Why History Repeats Itself

by Charles E. Bryce

Recently, while out for a walk, I heard the drone of powerful piston–driven airplanes overhead. When I spotted them moving swiftly through the summer sky in tight formation, I instantly recognized them as a squadron of World War II fighter aircraft. They were probably flying into an airfield to participate in Memorial Day ceremonies. Memories started flooding into my mind of what I heard about that war, as a small boy growing up on the farm.

BBC News ran a story to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the rescue of WWII Allied soldiers from the Dunkirk beaches in France. The report said:

Around 64 ships had headed to France from Ramsgate in Kent to mark Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of about 338,000 soldiers from Dunkirk’s beaches.

The troops had been driven back to the coast by the German army….The original evacuation took place between 26 May and 4 June 1940, and involved 900 naval and civilian craft which were sent across the Channel under RAF protection….Historians say the evacuation boosted British morale at a crucial point of the war (BBC News, Thursday, 27 May 2010).

But why were these Allied troops in France in the first place? Because history was repeating itself. They were there to help defend France against the massive onslaught of the powerful German war machine of Adolf Hitler and his Third Reich.

World War I was called the Great War and the War to End All Wars. But two decades after WWI ended, the world was plunged into war again, involving some of the same nations in devastating battles for much of the same territory. The difference this time was how much bigger and more destructive that war had become since the first World War, which itself was catastrophic.

Forgotten lessons

That is usually the way it is when history repeats itself—the second time around is far worse than the first time. But WHY does this redundant cycle of devastation happen? What is the cause of such calamity?

After WWI, socialism swept across Europe, particularly in Germany. This led to anarchy and economic hardship—setting the stage for a leader to come along promising a better way of life and solutions to the intractable problems facing the population of that country. Enter Adolf Hitler and his diabolical Nazi party:

Though some thought Hitler half–mad, many were convinced by what he said. He gradually rose to power, aided by the Great Depression that had left millions of Germans unemployed. Once Chancellor of Germany, Hitler went about creating a one–party state of which he was dictator. Rule was maintained through a secret police, the Gestapo. Having brought economic recovery to the country, Hitler then pursued his foreign policy to unite all Germans in a greater single Germany, to destroy Communism and to conquer and colonize Eastern Europe, establishing a ‘thousand–year Reich’ (Speeches That Changed the World. Smith–Davies Publishing, Ltd, London, 2005, page 80).

Der Führer, as he was called, gradually rose to power and prominence and seemed to be just what Germany needed to save it from the perils it was floundering in. The economic collapse of the 1930s gave Hitler the pretext he needed to institute Nazi rule and restore German dominance. In the course of time, it only led to their utter defeat, leaving them to deal with the rampant ravages of war for decades. But why did this orgy of death and mayhem happen in the first place? Because the lessons of history were quickly forgotten.

Instead of taking measures to prevent the rise of the Third Reich to such powerful heights, allowing it to threaten the rest of the world, leaders of that day chose to appease Hitler, turn a deaf ear to the reality at hand and ignore the mistakes of the past that had given rise to World War I. Hence World War II became history repeated!

History repeating itself again?

We are seeing some of the same economic problems threatening to once again engulf the European continent, and there are reports that Nazi groups, or national socialists, are on the move again in Germany, albeit in a relatively small way for now. And as in the past, leaders are not sounding the alarm. No one seems to have the slightest inclination to address the rise of this potential Frankenstein monster.

History IS starting to repeat itself again in that part of the world. General Douglas MacArthur said this about the historical cycle of wars:

Men since the beginning of time have sought peace….Military alliances, balances of powers, leagues of nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war. The utter destructiveness of war now blots out this alternative. We have had our last chance. If we will not devise some greater and more equitable system, Armageddon will be at our door.

As time goes by and a new generation replaces the old, memories and concerns about past mistakes start to fade and lessons learned seem less and less important. That was then, this is now, is the rationale. That was so long ago and so far away, they say. Such disasters could never happen today, they argue. In fact some even try to revise history and claim certain events never actually occurred at all. They make such claims about the Jewish holocaust, calling it nothing more than a myth and Zionist propaganda.

