A postcard from Munich

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I am having a mildly surreal summer holiday. With venues largely chosen by my sons it feels a bit like a GCSE history tour.

We've been to Ypres and Paschendale. And we stood in awed silence in the Tyne Cot war cemetery and then turned and looked down the peaceful hill where so many buried there would have died. And we reflected hard upon it.

And then we drove to Munich. So we discussed the Beer Hall Putsch and had a supper of fantastic Bavarian sausages and sauerkraut in a place just off the Marienplatz, which seemed especially poignant. Whilst doing so we discussed social stress, the desire for change, the legitimate ways to achieve it, the risk of parliamentary failure and the need to speak out.

We did seek to put this in modern contexts, so Turkey, Poland, Hungary, the US and (yes) the UK were all discussed. I suspect I could and should have gone further afield but we did not need to do so to explore the themes they are as much interested in as I am.

Then we went to the Alps. The theme? Statehood, the Anschluss and national identity, something we also discussed whilst dipping into Luxembourg en route.

A visit to Dachau was hard. My sons realised that some of the people who went there were a bit like their father. The right to think was discussed. I introduced them to the ideas of Viktor Frankl.

On the way back to where we are staying my elder son asked if Hitler was a capitalist. So we talked about fascism as the corporate state.

Then because it rained yesterday we went to the BMW Museum and looked at how they addressed the issue of WWII (as well as bikes, which both are into, unfortunately). We were all surprised that even in English translation the term Nazi was not used by BMW: NSDAP was. It was correct, but we discussed if it was true. And we reflected on the fact that in 1945 half the company's work force were slaves but the focus of the whole exhibition was how the company valued its employees. So we discussed the ability of people to adapt to prevailing norms.

And today? It was the Neuschwanstein Castle of, as far as my sons are aware, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang fame. But then I explained what the child catcher was all about, and my youngest son thinks I have stolen a little part of his childhood. But it also gave the chance to talk about folly, conspicuous consumption, Thorsten Veblen and so much more.

Through all this other issues arise. Like the threats they perceive in the world in which they live, from Donald Trump onwards.

And I should add, we've had quite a lot of laughs too. I like these guys.

NB: This was published with both son's consent