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Why study history and WW2

LAURENCE REES: Why do you think anyone should bother to study history in general and this period in particular?

CONRAD CRANE: You can’t understand the present unless you understand the past. World War Two shaped the world that we’re in today in so many ways and there’s no way to understand the problems we’re trying to fix today unless we understand where they came from. And World War Two has established a lot of good precedents and it’s also established some bad ones that we’re still living with. It’s exacerbated some situations and some tensions that we’re still dealing with today. It brought down empires, it changed the way the world looked. A good question for people to look at is why haven’t we had another world war since then? What is it about the legacy of World War Two that has prevented a true World War Three from happening? So there are a lot of reasons I think to study this era.

LAURENCE REES: It is interesting that military people seem to think history is of real value - perhaps more so than other people do.

CONRAD CRANE: Part of the reason the military appreciates history is because for those of us who are getting ready to go into combat you can walk in a simulator and learn some things, but there’s no blood, there’s nobody dying and the only way you can really try to get the experience is by reading the past and trying to figure out what happened in the past. And while history doesn’t give you lessons, history gives you insights and it also gives you an array of possibilities. And especially for those who are responsible for people’s lives, the treasures of your nation, it’s very important to have the widest array of possibilities before you make your decisions.