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The Warsaw Voice » Comments » September 2, 2009
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From the Editor-in-Chief
September 2, 2009   
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A war that redefined civilization broke out 70 years ago. We keep going back to those days-not only at cemeteries; the war is constantly present inside us. It shapes attitudes and influences the way we behave. Its fallout has affected everyone, even those who we were born too late to experience it firsthand.

Why do we keep reminiscing and holding great commemorative events, inviting people from all over the world?

We are still unable to comprehend the war and its horrors. We keep wondering how it was possible that, as Polish writer Zofia Nałkowska put it, "people did this to other people."

Those are probably the reasons why we continue to reminisce; there are many other reasons as well. Memories are supposed to protect us from a repeat of anything similar in the future. Understanding is meant to create safeguards against recurrence. Images from the past are supposed to terrify, deter and prevent.

These efforts have produced mixed results. Not long ago, we experienced the Balkan conflict with its atrocities-a new European genocide. Before our very eyes, "people did this to other people" again while we remained passive and helpless, when our movie theaters and cafes resounded with laughter and revelry. The same mechanisms as before were at work. The same mentality came to the fore. History repeated itself.

But we have also learned a lot, and drawn conclusions, and created a new state of awareness, institutions and behaviors.

Conflicts, opposing interests, and human nature-all this remains the same. But we have managed to find an area of shared values, take our disputes into meeting rooms, identify the sources of tension, and try to overcome problems together.

Seventy years later, former allies and enemies are meeting on the same side of the barricade-hopefully not to reproach each other for their sins. They are meeting in the name of the future while remembering the past.
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