History is never far away in Europe

Cycling back from beautiful Europos Parkas to Vilnius, I came across this reminder about the gruesome history of the 20th century in Europe.

The marker was almost hidden in a forest, on the outskirts of the village of Joneikiškės. Just another village where 70 years ago, people probably “didn’t know anything about what was going on” at best or were collaborating in the Holocaust at worst.

As beautiful as Central and Eastern Europe is, one is wandering on killing fields almost everywhere. It is hard to imagine now when you are in a beautiful Old Town or a peaceful forest. But just two generations ago, the Nazis and their willing collaborators visited even the remotest corners of this continent with their murderous killing machinery. Most people stood by silently, took part or benefited from the “disappearance” of neighbours and competitors. Very few resisted, acted selflessly, did the right thing.

Only two generations ago. Many people of this generation are still alive and among us. Even more alive are the dangerous thoughts, the discrimination, the anti-Semitism, the racism.

Is it a surprise that I sometimes don’t trust this peace? Are we really that different from our grandparents and their generation? Why would humankind suddenly change to the better that much? Haven’t we just been lucky for 70 years? Think about this on your next trip – but don’t let it ruin your travels!

(Es gibt auch eine deutsche Version dieses Artikels.)

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a journalist, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Europe, History, Holocaust, Lithuania, Photography, Travel, World War II. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to History is never far away in Europe

  1. That was an excellent post. I can’t wait to take a trip across Europe. I think it would be the time of my life. I just have to save up enough. That’s what goals are for and I plan to achieve it.

    Have a great day. I really enjoy reading your blog very much.

    • Thank you very much for your kind words!
      The flights to Europe can cost a bit, depending on where you come from. But once you are here, trains and coaches are not too expensive, especially when you book in advance. Just today I met a hitchhiker who is hitchhiking through 6 countries, from Finland to Slovakia. That’s another alternative to consider and a great way to get to know people.
      I also use Couchsurfing a lot. You will always find people who will be happy to host you (for free) and even spend time with you to show you their city and explain their country and culture.

      • That’s really good to know. I’m from Ohio and here. I’ve actually heard hitch hiking was a great way to see the country side. That would be something to consider but I would still bring some cash just to make sure it was enjoyable.

        Thanks for the information my friend.

      • Easy Lifestyles – Might I ask where in Ohio you’re from? I’m about 2 hours east of Columbus, SSW of Akron-Canton. I’m originally from Chicago, so it was QUITE the change when we moved down here about 10 years ago. Thanks!

  2. Mike says:

    Great post and the absolute truth. No, we are no different in 70 short years. Tragedy and horror abounds.

  3. amandaleighf says:

    Beautiful post. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Sadly, Lithuania was one of the more “eager” countries in assisting the Nazis. They, along with France, had some of the highest percentages of their Jewish populations expelled and/or killed. No insult to the peoples of France or Lithuania intended – there were plenty of US citizens, several quit famous and powerful, who were also ready to help the Nazis, including a political party called the American Bund and folks like Henry Ford, who basically gave the Nazis the Ford factories in Germany.

  5. Something just popped into my (rarely functional) brain. Isn’t there a large-caliber gun emplacement along the coast of Lithuania, a former battleship gun used as part of the “Atlantic Wall” (which did go all the way up to Norway)? I’ll have to try to find out where it is – I may have a mission for you, should you choose to accept it. ;)

  6. Pingback: Die Geschichte als ständiger Reisebegleiter in Europa | Mosereien

  7. Jeff Blanks says:

    I know it’s a safe bet to say we haven’t changed. But I think we have. We’re not perfect, nor will we ever be, but I think that in the largest sense we have changed. Maybe not enough, but just remember: A hundred years ago these things were officially encouraged. It wasn’t just condoned; it was widely accepted that there was some sort of hierarchy of humanity. Believe that today and you’re rightly regarded as a nut. Europe hasn’t had war in 70 years. Two things can happen in that time: We can forget how bad war is, like they did in 1914, or it can become even more unthinkable, as we all become so used to peace that none of us want to disturb it.

  8. LFC says:

    The marker itself is in terrible shape. Needs to be fixed. (Unless the cracks are deliberate, which I doubt.)

    • My first impression actually was that the cracks were added deliberately later, but by somebody else and for wholly different reasons. A stone doesn’t just crack by itself.

  9. nikoloz says:

    like

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