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Anti-war demonstration in London
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The countrywide celebrations on the fortieth anniversary of D Day in 1985 stimulated an interest in issues relating to the war. The public's appetite for war related books, films, visits to the battlefields and the erection of ever more fanciful memorials has grown since then and come to embrace the First World War. Britain has even gained two new war museums since then.
In the spirit of the new-found enthusiasm in the late 80s the UK Parliament passed a controversial war crimes bill which allowed for the prosecution of suspected World War Two 'war criminals' now living in Britain. No prosecutions have succeeded to date.
In 1988 the Holocaust Education Trust was established and one of its aims, to make the Holocaust a part of the history curriculum, was achieved in 1991 and in 2001 Britain held its first Holocaust Memorial Day.
But how appropriate is a Holocaust Memorial Day to the teaching about the dark side of human nature let alone about the social, political and economic systems, which give space, if not actually nurture, the fanaticism that lead to mass killing?
The 'facts speak for themselves.' say the Day's promoters. But surely it's not as simple as that. Facts are far from neutral - an important lesson surely in these days of mass information and spin. The purpose of the Day is also to remember 'the individuals who were killed or suffered...' All of which is fine, but there is a danger with this approach that, despite its good intention, because of the absence of a wider, more complex and politically charged context, no significant 'lesson' will be learned.
Let us know what you think
- To provide a wider context to these mass slaughters visit:
- genocide section of our site
- The Holocaust Memorial Day site
- The Imperial War Museum is currently showing a newly commissioned film 'Crimes against humanity' which runs continuously throughout the day.