What will the world be like when all this is over?

As that virus plays havoc with hospitals and health workers the world over, I am guessing its impact on the world’s economy will be felt long after a vaccine is discovered. I often try to find similarities between current world events and those which took place in the history of my family and I only had to look to the end of World War II for comparisons.

Before comments start rolling in about the differences between WWII and Covid-19, I know they are different scenarios and circumstances! But both have had / will have huge impacts on world economies, and for my father and his family, along with many others, the period after WWII was a very difficult time.

My father, who was from a Baltic German family, was drafted into the German Army against his will when he was 20 years old. After a period of training, he was sent to the Russian front to fight in the Barbarossa Campaign. Luckily, as hindsight shows, within a week or so he was injured – receiving a skull fracture amongst other injuries. He was sent back to a hospital in Germany to recover. At the end of the war he spent six months in an American POW camp and, on release, began to work for the American Army in Kornwestheim, near Stuttgart. He was 26 years old. The photo above was taken in Kornwestheim, there is no date on it.

At the time Germany was mostly a scene of destruction and I imagine my father was lucky to find work with the American Army. From notes he left it looks as though he took any job that was offered to him. It was at the time the only way to survive. On one line in his diary he has only written GmbH. In Germany those initials stand for “a company with limited liability” which does not help me very much in my search for what he did. At school in Latvia my father had learned Latvian, English, German and French so was able to find work as an interpreter. He also worked in the American army supply point and in their Officer Quarters as a waiter, interpreter and manager. I have no idea what he managed! After that he appears to have taken language courses, but he does not mention which language he studies – perhaps English? By 1948 he is learning French and working as a purchasing clerk for what might have been a machinery company and then as what might have been a sales representative for a glass company.

As our current world fights Covid-19, I wonder if our future world will look much the same as Europe post WWII – with huge numbers of unemployed people grabbing at any job they can find. I have no doubt the world of employment will be changed. There will be, as always, winners and losers. At the end of his life my father was a winner, but he had to survive an awful lot of losing to get there.

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  1. Jim Renes

    A close cousin and I often discuss ancestors/relatives and their personal stories of unimaginable traumas and survival. The human condition has dealt with and survived world catastrophes throughout our existence. One thing remains certain, as the world changes humanity has an indomitable will to adapt and survive. What is happening all around us now is one of those dramatic changes.

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