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Forgetting expensive lessons.


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@Saturno posted a 1989 Polish 500-zlotych as a sad reminder of the 80th anniversary of the opening of WWII in Europe. @Arka and @Sixtus78 followed, noting that tragic anniversary seemed to be passing without much mention. There has been no activity on that thread since….




I remember when I was a boy—it’s been more than 50 years ago now—that in a discussion with my Dad about WWII, I exclaimed something like, “Well, we’ve finally learned our lesson!”


Again, I was just a boy, but I recognized the sadness that overtook my father in that moment. Then, speaking to me in a voice I can remember still, with that sort of quiet seriousness that penetrates even the happy fog of boyhood—“I hate it for you son, but if you live long enough, you’ll see it all being forgotten.”


Pop was right, of course. But God how I wish he had been wrong. The lessons of the 1930s and ‘40s were just too expensive for all of us to forget.


So in this tiny corner of the planet, I won’t forget, not today, anyway—my coins won’t let me. Without blame for any particular country or people, but only in a plea for remembrance—two entries from my coin-notebook….


x: The war had begun in Europe the year before, but not until May 1940 was the die actually cast. This Berlin-mint 1940a 50-reichspfennig was there—right there—in the middle of that cascade of world-changing events. (xx)




x: By the time this aluminum 50‑reichspfennig was coined at Berlin in 1943, Hitler’s and Himmler’s death‑factories were operating at peak horror, in the ugly efficient shadows of what Churchill called “the lights of perverted science.” When new, this innocuous‑looking piece of stamped aluminum would buy a kilo of human hair from the Nazi S.S. A kilogram of human hair—2.2 pounds of “output” from a Nazi death camp. (xx)






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