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World War II

Analysis and Comment (24)

Shinzo Abe: victim of the times? Shinzo Abe: victim of the times? Franck Robichon/EPA

Japan’s commitment to peace is a victim of political reality

There has never been anything quite like Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. It formally renounces war and the sovereign right of belligerency, prohibiting the use of land, sea and air forces to settle…
Saipan: peaceful now, torn by war in the 40s. Saipan: peaceful now, torn by war in the 40s. P Miller

The forgotten survivors of ‘war without mercy’ in the Pacific

The battle for the Pacific island of Saipan during World War II is one of those well-remembered battles between Japan and America, one made worse by the mass suicide of local Japanese civilians who jumped…
The culmination of a lot of planning, and a lot of building. The culmination of a lot of planning, and a lot of building. DVIDSHUB

The military power, economics and strategy that led to D-Day

On June 6 1944, more than 150,000 Allied troops landed in Normandy. Their number rose to 1.5m over the next six weeks. With them came millions of tons of equipment, ranging from munitions, vehicles, food…
Rob, who allegedly made more than 20 parachute descents, receiving a Dickin Medal in 1945. Rob, who allegedly made more than 20 parachute descents, receiving a Dickin Medal in 1945.

Paratroopers and pests: the animals that helped and hindered in World War II

It’s the 70th anniversary of D-Day, and veterans and world leaders are meeting on the beaches of Normandy to commemorate the biggest seaborne invasion in military history. Memorial services are to recognise…
‘Sweet singer of sweet songs.’ ‘Sweet singer of sweet songs.’ Tim Ireland/PA Archive

The forgotten World War II backlash against Vera Lynn

Dame Vera Lynn’s latest album, National Treasure — The Ultimate Collection, has been released in the week of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. The album, filled with over 40 of her wartime hits…
“A few days rest in billets”. “A few days rest in billets”. Reproduced by kind permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library

Comics tap into the real emotions of the world wars

In its new exhibition, the British Library celebrate the subversive history of the comic. As ever, such a complex heritage can hardly be covered in such a show. But it is a symptom of a more widespread…
‘Who do you think you’re kidding, Mr Hitler?’ ‘Who do you think you’re kidding, Mr Hitler?’ EPA/Claudio Onorati

Bill Nighy fronts new Dad’s Army, but don’t forget the real Home Guard

News that a feature film of the BBC TV comedy series Dad’s Army is to be made – starring Bill Nighy and Toby Jones – has garnered a mixed response. The Daily Telegraph has questioned whether the film is…
Damaged Shiite Mosque outside Samarra, Iraq, 2006. Damaged Shiite Mosque outside Samarra, Iraq, 2006. Khalid Mohammed/AP

British government thwarts modern day Monuments Men

We study the past to understand the present and to help shape the future. A society without a memory is a dysfunctional society. And much of a society’s memory is encapsulated within its cultural property…
The Harlem Kiddies in the St. Thomas club, Copenhagen 1941. The Harlem Kiddies in the St. Thomas club, Copenhagen 1941. Little Beat Records

How an Afro-Jewish band rocked Nazi-occupied Denmark

It seems an impossibility: in Nazi-occupied Denmark in the 1940s, one of the hottest jazz orchestras around was the interracial Harlem Kiddies, with two white and three black band members – and a Jewish…
A Jewish victim at Klooga Death Camp. A Jewish victim at Klooga Death Camp. Jeremy Hicks

Unearthed Soviet Holocaust films remind us to be vigilant

A one-off programme on History’s H2 channel and Sky News has broadcast for the first time some film footage I discovered depicting the Holocaust. This may seem unremarkable: in the digital age, smartphones…
A GB (sarin) filled M55 rocket, is destroyed. A GB (sarin) filled M55 rocket, is destroyed. US Army Chemical Materials Agency

Chemical weapons and the scientists who make them

It would take a hard-hearted person not to have been moved to tears by the images on our television screens of Syria over the last week - of infants struggling to breathe while their parents looked on…
Australia is not fulfilling its obligations to its veterans. Australia is not fulfilling its obligations to its veterans. Flickr/Another Seb

Roll call: how Australia broke the promise of remembrance

Ten years ago this month, John Howard’s Minister for Veteran Affairs, Danna Vale, launched a searchable internet database known as the World War 2 Nominal Roll. It was intended to be a virtual war memorial…
By deliberately making false historical sources, students can learn to think more critically. By deliberately making false historical sources, students can learn to think more critically. Historical hoax image www.shutterstock.com

Teaching students to lie: historical method through hoaxes

What happens when you teach students how to lie? Answer: they become better historians. More than a decade ago, back in the days of Web 0.5, a student of mine submitted a generally well-written essay on…
The destruction of headstones from World War II have caused outrage around the world. The destruction of headstones from World War II have caused outrage around the world. EPA/Mohamed Elryani

Benghazi Commonwealth grave desecration and the spectre of anti-Islam

Around 50 Australians graves from World War II in Libya’s Benghazi Commonwealth war cemetery have been desecrated, apparently by Islamist militia. Footage of this violent destruction has spread around…
International Holocaust day is an important day to remember all atrocities in human history. International Holocaust day is an important day to remember all atrocities in human history. EPA/Jacek Bednarczyk

Remembrance is the most powerful weapon against genocide

It’s hard to imagine that a whole race of people can be forgotten. But if no one chooses to remember them, genocide can mean just that, leaving a large hole in our history and dooming future minorities…
Italian-Australians deserve an apology for their mistreatment in internment camps in World War II. Italian-Australians deserve an apology for their mistreatment in internment camps in World War II. Australian War Memorial Collection

Why Australia must apologise to Italians interned during World War II

Last month, the South Australian parliament unanimously accepted a bi-partisan motion moved by Labor member, Tony Piccolo, to acknowledge the wrongful internment of Italian civilians living in Australia…
There is an entire history of excuses given for why women shouldn’t be given roles in the military. There is an entire history of excuses given for why women shouldn’t be given roles in the military. Australian War Memorial Collection

Women in Australia’s military: On the frontline of the gender war

The recent plan to see women take on frontline combat roles in the Australian military from 2016 removes one of the last formal barriers to women’s participation in all realms of work. Unsurprisingly…
Uniformed attendees at the Remembrance Day service held in Sydney on November 11, 2010. Uniformed attendees at the Remembrance Day service held in Sydney on November 11, 2010. AAP/Greg Wood

Remembering the true meaning of Armistice Day

Australia now officially recognises two special days to commemorate our national history of being at war but neither of them is Sorry Day. The Australian history of engagement in war is primarily honoured…
A rebel fighter mans a makeshift checkpoint in Tripoli. A rebel fighter mans a makeshift checkpoint in Tripoli. AAP

Libya: a win for NATO

Despite confusion in recent hours about exactly who the Libyan rebels have captured, it is clear that the Gaddafi regime has been severely weakened by the weekend advance into central Tripoli. This advance…
Australian veterans of the Pacific theatre in WWII attend a VJ Day memorial. Australian veterans of the Pacific theatre in WWII attend a VJ Day memorial. AAP

The war in the Pacific: fighting the good fight, or something else

Sometimes an historian will challenge one of the key ideological myths of Australian capitalism. Henry Reynolds does it in his work on the colonial treatment of Aborigines, a treatment some go so far as…