Sunday, June 5, 2016

not all movers & shakers of WWII died at war's end

In fact most didn't.

That was because most of those movers and shakers had come of age in the Edwardian Era and thus were born between about 1890 and 1905, so in 1945, they still had a long way to go before retirement.

In addition, the frightened cautious period between 1945 and 1965 was a time in human history when the postwar power elite, in almost all aspects of life, were almost unbelievably old ---- as a check on most nations' top leader in that period will quickly confirm !

It was a situation so very unlike today, when being over fifty five can seriously hurt your chances of becoming a national political leader, CEO or university president.

I was conceived five years after Martin Henry Dawson's death in 1945 so I never knew him, but I certainly knew his generation of the wartime powerful.

Not just as national and international prime ministers and talking heads know only via the TV but intimately - in person - as teachers and professors, employers, newspaper customers, reporters and columnists, neighbours, local politicians, local association presidents.

As an unusually observant and knowledgeable child, I was initially puzzled by turns of phrases they used, so alien to the way my parents' generation or my own talked.

But starting at the age of ten (don't ask me why - just the books we happened to have in the house !), I had read deeply in Edwardian Era literature and got to recognized the origin of their turns of phrase and the source of their easy and unconscious, if now muted, racist and eugenic thinking.

Listening closely and quietly, effectively invisible to these adults, I got a good earful of the way they had expressed their thoughts in the years before 1945's revulsion against public expressions of eugenics and racism, ---the way they still thought and even spoke in their private unguarded moments.

Those movers and shakers are all dead now and their final influence on public opinion has been gone for a good twenty years.

Now only the teenagers of WWII, those who followed orders rather than gave them, are left.

But my childhood and youthful knowing of WWII's movers and shakers in their postwar apogee of influence, has been incredibly helpful in writing my account of penicillin's wartime history....

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