On December 18 we passed something of a milestone that went almost unnoticed: the post-9-11 world came of age, matching the length of time of the reign of Nazi terror. For Germany’s Die Welt, columnist Torsten Krauel wonders what it would have been like if for the past 4,481 days, Osama bin Laden was as dominant as Hitler was during his terrifying time on the world stage.
For Die Welt, Torsten Krauel starts off this way:
The Nazi regime lasted twelve years and four months. One realizes how long this is, when looking back exactly 4,481 days to the murderous September 11, 2001.
Today, December 18th, 2013, 4,481 days have passed since September 11, 2001, when the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center in New York occurred. It’s a period that seems like an eternity. In that time, an entire generation of young people have grown up for whom the television images are no more than childhood memories. For school children, “9/11” is pure history.
This is just as it was at the end of World War II, when democracy was pure history for young Germans, or at most a blurry childhood memory. To the day, September 11, 2001 is as long ago as January 30, 1933 [end of the Weimar Republic] was on May 8, 1945.
That’s how long, through summers and winters alike, Hitler’s face hovered over everything. That’s how long the swastika was a threat outside everyone’s front door or over the horizon, depending on whether you lived in Germany or America.
For the same length of time that has passed since 9/11, millions of people lived in fear of the Nazis and Nazi Germany, and ultimately, all Germans. First in Germany itself, then in Europe, and finally, almost all over the world. For the same length of time Osama bin Laden’s face has been with us as the embodiment of al-Qaeda and as the physical symbol of a movement willing to commit mass murder – Hitler, too, terrorized the world, held it in suspense, compelled it to defend itself and go to war.
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