So, I've been to Italy recently. During a very well planned week, I got to explore Venice, Chioggia, Bologna and the little islands of Torcello, Mazzorbo and Burano. I had a wonderful time and I can't wait to go back. But no one wants to read about the positive things, right?
When me, my sister and my mom were in Bologna, visiting the University, the tour guide mentioned that some of the buildings had been destroyed by bombs during the second world war. Now, you might think I'm stupid, because it took me a while to realise I was in a country that fought for the Axis powers. You're probably thinking "what about that?", and I'm not sure I can explain properly what shocked me so much about this, but I'll do my best.
First, you need to know that my country didn't participate in WW2 (well, officially at least). However, I'm still very used to thinking of the war as a fight between the good guys and the bad guys: Allies vs. Axis. I've always thought that this is a very narrow way to look at what happened; after all the winners in wars get to write history as they seem fit - but it's still hard to have a good image of the Axis powers when they can't be separated from one of the biggest tragedies in human history (I'm talking about the Holocaust obviously). So, in my mind Allies = good and Axis = bad.
But suddenly, it wasn't that simple. I was surrounded by people who were supposed to be bad, hearing about their losses to the "good guys". This whole experience made me realise something I think I already knew. Alliances like the Allies and the Axis are ruled by the big guys, but the men who die in the fields are all the same, no matter what side they're on. They are fathers who want to go back to their kids. They're young men who left their little brothers and sisters behind. They're husbands who only want to be held by their love once more. No matter how old they are, they're little boys who want their mamas when they realise they will die miles away from home.
Wars happen because of a shockingly little number of people, but they're fought by everyone they drag behind.