The Wounds of War
“IN WAR there are no winners,” remarked a former soldier who fought in World War II. “There are only losers.” Many would agree with him. The cost of war is horrendous; the victors as well as the vanquished pay a terrible price. Even after an armed conflict has ceased, millions go on suffering from the ghastly wounds of war.
What wounds? War can decimate a population, leaving large numbers of orphans and widows. Many survivors carry terrible physical wounds, along with psychological scars. Millions may be left destitute or may be forced to become refugees. Can we imagine the hatred and grief that must linger in the hearts of those who survive such conflicts?
The wounds etched on people’s hearts by war go on festering long after a cease-fire is achieved, the guns are silent, and the soldiers go home. Succeeding generations may nurse a deep-seated bitterness toward one another. In this way the wounds of one war can be the root cause of the next.
For instance, the Treaty of Versailles, which was signed in 1919 to bring a formal end to World War I, imposed conditions upon Germany that its citizens considered harsh and vengeful. According to The Encyclopædia Britannica, the terms of the treaty “caused resentment among the Germans and helped to stimulate the quest for revenge.” Some years later, “resentment of the peace treaty gave Hitler a starting point” and was one of the factors that led to World War II.
World War II started in Poland and spread to include the Balkans. The wounds that ethnic groups in the region inflicted upon one another in the 1940’s helped to pave the way for the war in the Balkans in the 1990’s. “The vicious circle of hatred and revenge has turned into a spiral, reaching down to our present time,” commented the German newspaper Die Zeit.
If mankind is to live at peace, the wounds of war surely have to be healed. How can that be accomplished? What can be done to erase the hatred and grief? Who can heal the wounds of war?
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COVER: Fatmir Boshnjaku
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U.S. Coast Guard photo; UN PHOTO 158297/J. Isaac