constant WWII memorials, ceremonies, remembrances

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jas
constant WWII memorials, ceremonies, remembrances

Just wondering if others have noticed an increase in memorializing WWII through ceremonies and remembrances taking place in their communities or on the TV news. When I was growing up, I remember it being just Remembrance Day that there would be these kinds of memorials. Nowadays it seems constant, like there's always some day or battle or event in WWII that needs to be remembered and memorialized. I thought at first it was just a Manitoba thing, like there was this bizarre obsession with military history and Canada's involvement in WWII particularly, because it really is constant here. Not a month goes by, it seems, that some kind of display or ceremony isn't erected in honour of some WWII person or infantry or memorable battle or whatever, often at the Legislature, or a park. To the point where, for me certainly, it loses meaning. I'm sick of it, frankly. Not that I was terribly sympathetic to it in the first place. But I've seen it on American TV, too. In other words, it's not just Remembrance Day anymore, it's almost constant.

But I'm wondering, is it just a Manitoba thing, or have others noticed this? Manitoba is very conservative federally, but the provincial NDP also participates and promotes these things seemingly enthusiastically. If it's a trend occurring in other places, though, is it for propagandistic purposes? To kind of promote militarism and the notion of "freedoms won" through military might? I also wondered if it was that we are losing many of the WWII vets now, and governments are doing all these things to "honour" their "sacrifices" etc...(sorry for the quotes, but I can't use this language unironically) so that no one feels forgotten or unappreciated?

Anyone else have any observations on this?

Caissa

Sixty-fifth annoiversary of many events is part of this trend. It will happen again five year hence and then five more until the last WWII veteran dies.

jas

That makes sense, but here it hasn't been just a five-year thing. It's been every year, at least two or three other major ceremonies taking place or displays of remembrance--outside of Remembrance Day. And some minor ones, too.

Caissa

The Battle of the Atlantic is remembered yearly out here in the East.

al-Qa'bong

It depends on the event.  The war lasted six years, so there could be a major anniversary on any given year.  1940 happens to be the year of Dunkerque.  Wait until August and the anniversary of Adler Tag for Battle of Britain commemorations, or September for the anniversary of the start of "The Blitz."

Fidel

I remember writing a letter to the feds about my student loan debt years ago. I reminded them that one of their VA guys told me, after my father died and left me an orphan at 14, that all my post-secondary ed costs would be covered. He said the promise was as good as gold and that the feds always look after veterans and their families. I received a reply from Ottawa that was basically a fuck off letter. And I sent them one back describing my father's WW II medals for combat service in North Africa, Italy and Europe. And I asked them how those medals could become so worthless when it came to keeping a promise they'd made with the last son of a WW II veteran? I'll certainly never forget, that's for sure. The bastards have selective memories.

skdadl

Steve has definitely tried to appropriate WWII, both for the general sentimental value and for a more specific purpose. Somewhere there's a video of him putting on his disappointed Big Daddy persona, lamenting that younger people have forgotten or never learned the lessons of WWII, by which, he then goes on to explain, he means the lessons of the Holocaust.

 

I'm all in favour of remembering the lessons of the Holocaust. I'm also in favour of remembering the lessons of the legal processes at Nuremberg, many of which, I have a feeling, Steve is less keen on. Over the next couple of generations, some of those lessons led to the building of a magnificent edifice of international law, now very much dishonoured by Steve and his ilk in other Western nations, and much in need of our saving.

 

I was born in 1945. Both my parents and a number of my aunts and uncles (two large extended families) were returning vets. That was true of many members of the first cohort of boomers, one reason that the boomers appeared, in fact. The vets, who had come of age in the Depression and gone through the war, came home to prosperity and began reproducing like bunnies. True story.  ;)

 

The boomers you still have among you, largely running things (and I bet that a lot of younger people are getting tired of us, eh?). To us as we grew up, "the war" meant WWII, and pretty much still does, especially in Canada, maybe not so much the U.S.