However, there is undeniable proof that the holocaust perpetrated by Hitler’s killing machine did indeed occur. Eyewitness accounts, newsreels, photos and former prisoners who still live today give unshakable evidence that the holocaust death camps did exist. And some are left intact to this very day as sad, silent edifices of the unfathomable evil carried out within their guard towers and barbed wire fences. As a case in point, Auschwitz still stands as stark testimony to those monstrous crimes against humanity.

Another era, another depression

For many years we have been told by leading politicians and economists that the Great Depression could never happen again. Supposedly, solid safeguards were built into our economic system to prevent the repeat of such a financial disaster. And then along came the great recession of two years ago! Experts are now telling us that we were right on the edge of the precipice and came ever so close to plunging over the edge into a depression—of international scope—worse than the first one. We are being warned that we are not on solid financial footing yet. Some are saying that a double–dip recession is definitely in our future if drastic action isn’t taken and soon.

The Wall Street Journal featured this blaring headline in its weekend edition of May 29–30, 2010 “Dow’s Worst May Since ’40”. The article went on to explain that, “Stocks End Month Down 7.92% as Europe Crisis, Flash Crash Unsettle Investors….Between the ‘Flash Crash’ and angst over the worsening crisis in Europe, stocks suffered a dismal May, posting their worst decline for the month since Franklin Roosevelt was in the White House.”

Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong included some very interesting information about economic depression in his Autobiography, Volume I. On pages 235–236, he referred to a speech given by the well–known statistician Mr. Roger Babson, at the Association of Commerce luncheon in the Morrison Hotel in Chicago:

“Well, gentlemen,” he said, “you will remember that a year ago I warned you that within one year we would be in the throes of the worst depression our generation has ever seen. I noticed many of you smiling unbelievingly then. Well, that year has rolled around, and here I am again, and here is the depression with me.

“I looked at the way people as a whole were dealing with one another. I looked to the source which determines future conditions. I have found that source may be defined in terms of ‘righteousness’. When 51% or more of the whole people are reasonably ‘righteous’ in their dealings with one another, we are heading into increasing prosperity. When 51% of the people become ‘unrighteous’ in their business dealings with their fellows, then we are headed for bad times economically!”

When Mr. Babson’s “source” principle is applied to the way people deal with each other today, “righteousness” is very hard to find anywhere in the equation! Because of that, we may be past the point of no return in the global economy. The greatest depression ever to befall the international community is hovering in our future, and especially hard–hit will be the Western world. It looks like it is only a matter of time! We have not learned the lessons of history regarding fiscal restraint. Our leaders are not following the simple, mandatory principle of not spending money we do not have. They make monetary decisions on a regular basis that dig the deficit gorge deeper and deeper, second by second. When we reach critical mass, our countries will then tumble over the cliff and go crashing down into a financial abyss.

Superpowers can fail

Since mankind refuses to turn to God and obey what He says, He will not guide them. Therefore the same mistakes are repeated over and over again. Notice Romans 1:28: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting” (NKJV).

The mighty Roman Empire continued for over 500 years from 31 B.C. until it fell in 476 A.D. The superpower of the world in its day—militarily, economically and politically—it was a shining showplace of intellectual enlightenment, military might and economic prosperity. Rome was considered the “Eternal City” and led this powerful empire to new heights of grandeur and fame. It was unthinkable that the Roman Empire would ever fall—ever!

But it did fall in 476 A.D. Why and how did this happen and what does it mean for us today? Is history repeating itself with today’s world superpower, the mighty United States of America?

America is now in decline just as Rome was in its waning years. The core causes of the Roman Empire’s fall are the same core causes of America’s decline. Will we fall as Rome did? Will history repeat itself because we refuse to learn the lessons from the past and avoid making the same mistakes that brought about the collapse of that superpower? You can find out more about this critical subject by ordering our free CD package on the Modern Romans, offered on the back cover of this issue.

We are living in very sobering and serious times. It behooves all of us to remember the lessons of history and heed the warnings found in Biblical prophecy, which is actually news and history written in advance.

Jesus Christ plainly tells all who will heed the handwriting on the wall to do this: “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:34–36).

We can get so caught up in the fast paced world we live in today that critical developments slip by us unheeded. Don’t let that happen to you. Now is the time to heed this warning before time runs out and Armageddon is at YOUR door!

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