“none are really about history, they're always a fight over the present”
July 31, 2022 3:38 AM   Subscribe

Battling History is a series of five long articles in Coda Story about contentious areas of history in Europe. Isobel Cockerell writes about Nazi labor camps in Alderney, one of the British Channel Islands, and Spain’s vast tomb to fascist dictator Francisco Franco. Daiva Repečkaitė writes about struggles between Lithuania and Belarus over a shared medieval history. Caitlin Thompson writes about unsolved murders and unexamined atrocities in Northern Ireland. Katia Patin writes about resistance to official Polish narratives surrounding the Nazi occupation.
posted by Kattullus (8 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Unless I read it wrong, it is early in the morning, I think framing it as being on British soil, "even when I ask other Channel Islanders from the nearby island of Jersey if they knew Nazi camps existed on British soil, they’re hazy on the details," is misleading. All British citizens or at least nearly all were evacuated before the German invasion. Allied forces purposely skipped the islands because they were so heavily defended since they were captured British possessions.

Saying it happened on British soil might be correct in the technical, legal sense but it would probably be better to ask if they knew it happened in the occupied Channel Islands, and even then it wasn't like it happened with the cooperation of British citizens like it may have happened in other German occupied territory with local populations turning a blind eye or actively aiding SS camps. I guess I don't understand what the author's point is. It is not like there's shame or guilt there, or there shouldn't be, there was no one home.
posted by geoff. at 4:48 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]

geoff.: I guess I don't understand what the author's point is.

What I got from it is that people will go to great lengths not to think about historical atrocities, and resist anything that reminds them of it, even if they have little ancestral connection, to the point that they’ll do harm to the descendants and relatives of the people who died. People want to honor their dead kin, and the British government and some people in Alderney have made it more difficult for them.
posted by Kattullus at 5:30 AM on July 31 [9 favorites]

Yeah, the article isn't so much about what happened on occupied British territory, but how the British government didn't want to acknowledge what happened, and seems to have obfuscated it.
posted by ghost phoneme at 5:37 AM on July 31 [4 favorites]

Thanks very much for sharing these. The common elements between the situations and debates are very interesting, and I've never thought about them in a cross-cutting way before. I know what I'll be reading this afternoon...
posted by rpfields at 9:28 AM on July 31 [2 favorites]

from the Franco Article.

"They are opposed by activists on the right, who believe the fight to disinter the bodies is a propaganda tool to distort the past for political ends. They’re backed by the Benedictine monks who live in the adjacent Abbey of the Holy Cross, who claim the exhumations are not only impossible but an affront to God’s will. And, like those on the bus, they believe the legacy of Franco should not only be remembered, but prayed for...Several days before the 2021 anniversary of Franco’s death, a Madrid court blocked the process of the exhumations from beginning, thereby suspending an agreement reached in June by the government to start accessing the tomb."

Church and politics. I remember when Franco died. The morphing of the falange into his own party and ruling into the 70s is complicated.
posted by clavdivs at 3:50 PM on July 31 [3 favorites]

Church and politics...is complicated

This sounds overly simple, but when I've seen this interplay, it's typically about how the 'conservative' elements of a church institution and the 'traditional' elements of a political party both want to maintain the disempowerment of women (etc). That tends to be the 'synergy'.

Is there really a lot more to it? (not rhetorical, honestly want more details about what you mean)
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 3:14 AM on August 1

church and politics aren't complicated, the mergering of a fascist party to a nationalistic/militaristic one and then ruling all those years is complicated. Perhaps it was the blind-eye, fight the commies don't care if your a fascist do (our) fucking bidding Franco boy R Dee or your ass is going fascist land.
posted by clavdivs at 3:01 PM on August 1

Reasonably Everything Happens, the preceding rant was not towards you and your question is excellent. Agreed about conservative elements historically.

elements of a political party both want to maintain the disempowerment of women
Great question/observation, it does not deserve a chef boy R Dee/response.

I agree, take Milicianas in the Spanish Civil War.
"The Dictatorship of Primo de Rivera saw women take more to the streets to protest and riot, though their actions were dismissed by male political leaders. The creation of the Second Spanish Republic led to an environment encouraging active political participation in broader Spanish society, and ultimately served to assist many women in their decision to head to the front, as the Government expanded rights for women, including the right to vote, divorce, go to school and stand for election."

The 23' coup was a pronunciamientos usually 'bloodless'. " In El Sol, Jose Ortega y Gasset wrote: "The alpha and omega of the military directory's task is to do away with the old politics. Their goal is so excellent as to preclude reservations."
quite telling. The coup had support from both sides, except for the die hard communist and anarchist. But Big de Rivera still making those church/state sounds.
By '30, it's all not good again as the monarchies influence starts to wane, the depression and comes Franco.
"Unlike previous wars including World War II, women for the first time would be involved in large numbers in combat and in support roles on the front. Republican women had the choice to be actively involved in fighting fascism. The first Spanish Republican women to die on the battlefield was Lina Odena on 13 September 1936. "

"¡No pasarán!" Si!

"Women had gone from being objects of men's attention to being viewed as fellow human beings."

by 39' 'Las Trece Rosas'

'Remembering the Oft-Overlooked Women Victims of the Spanish Civil War'

'Women and the Spanish civil war.' (yt)

both want to maintain the disempowerment of women (etc).

would make a good post and that is why i love kattullus' posts. They make me think, as if I can come out the other side of viewpoint and historicity. So, not so complicated, I think I see what you mean. any complications is interesting because learning this (Franco) as a child and that he collaborateted with Hitler blew my mind coupled with a return of monarchy. To slightly backtrack on my own comment, what's complicated istrying to grasp that and the parallels to one's own society and memory versus history.
posted by clavdivs at 4:20 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]

« Older Energy transition's age of abundance: No one will...   |   "It's almost like the sound of somebody slipping... Newer »

You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.