One day in summer of 1968, I had just returned after long vacation, to the City of Mainz, where I was half-way through my course in Medicine. It was a particularly hot day, and at the same time, a day on which you could not stay inside, even if you had an air-condition, and the University-central-library where I had spent the early part of the morning had central air-condition.
It simply looked too beautiful outside. Exactly at 12 noon, I decided to get out of the library, and have lunch to begin with, and then……. The cafeteria was just about 800 meters away, and it was nice to walk the pavement, with tulips left and right.
Just then, I met an elderly student, whom people called “the everlasting student” He was Persian, and he had come to Germany not too long after World War II. Indeed, it was said that, he had started to study Medicine, and that he got married to a German lady whom he had met during Carnival, and that they had a number of children, some of whom were studying medicine too, but were ahead of their dad.
This turned out not to be true, as I got to know that day, “from the lion's own mouth.” We met just in front of the Cafeteria, popularly called “Mensa”, the German version of a Students' dinning hall. Everybody could walk in there, and buy food, even though it was subsidized. I collected my food having picked items from the buffet, but not collecting the soup. Biyan, as “the old student” was called, inquired from me, why I did not take the soup too, it was all within the ticket.
“The soup looked awful”, I replied him. “Have you by chance tasted this kind of soup in the past?” he asked me, emphatically, talking to me almost like a man to his son. I replied that, I hadn't, and he recommended that I try it. So, I did. It was oxtail soup, flavored with wild mushroom. O, it was delicious! I told him, and also thanked him for his recommendation. “Young man”, he continued, looking me smack in the face, like it was a sermon he was delivering, “never again pass judgment on anything you haven't tried, or you don't know.” I assured him I had heard him, and thanked him yet again, as well. That was not the end.
He was not studying medicine. It was Political Science he was reading, and he also did not have many grown-up children. He had a boy who was twelve, and two girls, nine and seven years of age. From the Cafeteria, we did not go back to the library straight away; we walked to a nearby student's pub.
I learned from him, more about Hitler and the “Third Reich” that afternoon, than I had tried to gather through Television, some books I had bought myself, and from fellow Medical Students. It was true many German students wouldn't tell you everything about “Adolf”, though it was too lurid to know. There was only one “Adolf” that people occasionally mentioned in Germany, and it was Hitler. I later got to know that in Austria, Adolf wasn't a popular name either, even if for another reason, -all since World War II. He was determined, not ever to return to Tehran, because he had held, and joined too many discussions, in which the Shah of Iran was the topic, and he the Shah had many spies around. He was right. Indeed, he invited me to his home one afternoon, where I met the other members of his family.
His children had encountered some Africans in the street, but none had come so close to an African. Biyans family and I got to be friends for a long time.
Hitler had tried to usurp power in Munich in 1923. It failed, and he and his henchmen were arrested, and put on trial. They were convicted, and jailed, but later to be released, before he might have served his term fully. Hitler was elected as Chancellor in Germany in 1933, and he even had coalition partners. Before the aged and health-impoverished Emil von Hindenburg (Reich President) would pass away, Hitler had become Fuehrer, and all his opponents, (one might call them rivals), would disappear voluntarily, or forced to do so.
He had become an absolute Ruler. Referendums were used just as the one on the 2nd of December, in Caracas.
In Venezuela some twelve years ago, a young man from the Military, called H. Chavez tried his hands on taking the Government through power coming from the barrel of the gun. He was not successful, and he too was arrested, but later set free. Several years later, his destiny comparable to that of Hitler, if you will, he managed through the ballot papers, (the legitimate way), to be elected President, and at the helms in Venezuela since nine years. He has since decided to spell a couple of nations as his adversaries, and he must use any means to meet them face to face, or neck to neck, and at best “overwhelm them”.
He, like some African leader for over thirty years, America has been a good target, to wrestle, and hopefully defeat. At one time, inside the USA, and under the auspices of the UNO, President Chavez entered a room where the President of the USA had entered the previous day, and in front of camera men, started to sniff for the Devil, (President of the United States of America).
