The Museum of the Second World War may be a casualty of Poland’s rightward turn. Only a Polish-centered museum will do for this nationalist government. This would be unfortunate. As the historian Timothy Snyder points out, “the government’s concept of a museum focusing solely on Westerplatte and Poland’s military struggle in 1939 would result in a narrowly focused exhibit that would not appeal to a wider international audience.”
Read the entire story here: – Daily Reflector
Paul Jankowski ‘s answer: “To a historian 100 years later, Verdun does yield a meaning, in a way a darkly ironic one. Neither Erich von Falkenhayn, the chief of the German General Staff, nor his French counterpart, Joseph Joffre, had ever envisaged a climactic, decisive battle at Verdun. They had attacked and defended with their eyes elsewhere on the front, and had thought of the fight initially as secondary, as ancillary to their wider strategic goals. And then it became a primary affair, self-sustaining and endless. They had aspired to control it. Instead it had controlled them. In that sense Verdun truly was iconic, the symbolic battle of the Great War of 1914-18.”
I don’t disagree with that, but I think the commemoration of Verdun offers an opportunity for all of us (not just historians) to contemplate war itself. Too often war is glorified, Verdun should be a reminder of the horrors of war. It should make us think deeply about how, when, and why we fight wars.
To read Jankowski’s entire article go here: World War I’s Iconic, Ironic Battle – The New York Times
In light of the earlier discussion on war crimes and apologies, here’s more on the consequences of Japan’s failure to apologize for (or recognize) its WWII war crimes: Japan’s way of remembering World War II still infuriates its neighbours.
“While Germany has managed to build holocaust education into its curriculum and is now at the centre of the European project, Abe and his predecessors have never acknowledged that relations with Korea and China would be greatly improved if there were a push for education and discussion about this terrible history. As things stand, no matter how the militaristic and nationalistic Abe handles the memory of the war in this anniversary year, Japan’s relations with its former adversaries are set to keep festering.”
On March 10, 1945 the Japanese in Tokyo awoke to what would become a nightmare. It was the beginning of what was the single deadliest non-nuclear bombing campaign during World War II (between 80,000 to 100,000 civilians were killed). It was part of a larger firebombing campaign undertaken by the U.S. in which 66 Japanese cities were targeted in an effort to break the morale of Japanese civilians in the hopes that they would press their leadership to surrender unconditionally. This strategy had been largely rejected by the US leadership on the European front in contrast to their British allies. But under the leadership of Curtis LeMay the morale bombing strategy was pursued in Japan despite its failure in Germany. These firebombing campaigns never broke the morale of the Japanese people.
The historian Robert Zaretsky makes an interesting comparison between the Frenchmen who volunteered to fight for Hitler during WWII and the Frenchmen who are volunteering to fight for ISIS today. I think it’s a useful reminder that this kind of thing is not new.
HNN: “Air Power was Supposed to Make Ground Wars a Thing of the Past. It Didn’t.