1939 was a “turning point year”
Writing a review of the latest Hitchens book, Ian Buruma writes that 1939 was a turning point year. Well it is a fact of history that Hitler chose the turn his game of international blackmail in 1936, 1937 and 1938 into all out war in September, 1939.
What did my father have in mind when he accepted to go to Paris in April 1939 for the Royal Bank of Canada after getting out of Barcelona only months before that in 1938? Did he simply ignore the trend of overt agressiveness being openly shown by Hitler’s Nazi regime? Did he care if that could have any effect on his life and the life of his family?
I’ve read about 1939 in a few history books. All agreed that it was a beautiful spring and summer, especially in Paris. Was that the existential factor that induced him to continue living in Paris even after Hitler’s armies invaded Poland in September 1939?
It’s a fact I remember about my boyhood in Sherbrooke QC during the war years of late 1940 till 1945, that my father rarely missed listening to the BBC news broadcast. Surely he listened to the same news broadcasts in 1939? How could he not feel the menace of attack from the belligerent Nazi armed forces right up to the invasion of Poland and especially as reports from the Eastern Front left little doubt that Hitler’s intentions couldn’t be peaceful since his takeover and elimination of Polish elites was evident, even at that early stage of WW II?
Or was it that my father subscribed to the ideas of the Canadian Prime Minister of that time, McKenzie-King, who met with Hitler in 1937 and felt he was a calm and serious political leader, even though Von Neurath, the German Foreign Minister admitted to King that many Jews had been treated “very roughly” in “cleaning things up” in German cities, like Berlin?
In the end me and my family made it out of France at a few minutes after midnight!
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