Join us now; we’re on a marathon.
We’re always dancing when the music plays.
Join us now; we’re on a marathon
Dancing, dancing through the nights and days.
Jacques Brell began his world famous lyrics with this description of lives of our past, present, and future. In his musical compilation he laughs and cries about our history and how we never are bothered about learning from our past. Another famous quotation comes from George Santayana. He wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
The United States is famous for forgetting the mistakes of its past. The classic modern example is the Viet Nam War that promised to remind all Americans that involving themselves in foreign adventures leads to disaster and too much death. I guess we forgot this because we ended up in two more wars that had the same consequences.
The world is proving to have little memory of its own history that led to World War II. The actors have changed but the plot remains the same.
On September 12, 1938, Hitler made a speech saying he would come to the assistance of the oppressed Sudeten Germans, and that he was constructing in the west the strongest defenses ever made by man. If one exchanges the name Hitler with Putin and the areas of Sudetenland with Ukraine the concept of one part of our history plagiarizing another seems quite rational.
Hitler and now Putin demanded that the Sudetenland and now Crimea should be handed over to Germany and now Russia. In the past the West made an agreement with Hitler that those areas containing more than 50% Germans should be handed back to Germany. I assume the world will be doing the same thing with Crimea and Eastern Ukraine.
Hitler wanted German troops to occupy the Sudetenland. If the Czechs did not agree with his terms by a specific date the German army would march across the borders. England and France accepted Hitler’s threats of war and now Europe and the United States seem to be accepting Putin’s terms and put pressure on Ukraine to sign their own death sentence.
In regards to our past Mussolini suggested that the four powers should get together and resolve the problem. The United Nations seems to be pushing for this same type of meeting. Hitler arranged the final meeting to be held in Munich. Germany, Britain, France, and Italy were represented. It is obvious Russia will be at the soon to be present meeting. Today in history I doubt if the new Slavic nations created after the fall of the Soviet Union will be invited. Without consulting the Czechs before the Great War, the four powers decided that the Sudetenland should be given to Germany. Britain and France told the Czechs that if they did not agree they would have to fight the Germans themselves. The question I have is will the Ukrainians be given this same ultimatum? Chamberlain of England and Daladier of France felt there was little they could do but to accept Hitler’s terms. It is again obvious The European Union and the United States will make a similar decision. For some odd reason they believe economic sanctions are more powerful than military threats. Hitler immediately broke the agreement by invading Czechoslovakia. By the time this essay is published it is a grave possibility Ukraine will be suffering through a similar fate.
Winston Churchill was appalled by the policy of appeasement at Munich. I doubt if there are any leaders of any nation in the West that will do the same today. Churchill stated, “I will begin by saying what everybody would like to ignore or forget but which nevertheless must be stated, namely, that we have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat, and that France has suffered even more than we have . . . And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigor, we arise again and make our stand for freedom as in the olden time.” 
The Munich Agreement was a huge success for Hitler who continued to have much more success, and made Hitler the master of Central Europe. It is obvious Putin’s Russia wants to achieve the same success.
Jacques Brell continued his condemnation and prediction on the folly of mankind by writing:
On Sundays the bulls get so bored
When they are asked to drop dead for us
The sword will plunge down and the mob will drool.
The blood will pour down and turn the sand to mud.
The moment of triumph when grocery clerks become Nero
The moment of triumph when the girls scream and shout
The name of their hero,
And when finally they fell
Did not the bulls’ dream of some hell
Where men and worn-out matadors still burn.
Or perhaps with their last breathes
Would not they pardon us their deaths
Knowing what we did at
Carthage, Waterloo, Verdun, Stalingrad, Iwo Jima, Hiroshima, Saigon, Bagdad, Kabul, Damascus, and now Kiev
Jim Fabiano is a teacher and writer living in York, Maine