sitting on history’s past and present

Success is not final, failure is not fatal:
it is the courage to continue that counts.

Winston Churchill

(A German band marches through St Peter Port High Street, Guernsey. The island was occupied between June 1940 and May 1945)

Guernsey is a small island located in the southern reaches of the British Channel.
It is located closer to France than England and yet it is a British Island.

During the war, it was occupied by German forces for 5 long years.

I never knew that.

This afternoon, I’ve just gotten in from having gone to the movies…
I can’t tell you the last time I went to the movies…
I don’t think we had cell phones during my last movie outing…that’s how long its been.

And so obviously it had to be something really pretty big to get me back…

And yes, it was.

It was the movie I’d written about several weeks ago…The Darkest Hour.

There we sat in the vast theater with only a handful of other moviegoers on this grey,
dreary and most soggy Georgia day.
We sat poised to watch a film that we actually possessed hindsight over…
in that, we knew how it turned out…
In that, we knew, otherwise currently know, is that the good guys in the end actually win.

But here’s the thing, I don’t really think that those of us who sit on this side of history
can actually comprehend what it was like to sit on that side of history.

How can we?

There is a chasm, a divide that we cannot cross, cannot span…
we cannot live that which was their reality,
just as they could only imagine what would and could possibly be ours.

For them, imagining what our reality would be,
was not what our imagining of what their reality was.
They fretted for us…yet we on the other hand, just know of their eventual victory—
We don’t grasp the overwhelming magnitude of the weight they bore before that victory.

The black and white photographs, the written words, do not pass easily over the chasm of time,
as one might imagine, allowing us to share the adrenaline rush and stress-filled emotional
burdens suffered and bourn by those who went before…

The Darkest Hour did a commendable job offering those of us who possess the gift of
hindsight of that period of history’s successful ending…
offering us a ray of light shed upon the truly unbearable heaviness of the what was
the balance between life and death of Western Civilization.

Today, ‘that which was’ can look almost easy and nearly flawless.

Churchill bore a grave burden, a burden that the still motionless black and white
photographs often camouflage…
a burden of knowing what must be done versus the tightrope of the political dance.

We each owe him a debt of gratitude.

And yet during those dark days of that desperate time in humanity, there are many
souls to whom we today owe our deep gratitude…

Frank Falla is one such soul.

Mr. Falla was a journalist with the BBC who was arrested by the Nazis when they
discovered that he had been covertly sharing information of the German occupation
on his home island of Guernsey.

He was held in Naumburg Prison where he watched fellow prisoners die weekly from torture
and starvation.
A prison where he swapped his food rations for the stub of a pencil just to be able
to record the names of those who had suffered and died—
because he vowed that if he survived, he would not let those who died, do so in vain.

Following the war, Falla worked tirelessly to petition and then achieve
reparations for his reluctant fellow Guernsey prisoners as well as for the families
of those who did not survive.

Falla’s is the story of a quiet unsung hero, whose story has slowly come to light
on what is now a more national stage as his story is currently part of a new exhibition at
London’s Wiener Library–an exhibition about Guernsey’s own “gentle” journalist.

the following link is to the article about his story.

18 comments on “sitting on history’s past and present

  1. David says:

    Julie, I thought you knew about Guernsey! I recognised the photograph immediately. I have a photo of me stood outside Lloyds Bank with a German friend who I showed around the island a few years ago. I wish we still lived there. We left in 1968 – what parental cruelty dragging me from my beautiful island home to the mainland. I also have a book somewhere by another man who was removed from Guernsey and interned by the Germans, and one by a lady who remembers the occupation even though she was a child. There is a lot of WW2 history in Guernsey. You have to visit!

    • I thought about you the entire time I read the article and thought that β€œDavid needs to write this not me!!”
      So yes Hitler did occupy πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§ much our chagrinβ€” 5 years- I had no idea! I do learn so much each day about this time period- may we never stop learning or remembering!!!

  2. says:

    Julie you amaze me with the way you bring history to life and burn it into our

  3. says:

    Into our minds. I’m glad you finally got to see the movie. It was so well done wasn’t it. I loved how artistically the division of the classes was depicted and how Churchill went directly to the people, bypassing the political rhetoric of the day. He knew that this war was worth the cost.

    • It was so do or die and nobody today seems to really get that—and that is what drives me nuts.
      My husband said afterwards “could you imagine if Trump went MIA and got on a subway train—folks would probably beat the sh*% out of him”—yet what we saw was an utter respect and decourm in just average folks for a man that held an important office—even if they’d not agreed with him, they gave him the courtesy of respect as he did them…a humbling moment to imagine…

  4. SharaC says:

    Wow Julie I want to go see this now… I never go to the movies either, never anything too intriguing… but I love history and love the way you brought this to life. Fascinating stuff!

  5. Tricia says:

    Great post Julie! I saw Darkest Hour recently too and was completely fixated through the entire movie. Well except the parts where the BABY that the couple next to me brought with them cried, I shake my head a thousand times.

    You are so right, it’s really impossible to fathom just how huge and all encompassing WW11 was and how close Hitler came to conquering the world. The movie did a good job of portraying this. Churchill was definitely the right man for the right time. God bless him.

    And I didn’t know that about Guernsey either!

    • Oh Tricia—I would have been livid—-not a movie for a baby, not a place for a movie and one more reason as to why I want every American to take a course on decourm and manners!!!!!
      But wasn’t it grand?! I wanted to pick up that chair and smash it over Halifax’s head…as well as Roosevelt’s—but then I’d need a lesson in decourm πŸ™‚

  6. dbp49 says:

    Thank-you for another great post, and an extra thanks for the link. The story the link leads to is an awesome read in itself. It was a terrible time in history, and we owe a debt of thanks to all the people like Falla who worked so hard to make sure it would not be forgotten.

  7. I didn’t know about Frank Falla. What an amazing story! Thank you so much for this and for including the link. ❀

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.