On air: Does the Second World War still define how we live?

shipAs Mark has already written about, the 70th anniversary has caused many of us to reflect on the war, and we’ll try and pull together your many discussions within the question above. Can you see the consequences of WW2 in your life? And in the position your country takes in the world today?

Is it the most important factor in how we all live? And I’m not just talking about the relations between countries, I also mean the details of each of our lives – from who is our neighbour, to the communities we live in, to the language we use, to the opinions that are and aren’t tolerated where we live.

Let’s take it as read that for all involved this is a human tragedy of unimaginable scale. But are more recent events becoming more significant than those between 1935-45? Maybe, it just doesn’t feel relevant to you, or your country anymore.

Or do you believe it’s the knowledge of WW2 that more than anything stops anything close to it happening again?

And what about how those who were involved now seek to claim their version of history? Do you leaders still use history to serve their own purposes? Some of you feel this is happening in the spat between Poland and Russia.

86 Responses to “On air: Does the Second World War still define how we live?”

  1. 1 Janis Riga, Latvia
    September 1, 2009 at 15:24

    Well WWII affects my life every day. We might have escaped the Soviet rule almost 20 years ago – but still it will take another generation to catch up to the living standarts of western countries. And even though we might be relatively safe inside the NATO and EU – Russia still bullies us in every opportunity. We also have 40% Russian immigrants in our country. But look what is happening in Georgia. The results and consequences of WWII are very visible every day. This is why we must remember our history – so that the mistakes of the past are not repeated again. However – we must look forward to avoid unnecessary confrontation. Today’s youth is not guilty for Soviet or Nazi crimes – and we must put that behind us.

  2. 2 helen in usa
    September 1, 2009 at 15:41

    I don’t know if the knowledge of WWII will prevent another similar war from happening again,but it has put the warning signs on the road so we can recognize it when we see it. What makes my blood freeze about September 11 2001 and the focus on Muslim terrorists is that,first,like the persecution of Jews,the civillian population were targeted:terrorists target civillians. Who knows how long civillians were targeted by the perpetrators of WWII before it became public knowledge;the fighting and the military response is what our focus is on concerning WWII,we don’t often focus on the fact that a civillian population were the victims(except in holocaust language,but six million non-jews also suffered the same fate. And we hear little about that). And if the current situation with the terrorists became huge,I can’t help but see how if there were military or retaliatory measures,they Muslims could become targets for persecution or worse,and this also makes WWII and the way it makes us use it as a reference point today,come to mind.It is frightening to me.And it is nothing I can pretend I don’t recognize.

    • 3 Daniel Zilberman
      September 1, 2009 at 20:04


      Thanks you for pointing out that it is indeed very important for modern states to draw lessons form the deadliest war in the human history so far and avoid policies and situations that led to that war. Both Germany and USSR – the main players in that war – were totalitarian state with ideologies dominating their policies. Part of Nazi ideology was “extermination of sub-human races” which was realized in the horrors of Holocaust and also massive deaths of civilian population in most of occupied countries – and I disagree with you that we hear little about that – we do! Holocaust was systematic extermination of ALL Jewish population in occupied countries in concentration camps by scores of hundreds of thousands – and there were non-Jewish prisoners in those camps who suffered same fate. But the DOCTRINE that led to Holocaust was state dictated deadly “Arian racial superiority ideology” – and that is absolutely impossible to exist in any Democratic, non-totalitarian country.
      Unfortunately some countries that harbor and sponsor Jihadist terrorists support and propagate THEIR deadly ideology – such as infamous Iranian president Ahmadinejad – and there fore make THEIR population potential victims of their dangerous policies. Up to this day Muslims are not persecuted in the USA based on the 9/11 tragedy – quite the opposite, and that’s how democracy should behave. But Democracy should also be able to defend its civilian population against all future threats – including modern days ideologists and “implementors” of racial and religious superiority.

  3. 4 Tom K in Mpls
    September 1, 2009 at 15:47

    It laid quite a bit of the ground work for our current legal and social lives. But that was three generations ago by most counts. A couple of points have grown disproportionally, such as the current anti-Semitic PC scare. But too much has changed to say it defines our lives.

  4. 5 Nengak Daniel, Nigeria.
    September 1, 2009 at 15:52

    WWII sparked a wave of decolonization in Africa. It was after and probably due to WWII that our colonial masters began to leave and the empires began to shrink-in. So in a way, most ex-colonies could trace their independence to this war.
    WWII also created the UN system which has come to play very vital roles in international relations today.
    Although WWII is now only a topic taught in the History class by teachers who only read about it, I think it still affects us today though indirectly, through the seeds it left behind: the political order it created, the destruction it caused, and the lessons it taught us all. I really hope it was the World War that ended all future World Wars.

  5. 6 Linda from Italy
    September 1, 2009 at 15:53

    When looking at how history shapes our lives we have to see this as a continuum, and it’s almost impossible to separate one event from those that follow it and historical memory is something that passes down the generations and colours the attitudes of at least the subsequent generation if not more.
    I was born in 1950, during the war my mother was living in Plymouth, serving in the Wrens and was bombed out of her house three times, my Dad, a regular officer, was serving in the army in various countries as the theatre of war moved on, and he saw not only combat but the run-up to and much of the aftermath of the war in Europe. In addition to the history I learnt at school, the books I’ve read and the films I’ve seen, I had primary sources who lived though the war-time experience shared by many Brits, but my 19 year-old son does not, although he hears them second hand through his parents, and of course has seen a great many of the same films and read the same books.
    You only have to listen to some of the arguments between opposing sides in the Middle East, where readings of history are the weapons each side keeps throwing at the other, and we’re not talking a measly few decades, but centuries, millennia even.
    We are our history but we also risk being imprisoned by it if we don’t develop powers of rational thought to overcome prejudice and live in the present.

  6. 7 Neil
    September 1, 2009 at 15:56

    For a lot of people I think it still has repercussions in some way or another, even if we dont see it.

