Ralph Brennert as a young boy (Photo submitted)

Ralph Brennert as a young boy (Photo submitted)

Lest We Forget: ‘No one truly wins in war’

The words are truly chilling: Lest We Forget.

By Stephanie Klausat

War. Why? As we respond to yet another Remembrance Day and dedicate thoughts and prayers honouring those who fought valiantly for freedom from tyranny, let’s reflect also on why there was war. Why men fought on any side of these conflicts. The words are truly chilling: Lest We Forget.

We must look at 20th-century history and its horrors which teach that responsibility, not rights, makes life bearable. History also teaches us that for thousands of years conflict usually arose when one country, person or group desired to dominate and conquer others. Nihilism divisiveness usually accompanies these conflicts. In the middle ages, conflicts were fought for world domination predominately between England, France and Spain. Certainly, other nations were involved, but to a lesser degree. World domination existed during the Roman Empire and Alexander the Great desired to rule the existing world in his time.

I was born shortly after WWII in the former East German Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik). This exposure to the Communist System of Government was an eye-opener for our family. Notice the word democratic in the title. This government was anything but democratic.

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After WWII, East and West Europe were divided. The Eastern States became Communist, governed by Russia (Union of Soviet Socialist Republic) and Russia’s path into Central Europe was secured. This division was strategic for a greater purpose. Communism is defined as a system of social organization, in which all economic activity is conducted by a totalitarian state dominated by a single and self-perpetuating political party. There is no vote, no land ownership and all is controlled by the state.

Communism is the greatest catastrophe in history. Communism, Fascism and Socialism are left-leaning ideologies that spell disaster for the people they claim to serve. The saying goes: absolute power absolutely corrupts.

Hitler was a National socialist, a fascist, rising to power in Germany in the 1930s. The stock market crashed in 1929 and Germany was plunged into a depression. Germany was desperate to break the shackles imposed by the Treaty of Versailles after WWI. The outlook for most people was bleak and a charismatic leader who promised restored prosperity, education and hope was a lifesaver for these people.

His party was named The National Socialist Party of Germany. Socialism is defined as a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution and exchange should be owned and regulated by the community as a whole. Hitler gained the support of the people and they became pawns in his eagerness to expand the empire.

Our family remains proud of its German nationality and heritage but disagrees strongly with the measures of a tyrant. Sadly, we all know the outcome of the war and the desperate measures Hitler took near the end. Millions of people who put Hitler into power suffered the loss of life, homes and the loss of homeland.

Those desperate measures included recruiting young German youth. Having gone through some training in the Hitler youth, these boys would still be ill-prepared for the ravages of this war One of these youths was my father Rudi Brennert, who at 14 received his draft papers to serve. To his good fortune, the war was over in the summer of 1945.

He was fascinated with the details of the war, both during and after and desired to inform himself thoroughly. My father-in-law Guenther Klausat, being a few years older was also drafted at 14 to help farmers in their fields. When he was 17 and wearing his first uniform, he received training in engineering to serve on the Russian front lines in bridge building and demolition. Sadly we were not able to locate this picture for publication but it speaks volumes against the prospect of serving. He was wounded twice and barely spoke of his experiences. He and his family lost their homeland in East Prussia.

We are currently undergoing war-like strategies. The recent crackdown in Hong Kong is but one example. The war on free speech is another. We must continue to honour the valiant men who fought against communism, socialism and tyranny. If we let these tyrannies into our lives, what these brave men fought and died for was in vain. No one ever truly wins in war, and in 1948 in the House of Commons Winston Churchill said, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Lest We Forget.


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