History… Gosh ! What do I want to explain my link to History for ? Again, it’s a family “business” ; Again involving my grandparents, father & uncle. I can not remember a single day without hearing a “History” conversation, whatsoever. My interest of the WWI & WWII came from my grandparents whom shared with me all theirs souvenirs from those periods. The Middle Ages, the castles, the wars in general came from my father. My uncle interested me into South American & Russian Histories. As far as I’m concerned, I am into german History from 1919 to 1949 and into Russian History from 1790 to 1953. Then, I am fond of History of England & Ireland. Hungary & Chile draw my attention too.
In fact, I am a History freak. I have so many books about History and collect on a few characters and I buy too many more books yearly to expand my shelves without feeling disturbed by the volume of it. One of my most important collections is upon German soldier, Erwin Rommel. I treasure any book I own on him and some photos/postcards/military papers.
When I’ve decided to write a book upon my village in Périgord, it was mainly History which interested me. Geography, Places & people were attracted of course, but knowing how the village had been built, upon which treaty, with whom nobles families, etc. was way to be fascinating for me to stop looking for in Libraries. I wish I could have worked more on that book but I was already working full time and I didn’t had that much spare time to travel by and to major libraries (which some could say it is not an obvious excuse, I bet !). I think that I did a decent job and I am still looking from archives to find out extras details. I think that my whole life shall be devoted to that purpose. Nevertheless, this village is tiny and wasn’t famous, even though it was strategically located and had been a main interest to many people (Churches, Nobility, etc.).
In fact, I believe that we have a historic inheritance to carry on our shoulders. We all are from a culture, a religion, a country (or more) and have this legacy in our blood. History has to be shared within a family and beyond that to a larger level. I feel like my family historian and just want to keep on putting along the photos and stories I’ve learnt all my life through the ancients. Nevertheless, I bet that, one day, this legacy would die, more or less, but without roots I think one can’t move on. I remember that an old classmate was adopted and when he turned 16, despite the love he had for his adoptive parents, he went to the country where he was born and looked for any history of his family. He didn’t meet any of them, if I can remember that clearly, but he found out a few papers and a photo in the file of the administration. He told me later that he had found his roots and that he could move on in life with his beloved parents on his side. He was happy to know that he belonged to a civilization and culture and was richer from that diversity.
About History in general, both sides have to be read, learnt and understood. You can know only one part of the story. Both sides have interest for Historians and for any person. My father taught me that before taking a decision on a historic fact, I needed to know both parts of the story (or third, if you consider “neutral situation”). I respected that teaching and I am trying to do so.
Whatever you believe in or think of, you need to stay focus that what you were not living at that period of time and you can’t judge from your actual perspective. It would be a deviation of the History. I often remember the discussion I had a few years ago about a book “The Reader” with some acquaintances. They were saying that it was obviously a shame to evocate the possibility of this woman living freely after what she’d done in the WWII. I answered back that they were judging the book over the nowadays knowledge of this period of the war and weren’t taking the ambience back then.
Nor, I won’t be able to say which side I would have been during WWII in France : resistance or the people whom lived egoist not caring about the others to save their own lives. Now, in 2012, no doubt that I shall tell you “I’d have been a resistant” knowing that France was liberated in 1944 and that Resistance sort of won on the battlefield. But, back then, without any clue of the victory, under the Nazi doctrine, with an army totally lost and beaten, with a collaboration political system, I would have probably decided to stay on my path, trying to get food, be safe (and my family) and hoping for better days without being arrested, tortured or slaughtered.
That is why I love History. You have to put yourself in another situation trying out to discern how to react and to think. Moreover, History fascinates me because of all those people whom lived and died for thousand years to build the world I live in. All the sacrifices, the hopes, the defeats, the joys, the wars, the treaties of peace, which lead to today world, had been done from people whom believed in the future. They were not thinking about you, but only their children.
Anyhow, I now think of them and I am grateful, truly obliged.