Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Lest We Forget

There was an article in the Globe today about how the Legion is upset with the Canadian War Museum because of a plaque that suggests that the bombing of Dresden etc. were controversial. Apparently, it makes WWII veterans feel bad, so they want it removed. Of course, the usual Globe and Mail online comments ensued: "historians are idiots"; "the right is idiots" etc (ok, to be fair, it was acutally more balanced and insightful than those online response forums often are . . .). I decided to babble in here instead of joining the fray (Yes, because I'm a chicken).

I want to respect WWII vets, because I think it's a good thing Hitler was stopped, and I appreciate that they did go and die, or lived through horrible horrible things so that he wouldn't take over all of Europe. But 600,000 civillians died in Dresden. When I went to the American Museum of History, I was shocked by the exhibit "in defence of freedom, Americans at war" - and found the coverage of Hiroshima in 1 small plaque that basically said "lots of people died, but it ended the war, and that was good . . ." to be pretty disturbing.

When I went to our own war museum, I was happy to have a more nuanced approach. So, here's the issue - is it possible to respect our vets and still look at the nuances of war? Is the Legion being unreasonable - or is it enough that these guys were sent over to rot in trenches, and they shouldn't be made to feel bad about it now?

In my study of war and war crimes, I am learning that war is always ugly, and it's never black and white. How should it be presented if we are going to have a museum of war (or should we even have one?)?

1 comment:

Simone said...

I would hope that the point of any war museum (esp. in Canada) would be to try and show that war is a bad idea not to glorify it. We can honour the people who go to fight the wars (they didn't start them) while at the same time questioning aspects of it and hopefully showing that we'd really be better off without them!!