History Repeats Itself and We Must Learn
History Repeats Itself and We Must Learn
Year 6, Malvern Primary School
In mid-April 2019 the Notre Dame Cathedral, the medieval church that has been standing in
the heart of Paris for more than 850 years, was partially destroyed by fire. It's hard to believe
that this ancient structure survived the French Revolution and two major world conflicts only
to fall prey to something as banal and primitive as an easily avoidable fire.
My Dad, brother, and I were fortunate enough to visit Notre Dame before the fire, and I was
really impressed with the intricate carvings and beautiful artwork. It's sad to see such a
crucial monument get severely damaged. What's also sad is the fact that The French State
didn't take enough precautions to prevent a disaster like that from happening. For example,
media outlets around the world reported cigarette butts were found on site, despite the
evident smoking ban.
It's a timely reminder of how vulnerable precious historical monuments and works of art are.
We must not become complacent about their safety and protection for we will forever lose
the ability to experience history first hand. We must learn and grow from the experience of
Notre Dame and ensure an incident like this does not happen again. As is often said, if we
don't learn from history we will be doomed to repeat it.
Why is it so important to preserve history? It is important because historical structures offer
the world an invaluable education.
For example, preservation and restoration of historical entities plays a key role in creating
world culture. Long-lasting structures teach us about experiences and events that that
happened before we were born, and encourages the admiration for those who lived in
different eras and societies. Cultural and historical sites encourage pride in our past
heritage, making us unique in the world. Old buildings bring personality and a certain charm
to the neighbourhood that people live in.
The Anne Frank House, also known as the Secret Annex, is located in Amsterdam and is
one of the most famous historical preservations in the world. From the outside, it is much like
any ordinary inner-city Dutch dwelling. What sets it apart from the rest is its unique history.
For two years during the Second World War, eight Jewish people, The Frank family, The
Van Pels Family, and Fritz Pfeffer lived in its secret annex. They lived there in secret until
the police found them and took them to various German prison camps. The Secret Annex
represents a dark period of history, and the reason it's so well preserved is to make sure we
learn from the mistakes we've made.
One of the biggest threats to historical preservation is crime. For example, the unlawful
demolition of Melbourne's Corkman Irish Pub in 2016. Built in 1856 during the gold rush era
it was one of the oldest buildings in Carlton. It's almost impossible to believe that someone
would even consider destroying something as historically significant as that. However
someone did. A development company in search of profiting from prime real estate illegally
knocked this heritage listed site down. Even though the company was prosecuted with hefty
fines in 2019 nothing can be done to restore the building. It is gone forever.
Whilst we can look at photos or perhaps read about the history it, but we will never know
what it feels like to sit within its walls or admire its streetscape.
What matters is the statement history repeats itself, and how true it is. We need to preserve
historical sites as a reminder about what has happened in our past so we can learn from
these experiences and do better.
1) According to the Sydney Morning Herald writer Angela Charlton, “Investigators
suspect an electrical short-circuit was the most likely cause of the Notre-
Dame Cathedral fire, according to a French judicial police official”
2) According to Metro.co.uk writer Daniel Mackrell, “The cathedral is currently owned by
the French state, but a 1905 law helped establish that the state would be neutral
when it comes to religion and the public would have freedom to carry out their beliefs.
This meant that the Catholic Church became the designated beneficiary and were
able to use the cathedral exclusively to practise the religion”
3) According to the telegraph writer Henry Samuel, “After picking up seven
cigarette butts at the fire scene, detectives quizzed roof workers for the
construction company whose workers admitted to having violated strict no-
4) According to balance architecture (Name of writer not included), “The
Corkman Irish Pub was demolished illegally without planning or heritage
approval on the weekend of the 15th and 16th of October, 2016”