“He was here, he was here only yesterday,” he would yell. It was not clear-cut for me, whether he wanted to jest, or whether he had a message for the world, to be taken seriously. At the OPEC-Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia recently, the same Venezuelan President minced no words, how he would stand on the side of Teheran, and if together, they could act and push the price of crude oil to 200 US$ per barrel.
In his will, he would like to see oil prices quoted not in US Dollars, but in some other currency, for example EURO. It could happen one day, because not quite one hundred years ago, all international trade quoted prices in Pound-Sterling, (£). The US Dollar will not stay for ever. No situation stays for ever, (except the Word of God), and I am saying so, because, I am a Christian.
We do not have to quarrel with one another as nations to see that happen.
Revolutions and revolutionary ideas have come and gone since 1917. The Bolsheviks had come to change the world, for a better place, so it was claimed. Czar Nicholas II and his entire family had faced execution like chicken. America, and/or Britain, or even Germany, “whose daughter from Darmstadt” the Czar had married, just saw him and his family butchered miserably. History is still trying to digest it. Then, the takeover by Chairman Mao Tse Dong of Mainland China could have been prevented, if…………. Ayatola Khomeny's takeover in Iran in 1979 was apparently due to American weakness, or lack of vision. It was Jimmy Carter's Administration. Let's say, “one is always wiser, after the events.”
Even if that may be the case, I have tried to take a couple of the events which have violently shaken many continents, or many countries in many continents, and analyze them, not as an Anthropologist, or a politician that knows it all, or a prophet who has been sent by God, to say how God had willed it, and the way it ought to have happened. I am looking at it the way you, (man or woman in the street), would look at it too, because, we could all be intellectuals, at par.
With the turmoil in many parts of Africa, including the Russian Roulette even in our beloved Republic since 1966, it might be of interest to hear, forty years later, how we as university undergraduates, saw it, and analyzed it, whenever something happened, be it in Ghana, Uganda, Libya, Nigeria, Sudan, or in Arabia; Syria, Iraq, (yes, Iraq), or even far away Indonesia.
It was almost always with plenty of blood-shed, and the pledge, and also the hope, that the new Lords, (“die neuen Herren”, as it is said in German) had better rudders to roll the national boat. We discussed it in Bonn, or Berlin, but in Paris, or Bern, and London as well. It is not with any good reason that I have left out Washington. I am sure a lot happened there too, but, how would I know for sure? For most of us, we simply didn't know how our tomorrow was going to be like.
We thought, at all costs, that the mighty Soviet Union was going to be there for ever, and that, the two superpowers would rule the world, each in his territory. The Americans fight and lose in Vietnam, the Soviets fight and lose in Afghanistan. Then, come 1989, the mighty Soviet Union, which had the only muscles as big as the Americans, collapses in more fragments than an egg shell would.
Boris Yeltsin stands on Russian tanks, among the best then in the World, and tells the Generals, “This vehicle and weapons are there to protect the people, -not to intimidate them.” Soviet Army Generals leave the scene, and commit suicide.
“Come on, a new World, without Soviet power?” “Yes, Sir, you got it?!” This dialogue is rumored to have taken place between two Generals at the Pentagon, who watched the Scenario at the Red Square live. General Colin Powell was not one of them, they want to emphasize. Capitalism had won the tussle, just like Sir Winston Spencer Churchill had predicted sixty years previously.
Did we learn any lessons? Some think we did, others think we didn't. Russia had, (still has) more natural resources than the USA, and Britain put together. It is a country that used to export Vodka and caviar to the Monarchs of Europe. So, why did that happen, in Petrograd that happened in 1917? So much had gone awry, so wonder the historians.
A lot of historians blame the events within World I, as having triggered the rise of Bolshevism, in Russian, and Hitler's War for the rise of Communism in China. Strange though, that even in China, Capitalism seems to be winning, within Communism. Who can understand the former Army Officer, Hugo Chavez, to try and get more power from his people, along the lines that Hitler did. Does he not read history, or don't his advisors do? This time, his own people seem to have read more history, and they in unison seem to have said, on December 2nd, “No sir, Mr. President!”