Remembrance Sunday today. There are now approximately 20 living British veterans of that conflict and it makes you realise how quickly time goes by. In twenty years time the number of World War 2 veterans will be dwindling as sharply, and that is a strange thought for the members of my generation, who grew up with grandparents (or in my case my father) who had fought in World War 2 – all that first-hand knowledge of the true horror of total war will be forgotten, and I say that not as a pacifist (for I am not a pacifist), but as someone who feels that war is sometimes a necessary evil.
I accept that the whole of World War I was a completely futile exercise in murdering a whole generation of young men – an absolute travesty and a tragic blot on human evolution, caused by a string of 19th century dodgy alliances, nationalism and imperialism. Those who died in the Great War should not have perished for such pointless causes.
World War II, on the other hand was a necessary war, given the international community’s failure and the failure of the old Entente Cordiale nations to put a stop to the rise of Adolf Hitler. Had Hitler been dealt with in the early 1930s, when he started to flout the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, he may well have been a mere footnote in the history books. Unfortunately, only the United States, Great Britain and our allies seem to have learnt from this lesson. The United Nations seems determined to go the way of the League Of Nations.
To view World War II as a war that shouldn’t have been fought demeans the lives of all those soldiers and civilians who made the ultimate sacrifice to save us from tyranny. Whilst I respect a pacifist’s point of view on principle, I completely disagree with it. Pacifism only works when everyone is a pacifist, and such a viewpoint ignores the reality of human nature and is, consequently, wrong. I would dearly like to hear a pacifist’s view of how we should have dealt with Hitler.