 

The "lessons" of "the war" as they began to filter into the popular culture in the late fifties, early sixties, were largely good lessons, I still believe. Our parents hadn't gone to war to stop the Holocaust, which they barely knew about at the time, but we learned about it as teenagers, at a time when civil-rights struggles in the U.S. were also picking up momentum and making us think, at just the right age. That's how it all came together in our heads, so while that made us very different from our parents in some respects, it also meant that "the war" was still a touchstone for us.

 

I found Anne Frank's diary on my own when I was about the same age she was as she started it. I have read Shirer over so often that my copy is held together with elastics. I read Odette, the story that launched a gazillion TV movies about beautiful spies having their toenails extracted by Gestapo agents in Paris. (I'm not making fun -- the original stories are true, but that plot in particular became a meme.) And I am grateful forever to the guys who made Judgement at Nuremberg, which made me start to think about what bravery really is, what a citizen really is, what responsibility really is. I wonder when Steve, or Obama, last watched that film.

 

The war itself still fascinates me, even just in military terms. Those were huge civilian armies of a kind we haven't seen since except in Korea and then with the U.S. in Viet Nam. I do respect and sorrow for the farm kids who were thrown into that cauldron, the Germans too. And I guess I even respect Churchill for recognizing that there was something worse than your usual imperialist adventure going on in Hitler's Reich, as indeed there was and as I believe he did.

 

The loss in civilian lives and destruction all across Europe was incalculable, though -- I don't think we have a full accounting yet. There's a reason that the Nurembergers made "aggressive war" a special category of war crime that supersedes all others, because it contains all others. That's why we don't call it that any more. Now we call it "pre-emptive." Such an improvement, don't you think?

 

There are a lot of lessons to be taken from WWII. Unfortunately, many of them are inconvenient for our current crop of politicians, which is why you hear only the sentimentalizing of militarism from them. Wrap yourself in the flag and support our troops! Pay no mind to that military-industrial-complex thingy -- that would be unpatriotic. And don't hold your elected politicians to the Nuremberg standards -- you're endangering national security. To me, those are all the opposites of the lessons I learned from "the war," but they seem to have a lot of traction these days.

 

 

 

 

Sven Sven's picture

I'm sure that WWII memorial events will continue with some earnestness for the next few decades (until the children of those who actually lived through the war have died).  While most of the WWII vets are now dead (my dad, a vet of the war in Europe and in the Pacific, died over ten years ago and my uncle, who landed at Normandy at 7am on D-Day and who lived through heavy fighting in France and Germany until Hitler's death many months later, died just last year), many of their children were significantly influenced by the effects of the war simply by having grown up with those vets and those children will continue to honor the memories of the earlier generation.  But subsequent generations, who will have had little or no personal contact with the participants, will likely feel less of a need to commemorate the efforts and sacrifices of the WWII generation.  I suspect that it just won't seem terribly relevant to them or their lives.

With regard to "pre-emptive war" and "wars of agression", they may not be the identical concepts which they may at first appear to be.  In 1936, German troops reentered the Rhineland's demilitarized zone (which was part of Germany) in violation of the Treaty of Versailles (under the treaty, the zone was to be permanently demilitarized as a buffer and protection to France).  Had France "pre-emptively" used military force inside of Germany to enforce the treaty, France would have almost certainly crushed the then-weak German military.  Now, Germany's 1936 military re-entry into the Rhineland did not represent an immediate threat or danger to France but it was one of a series of steps taken by the Germans whereby Germany soon became the very real threat it ended up being.  Would a military attack by France back in 1936 (as opposed to the endless denunciations and hand-wringing that did occur) have meant the end of Hilter?  It's hard to say.  But, if there was even a 50-50 chance that such a French attack would have resulted in the end of Hitler (and the avoidance of 100 million dead), would it have been a justified "pre-emptive war" (nearly 20 years after the end of the First World War) or an unjustified "war of aggression"?

I don't think the answer is an easy one.

skdadl

Welcome back, Sven.

 

You locate your potential for pre-emption rather conveniently with the French, which I believe is wrong on two counts. It was Hitler who pre-empted by violating an international treaty. If the UK and France had moved against him then, no, that would not have been pre-emption on their part; it would have been legal. I'll have to check back on what Churchill's position was at that point (he was not in power), but he was certainly attuned to German pre-emption.

