I think it’s impossible to be in Germany and not think about WWII. As Americans, we spend a lot of our childhood history classes learning about Adolf Hitler, the Nazis and the concentration camps. We’ve painted Germany as this evil country that allowed all of these terrible things to happen. And somehow in our minds Germany remains the country it was 50 years ago. For the record, this isn’t true in the least. Germany is a modern country with modern people who just want to move on. I almost said they want to forget the past, but I don’t think that is the case. It seems that they are willing to accept the past and recognize it as a way of ensuring it doesn’t happen again.

Today, in Munich, Tony and I passed a Jewish monument and a Jewish museum of some sort. It was getting late so we didn’t go inside, but it really got me thinking.

For so many years I’ve heard people pose questions like, “How could the German public allow something so horrific to go on?” and “Why didn’t they do anything to stop it?”

I think this is silly thinking. Why didn’t they do anything? Well, the No. 1 reason was probably fear. They didn’t want to end up in the concentration camps themselves, nor did they want their families sent there. In a repressive government you don’t speak out lest you end up in a grave.  Secondly, I think many of the German people were probably trying to just live their lives with some degree of normalcy. After all, they’d spent the past 30+ years at war. But lastly, and more to the point, I think they were just apathetic.

As I said they’d been at war for 30+ years. They were probably sick of hearing about the war. Tired of trying to fight or make a change in a government that was fully out of control. After all, the United States has only been at war for five years and the apathy of the American public can be felt worldwide. People ask why Americans re-elected George Bush. Why didn’t Americans do more to stop the war in Iraq? Why? Why? Why?

Well, the truth is Americans just don’t care anymore. And those who do care feel like they can’t do anything to change it anyway. We register to vote. We protest. We write letters and volunteer and what do we get? Nothing. We get the world thinking that all Americans support this war, or at least the 51 percent who re-elected our war president.

Now, I’m not comparing the Iraq War with WWII, nor am I comparing George Bush with Adolf Hitler. What I am comparing is the apathy of the American people with that of the Germans 50 years ago. Not only that, but the general laissez-faire attitude of the rest of the world. It seems no other countries want to get involved because they don’t want to start a WWIII. But I hope if the next president is as gung-ho about starting wars where they shouldn’t be, then some country out there will step up and say no. America needs to be put in its place if Americans aren’t going to stand up and change things themselves.

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