    For some of us though, I think it is a long forgotten event that very few people know anything about and even worse seem to want to know or even care about.

    Too many people seem to lack any real understanding of the true gravity of those events that took place and are more concerned with petty self indulgent activity than showing any gratitude or respect for a world they would not have if it weren’t for the sacrifice of so many people’s all those years ago, I mean for example, today we even have people whingeing about it taking 10 seconds for a light to warm up…Try a world with no electricity or choice…I now understand why older generations are sickened sometimes by the younger crowd…

    I agree that we need to move forward, but we must also never forget the atrocities done at the hands of brutal tyrants and more importantly the huge sacrifice of those that fall for our freedoms at those hands.

  7. 8 anu_D
    September 1, 2009 at 16:07

    WW-2 doesn’t define how the world lives any more… terrorism does.

    Howvever WW2 did affect the collective psyche of nearly 3 generations of humanity with images of fear and horror from the war and it’s aftermatch living long after the war ended.

    Somewhere in 1990s Islamic terrorism stated gradually displacing the horrors of WW2 and Sep-11 at the start of new century was the “inflexion point”…where terrorism full-fledged took over as the primary and probably only fear that affects how we live in the 21st century

  8. 9 Robz
    September 1, 2009 at 16:19

    WWII has shaped the world we live in,and the political attitude of most western leaders and the eastern block.
    Economicaly,my country,the USA has not moved much beyond WWII;as well as politicaly.
    The old model of capitalism this country has been using since the war no longer works,there is a big fight over changing the system.In the USA,we are falling behind other nations in education and health care.All because people don’t want to pay more taxes,or have government control certain industries.
    So we’re stuck in a rut.
    We all need to put the old things behind us,a new way forward for all.
    Rob in Florida.

  9. September 1, 2009 at 16:25

    The Second World War has somewhat redefined the political landscape of Europe with the emergence of new countries like East Germany and the prevailing Cold War which was an era of mutual suspicion between the Capitalist and the communist blocs. The lessons learnt from WWII is that differences should be settled diplomatically through cooperation and integration instead of coming to a bloody conflict culminating in millions of deaths and irreparable damages.

    There was a case reported by Alistair Cook in his famous “Letter from America”. In the USA, a teacher asked his student who were US allies in WWII. His reply was they were Germany and Japan. After WWII, sworn enemies become close friends. France and Germany become closer after their bloody wars from German unification in 1880 going through the WWI and WWII. People in Europe feel more European through concrete actions like the EU.

  10. September 1, 2009 at 16:31

    The Second World War curbed the power of Japan and its allies. It was a defining moment in history. Had the Japanese not been defeated the whole of South East Asia would have been under the yolk of Japanese tyranny. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki changed the whole course of the war. Lessons in history only make us more resolute never to succumb to tyranny and oppression. Though I was born very much after the end of the second world war, the vivid experiences of my parents, elder brothers and sisters in Malaysia will always remind me of the horrors of war. Statesmen should make world peace their clear cherished goal and they should give up personal aggradizement. We should be thankful to the United States and Great Britain for thwarting Japanese intentions at that time. Of course Japan is a great nation now having learnt the hard way!

  11. 12 nora
    September 1, 2009 at 16:39

    The Second Word War did not end in 1945. The Nazis that moved to Latin America shaped the torture culture under General Pinochet and his friends in the 1970’s. Chile is still dealing with the crimes of Walter Rauff who both invented the mobile death chamber for Hitler and ran the DINA, the secret police for General Pinochet.

    Rock and Roll plugging in sounded too much like WWII and hence the great culture war in every veterans home….now we call it Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

    Raised by two WWII vets I will never escape so perhaps I perpetuate its mark as I run.

  12. 13 Francisco, from Spain
    September 1, 2009 at 16:40

    We must not forget what happened and pay gratitude and respect to those who felt in the war fighting against nazis, due to their sacrifice we are living freely today.
    In the other hand I don’t understand the row between Poland and Russia, nowadays they have different political systems and quarrel from the past should be forgotten, it seems they behave as little childs..

  13. 14 George Papadopolis
    September 1, 2009 at 16:48

    If we don’t remember the various causes, events and outcomes of WWII, we are doomed to repeat them, until we learn from our mistakes.

    Our shared history guarantees this.

  14. 15 CJ McAuley
    September 1, 2009 at 16:50

    As I was born on September 3, 1958; 19 years after the country I was born in and live, Canada, as part of the Commonwealth, declared war of course I remember it every year.
    Whether or not I am here due to WWII is pure conjecture. My maternal Grandfather, a WWI vet and a Scot and an RUC Constable (who died supposedly from a heart attack in 1945) who married an RC woman from Armagh(who died from TB after having 6 children in 1942). If neither had passed early, I doubt that I would exist. If WWII had not occurred, who knows? Perhaps the stress of the war played a part, as perhaps a “mixed marriage” did as well.
    I only know this: I wear a poppy every Remembrance Day week, in respect for all those who fell. I also know that tyrants are by no means “historical” and must be defeated and that despite all the work done to eradicate war, it remains a part of humanity. It is also a fact that the “plebeians” of any society that suffer most in any war! So pay attention to who you elect as leaders, get involved enough to know who you vote for and give absolute trust to NO leader!

  15. 16 Nigel
    September 1, 2009 at 16:56

    Although it doesn’t live daily in our conscious mind, WWII was a major turning point in all of our lives. It created the still active fault line between the Soviet countries and the so called West that still has global implications today. For me personally, born in 1945, it was the ex servicemen and women who I grew up with as teachers, parent’s friends etc. that helped shape who I became and having been able to measure to some small degree how the world is 64 years on we are in much worse shape now than we were back then mainly because of reaction to the war and the opportunities that such reaction offered to politicians.

  16. 17 DOLAPO AINA
    September 1, 2009 at 17:22

    World War 2 history including personal, military accounts is a fascinating gripping tale in all accounts/spheres. Rhetorical questions are always asked.

