June marks eighty years since the invasion of the Soviet Union by Nazi Germany. It was a titanic struggle that decided the outcome of World War Two. One of the fronts of struggle was cultural, as Alex Miller explains.
world war II
While researching Japanese working-class resistance to World War II, Kaye Broadbent discovered in a Japanese university archive Masao Sugiura’s 1964 memoir, detailing the formation and activities of the Shuppanako Kurabu (Print and Publishing Worker’s Club). Based upon Sugiura’s 1981 second edition, the English translation of Against the Storm provides an inspiring account of how Sugiura and his comrades were able to organise and sustain links between workers, despite increasing wartime repression by the Japanese military regime.
In June 1940, Winston Churchill described the German rout of the French, Belgian and British armies and the seaborne evacuation of 338,000 troops from Dunkirk in northern France as a “colossal military disaster”.
For a nation whose national identity is intimately bound up with victory and conquest, it is paradoxical that the retreat from Dunkirk has become such an important part of British mythology.
Martin Pieter Zandvliet’s multiple award-winning 2016 film Land of Mine is harrowing viewing. But it is not to be missed by anyone interested in issues of war and peace — or in fine films.
Nazis In Our Midst: German-Australians, Internment and the Second World War
Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2016
When World Word II began, Australia’s then Prime Minister Robert Menzies said that it would be “absurd to intern refugees and anti-fascists when they were on the Allies’ side”.
Yet, writes La Trobe University historian, David Henderson, in his case-study history, Nazis in our Midst, this is exactly what happened in Australia during the war.
Although fit and healthy until near the end of his life, Stan Hilton, the 98-year old veteran of the Spanish Civil War as one of the almost 60,000 International Brigade members who travelled from around the world to join the fight against fascism who passed away on October 21, could no longer recall his four-month adventure in Spain in 1937 and 1938. Thankfully, his son, Gordon, and grandson, Adam, still keep alive the stories and recollections he told them over many years.