Articles on World War II

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‘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…
Heidegger’s Nazi ties and anti-Semitism are indisputable. Can the man be separated from his philosophy?

Heidegger’s notebooks reveal an early blindness to the Nazis’ reality

Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) is easily the most controversial philosopher in the 20th century. To a large extent this is due to his implication in Nazism, which is a scandal to some, a fascinating spectacle…
“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…
In post-Soviet Russia, orange and black are the new black. RIA Novosti

World War II symbolism runs deep in Ukraine-Russia standoff

Many of the images of pro-Russian demonstrators in Ukraine, from Crimea to Donetsk, have shown them wearing black-and-orange-striped ribbons. The symbolism here is opaque to most Western observers, it…
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. 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…
Generation War provoked fierce debate and protests with sympathetic portrayals of German soldiers and depictions of Poles as anti-Semitic. SBS/ZDF

Generation War re-ignites battle over a nation’s ‘true’ history

Polish reactions to the German TV series Generation War, which has just screened in Australia, confirm that the history of World War Two remains highly contentious. The resulting public debate tested Polish-German…
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…
Never again: Holocaust survivor Ben Helfgott. Anthony Devlin/PA

Honour Holocaust victims by acknowledging rise of race hate

We rarely ask ourselves why we should remember the Holocaust. We simply assume that we should. However, if we only go through the motions uttering phrases such as “we remember” and “never again”, remembering…
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. 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…
The families of the interned men of the Caminiti clan in Queensland, circa 1940. Supplied

When ethnicity counts: civilian internment in Australia during WW2

When Fascist Italy declared war on Britain in mid-1940, almost 5,000 Italians living in Australia were imprisoned in internment camps. Few Italian families escaped the human cost of detention as “enemy…
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…
After 70 years, Mein Kampf is to be re-printed. Michael Dawes

Is Mein Kampf still too dangerous?

Almost 70 years ago, Adolf Hitler committed suicide in the bunker of the Reich Chancellery, marking the downfall of one of the most murderous regimes the world has ever seen. Decades later, there is still…
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. 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. 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…

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