As I suspected it would, the reaction of the popular press this summer to the anniversary of the Battle of Britain has been jingo-istic to the point, occasionally, of parody. This, as I wrote earlier on this blog (and also in the September edition of BBC History magazine), has not necessarily been helpful to an understanding of the real significance of the Battle of Britain in the history of WW2.
But it is a natural reaction. Everyone is proud of the ‘good’ bits of their own history – even sometimes to the point of omitting anything inconvenient that doesn’t fit the myth.
This is part of a broader problem that we often ignore. Indeed, I have had a great deal of personal experience over the last twenty years of how people can operate different standards of judgment depending on what they were predisposed to think about a particular historical subject. Let me give you an example. In 1991 I wrote and produced a film which looked at what I believe was a ‘British’ war crime committed in Austria during WW2. It was called ‘a British Betrayal’, and examined the handover by the British army of Cossack and Yugoslav prisoners to Stalin and Tito in 1945. Many of these prisoners then suffered appallingly – a number were tortured and killed. And the British Army give up these prisoners illegally – acting against Allied policy. I still think this was scandalous.
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