Is the world on the verge of a nuclear winter?

As Trump upsets the world order, many countries may feel they have no choice but to develop nuclear weapons

Is the world on the verge of a nuclear winter?What will the world look like in 50 years – or even 10? One of the rather unsettling possibilities is that the future will have to accommodate a Germany with nuclear arms. For the short period after the Second World War that the United States was the only nuclear power, the world was stable. But…

Believe it or not: There was once a plan for a Franco-British union

From the failed Franco-British Union during the Second World War to Brexit, some things are just meant to fail

Believe it or not: There was once a plan for a Franco-British unionIn these contentious Brexit days in the United Kingdom, it’s strange to remember that there was once a plan for a Franco-British Union. No, I’m not making that up. However short-lived, the plan was real. On June 16, 1940, the British cabinet approved a “declaration of indissoluble union” to this effect: “France and Great Britain…
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