Log in

No account? Create an account

It not a joke!!! It is the truth!!!

Giving people what they want: violence and sloppy eating

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
What did you do in the war, daddy?
mini me + poo

The title is a slight misquote of a famous First World War recruitment poster..
WWI recruitment poster, with a father being asked what he did in the war
.. but it's brought on several thoughts.

In 1915, the poster was intended to emotionally blackmail men who – like the person who commissioned it – didn't want to enlist. Today, another reading is seeing the father as someone who did serve, and who knows that his son's toy war is nothing like the reality…

This aspect was the subject of a programme on three men's family links to the Holocaust. It featured two sons of Nazi war criminals. One's glad his father, Hans Frank, was executed for his role as leader of the 'General Government (the bits of Poland that the Germans didn't annex). The other still thinks of his father, Otto Wächter, as someone who was basically good.*

That survives a visit to the ruins of the synagogue used by the third man's relations, and the field where several thousand Jews were massacred, one by one, and still lie buried today. Otto Wächter was ultimately in charge of the auxiliaries who carried that out.

But his son is not the only one who admires him: one of the other things he did was form an SS unit of Ukrainians, known for Nazi political reasons as a Galician division, and many Ukrainians see the Soviet Union as their main enemy in that era and have a 'my enemy's enemy is my friend' attitude to those years, despite the sort of 'friend' Nazi Germany was. (Of course, in the West, the British and Americans took the same attitude to Stalin, to the point of keeping quiet about Soviet war crimes until after 1945.)

And I suspect that many people who've been in a war have horror stories. I think I've mentioned one uncle who served in submarines and risked his own career to try to have his captain charged with ordering the killing of women and children on one Japanese boat they stopped and searched. Coming back full circle, another relation did not talk about what happened in the trenches, even aged eighty.

Perhaps the other reading is more accurate.

* I wasn't the one to tag the neutrality issues with the WP article, but it's got them…

Image courtesy of the Imperial War Museum's Non Commercial Licence – more info about it and the poster at the link.

Mirrored from my website's blog, The deranged mad of a brain man.

This entry was originally posted at http://lovingboth.dreamwidth.org/564448.html, because despite having a permanent account, I have had enough of LJ's current owners trying to be evil. Please comment there using OpenID - comment count unavailable have and if you have an LJ account, you can use it for your OpenID account. Or just join Dreamwidth! It only took a couple of minutes to copy all my entries here to there.

  • 1
* I suspect that many people who've been in a war have horror stories. *

I'd guess most if not all, if they've been on front lines. My uncle wasn't an alcoholic before he served in Korea, and would only allude drunkenly to the horrors. My other uncle served in Vietnam and on his return ended up crying on a local lass half his age and distracting himself with sex (given she was 14 and a shotgun-enforced wedding followed, that really could have gone horribly wrong, but luckily they are still happy 50 years and 9 kids later).

My grandfather on the other side had a bunch of medals. My father and uncle only found out at his funeral. Given my grandmother's three brothers were killed in the wars, you can understand why it was never mentioned.

And since the poster was about The Great War that could make it even nastier than WWII in some respects. Even Hitler decided mutual refusal to use mustard gas was preferable after seeing how horrifying it was in The Great War. And new recruits in The Great War were told to calmly walk across No Man's Land, no doubt adding to the enormous death toll during the Battle of the Somme.

While there were poems like "Dulce et Decorum Est" that were written about the horrifying experiences, the majority of people did not want to recount tales of war. And that was true of WWII too. (And, as you say, wars in Korea and Vietnam.)

It makes the character of Captain America a rather hard sell for me. He's portrayed as naive because of his connected to "a simpler time"... Only it wasn't a simpler time. It was a horrifying time. But Captain America (from the movies at least) only seems to have experience of a war straight out of the propaganda posters. He seemingly hasn't seen the horrors of trench warfare. And yet surely he was in the middle of the war zone?

  • 1