I’m proud to publish Re:war’s first guest blog, written by Lindsey Bannister (UK). Lindsey and I share a love for the HBO show Band of Brothers, which follows a company of US paratroopers from D-day to VE-day. Lindsey and her friend Jo have been touring significant locations from World War II for years, following in the footsteps of the soldiers portrayed in the show.
When I logged onto Twitter on the morning of September 11, the first thing that caught my eye was the trending hashtag #neverforget. I wondered briefly why these two words were trending – then, of course, I remembered it was 9/11. The reason I was confused is because I primarily associate the words ‘Never forget’ with the Holocaust, and Auschwitz in particular. I thought it would be interesting to delve into the history of this slogan, and to examine why it has become more universal in American culture.
The publication of Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer-winning graphic memoir Maus (in book form in 1991) shook the literary and art world alike. Maus is an autobiographical story about the artist’s father before the war and during the Holocaust, his time in Auschwitz, and Spiegelman’s own attempts to come to terms with this tale of survival.
Just over a month ago I was in Washington DC, where I visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It was one of the attractions I was really excited to see. The memorial is on the National Mall and thus part of the open-air timeline of American history, together with the many other monuments and the Smithsonian museums. But the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is in a league of its own, especially when compared to the nearby World War II memorial. As it turns out, war memorials designed and/or sculpted by women are few and far between. I wonder why?
Earlier this week, I came across an online documentary in parts made by de Volkskrant, a Dutch newspaper. It’s called Generatie Poetin (‘Generation Putin’) and was made for the occasion of the FIFA World Cup; each episode takes place in one of the playing cities. It’s about young people in Russia today: those who were born during Putin’s regime and are now old enough to vote in the upcoming election. There was one fragment that struck me. It was about a girl in her twenties called Nastja. As a volunteer, she exhumes the graves of German and Russian soldiers on the plains near Stalingrad, modern-day Volgograd, which in 1942 became the stage for the biggest and bloodiest battle of the European theatre of WWII.
I’m not sure if the English subtitles on Youtube work for everyone, so I’ve provided a transcript below just in case.
I am not Jewish, which is why I – and people around me – often wonder why I have such a strong interest in the Holocaust, a part of history that has nothing to do with me directly. But I have always been interested in … Continue reading Re:member – Talking to women about war
When I put out a request for unusual stories about the war two weeks ago, I was contacted almost immediately by Marine Hannon, who wanted to share a very special story about her connection to the war and those who fought in it. Though her story has already been covered online (link) (link), I wanted to interview her and hear her thoughts about what it’s like being a young woman for whom the Second World War still very much dominates the present. Marine grew up with a clear idea of the war as an antecedent to her own life, not just something that happened a long time ago, but an event that made the world what it is today and continues to touch millions of lives. Her parents were very serious about the duty of memory and making their children realise how lucky they were to be free.