    Why did what happen, ever happen?
    Why the West sign a pact with Hitler?
    And left the Jews to their fate, only to get into the war when the west was attacked?
    Why did business moguls in the west do business with the Nazi regime?
    Why was the West reluctant to assist those in the German army e.g. Admiral Canaris who wanted to topple Hilter?
    Why was the West oblivious to the impending catastrophe, even though they knew what Hitler was up to?

    So many questions but insufficient and unconvincing official answers. It is obvious economic reasons were behind the West’s initial lukewarm attitude to Hitler’s diabolical causes.

    And sadly, this attitude manifests itself still. The lessons have been learnt. We can only hope the super powers have the moral and political will to take action when such impending scenario rears its ugly head. Judging by the actions of the west and her peers, the actions in present day political logjams can best be described as lacking lax.

    Dolapo Aina,
    Lagos, Nigeria

  17. 18 Mountain Adam Portland, OR USA
    September 1, 2009 at 17:22

    WWII continues to overshadow even 09-11-01. Look simply at the borders of so many nations that were drawn up shortly after WWII. Those borders still exist. Heck there are still wars being fought over them.

  18. 19 Mohammed Ali
    September 1, 2009 at 17:28

    WW II doese not mean a thing to my generation. it does not define how we live today or how we live in the future. What define how we today are poverty, AIDS, malaria and the corruption that have engulfed governments and world bodies.

    • 20 Maxine
      September 6, 2009 at 06:06

      WW11 means a great deal to everyone. If it wasn’t for Hitler and his extermination of the Jews we would not have the mess to-day in Palestine and Israel. Something had to be done with the many Jews who were homeless and stateless, so Israel was created. Many observers say the The Middle East conflict is the cause of most of the violence in to-days world. It seems there is not solution to this conflict.

  19. 21 deryck/trinidad
    September 1, 2009 at 17:29

    Of course it defines how we live today especially im the area of war-mongering. Many leaders from that generation and those just after are very bellicose in nature. They are quick to turn to war to try to solve the world’s problems. As the generations who have experienced the war and its effect directly, die out the way things are done during country disputes will change.

  20. 22 Shannon in Ohio
    September 1, 2009 at 17:33

    Here in the U.S. I think that some (not all) of our now elderly WWII vets want to hold their country back, either because they are unwilling or unable to understand that the U.S. they knew as young men and women is a very different country from the one that exists now–to say nothing of the fact that the rest of the world is very different indeed.

    The sacrifices made by so many people all over the world, including people in my own family, will never be forgotten. No one will forget the stoical Londoners who slept in the subway while fire rained down on them, or the U.S. GIs who stormed Normandy, or the brave Russian Army who fought without cessation, to say nothing of the brave Dutch, French, Italian, Polish and (yes) German civilians who hid their Jewish neighbors from the Nazis.

    These and so many more should be honored forever….but all of us, the citizens of the world, need to move on if we are to accurately understand the poltical situation on our planet as it exists in the here and now.

  21. 23 Justin Durueke
    September 1, 2009 at 17:34

    I was born in the 80’s and did not witness the war. I have read so many articles about the war. I will say in one way or the other the war has affected my life. It has shaped my view of global politics. As events unfold in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia I relate such events to the second world war. The first world war was a European war but the second world war affected everyone in one way or the other. In Africa for instance so many colonial masters gave up their colonies after the war. I honor those soldiers that made the ultimate sacrifice every remembrance day.

  22. September 1, 2009 at 17:47

    WWII was an interuption or a continuation of WWI, Today we are involved in all the ramifications of WWI…….WWII is only a reminder of how really strange, and evil all mankind is, and why there will always be war, useless conflict, and absurd outbursts of violence against our own species.


  23. 25 Robert Macala
    September 1, 2009 at 18:00

    Certainly, because History is so confusing. Everyone reads it differently and
    the past just adds to the present day confusion. We never learn. Without
    the WWII, we wouldn’t have the mess that we have in the Middle EAst now.
    America built up a huge military force and cannot stop building up this mega
    force. We spend 6 billion a year on the military thinking that this huge force will
    make the world safer. It’s not working. Once again, history has tricked us. We never learn.

  24. 26 gary
    September 1, 2009 at 18:02

    Every war generates cascades of individual and collective consequences through time, only a few of which migt be considered wholly good. As the second was spawned by the first, many conflicts owe their birth to WW2. One might especially note Middle Eastern issues yet to be decided.

  25. 27 Ron
    September 1, 2009 at 18:07

    Outside of Europe, Japan and the USA, I don’t think WWII has very much significance besides, well the soldiers from colonies who were herded off against their will to do their masters dirty work.
    I won’t be thinking about it because humans will be humans and wars will always be there, if not because of country ego problems, then because of the scarcity of resources in the future. For me, this topic is rather useless (no offense intended) and as such, i will not tune into WHYS today.
    I would rather have preferred another topic like the US strategy in Afghanistan and how this needs to change instead of some obscure historical event which occurred 70years ago.

    Hope to listen in after the 55 minutes or so allocated to WHYS are done.

    • 28 Linda from Italy
      September 1, 2009 at 22:40

      Sorry Ron,
      Can’t let this go, obscure it may be to you, but look at the consequences that still affect your life today:
      WW2 was WW1 (an even more obscure event perhaps?) round 2
      Immediate consequences: the rise of Fascism in Italy , the economic destruction of Germany = National Socialism and Hitler rise to power, possible side show = Franco in Spain, who allowed Hitler to practice Blitzkrieg in Guernica.
      Results of WW2 – US becomes the dominant power.
      The need for Israel and consequent conflict in the Middle East, leading to Islamic fundamentalism.
      The Cold War (brought on by US hegemony); disasters in Korea and Vietnam (for the people at least); oppression of Eastern Europe, suppression of ethnic identities, leading to emerging conflict in the 90s and serious problems of racial and sexual orientation hatred now.
      Capitalism wins out, humiliating Russia at the same time, the Bear is now waking up – has power not from its nukes, but all that oil and gas – Georgia/Ukraine anyone?
      Can you not see the seeds of the Afghanistan mess? Or will that be too obscure for your consideration in a few years’ time?

