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Why study history and WW2

LAURENCE REES: Why should anybody bother to study history in general and this period in particular?

ANITA PRAŻMOWSKA: I worry that we use history to justify something that is either the moral or the strategic or the political perspective of the time. And I am very critical of governments, whether they are communist governments or free governments, being predisposed in that way. I think that history is simply an interesting discipline, it’s part of our heritage, part of where we are, part of being somewhere and knowing what has happened. In itself to try to understand what had led to certain decisions being made. That is why history should be studied, not in order to find the goodies and the baddies, but simply because it is an interesting discipline and part of where we come from.

LAURENCE REES: And why this period in particular?

ANITA PRAŻMOWSKA:  I think again this is an academic issue. Some people will find Roman history or Greek history very interesting. I think the choice of modern or the most up to date history is simply that some people will say that they see the evidence around here and it has therefore got that immediate resonance. There will be other circumstances where people will see it as just history and that’s fine, let it be just history. It’s a very personal reason why we choose the period. I find this [period] interesting and I can make a contribution towards the study of that history. But I don’t think that this is any better, I mean there are some politicians who say to understand where we are now you have to understand the past, but the danger point is that there’s got to be a health warning: make sure that you don’t then say that that legitimises your actions.

LAURENCE REES: So you think history doesn’t have any lessons at all?

ANITA PRAŻMOWSKA: No, because events have to be understood for what was happening at that time.