 

ETA: It's worth noting too that all that occurred prior to the Nuremberg processes and all that followed, wherein the doctrine of "aggressive war" was defined partly on the basis of what Hitler did during the late 1930s.

Fidel

William Krehm's site has some good information about the oppressive conditions for war reparations imposed on Germany after WW I. I know what some people will think without saying it - that it was tough titty for the Germans and too bad so sad. But what it implies is that the people who profited from WW I were not the ones paying the penalties for it with western governments demanding their pounds of flesh from ordinary Germans who were not living very well as a result. And it was those general conditions which paved the way for the great squawker. He would give his money backers and western world financiers the war of annihilation against Soviet communism they were salivating for. Too many rich and poweful people love war. They dream of war. They even dream of false pretexts for war. War is profitable for those able to control the market for war. And that's been the problem all along. As Marxists have said, the size of the war is directly proportional to the size of the crisis of capitalism. And capitalism has been one long and undulating wave of crises. It's a car constantly on blocks. They dream of war as a diversion from the inherent crises oriented nature of the ideology. War capitalism is capitalism with the mask off. Their fangs are now bared for all the world to see, once again.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

A great deal of effort has been expended trying to rewrite the history and the meaning of WWII. This is mostly going on in NATO countries.

NATO, btw, is a military alliance that Canada belong to. It has no justification for its existence and is, in fact, an aggressive warmongering organization. Under its umbrella, for example, the German Luftwaffe was able to bomb European targets in the 1990's without suffering any consequences. This, despite the "sacred" promises that war would never come from German soil ever again after war had come from Germany twice in the 20th century.

Where was I? Oh yes. NATO countries re-writing history. Here is a goddam example.

Russian anti-Nazi partisan ... conviction upheld by European courts for war crimes. Come again?

Quote:
On May 17, the European Court on Human Rights delivered its Grand Chamber judgment in the case of Kononov versus Latvia. The former USSR republic's accusations date back to the Second World War, when the Latvian-born man fought against the Nazis as a Soviet partisan. On May 27, 1944, in a group with other resistance fighters, Kononov killed nine residents of the town of Mazie Bati, as they were suspected of collaborating with the Nazis.

Several decades later, in 1998, Kononov was arrested on charges of war crimes for murdering nine innocent - as the Latvian side maintains - people. Following that, Kononov's life turned into a nightmare: he has been tried six times and spent two years behind bars.


This is what's going on. We're going to have to kill Nazis again if this keeps up. Not that some people, etc.

 

Frmrsldr

skdadl wrote:

Welcome back, Sven.

You locate your potential for pre-emption rather conveniently with the French, which I believe is wrong on two counts. It was Hitler who pre-empted by violating an international treaty. If the UK and France had moved against him then, no, that would not have been pre-emption on their part; it would have been legal. I'll have to check back on what Churchill's position was at that point (he was not in power), but he was certainly attuned to German pre-emption.

ETA: It's worth noting too that all that occurred prior to the Nuremberg processes and all that followed, wherein the doctrine of "aggressive war" was defined partly on the basis of what Hitler did during the late 1930s.

The Kellogg-Briand Treaty (which formed the "Charter") of the League of Nations presaged the notion of illegal war of aggression and pre-emptive strike. It was informed by such experiences as the First World War and the Schlieffen Plan.

Caissa

Welcome back, Sven.

Here are the clauses from the Versailles Treaty related to the Rhineland.

LEFT BANK OF THE RHINE

Article 42

Germany is forbidden to maintain or construct any fortifications either on the left bank of the Rhine or on the right bank to the west of a line drawn 50 kilometres to the East of the Rhine.

Article 43

In the area defined above the maintenance and the assembly of armed forces, either permanently or temporarily, and military maneuvers of any kind, as well as the upkeep of all permanent works for mobilization, are in the same way forbidden.

