War, what is it good for?

As an Australian, it is confronting to discover the impact that World War 2 has had on the myriad of communities throughout Norway. Although horrific, the attacks on Australian soil were minor in comparison to the relentless impact on civilians in this area during WW2.

Nearly every town has a memorial or museum recalling the trauma of the war. Each recounts the destruction of homes, businesses and individual lives.

An Ilyushin plane

The Borderland Museum in Kirkenes, just one example, recalls the impact of being caught between the Soviets and the Germans. Hitler wanted to cut off sea access to Murmansk, an all weather northern port, which meant that this area of Norway became the scene of heavy fortification and of intense battles. No person and no place was spared. Communities and lives were destroyed, and if not totally destroyed forced into a huge upheaval.

This makes the Russian encroachments on Ukraine all the more puzzling. Haven’t we seen enough mass graves and destroyed towns? Haven’t we learned the lessons of manic ideology and rampant nationalism? For countries like Norway, Finland, Sweden and the Baltic states, current events in Ukraine are not hypothetical. There is a tangible history of what happens when tyrants are allowed to run loose.

An Enigma machine found in the Solvaer Police Station
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