  26. 29 julia in Portland Oregon
    September 1, 2009 at 18:09

    I think WWII changed or maybe just amplified the desire of people of that time to make the lives of their decendents better, safer and more profitable. The results of that amplification are still evident in industrialized nations, in the efforts of trying to make life ‘easier’ we have made some things worse and made it somewhat easier to be lazy and created a sense of entitlement. I think the results of the actual fighting have faded – the desire to prevent war and to follow ethical guidelines when in a war are diminished. We are dealing with torture issues that you’d think we’d have learned not to use by now, just see how many people bring up the mistreatment of war prisoners at Bataan. Wee don’t seem to remember or learn very well.

  27. 31 Lisa from Pennsylvania, US
    September 1, 2009 at 18:09

    On a daily basis, WWII doesn’t define how we live because it took place over 50 years ago. But the atrocities that took place during the war must be taught to future generations and remembered on days such as these, I believe this is the only way to prevent such destruction in the future.

  28. 32 Elias Lostrom
    September 1, 2009 at 18:13

    WW2 happened because WW1 was badly ended with the defeated getting to pay reparations. After WW2 we got the bomb and that led to the years of peace, mostly because getting hot would have wiped us all out. Thus, yes, it does define how we live. Now all we have to do is stop our species from becoming extinct by drowning in its refuse and making the planet uninhabitable.

  29. 33 Anthony
    September 1, 2009 at 18:14

    In the States, YES. If it weren’t for the war, the US wouldn’t be the force it is today. The New Deal, forget the New Deal, it was WWII that got us out of the depression. How funny that war was the only thing that saved us.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

    • 34 Keith- Ohio
      September 1, 2009 at 18:55

      Yes. It’s a pity that the US is able to take it’s one big resource: a huge educated work force, for granted in times of peace. Although I would argue, and it is generally accepted, that the New Deal certainly helped the country, and certainly improved working conditions. If not for the G.I. bill, in conjunction with the war, we wouldn’t have the educated work force we do today.

    • 35 gary
      September 1, 2009 at 18:58

      It is interesting to note the number people holding this same opinion do not usually also note that victory wasn’t do to superior bravery, stratagems, or intellect; but to abundant & local natural resources along with superior manufacturing capacities. It was thus not victory, but the productivity that allowed it to occur, that founded a generation of US world dominance. It’s just one more lesson of this “good” war easily forgotten in the quest of wealth for the few at the cost of the many: Service economies can’t produce their way out of a paper bag.

  30. 36 Maccus Germanis
    September 1, 2009 at 18:15

    While keeping in mind the cautionary horrors of WWII, the paralysis of caution following the first World War, should also be considered. In hindsight it is clear that war weary appeasement policies did magnify the consequences of the conflict.

  31. 37 David
    September 1, 2009 at 18:17

    Unfortunately, I think that we are losing the lessons of World War II very quickly, especially here in the United States. The example of sacrifice that men made for the common good during the war will probably never be seen again because of the “What’s in it for me?” mentality of so many these days.

  32. 38 patti in cape coral
    September 1, 2009 at 18:19

    I honestly don’t feel WWII defines the way I live in any way, it seems like one of the many wars that I studied in high school history. In the daily struggle for survival, working, cooking, eating, maybe WWII has changed the grind of daily life, but it isn’t anything I am conscious of. It is really fascinating to listen to people who remember it, however. I also get the impression that people back then put much more of an emphasis on duty and obligation than they do now, which could be good, could be bad, depending on how you look at it.

  33. 39 anu_D
    September 1, 2009 at 18:20

    @ The Indian Lady on air ( parminder?)

    While her “joy & passion” on the “value system” of service people and because her dad partcipated in the WW is evident….her view is hardly represntative of of 99.999% Indians….who have had no direct or indirect involvement in WW.

    Or hardly represntative of the 99.999% of non Indians either in western worlds who were directly involved in the war….as hardly any one has joyous and passionate experiences of WW-2

  34. 40 Andrew in Australia
    September 1, 2009 at 18:21

    It does, though perhaps not as much as it once did. In Europe, Europeans do have long memories, recent problems in the Balkans attest to that and in the rest of Europe many still have first hand memories of the war and its brutality especially if tragedy affected their family directly. Now with younger generations enjoying the benefits of the prosperity and peace that was hard fought for by their parents and grandparents there is considerable disinterest and apathy other than the obligatory lessons in school. Present generations probably will never see the relevance to them and just consign this episode to the dustbin of history as something that happened as previous generations had done with the Great War. On a personal note, my parents experienced first hand the horrors of that war and I was brought up feeling their pain and suffering and sharing their memories. My life would have been very different today had I grown up in my homeland rather than Australia and having taken my mother back only recently to her origins after half a century I can see it will stay with her until she closes her eyes for the last time and a part of that will live on in me.

  35. September 1, 2009 at 18:22

    The Russian Imperialist ambitions of Stalin were thwarted in WWII and finally defeated in 1989.

    Unfortunately Putin is trying to rewite history and promote Stalin again,they are welcome to reignite the cold war ,because they will lose .
    The Germans seem to have learnt the lessons from their defeat,however the Japanese still do not know how to write history and offend their neighbours.

    The UK has just finished paying off their second world war debts to the US(why wasn’t it waived?),it should be declared a national holiday.

    WW2 made the USA and detroyed(as planned)the European colonial powers.

  36. 42 Andrew in Australia
    September 1, 2009 at 18:24

    And why should Poland roll over and let Russia scratch its belly? What Russia, the Soviets – same entity really – did is not something that a country like Poland could or should easily forgive or forget as Putin would like. It is better not to have to bother with what grim actions they perpetrated against Poland when they want to convey a better image to the world.

