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Tag: World War 2

On Reading an Account of the Battle of Britain without Words

Written by Tony Pratley.

The story of the Battle of Britain, when written down, almost always begins with a quote.  It is not a rule, more a convention.  ‘What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin.’ Winston Churchill’s famous declaration even introduced the opening title sequence of the film Battle of Britain (1969).  Chroniclers in search of something less common do have plenty of choice.  King George VI, ‘I feel happier that we have no allies to be polite to and pamper.’  Air Chief Marshall Dowding, ‘thank God we are alone now.’  Even Hermann Goering, ‘we’d forgotten the English fought best with their backs to the wall.’ Any one of these quotes will do and it will set the narrative agenda, telling the reader that the story to follow will be about an extraordinary episode in the life of an exceptional nation.   It is an oft-repeated tale – a myth, a ‘memory’, a confection of fact and fiction. Whatever it is, though, is of little concern here. I am more interested in the story-teller.  This is because, since the beginning of the 1990s, there have been more and more occasions when words won’t do.  Such an occasion will be outdoors and involve a crowd numbered in the thousands, and then a Spitfire flypast will do very well instead.

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Keeping the Pot Boiling: British Propaganda in Neutral Turkey during the Second World War

Written by Edward Corse.

Neutral Turkey was geographically surrounded by the Second World War. The Germans occupied land to the north and west; Italy occupied parts of Greece; the British were to the south in places such as Cyprus, Egypt and Iraq; the French were in Syria; and Russia, Turkey’s traditional enemy, loomed in the east in the form of the Soviet Union.

To try to keep itself out of the war, Turkey signed a number of agreements: a Treaty of Friendship with Britain in April 1939 followed by a Tripartite Agreement with Britain and France in October 1939; then later a Treaty of Non-Aggression with Germany in June 1941. Working to balance the interests of the warring parties was the very essence of maintaining neutrality.

However, being neutral did not mean that the war had no impact. Both Britain and Germany had Ambassadors in Ankara – Sir Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen and Franz von Papen, respectively – and the cities of Ankara and Istanbul were awash with their spies and propaganda.

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New Publication: David Welch, World War II Propaganda: Analyzing the Art of Persuasion during Wartime

World War II Propaganda: Analyzing the Art of Persuasion during Wartime. Published in 2017 by David Welch (Professor Emeritus and founder of the Centre for War, Propaganda and Society at the University of Kent), World War II Propaganda explores many of the key themes of the Second World War through primary source material. Examples of propaganda disseminated by both Axis and Allied nations are considered, contextualised by accompanying analysis. Breaking free of Euro-centric confines, the…

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and the 2018 Guernsey Heritage Festival

Written by Richard Guille.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018) is a Studio Canal film directed by Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral), based on the award-winning 2008 novel by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It follows a young English writer, Juliet Ashton (Lily James), who is contacted in 1946 by Dawsey Adams, a Guernsey pig farmer (Michiel Huisman). Learning of his membership of a unique book club formed during the German occupation of Guernsey, 1940-45, Ashton visits Guernsey to discover more. In the process, she learns about the occupation and the experiences of islanders during the war, notably the tragic story of one woman, Elizabeth McKenna (Jessica Brown Findlay). Whilst the film downplays the grittier parts of the book in favour of the story’s romantic dimension, a number of controversial and marginalised aspects of Guernsey’s occupation are portrayed. This article teases out the themes presented by the film and the implications of these for public occupation memory in Guernsey. It considers the films’ promotion in Guernsey, with this years’ Guernsey Heritage Festival (30 March to 10 May 2018) focusing solely on the occupation. This latest foray into presenting the public history of Guernsey’s occupation retains a focus on well-trodden ground at the expense of marginalised areas in occupation memory depicted in the film.

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Mapping the Future: The Diercke Atlas in the Third Reich

Written by Mike Anderson.

Cartography has only become a tool for historical research in the past few years. Traditionally, geography and history have been separated – the old adage ‘geography is about maps, history about chaps’ meant that there were few interdisciplinary crossovers. However, in recent scholarship maps have begun to be viewed as tools to understand the worldview of historical cultures and historical actors in and of themselves. When applied to Nazi Germany, this new perspective on cartographic agency reveals a hitherto largely ignored method of instilling propaganda. This article examines how the portrayal of the conquest of Lebensraum in Eastern Europe in geography classrooms and the Diercke Schulatlas für Höhere Lehranstalten, the most popular German school atlas, eclipsed any scholarly or factual analysis of the area.

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Mayoral Collaboration under Nazi Occupation

Written by Nico Wouters.

International comparative history is often discussed and welcomed but still rarely practised, including in First- and Second World War research. Even today, both fields of historical study remain predominantly national in orientation. However, when the empirical datasets for the selected national cases are sufficiently broad and rich, an international comparison has the potential to combine elements of micro-history with transnational analysis, yielding innovative results that can transcend the insights from exclusively national angles.

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Heligoland, Propaganda and the Anglo-German Relationship

Written by Jan Rüger.

What role did Heligoland, Britain’s smallest colony for much of the nineteenth century and a German naval stronghold in two world wars, play in Nazi propaganda? The island outpost, 50 miles off the North German coast, signalled Germany’s determination to turn past defeat into future victory, but it left open the question what sort of a war the Nazis were preparing for. Behind the bold front, Hitler’s attitude towards Britain remained ambivalent. He was keen to keep Britain at least initially out of a war in which he anticipated Germany would suppress Western Europe and conquer much of Eastern Europe. His belief in the possibility of an Anglo-German accommodation was premised on ideological and strategic assumptions about Britain and Germany which were shared not only amongst the Nazi leadership: ideas about cultural and racial affinities; fantasies about the division of the world between a land-based Nazi empire and a sea-based British empire. The Anglo-German naval agreement, signed by Joachim von Ribbentrop and Sir Samuel Hoare on 18 June 1935, was welcomed by Hitler as an important step in that direction. This was little more than an arms limitation treaty, establishing that the German navy would not expand beyond 35 per cent of the Royal Navy’s tonnage. Still, the agreement was hailed in the German press as putting to rest the historic rivalry between the two nations. According to Ribbentrop, Hitler called the 18th of June ‘the happiest day of his life’.

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