World War II has been in the news again
War hero Captain Tom, one of the last of the many who fought in the Second World War, was laid to rest yesterday, and the other day Lucy Worsley explored the Blitz Spirit, showing how civilians experienced warfare in a new way. People served in many ways and suffered in many ways in that conflict, as in many today.
Why talk about the War?
Boris keeps talking about the pandemic using warlike metaphors, which some people find more helpful than others. He invokes the Blitz Spirit and talks of the virus as if it had a mind and a plan (if only he had a plan!). Some Brexiters like to use similar metaphors to demonise the EU and foreigners generally, ignoring the fact that we won ‘our’ victory with the help of many allies, including people who would become the Windrush generation as well as many Europeans.
Do I find the War metaphors credible?
I do. But let’s be realistic. My parents told me about the Blitz, which they experienced, and they would have agreed with Lucy that it brought out the best and the worst in many people. There was self-sacrifice, community spirit and determination. But there was also selfishness: looting, black-marketeering, profiteering and panic. What’s changed?
What can we learn from the War?
There are lessons we can learn. Not military ones, but life-lessons. I wrote about some of these, drawing on the history of the First World War, in my book, Be Victorious! This week I am offering the e-book version for free from Tuesday 3rd March to Friday 6th as I think it might help some people. You may find those lessons more relevant than flag-wagging.
As I said before, there were many ways tin which people served and many ways they suffered. I felt lots of emotions as I read my father-in-law’s diaries which I published recently as Came the Dawn, which I mentioned this in a recent post.
His was a different experience from that of Captain Tom or my parents. He was taken prisoner by the Germans. I have not set out any lessons from that. I let readers draw their own.