When I was in the sixth grade, we studied World War II and watched a movie in our classroom that depicted life in a concentration camp. I remember sitting, riveted in my chair unable to comprehend what was being portrayed on screen. It was hard for me to believe that this had actually happened to real people. This was my first introduction to the horror that was WWII and the Holocaust. The details of this period in time gripped me like none other. I spent hours pouring over WWII books and watching movies. The summer before 7th grade, I spent laying on my stomach in the backyard reading the entire Time-Life World War II series. All 39 books. It was an obsession with me to read and watch more and more.
It's hard to put my finger on what enthralled me about the era. Perhaps it was the struggle of good vs. evil. Perhaps I identified with the persecution and attempted annihilation of a religious group. Perhaps it was the romance of the time--heroes fighting for freedom and the women they loved, women taking to factories for the first time in their lives, victory gardens, etc... I guess it was all of these things rolled together.
I talked about it nonstop with my mom and dad, friends, teachers...anyone who would listen. I got the game "Axis and Allies" for Christmas when I was 13. It was all I wanted. I made my parents play it with me over and over again. I'm sure they were terribly bored! I was obsessed. In high school, we read the book "Delivered from Evil," in my American History class. I spent one weekend reading the entire 1000 page book and loved every exhilarating minute of discussion that we had in class about it.
I lost touch with this passion I had after high school. I still enjoyed watching WWII movies like, "Schindler's List" and while Chris sat with his head between his knees during "Saving Private Ryan" because the beach landing scene made him light headed, I sat transfixed, unable to take my eyes off the screen. We watched the series "Band of Brothers" faithfully together. And then, nothing for several years.
Last week, I checked out "The Winds of War" by Herman Wouk from the library. While reading this book, I felt my familiar love of the history of the WWII time period return. I finished the book and am now reading it's sequel. I have found that the History and Military History channels have several shows dedicated to WWII history. Last night, I was watching a show about the last days of the war and it was showing liberation of some of the concentration camps by the American soldiers. I had to stop watching after a few minutes because the suffering of those interred there seemed much more acute to me now that I am a mother. It is unimaginable. So much hatred...I can't understand it.
I feel overwhelming emotion in trying to end this post. I started it on July 28th and here it is August 5th and I still don't know what to say. I want to sneak in my baby's room and cuddle her and whisper a prayer of thanksgiving for being born into the world now and to a safe haven from the evils of the world. I think I will.