A little bit of shame everywhere

One thing we tend not to get in books about WWII is bad American behaviour. Don’t laugh. Today we might spread our criticism more evenly, but in most fiction the Americans were the good guys.

So were the British, but the difference tends to be that while we know people had to make sacrifices in the British Isles, we ‘know’ the Americans at home had it good.

A more recent trend in books has shown us what WWII was like for people in Europe. Not just for the fighting Allies, but for Germans at home, Poles, Italians. And when we read about the inhumane imprisonment or moving of innocent civilians, all in the name of war, it’s only too easy to see the other side as always good.

We know that Germans were locked up in Britain. But we seem to know much less about the internment of Japanese Americans in the US.

Last year I watched a film about this, I’ll Remember April. Then I read about something similar on Normblog a month or two ago. It was very touching in all its simplicity, and shows that it’s not just in films that people acted in a certain way. Real people in real life did too. This in turn made me get the film out again, to watch a second time.

It’s worth remembering this when getting worked up about atrocities towards Poles, Lithuanians, or anyone else.

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3 responses to “A little bit of shame everywhere

  1. Penny Dolan

    Really glad I saw this post today, Bookwitch, as I had missed the Normblog entry and had never heard of the film. I’ve now read one and put the other in my must watch list. Thanks.

  2. Yeah, I don’t know how Norm does it; finding these nuggets of information. Simple piece of news, which makes you cry for the all right reasons. And I always worry that film scripts are too far removed from reality, so it’s good to know what people really did do.

  3. Brits like the image of themselves as plucky and making-do during World War II, and it’s certainly true there was a lot of this about, but second-generation Italians immigrants were also interned in the UK, as I know from a former colleague. And don’t forget that the horror that was the concentration camp was actually invented by the British for use against the Afrikaners in South Africa during the Boer Wars .

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