    • 43 Keith- Ohio
      September 1, 2009 at 18:51

      I agree. Particularly when many former Soviets are now in the Russian government. Both survivors, and now-grown politicians who were taught an aggressive Soviet doctrine and biased history as children. It really hasn’t been long enough to forget.

      • 44 Kris Ringwood
        September 2, 2009 at 01:49

        I’ve spoken with many Poles who went through it, including a Jewish colleague whom escaped to unoccupied France after Poland fell. All of them forgive the Germans, but NOT the Russians! Few people reading these posts realise that the Russian Soviet Union invaded Poland on 17th September 1939 as a result of the soviet-nazi pact of 23rd August 1939. If the men I spoke to are telling the truth, the Soviets killed more Poles, and deported at least as many, to the Soviet Union as did the Germans themselves…Many of the Polish Jews killed were those that fled eastward in the forlorn hope the Nazis wouldn’t follow. Tragically they did…

  37. 45 John in Salem
    September 1, 2009 at 18:26

    I was born the day before the 6th anniversary of Hiroshima and spent my childhood doing pointless “drop and cover” exercises in school. Wherever I’ve lived I’ve been aware of my proximity to the nearest strategic target and what that distance means in terms of probable survival. I’ve lived my life seeing every regional conflict as a potential skirmish in a lead-up to the next, and last, World War.
    Nothing in history has had more impact on the future of our species than WWII.

  38. 46 Xavier
    September 1, 2009 at 18:31

    The nationalism and prejudices that led to WW2, even though to a great extent are reduced, still exist today and are responsible for many of the civil strifes and wars that still plague our world.

    We must continue to refer to this despicable event in history so that the world would never again make the same mistake.

  39. September 1, 2009 at 18:32

    The lady that called from India must be unique because after the war Indians celebrated and celebrate the INA and S.C.Bose and down played and sidelined the WW2 participants.
    A relative of mine won the MC with Bar ,mentioned in dispatches ,fought at Kohima,Imphal and chased the Japanese into Borneo liberating pow camps.His son a retired Indian Army officer kept his photos and medals hidden until 2009 .

  40. 48 Keith- Ohio
    September 1, 2009 at 18:33

    It was a terrible war and was never meant to be the way that humans live with one another. It’s terrible to think that my grandpa was forced to participate in this war, even though the conflict was certainly necessary to combat such an evil threat. Although most of the world has seemed to progress and become civilized, it pains me to still see occasional acts reminiscent of the evil that ignited such a war.

  41. 49 Lew in Ohio
    September 1, 2009 at 18:34

    I don’t believe that it still defines the way we live because these boomers have become the worst group in terms of leadership and stewards of the world in almost every term. While they were the greatest generation at the time there has been a great mystery of why they went on to rest on those laurels and failed their subsequent generations.

  42. 50 Charley in Portland
    September 1, 2009 at 18:37

    The spectre of WWII is still used today by conservative politicians in the USA to promote a militaristic foreign policy.

    Remember that Saddam was compared to Hitler, and negotiations were equated with “appeasement”.

    We call this political tactic “waving the bloody shirt”.

  43. 51 Jule, Riga (Latvia)
    September 1, 2009 at 18:45

    I grew up in Stockholm, Sweden, as a direct result of my grandparents fleeing Latvia during the war. Because of this I have often felt confused, and not really understood where I belong as I’ve grown up in so many different cultures. I am currently in my twenties and trying to return to live in Latvia, but still studying abroad. Now I am grateful for all the languages I speak, and the unique situation I am in as I finally feel I have a future in Latvia.

    The way I have grown up has also influenced the fact that I now study Central and East European Studies at Glasgow University. A general knowledge of what happened during the Second World War is crucial, but it is important to understand that there will never be a universal consensus about what happened during the war, and who is to blame (especially perhaps between Russia and its East European neighbours). I feel it is much more important to focus on current politics, rather than to keep on arguing about the past. I also think it is important to internationally acknowledge all crimes comitted during the war regardless of which nation they were comitted by, rather than just blaming Nazi Germany. I therefore think Poland has taken a very positive step by acknowledging their own crimes but should try to bury the hatchet with Russia.

  44. 52 Tomas in New York City
    September 1, 2009 at 18:45

    Even though the WWII and what came after it affected my family to a great extend, whenever I think of Germany today I think of things such as efficiency, state of the art engineering and good beer rather than the WWII.

  45. September 1, 2009 at 18:46

    There are still some towns in Northern Finalnd that have bylaws which do not allow Germans tourists to carry matches,because they torched Northen Finland as they retreated in WW2.

  46. 54 Ruslan (Philadelphia, PA)
    September 1, 2009 at 18:48

    My Grandfather went to WW2 when he was 17, He was from Uzbekistan, He died less than a month ago when he was 85. He went all the way to Germany.

  47. 55 Dan
    September 1, 2009 at 18:48

    One does not have to be born in or witness WWII but we all are affected.
    We have the great technological advances thanks to WWII but we also have the tremendous waste of resources both human & natural. Hundreds of millions of people dead, resources plundered but I wonder if the worldwide depression would ever have resolved itself without the War?
    We saw the evils of Fascism and never learned the lesson as we see Islamic Fascism destroying peoples lives.
    Would the Soviets have developed at all absent WWII and would America have stretched its power thanks to our industrial might ramped up to defeat the German & Japanese war machines?

  48. 56 Ted S
    September 1, 2009 at 18:50

    I am 21 years old, from the United States. Both of my grandfathers fought in WWII. While I feel that they and those of their generation were courageous and deserve to have the memory of their service honored, I am disgusted at the way WWII is glorified in American culture. I constantly hear people talk about how great “we” are because “we” won World War II. I feel no connection to the actions that were taken by my nation nearly 70 years ago. I am especially ashamed that America dropped the two atomic bombs on Japanese civilians; that genocidal act, no matter how ‘necessary’ to end the war, overshadows any heroism by American forces in Europe.

