Tuesday, September 6, 2011

WWII and a hard question

This month we are studying WWII for history. It's something Alec has been asking about. Derek is a big WWII history expert. He has read probably every book ever written on WWII, knows insane amounts of information on the subject, especially when it comes to the air war (the Air force, Luftewaffe etc.). We started last week learning about it, starting a little before the beginning, so that we understand why WWII started. A quick study of the Treaty of Versailles, and a brief background of Adolph Hitler's life, and how he came to be in power.
You may or may not know that my mother-in-law is German. She was born in tiny town on the Rhine River at the end of WWII. Her mother was a distance runner in Germany. She was supposed to compete in the 1940 Berlin Olympics that were cancelled because of the war.

This is a picture of her shaking hands with Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, one of the most evil men in history. Josef Dietrich, a highly decorated SS general is standing to the left. The man in the middle My father-in-law wasn't too sure of who it was. Derek said that he would have to look a little harder to see if he could recognize him.
This was the article published in the local news paper, Her now shaking hands with Adolph Hitler.
The picture and the news paper article are scans that my mother-in-law sent me. They are of course old, and not in the best shape. But a fantastic part of history. It was great to be able to show Alec the connection he has with this part of history, however dark it may be. I also told him the story of his grandma's birth which is an interesting one. The night Ilse went into labor the Allied forces were doing bombing runs. Hermann (or Opa as we called him) wanted to take her to the hospital. She adamantly refused, she wanted to deliver at home. Oma & Opa were pharmacists, they owned and ran a pharmacy in their town (still in operation today, all tho it is no longer run by the family). So Ilse gave birth at home, in their apartment above the pharmacy. That night the Allied forces bombed the hospital where Hermann wanted to take Ilse to to deliver. Everyone inside the hospital died. A little over a month later the Germans surrendered to the Allies and the war was over.
As part of the history lessons, we are also reading The Diary of Anne Frank. We have been talking about the holocaust, and watched a documentary on the Frank family. He has learned that it wasn't just Jews that Hitler sent to the concentration camps, basically anyone that wasn't German/Aryan was sent as well.
I can tell it has got Alec thinking about things. Today he connected some dots.
See he is also working on our family tree. Learning about his family history, where we came from etc. He asked me today that had our family lived during the time of WWII in Germany, would we have been sent to a concentration camp.
Wow. Heavy question.

Kids can't ever ask easy questions can they?

On a lighter note the weather has been wonderfully cool the past 2 days! We spent the day yesterday at the park
Went on a short hike. It was just a beautiful day for it. This morning for PE we took the big black dog for a run. Well a 1 block run, then we had to "encourage" her the rest of the way. 9 year old great danes don't like to move much :)

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