World War II as a permanent historical point of reference
The course of history defies predetermination. Although events occur before our eyes, in our presence, they have their own dynamic. All we can do is consider them in retrospect – often with interest, sometimes in amazement, and sadly also frequently with horror.
Considering past events raises questions. Did events have to progress the way that they did, or could things have turned out differently? In such questions the dynamics of the past are not up for discussion, but whether those who played a part were free to act is a matter of debate. Reflecting on this issue inevitably leads to the question of whether we can use past events to guide our actions in any way in the present.
Second World War was without doubt one of the most momentous events in world history. From a perspective of analysis and reflection, this period offers virtually limitless possibilities for continual contemplation – not only to improve our knowledge of the past, but also to continue to place the present in its historical context.
In the Netherlands, reflection on World War II is still very active and is certainly not limited to historians. Time and again, society places a new emphasis on the discussion and analysis of this period in history. Time and again, less well known aspects are brought to light, and the interpretation of events and their consequences changes.