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Fifty Years of My Life (1939 - 1990)
A Memoir by Jeff R. Noordermeer

Prospects for Peace

My grandmother spoke fluent Russian and Ukrainian, and lived around the Balkan states before she moved to Holland. In my younger years communism was not even a word to think about. Somehow all my life I despised their system and philosophy of life. From what I have read about Lenin's life during the Russian revolution, at that time he was the Russian peoples' only hope for destroying the aristocratic oppression that created the most miserable working class and living conditions than humanity ever has witnessed. I am sure that the animals in the wild lived under better conditions than most of the Russian working class did. With my humanitarian and compassionate feelings for people, I am sure if I had lived at that time I would have joined Lenin's party myself. Sorry to say that after Lenin died and his good friend Stalin came into power he didn't do much better for the Russian people.

What Stalin has left, Gorbachev is trying to wipe away form the Russian government system and he has succeeded in many ways giving the Russian people much more freedom of living. The economical situation in the Soviet Union has radically worsened and that has affected the ruble exchange rate. Gorbachev and the rest of the Soviet leadership face immense problems, and his effort to date to overcome there problems have, for the most part, fallen far short of success. If Gorbachev is not able to discourage Georgians, Armenians, Azerbayanis and other nationalities from pursuing independence at this time, and the way I see it, it isn't going to work, then the only hope for the Russian peoples' future will be a closer alliance with the West. As we look at Europe today, West Germany is one of the strongest countries of the world. Economically it has become the bread basket of the European community, and with the unification of East and West Germany and with the development of close relations with the countries of Central Europe, Germany's position in the European community will become dominant.

It is my opinion that there will never be another war on the European continent. Many people say that by unifying East and West Germany, the threat of Nazi and nationalistic socialism could be a threat to the continent of Europe again. What many people have to realize is that many leaders and high officials of the European continent have seen and fought in this war. With the most atrocious weapons of modern history many cities with valuable structures and buildings were completely flattened and millions of people were killed. All of this will be remembered for many generations to come. The changes and future of Europe will be decided on by the generation which was born in the 1960's and never witnessed any hardship or war. What they know about the past is whatever was told to them. For all their lives, so far they have seen nothing but a stable economy all around the Common Market countries.

In 1988, during my vacation in Holland, I was particularly interested in hearing from young people about their feelings regarding the Eastern European countries controlled by communist governments. I was amazed to find out how many of those young people have traveled in that part of the world, even far into the Soviet Union. At that time many of those borders were closed to the West. Somehow many of those young people went there and saw with their own eyes how people lived and were treated by those governments. Those young people were Ambassadors of the West and lived in a free democracy. By meeting their generation in the East and giving them a taste of the West and the living conditions of a free democracy, this was the start of a changing European continent. This generation looks at borders as an immoral subject and thinks that the world should be wide open for everyone and allow unrestricted travel. This generation is very interested in other ethnic groups, and because of that they have become more at ease in their associations. Through all of this so many inter-racial marriages have become more common today. In my time at that age if I had crossed into the West German border it was a big threat, but we would never think about marrying another nationality. In today's Europe you can see the changes in nationality moving all around the European continent. Europe is becoming just like America — a melting pot of all kinds of races and nationalities. As the World War II generation passes away, this new generation will become the leaders of Europe who believe in an open world without borders where all nationalities including Russia will be free to cross. Even at this time the Soviet Union has not achieved the economical advantages like part of the Western world has, but the future of this part of the world will be built by this younger generation after most of the political forces behind Gorbachev will disappear. At this time those in charge of the Soviet Union cast off the ideological barriers that prevent them from accepting private ownership of land, homes and small businesses, there is little prospect of economic revival. All of this will take time, but in my opinion there will never be a return to the old system as the new generation is not willing to accept this anymore.

As the Cold War as we know it is coming to an end, and that the Soviet Union at long last has decided to join the rest of the human race and work together on many common problems, this will produce a major change in the world situation and open up very many opportunities. For the years to come I fear there will be many questions asked; do we need a defense budget as at the moment will be $303 billion a year. I was born and raised in Holland during World War II and saw what happened to an ill-prepared, defenseless European continent which was swallowed by a well-prepared Nazi Germany army with updated military equipment. This should have taught the free world that as long as they are still surrounded by dictatorial governments, we, as a free democracy, wherever we live, must have an updated military force. A steadily updated military force can easily be blended into a solid economy and even open the door for many jobs in research. In a free democracy strong military forces should be looked up to as peace keepers and not war mongers.

CONTINUED: The melting pot reshapes the country
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© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora

- Foreword
- Old Rotterdam
- World War II
- After the War
- Coming to America
- Washington, D.C.
- Southeast Asia
- Philosophy of Life

- Book Index