  49. 57 Chris
    September 1, 2009 at 18:53

    My spouse and I often marvel that the atrocities of World War II happened 10 years, eight years, five years, before we were born. Both of us grew up learning nothing about the war: the people in the States just wanted to forget, I think. As adults, we have both educated ourselves in many aspects of this war, and we are making sure that our son, now 11, understands it also. He first made the connection to his own life when, at the age of four, he realized that one of his friends at pre-school was Jewish—the same as the millions that needlessly lost their lives. His book report in fifth grade was on a book about the Holocaust. It is our obligation as parents to make sure that the legacy and lessons of the War are not forgotten.

  50. 58 Roy Gathercoal
    September 1, 2009 at 18:55

    Why are people saying “this will never happen again.”

    Look at Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine.

    People learned nothing from WW2, and we live in peril if we kid ourselves about this. We are just as willing to go and kill our neighbors today than our grandparents were in 1939.

    Does no one remember George Bush talking about “the axis of evil”? Isn’t this the same language used by both sides in WW2?

    Secret detentions, waterboading, tortue

    There are no horrors we are unable to do now in the interest of “fighting evil.” For Hitler–who was first elected–the war was about fighting the evil that was committed on Germany by the victors of WW1.

  51. 59 martin
    September 1, 2009 at 18:55

    My great uncle was part of the British African forces said to have fought in the war in burma. He never returned the family legend goes, and nobody knows what happened to him – whether he was captured as a Prisoner of War or killed in the one.

    He is referred to as the “Unknown Soldier” in the family.

  52. September 1, 2009 at 18:59

    @ted s the problem was not enough atomic bombs were dropped on Japan,there are only grudgingly repentent whereas the Germans got the point and moved on and are one of the most stable economic and democratic countries in the world.

  53. September 1, 2009 at 19:00

    My Grandparents fled Tartu Estonia during the war and ended up in Stockholm like may estos. My mother was born there and came to the US when she was about 8 years old. Myself and my siblings were emersed in the estonian culture all of our lives here and Im quite proud of my heritage. We have an enormous extended family all over the country and we hold many functions and events including camp, singing, dancing, and even Estonian schools.

  54. 62 Keith- Ohio
    September 1, 2009 at 19:06

    @ Ted S-

    Yes, because of the decision of a small number of people to drop the bomb, the heroic and selfless acts and sacrifice of thousands of American soldiers are “overshadowed”. No one looks back fondly on the atomic bombs, but most people eventually become mature enough to realize that some sort of military action is the only plausible reaction to an unprovoked military attack. What would you have recommended we had done in response to the attack on Pearl Harbor? I’m not defending the nuclear attacks, but entering the war in general.

  55. 63 Lew in Ohio
    September 1, 2009 at 19:10

    Some of these comments are sheer ignorance. War on large scale will never happen again. Read great powers by Thomas PM Barnett. War as we know it has ended. While small conflicts are obviously going to continue great war will never be had again. Look at your map it is basically the same as it was 50 years ago. This is for a reason and you have to thank these great wars and the people for that. Now as for managing the peace there is where you can have a problem with how they have done this.

  56. 65 John LaGrua/New York
    September 1, 2009 at 19:14

    WW II opened the world to Americans ..Born in1930 it was the seminal experience of my life.The US economy expanded and peoples horizons broadened beyond imagination. Marshalling of the nations resources to win created a new sense of optimism which had been lost in the depression.I attended an IVY League University and saw another world of affluence and sophistication which led me to a career in finance and world travel unimaginable before the war.My father born in 1878 travelled with me to Asia and Europe and witnessed the moon landing in contrast his early life experience wherein his mother took him and his sister to concerts in a park in Palermo in horse and carriage .Despite the recent finacial disaster America awaits a new dawn not the abbys .Incorrigable optimism and sometime folly ,Iraq,Afganistan,marks the moment but reality is gaining tempering the impulse to try to reshape the world to our model.Time to put our own house in order .As for the dervishes ,let them whirl.Old friends cherished and new friends welcome. .Ememies beware our real bite is much worse than our bark when truelly threatened.The spirit of genorocity and fairness lost for a while will again be our strongest assets.

  57. 66 Ted
    September 1, 2009 at 19:17

    Keith –

    Entering the war, of course. I recognize that American forces played an important part in defeating powers that needed to be defeated. I’m concerned with the zest with which some of our countrymen treat the war today. I am unwilling to take pride in America’s participation in the war, because I think America intentionally killed too many civilians. I feel that I am expected to take pride in the American WWII legacy. I refuse. It was a horrible experience for the whole world, and terrible things were done by all nations involved. That is what needs to be remembered.

    • 67 Keith- Ohio
      September 1, 2009 at 20:00

      I see. I misunderstood. I agree we didn’t need to drop the bomb. Germany was already defeated, and Japan was ready to be defeated. I just re- read a detailed time-line of WWII…I feel like I’ve lost my breath.

  58. September 1, 2009 at 19:30

    Our massive war crimes in WWII highlighted by the fire bombings of Dresden and Tokyo and the two atomic bombings established the horrific precedent of self-proclaimed U.S. immunity from international law, which led to Vietnam, the Reagan crimes in Central America, multiple assassinations of leaders, the attack on Panama, the massive destruction of Iraq, and many other atrocities large and small.

    • 69 Kris Ringwood
      September 2, 2009 at 01:56

      I notice you ignore the 40,000 British killed in the 8 months of the Luftwaffe Blitz on London and the rest of England during 1940-41. Most English people at the time were all for the bombing – especially during and after the flying bomb and rocket attacks on London in 1944 which my American mother experienced first hand. As you sow, so shall ye reap; and the Nazis set the precedent.

