Thursday, March 12, 2009

History is written by the victors

Both Ana and Clara are studying World War II at school at the moment, at different levels of depth and detail, of course. Clara's learned a lot about the London Blitz and she wrote an article on it that's going to be featured in the school play in a couple of weeks' time. She's also learned about rationing, the blackouts and how the children of London were separated from their parents and sent to the countryside to be safe from the bombs. Ana is studying darker aspects of the war, namely the events that lead up to the Kristallnacht, the Final Solution, and the death camps of Treblinka and Auschwitz. The three of us have been watching some good child-friendly documentaries on the History Channel and I've noticed that the bombing of Dresden and other atrocities perpetrated by the Allies are rarely mentioned, so I briefly mentioned them so that their knowledge is a bit more well-rounded.

Meanwhile BBC2 has been showing reruns of the fabulous 1973 documentary "The World at War" (the one with Lawrence Olivier as narrator) which is mandatory viewing for anyone interested in the subject but way to complex and extensive for kids. I had wanted to buy the DVDs with the whole series as a gift to my Dad but found out that the current edition doesn't have subtitles in any language, including English, so I'm not going to until a new one is released (hopefully it will come soon as there are a couple of one star ratings in because of this and they really taint the overall outstanding reviews and stand out against the large majority of five star ratings).


rauf said...

my friends and i used to gather information about war planes, bombs, guns and used feel proud about it. Now i am ashamed of such obsession Claudia.
The history of Crusades written by the Muslim historians differ completely with the Christians.
1st and 2nd world wars reporting was always one sided.
i am reminded of the quote about war, who is right and who is left.

Thank you for the music Claudia, it took me to the period before i was born.

Peter said...

Whether what they learn is "neutral" or not is one (important) thing, but I'm happy to understand that at least the subject is there. Often history at school, as I remember it and also for my kids, ended before this period. No time. Maybe too much time on old history and not sufficient on the more recent one. If, in addition, your kids have a good extra "teacher", it's perfect.

Peter said...

Sorry, I forgot to comment on the music: I'm not old enough to have been attending a Glenn Miller concert, but Marlene Dietrich - yes! Vera Lynn never came to my home town. Well adapted choice!

Claudia said...

I have been reading the history of the crusades as written by Muslim historians and it's fascinating, Rauf. History for the masses is written by the victors, as Churchill said, but a bit of research and some analytical reasoning usually lead to a less biased view of events.

Claudia said...

It's still a very sensitive subject, Peter. Lots of people here are children or grandchildren of war casualties. Most families still have first-hand accounts of what it was like living during World War 2. When I was in High School in the USA, we studied both WW1 and WW2. But at the same time in the school where my future husband was studying - the German School in Lisbon - they didn't cover the subject at all.