Saturday, August 30, 2014

‘World Wars’ teaches ever-relevant lessons

(July 25, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

“This  generation should learn that peace is… just as fragile today as it was in 1914, 1939 and 1940,” History channel’s scholar-in-residence Steve Gillon said in a phone interview.

The history teacher/author was describing the state of the world, compared to past global conflicts featured and analyzed in the History miniseries “The World Wars,” airing for three nights starting tomorrow at 10.
Gillon and his team of scholars were tasked with checking information used in the show, which focuses on key figures Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Franklin Roosevelt and several others from both the first and second World Wars.

“We had a scholar who studied German and Italian history; a British scholar and a Japanese scholar,” Gillon said. “Our jobs were to go through the scripts and rough cuts, comment on certain scenes, and suggest revisions [where needed].”

Gillon said the series, which has an introduction by US President Barack Obama,  will present old footage of wartime events, which can be unsettling. He told the Inquirer, “The show uses [authentic] historical footage along with recreations and commentary to create realistic and dramatic representations of events, [when called for]… it’s powerful, disturbing at times, but it’s educational and valuable to watch.”

Since both World Wars happened within the span of a few years, Gillon said that certain factors contributed to such a global chaos: “One of the premises of the show is that… you can almost see these two separate wars as a continuous one. World War II grew out of the failures of World War I, which was supposed to be the war that would make the world safe with democracy.”

Gillon added, “World War I created the worst possible environment—it created circumstances that allowed Hitler to rise and, at the same time, convinced the West that they should do nothing to confront his aggression. They don’t confront it until it’s far too late, which leads to World War II.”

Apart from the figures whose motives are explained in “World Wars,” Gillon noted, “There are individuals [like] soldiers who [performed] countless acts of bravery that helped defeat Hitler, and other important people who played critical roles. They did not find a place in the series, but hopefully, there will be other places where they will get the attention and respect that they deserve.”

As for the world now, Gillon stressed, it is in a very precarious place. “Human beings [have not] changed much. There are still intense political rivalries, and flashpoints that could lead to war. The world is a much more dangerous place now because weapons have become so sophisticated. We need to be aware… and do what we can to prevent another conflict in the 21st century.” 

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