  59. 70 Bert - USA
    September 1, 2009 at 20:01

    Some seem unable to see beyond the mundane events of their daily lives. Stepping back just a tad, it seems to me that WWII has had a huge impact on our daily lives.

    It is as a result of WWII that the idea of a united Europe emerged. As far back as the 1950s, in fact. It was WWII that propelled Japan, Western Europe, and the US into being the economic engines they are. It was also WWII that caused the creation of the state of Israel, with all the middle eastern consequences that are very much in the front pages of newspapers today. Heck, 9/11 can be attributed to WWII, even.

    It was WWII that introduced English as the lingua franca all over the world, no doubt assisted recently by the Internet. I’d say, all conflicts since have been small skirmishes by comparison, and have certainly not come close to WWII in terms of long-lasting and profound global impact.

    It impacted my family too. My father, a diplomat, was captured in North Africa in 1943, in Tunisia, shipped across the ocean on the Queen Mary, which had been converted for troop transport, and spent the rest of the war “imprisoned” at the Shenvalley Lodge in New Market, VA, USA. In the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. The local fire department served as their captors. He was returned to Rome in 1945, and requested assignment back to the US. Which he got in 1948-1952, when I came to be.

    I’d say, WWII was instrumental.

    • 71 RightPaddock
      September 3, 2009 at 08:42

      @Bert – WW2 did not bring about the creation of Israel, if anything it delayed the creation of Israel.

      The process for the creation of the Israeli state was kicked off with the Balfour Declaration of 1917. The 1922 League of Nations Mandate states “Whereas recognition has thereby been given (in the Treaty of Sevres) to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine, and to the [sentimental] grounds for reconstituting their National Home in that country.”

      I am not suggesting for a moment that the events of WW2 and the holocaust have not had the most profound impact on Israel as we know it today. But in and of themselves neither the war, nor the holocaust, actually brought about the creation of Israel – that was going to happen come what may.

      Had it not been for WW2, Israel may have been created as early as 1940/41.

  60. 72 CJ McAuley
    September 1, 2009 at 20:08

    Ted S-
    In no way should, anyone equate the A-bombing of Japan with “genocide”! I sure hope you get that straight in your mind. For the very term “genocide” is demeaned by the constant use of it now in the 21st century! What happened to Jews in the 2nd World War was genocide. What happened in Rwanda was genocide. What happened with the use of “A-bombs” in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was nothing more than an attempt to bring the war to an earlier end. Of that I am convinced. For the generals simply believed they had a bigger bomb, in their minds. That is what is totally wrong with any war; for once elected leaders decide to wage one, the military naturally take over “on the ground”. My understanding of the “military” is that they want to win and keep their own casualties to a minimum. I do not believe for a minute that the use of nuclear weapons was thought of in any long-term after-effects way at that time.
    The basic problem now with the generation of both today and their parents is this: no one has truly listened to and absorbed the experiences of either their parents or grand-parents! For “word-of-mouth” history has been lost! Instead words on a screen seem to express the “truth”! Well there are many “truths”. All are expressed by those who lived to tell the tale.

  61. 73 Kindi Jallow
    September 2, 2009 at 02:05

    What was ww 11all about? It was about fighting for power, man wants to live on another mans sweat. Why were Africans drag to fight a war outside Africa by their colonial masters they know very little of.
    After the war so many soldiers were brought to Africa and discharged, without any source of support to meet their daily needs, housing, cloth, shelter, medical facilities just to name a few. Some of these soldiers could not live with some of their families as a result some became destitudes, homeless as they spent most of their lives in the ……. Some who could not sustain the perssure were incapacitated and behaved like one in commanding a battalion in a battle field giving commands and marching.
    As a little boy I can remember some one of those soldiers who were discharged behaving the same from the entrance of the village when he start singing and giving military commands comming towards the village we will all run away as liittle boys and hide until he pass. To this date I fill if I have not expose some of these facts I have wrong my conscience. I feel very sad when I remember Amadou up to this day. Furthermore they were not companciated in any form after serving their masters needs.

  62. 74 Roy Gathercoal
    September 2, 2009 at 02:45

    Lew wrote: “Look at your map it is basically the same as it was 50 years ago. This is for a reason and you have to thank these great wars and the people for that. Now as for managing the peace there is where you can have a problem with how they have done this”

    I’m not sure which map you are using, but my maps from even 10 years ago is so outdated to be nearly useless in great parts of the world.

    From the breakup of Yugoslaviia and the separation of the Czech Republic from Slovakia, to the dramatic rewriting of African States borders–still being changed to the entire re-working of Asian state boundaries, including the still-contested status of Tibet and Taiwan, and who-knows-how-it-will-end boundaries and potential breakup of Iraq, there are large wars and international disputes happening all around us.

    There have even been quite sincere calls by various Muslim leaders for Jihad ro redraw boundaries internationally. We were a few key endorsements short of a major regional conflict–which is still a possibility–in Afghanistan/Iraq/Iran. Fueled by petrodollars and with much of the world’s exported oil at stake, We are not out of the water in that region.

    War on a global scale is still quite possible. We would do well to avoid complacency.

  63. 75 Ismael
    September 2, 2009 at 02:46

    I was born after WW2 but I was told and I read about it. The war relics are still visible today including live bombs which is a nuisance to the environment and a threat to human lives. Include in your ( Japan,US) campaigns against terrorism the cleaning up of our environment the war debris that your left behind irresponsibly. Some people saw the Japanese as bad while others viewed them as good. I believed it stemmed from their relation ship at that time but the perceptions continues today in how you view the other whether in business or politics.

  64. 76 Ismael
    September 2, 2009 at 03:15

    I was born after WW2 but I was told and I read about it. Many war relics are still visible today including live bombs which are a nuisance to the environment and a threat to human lives. Include in your ( Japan,US & allied countries) campaigns against terrorism the cleaning up of our environment the war debris that you left behind. Some people saw the Japanese as bad while others viewed them as good. I believed it stemmed from the relationships established during WW2 but the general perceptions continues today in how you view the other whether in business or politics.

