As I walked through Sachsenhausen concentration camp my body was wracked with chills despite the balmy 78-degree day in Berlin. My eyes were pricked with tears the whole time as I trod the same path as and saw the buildings where between 30,000 and 50,000 people were senselessly executed.
European cities and countries have seen foreign wars on their home soil, invasions, mass genocide, and tyrannical rulers and governments. These are things American cities have not seen since 1812. America has a different perception of war than Europe does.
European movies rarely glorify war and war films are rarely blockbusters much unlike American films. This is mainly because many Europeans or their relatives lived through war, had tanks roll through their streets, they saw it first hand and do not care to relive it.
I met a woman in Berlin who lost her whole family in Auschwitz and had to flee to Argentina in the 1930s. She lived there for 35 years before returning to Berlin. She said that Berlin is now full of tourists, but she can remember when it was full of gunfire and soldiers.
Many buildings still have scars from the wars. Buildings such as the National Gallery in Prague, Czech Republic, still have bullet holes in them. Countries prefer to leave these as a reminder of history and what not to let happen again.
I believe this is why many European countries are more accepting of those who are different. They saw and remember what happened during the Holocaust when Hitler decided to murder those different than him. They do not want anything even close to that to happen again, therefore even if they don’t agree with a lifestyle they do not judge because that person is entitled to their life and to live it how they want.
So how can this mentality in America get change? There is no an easy answer. I hope it doesn’t take a war on American soil to cause this change. I know it is not a plausible solution but I believe if Americans traveled beyond their borders to countries that have been ravaged by war in their history and heard the stories and seen the photos their mentality would change. This solution is implausible as well since overseas travel is very expensive.
A more plausible solution, I believe, would be to teach more about war and its repercussions in history classes and to include accounts from people who endured the horrors. Also for American history classes to actually include information about the Japanese internment camps on American soil. I only know about this from personal research, it was never mentioned in my history books growing up.
America needs to reevaluate its glorification of war and maybe take a page out of Europe’s book.