As Randolph Bourne said when writing about World War I in 1918, war is the health of the state. As America's power has grown, so has its propensity for war. Regardless of the debates about the justness or morality of war, the numbers have shown peace to be the exception in America while war has been the rule, making this last century since the start of World War I undeniably a century of warfare.
On 29 November, 1941, my grandmother, Ilse Cohn, was shot here, in this field, by members of the Nazi death squad Einsatzkommando 3, under the command of a Swiss-born SS colonel called Karl Jäger. On that one day alone, they murdered 2,000 Jews who had been deported by train from Vienna and from my grandmother's hometown of Breslau. So I have come to honour my grandmother's memory. My mother was her only child and although Ilse had three brothers, she had no nephews or nieces. My brother and I, and my two children, are her only living relatives.
What is it about railway stations that conjures up ghosts of the past? I'm standing on the platform in Pastavy (or Postavy), deep in the Belarussian countryside, almost exactly 100 years since my friend Stu Seidel's grandfather, Julius Seidel, stood on this same platform (or one very like it) and boarded a train to start a new life in the New World.
Among the lesser reported aspects of the war on the western front during World War I is the role played by aircraft. Britain manufactured 55,000 planes during the war of which only 10 remain in airworthy condition. Four of these belong to the Shuttleworth Collection in Bedfordshire and have been restored to their original construction.
Like an ever-increasing number of people, we have a growing interest in our families' origins. But also because, as journalists, we can't help but be aware that migration is one of the biggest challenges facing the world we live in. So it's only natural that as the son and grandson of immigrants, we're irresistibly tempted to use our own families' pasts as a way of examining the present and the future.
Whenever I see Ed Miliband trying to pretend he's a human, I'm always reminded of a particular scene in Mark Tavener's criminally underrated sitcom Absolute Power in which the oily sultan of spin Charles Prentiss (not so much played by as written for Stephen Fry) is sizing up dowdy Tory shadow minister Joanne Standing (basically a pilot version of The Thick of It's Nicola Murray).
"Every face can be reduced to a basic shape," Adrian Teal declares as he adjusts his square-rimmed glasses and begins drawing on the blank piece of paper before him. "Take, for example, this cube."
By effectively reconceptualising German suffering during the war at the expense of that of other nations, the series seems to be creating a somehow distorted reality of World War II, which many people regard as offensive to the memory of the millions of victims of the Nazi German regime in an occupied Poland and elsewhere.