  65. 77 scmehta
    September 2, 2009 at 06:36

    We still live in a world seeped in distrust, greed and lies.
    Have we, after the WW II, become bigger knaves, who can be fooled easily to suffer any maniac-dictator or any criminal/corrupt leader, far more menacing than Hitler ? I hope not.

  66. September 2, 2009 at 08:32

    Sorry I wasn’t able to publish your post as it included as swear word. If you re-write it, excluding any swearing, I will re-publish it.
    Thanks, Helen

  67. September 2, 2009 at 10:10

    I was born a few months before America went to war in 1941. My British and Canadian family had been fighting for two years previously and suffered for it. My Father and many relatives fought in the war and some died. I find it remarkable today, how the thoughts of Hitler have seemed to gain more attention in the world and his ideas have become more popular among some folks? I add that in fairness, alot of what he said has seemed to come true and much of WWII only makes sense looking at it now through Hitler’s political and historical views. It has become an underground saying here, that “if” the men fighting from America knew then what we know now, many would never have gone to war in the first place. True or not, looking today at what is going on in the world, things are a huge mess. Ofcourse, this is not ment to endorse Hitler or his methods, but Hitlers views need to be talked about more openly or the world may produce much worse in the future. For those unsettled by my questions and remarks, just think we supported Stalin!

  68. 80 fmog
    September 2, 2009 at 11:20

    In no way does WW2 define how we live our lives now.
    The world has changed out of all recognition since WW2 in most respects. I remember taking cover in an Anderson Shelter and underground tube stations during the bombing but those memories are surplanted by the sense of community and kindness shown by both neighbours and strangers during that time and afterwards during the rationing and rebuilding. It was a make do and mend time. Saved for what we wanted to buy, really appreciated it’s acquisition, looked after it and expected it to last.
    My childhood was entirely different to childrens’ lives now, we played out, talked to strangers and had a healthy respect to authority (not that we were any less naughty, we just expected to be punished if we were caught) and travelled alone on buses and tubes trains without a second thought.
    Of course bad things happened then. There was abuse, violence, burglaries, murders, abductions just as now. But neighbourhood watch was the norm and the local police men were approachable. Crimes were reported in the papers and we knew the offenders would be punished. Gaols were not homely places. Human Rights and Political Correctness have gone from the sublime to the ridiculous and modern technology has become a two edged sword.

  69. 81 Matthew Houston
    September 2, 2009 at 12:15

    Well, first of all, I wouldn’t exist apart from WWII, because my great grandfather was an American soldier, and great grandmother, a German refugee.

    In a sense, we are still fighting WWII. Because of what happened then, military expenditure increased dramatically, and a Cold War was born. Military posture moved drastically forward, with the advent of organizations like the CIA, Pentagon, advanced rocket and weapon systems, etc, all of which were a direct response to mechanisms within the Nazi war machine. Perhaps the rivalries that are embedded in our culture today are, in a great part, influenced by aggressiveness and defensiveness of a historic proportion which occurred in the 1940’s.

    Even the UN’s structure, the security council, still reflects the war. ..the Middle East crisis also is a severe aftershock.

  70. September 2, 2009 at 13:57

    WWII changed the world drastically. The changes brought are identified and described in the previous comments above. A long list could be drawn but it builds up by itself when reading the comments. These changes are permanent. They could not have taken place but for the war. Efforts made to recover from the damage and to make of the advantage reaped are intrinsically part of the current conditions of life on the planet.
    My answer to the question posed is : YES.

  71. 83 han
    September 2, 2009 at 17:03

    WWII brought about spam
    i love spam!
    so yes, it definitely affects my life.

    on a more serious note, there were plenty of technological advancements thanks to WWII and the cold war (space race, anyone?). at the very least, it can be said that we jumped well forward in technological advancements

  72. 84 Piotr
    September 2, 2009 at 22:23

    I was born in Warsaw 25 years after IIWW. When I was in secondary school no one of my colleges has parents born in Warsaw. Why? Because almost the whole population of one million city was killed during IIWW.
    People from the West can’t imagine how cruel was war on the East. But, if you want to know how the hell looks like, read memories from Warsaw uprising in 1944. True story from memories of a German soldier: young woman with 1 month old child located by Germans on a tank to prevent the tank from enemy fire. One moment the woman drop the child and the tank crush it. Woman’s screaming in madness, soldier shoot her.
    And other similar stories. War is a horror, so I believe that we strongly need reconciliation with all our neighbours to prepare better future for our children.

  73. 85 RightPaddock
    September 3, 2009 at 08:11

    Of course WW2 effects the way we live today, as does WW1, the Mutiny of 1857, the Napoleonic wars, the English and American Civil Wars, the Punic Wars and the Battle of Thermopylae to name a few.

    A a result of WW2 we got the UN and its agencies such as the WHO, FAO, UNHCR etc. We got the World Bank, the IMF and the EU. We got the pacification of Germany & Japan. It bought about the end of the end of the European Empires (British, French, Belgian, Dutch & Portuguese), and it ushered in the end of the beginning of the American Empire. Some might dispute that WW2 was the child of WW1, but who would argue that WW2 did not lead to the enslavement of Central and Eastern Europe to Stalin’s tyranny and that it didn’t spawn the Cold War and that it didn’t leave Korea divided even until this day.

  74. 86 Heidi
    September 11, 2009 at 21:57

    As a German I feel sorry for all the people who lost their lives. This has been a heavy burden on our nation´s shoulder for decades.
    After the end of World War II about 15 million Germans were forced to flee or were expelled.from East Prussia or Silesia (Poland) and expelled as Sudeten Germans from Czechoslowakia according to the Benesdecrees, after 800 years there.
    Many other ethnic groups in Eastern Europa have suffered the same fate.
    They are uniting to keep their culture and history. European Union of Refugees and Exiles, EUFV, Triest, Italy

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