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Orlando author reflects on the parallels between the war in Ukraine and WWII


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Joanie Holzer Schirm. Photo: Matthew Peddie. WMFE


Images of tanks rolling into Ukraine and refugees flooding out of the besieged nation are evoking memories of past conflict- including World War II. Central Florida author Joanie Holzer Schirm says the parallels between the Russian invasion of Ukraine and wars of the last century are striking. 

Schirm is the author of ‘Adventurers Against Their Will’, ‘My Dear Boy’ and other books that document the stories of those who fled Nazi persecution in World War II.

“As I see the stories of refugees, you know, fleeing from a country of 44 million, it’s a very large country, I’m hearing the voices that are in the letters that my father saved: 400 World War Two letters by 78 writers, 70, carbon copies of his own letters, with lots of pictures and other things that really told the story of that era,” says Schirm.

“Luckily, this time, Poland and other countries in Europe are sounding like they will really welcome them in,” she adds.

“That was not happening at that time, in 1939, around the world, especially for Jewish refugees.”

Schirm says social media adds a layer of urgency to how people are responding to the crisis.

“Certainly, we’re learning things in real time that make us react and emotionally respond,” she says.

“We want to react as, you know, humanity. But we can’t, and it’s frustrating.”

Schirm says she hopes lessons learned from the 20th Century can be applied to the current crisis.

“I go into classrooms, and try to teach peace by looking at the past, and you know, often people say we don’t want to history repeat itself. But I think trends of history are always true for centuries, to be able to see certain things that are unfolding, and you have to act on them.”


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