Article 44

In case Germany violates in any manner whatever the provisions of Articles 42 and 43, she shall be regarded as committing a hostile act against the Powers signatory of the present Treaty and as calculated to disturb the peace of the world.

al-Qa'bong

Quote:

There are a lot of lessons to be taken from WWII. Unfortunately, many of them are inconvenient for our current crop of politicians, which is why you hear only the sentimentalizing of militarism from them. Wrap yourself in the flag and support our troops! Pay no mind to that military-industrial-complex thingy -- that would be unpatriotic. And don't hold your elected politicians to the Nuremberg standards -- you're endangering national security. To me, those are all the opposites of the lessons I learned from "the war," but they seem to have a lot of traction these days.

 

This is important. The act of remembrance used to be in the service of preventing wars, now it's used to maintain them. We have to try harder to work on the preventive end, which doesn't mean being critical of the vets and their poppy campaign, to cite one example, but to be critical of those such as Stevie-boy, who cynically manipulate the emotions associated with the sacrifice of soldiers yesterday for political gain today.

skdadl

Agreed with Frmrsldr that attempts to write out laws of war go back much further than I implied, and I'm sure most of us would agree to seeing them evolve even further, great though Nuremberg and Geneva and the CAT are. What bothers me is that we stopped evolving sometime during the last generation and we seem to be regressing.

 

I agree also, Fidel, about the injustice and just plain unsettledness of the Treaty of Versailles and many other post-WWI arrangements. The war itself was imperial madness, and victor's justice was substituted for serious work on building a strong international community. As you say, it was a set-up for the Great Squawker (love the epithet, Fidel). The interwar years were tense everywhere, including here, more ripe for revolution than we've ever seen since. But then the war made some people very rich; a new empire aroise, and we all know the plot from then on.

Sven Sven's picture

skdadl wrote:

Welcome back, Sven.

 

Caissa wrote:

Welcome back, Sven.

Thank you both!

There is definitely a belief in some countries (particularly in the US) that the military and service in the military is, by definition, good.  But, the military is not inherently good or evil.  Rather, how the military is used by politicians determines whether the military, in a particular instance, is good or evil (the military is like a knife: It can be used for good purposes or evil purposes).

The American military in WWII was generally a very good thing.  In Viet Nam...not so much.  But, whether good or evil, the praise or blame is not so much for the military but for the politicians who control it.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Yes. The invasion of Normandy to drive the Nazis out of France - good. The bombing of civilians in Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, ... - not so good. In regard to the latter, perhaps that why the aerial bombing of civilians was NOT listed as a War Crime in the Nuremberg Tribunals.

Welcome back. I look forward to opening many cans of .... lol.

Sven Sven's picture

N.Beltov wrote:

Welcome back. I look forward to opening many cans of .....

..... (the Hormel variety of) [url=SPAM[/url]">http://www.spam.com/]SPAM[/url]?!? Tongue out

Sven Sven's picture

Although I'm not going to the race this year, for the last 15 years or so, I've attended the Indy 500. Being that it's held on Memorial Day Weekend, the pre-race activities are heavily flavored with military-esque speeches and symbols (there is always a military jet fly-over at the singing of the national anthem)...

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Not just militarized. I briefly switched over to a NASCAR program (hey! Montoya was in the race, OK??) and was treated to some comments about "What a good fellow" so-and-so was because he attended a prayer breakfast and all. (paraphrasing). Just like the announcer did.

These NASCAR programs are commercials for themselves, for Jesus, and for the military. Why shouldn't they be just driving in circles? It's perfect.

al-Qa'bong

Ce fil blesse mon coeur d'une langueur monotone.

skdadl

Wet birds fly low by night. I repeat: wet birds fly low by night.

al-Qa'bong

I wonder what bidda bidda means.

skdadl

4 August 1944: The German Security Police in Amsterdam raided the Secret Annex at Prinsengracht 263 and arrested the eight people who had been living in hiding there for two years, only one of whom, Otto Frank, would survive the next eight months.

Miep Gies, the helper who saved Anne's diary and papers after the Nazis had left, always set this day aside for commemoration.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture