tv Viewing WWI Through the Lens of WWII CSPAN January 27, 2019 1:15pm-2:23pm EST
practical expression and legislation and in government of this impassioned for social justice. >> you can watch the entire election -- lecture sunday at 6:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. eastern . this is american history tv, only on c-span3. tv,ext on american history university of cambridge international history professor david reynolds compares how five country separately viewed world war i before the second world war began and argues how perceptions about the great war were reshaped after subsequent wars. he focuses on great britain, the u.s., russia, france, and germany. this was hosted by the national world war ii museum in new orleans. it is just over one hour. author whose noted many books line your shelves back home, including "in command
from world war ii cold war, the international history of the 1940's. as the centennial of the great war approached, it was sure to generate a number of new books on the subject. all of the books that were released -- of all the books that were released, adam chooses christopher clark's sleepwalker. no book better demonstrates the tie that binds the two world wars better and david reynolds' the long shadow: legacies of the 20th century. to make sureanted he was here for this important symposium. without further ado, it is my leisure to introduce to the stage at the world war two museum, dr. david reynolds. que.eynolds
[applause] reynolds: thank you for that welcome. it is a great pressure -- pleasure to be here. i was here before in its early incarnation in the 1990's on the lakefront in the stephen ambrose days it is a pleasure and quite remarkable to see what a wonderful job you have done of taking some of his ideas and developing this amazing space and galleries. thanks so much for inviting me. about the long shadow of the great war, or because ilong shadows think there are two general points i want to make.
the first is i think in each of our countries, we tend to commemorate or remember the war within a national category, national framework. i want to try to open out that discussion and think comparatively in the brief time with got today or it -- we have today. the other thing i want to do is pick about the way in all of our -- the warhe wharf was understood in light of the next war, from 39 to 1945. to 1945. it was refracting one through the other. perhaps with the quintessential images of the
great war. brought into sharp focus in 19 75 by a distinguished writer -- 1975 by a distinguished writer he was a world war ii veteran, american g.i. in world war ii. he was also a professor of literature. he created the quintessential , particularlywar the british war. that is where i want to start. a war that i think has been stuck in the trenches. those are images of the mud, there and living theirnce in those --
existed in those trenches. also the poems -- poets. poems had become the prime interpreters of the war in public memory, certainly in britain. a lot of -- not historians, but poets bringing out the sacrifice, misery of that existence, that struggle. in britain in particular, there is an impression of the war still as an unproductive, even futile sacrifice. if i stay with britain for a moment, i want to show you an image which is quite close to home for me. cambridge -- i just want to make clear from anyone from harvard, that is the original cambridge. [laughter] it,reynolds: if you visited
the war memorial there is at the top of station road, and if you imagine that soldier looking back across his shoulder towards the station and the impression i have an many people have is it is almost as if he is coming and just the great war casting his eye back and wondering if the other comrades , whethere back as well they would get the train back home. poignancy the soldiers underneath. this is october 1939, the next war. this is the start of the second world war in britain. they are marching off to the
next four. i kind of imagine them looking up at that soldier and wondering what is going to happen to me? with all the memories that were britain.n the images of trenches, poets, and soldiers in this memorial underline for me something important, which is that words matter. i want to spend a moment thinking about the words we use, familiar words we use to describe these conflicts. in the british case it is striking. the people who lived through that war spoke of 1918 as the postwar years, because for them the future was over.
think as we now do 8 to 1939 as the interval years. in britain it was always refer to as the great war, taking over a term that had a been used for century or more and had been used before. the great war then, the great war now against germany. it was generally called --. it was a struggle for world power. once youited states, was in, in 1917, what
previously described as the european war became the world war. kind of like the world series or whatever it is. [laughter] britain, it: in wasn't until after the second struggle against germany that the british started talking to 1918 as the first world war, because they then had the second war. mes wordplay sharpens up for the sense that we need to understand the ways in which our various countries have thought about these those coworkers in parallel and seeing one through the lens of the other. i want to explore that for a few
minutes now. let me start with britain, but i will expand the lens. britain, the second world war , at the time and ever since, had not been particularly problematic to understand. not problematic to create a satisfactory and set us factory -- and satisfying narrative about it. hour.our finest finest hour phrase taking over from the winston churchill speech in the house of commons, where he predicted britain would ifnd up to the germans and the empire lasted for a thousand years, they would say this was their finest hour. churchill's prediction prophecy
propaganda if you like in june 1940 has become the scripture. it is now usually referred to in britain frequently as "our hour," which makes you wonder what has happened ever since. i am not getting onto brexit, don't worry. britisha war for the war on thethe continent in 1418, this was a war in which it is under intained attack from bombing 1940, 1941. that picture is of winston churchill in the ruins of the cathedral after it has been destroyed in october 1940. fighting thewere territory, not to liberate france emma gave a particular --
france, gave a tickler force. this is -- gave a particular force. this is the clean up after allied liberated, cleaning up after hitler's final solution. camps inure of those the spring of 1945, the british americans --, the with a lead correspondent, exposed the horrors people had been fighting against that we have been made aware of and now were coming home. this was emerging as what was ," as called "the good war it anywhere could be good. it had a mold of destroying that
horror. ends with unconditional surrender of germany. there is the gate in the heart of berlin. very deliberately learning the lessons we talked about in the last session of a war that seemed to finish satisfactorily for the moment, but created huge problems for the future. s grant took over the phrase -- roosevelt up over grants phrase -- grant's phrase that they couldn't say they had one but were done out by stabs in the back. the kind of line that many
petaled in the 1920's and 1930's. gives us theour" sense of fighting in britain for a clear purpose to protect our country against an enemy that is -- and ends with a conclusive defeat of the enemy. not like the armistice having the piece that ended the first it was said toh be an arm assist for 20 years. istic for 20 years.
and 1945 asf 1939 the good war and heroic victory strengthens the feeling of dissatisfaction with the futile war. worstthe human cost, the losses in british military history, particularly in men. it had to all be done again it seemed in a second round 20 years later. ont story has been carried and perpetuated and what i might call "our finest movies." there is the kind of standard mh of the first world war journeys and, which was a play that had
huge box office success at the beginning of the 1930's about a group of british soldiers right dugout,nd in a claustrophobic atmosphere on the western front, just before the first of the offenses begins in march 1918. i said that i think we don't warsy think about these sufficiently outside our national box. we each tend to commemorate our own national stories, and that is understandable, because we are talking about conflicts that caused huge human suffering in which many family members were involved.
many of you may have family members that were involved in the second world war and in the first world war. it is not surprising that we live with our own national memories. i think it does obscure some of factual thinking. there are some attempt to try and think about these wars in a collective way. in the case of the second world , i offer a random example. a new book that happens to have been published about the relationships between roosevelt, churchill, and stalin during the second world war, but i won't dwell on that. 1914 to 1918 how is refracted through 1939
globally. that storyet's take and look at russia, the united states, france, and germany. after -- 1914 to 1917, the russians were out, plus 2 million lives. during this period, there were no official russian memorials to the dead of that war. just think about that for a moment -- just think about the british,, american, french, to the dead of that conflict.
losses are smaller than the russians, but no memorials to that conflict. war. a problematic once the bolsheviks took over and created the soviet union, it was depicted as an imperialist war, only significant in that it ofught about the collapse the regime and the bolshevik revolution. it was a trigger for the bolshevik revolution, and they did not commemorate that war. since the end of the soviet union, it has begun to be memorialized significantly, but not up to the period of 1991. the central war, as far as the soviet union was concerned, was
what the russian called "the great patriotic war." there is a famous image of the overrmy raising the flag that in berlin. again thee war, figures are difficult to exclamate.- x clu more russians died in the siege and leningrad than the dish and in the seizure , then the british and the americans. it is hard to imagine in a country like britain that was not invaded during the second
world war, even if it was bombed , all the continental united states, which the 48 states were not affected by the war directly, except for a little bit of japanese bombing on the west coast. was verywar different than what the british and americans experienced. the losses were in large part attacks anderman 19 42es of 1941 and 42 -- 19 43.o the offensive in into situations and denied them the opportunity to retreat which would be much harder for democratic leaders to sustain.
there are many reasons for the losses, but the gravity of those losses is clear. that is why, for russians, that story of what we would have to call their finest hour -- that's how it's remembered -- was so much a part of the central unifying myth of the soviet union, particularly after stalin's crimes had been exposed by his successor. and also why russians have clung ,n to it in the putin era whereas they have not ofurrected the story russia's first world war at all. looks into the shadows, if you like, russia's first. let's move on to the united states and hope you didn't mind that i started with russia
before the united states. what is interesting here is that there hadn't, until very recently, a world war i memorial in the nations capital. that is an -- nation's capital. that is an image to the d.c. memorial, dedicated to 20,000 citizens of the district of columbia who died during the war. it is only in the last year or two that there has been a big effort to establish a formal national memorial in d.c. itself. because, although those achievements of the doughboys were celebrated at the time, they quickly became clouded by , bytical controversy
woodrow wilson's failure to get the senate's approval for the league of nation and the treaty by a growing, and feeling in the united states that the war had not been particularly productive, a waste of american life, and particularly in the depression years, a turning away from europe and turning into a period of intense isolationism. morebecame the forgotten incontrast -- forgotten war contrast what was called the good war, which could be celebrated very regularly and easily as america's second chance -- that's what the state department talked about -- to vision ase wilsonian a world shaped by american values and liberated by american
power. there is one of the iconic images of that conflict of that marines raising the stars and stripes over iwo jima. warear contrast between a that had been largely forgotten, and then became remembered in 1945 as af 1941 to stepping stone to paving the way to the american century, america's ship as a superpower -- leadership as a superpower. let's move on to france. to 1918french, 1914 still is, to a significant extent, a noble sacrifice. that is an image of the cathedral, a postcard,
propaganda postcard of the cathedral being shelled by german artillery in 1914 to 1918, an example of one of the many cultural atrocities the germans perpetrated. was a war toh, as remove the germans from their own homeland. the germans inflicted a very brutal regime of occupation and slave labor on that part of france. this was a war for national liberation, aside from the fact reclaim property in
the prussian war. war, which ishe more than the 750,000 british, but it wasn't prevented -- futile sacrifice, but a noble sacrifice. to 1940, a moment of national humiliation that the french in some ways still struggle with to the present day. picture of a well-known german tourist looking around paris, the ethyl tower in the background. -- the eiffel tower in the background. war, what wasorld
achieved in four weeks was what the kaisers could not. he smashed or defeated the french army. that fundamentally changes the whole history of the second 1940,war because from there is no western front for four years, until june 1944. that is why the whole war becomes totally to friend. -- totally different. in terms of the french story nationalhat moment of sharplyion is contrasted by the figure of 1.3 million, 1.3 million frenchmen .ie in the first world war
in june 1941, 1.3 million frenchmen roughly speaking march off into german is in her war camps. regime find vichy rmistice and imposes in a coach that was used by the french to inflict the arm mistice. to impose aoes on fascist-style ideology on france and by 1943 and 1944, is complicit with the nazi program for the elimination of jews. it is not surprising that the 1940h call those years,
1940, the years of -- 1944 years of occupation.tion their finest hour, the french said you could not publish a book in french in 1940 and call it finest hour. two is called the tragic hour. a very different story for the french from the british. a first world war that is a noble sacrifice, a second world war that is a national embarrassment. what about germany?
germany is an interesting pattern again. all of our discussion of the first world war folk could where thefocuses forces do the bulk of the fighting in continental europe. the germans, at the time and remember 1914 not for the attack through belgium and france, but for a heroic attack of the reich from by the russian army, france's allies. the hero victory that is is amorated by the germans
battle rarely discussed in the west. that is where hindenburg and ludendorff made their names in holding back the russian army advancing into eastern prussia. tandberg was a bizarre mixture, it also like stonehenge and the very insect -- mari provocative image. becauseot visit it now it is not in germany any longer, it is in poland. that is a consequence of the next war. and also because it was blown up
at the red army advance. that is where hindenburg was buried, the great commander, the great commander in the first world war. -- that isre hindenburg and hiller presiding as chancellor. 1914 to 1918 was remembered by germans as a heroic struggle .gainst russian invasion after the second world war, 1939 to 1945, the germans forced by forcedtional surrender, by eisenhower's determination to make ordinary germans walk through the remains of those camps and recognize what they
had been complicit with. the germans acknowledged the crimes -- began to acknowledge the crimes that had been committed. initially there was an attempt to say it was a result of the ,riminal fleet around hitler but when some of the auschwitz trials started, there was --ognition of the implicit complacency of the country. that is in german memory and textbooks and talk to in juncker generations, in a way that is fair to say has not happened in terms of japanese coming to terms with their wartime past. do is to break through -- waded through the different examples of how the
war is refracted through .ifferent countries in germany, the idea that eventually the first world war was also criminal aggression's 1960'sestablished in the when it was suggested that it was all part of a long tradition of german military aggression which had to be rooted out. thati wanted to suggest is western european countries moved era of two world wars. britain did not. i think this helps us to understand some current events, particularly of the sort i said i wouldn't mention. the process of european
integration, the signing of the treaty of her own, which set up .he original european community as the de facto peace treaty for western europe at the end of the second world war, this injury the line in a way under those years -- this drew a line in a way under those years. that takes you from 1939 to 1940 and then to 18 17, and then to the war of napoleon and louis the 14th. beatingtries have been each other and finally came to the recognition that if you can't beat them, join them. that is what they did there. france and germany coming into a new relationship with each other
. has been at the heart of the european project ever since. and it ishe euro worth remembering that in 1990, germany is unified, france's fears of a unified germany are placated by the german willingness of the chancellor i giving up the deutsche mark, their chairs currency -- their cherished currency, and having a common european currency to show that germany has become part of your -- europe and will not act in a nationalist way. written by contrast join the european union late. britain, by contrast, joined
the european community late. , in the purpose of leaving early, that is boris politician.ritish predicting that brexit means maket, and we are going to a tight handed success of this. bethen corrected it to colossal success. we'll see which adjective proves to be right. process where? on -- where itne has gone on, in 1984 on the battlefield.
if you have been there, you .ould know that it is grizzly you walk along the outside and look through the lower windows and the dismembered bits of human beings on the battlefield from high artillery -- heavy artillery. for commemoration in september 1984, and the story goes that they stand for the national anthems and you have to imagine the rain pouring down, and he said on impulse and put it his left hand and he took and they stood there are you can see the moving moment. it is in all of the french and german school textbooks.
just to bring this story up to ago, inent, three weeks , merkele railroad car dedicationfind every to franco german. 1918 byat was used in france to humiliate germany, and in 1940 by hitler's to humiliate france, and a place of reconciliation and projection forward into a new feature. what i tried to suggest is there are many ways in which the war that we are talking about, 1914
casts shadows that are with us in the present day. thank you very much. [applause] >> we are going to start to the left of the pavilion. if you have russians, these racial -- questions, please raise your hands and i will bring the microphone to you. no one on the left side has a question. center, dr.n the reynolds, with herschel abbott. why did you decline to comment on stalin? could we get a couple comments on that movie? consider accurate but
not entirely accurate. >> the question was in regards to the film, the darkest hour and its historical accuracy, which mr. abbott thinks was excellent even though it was not perfectly historically accurate, your comments? talking about poetic accuracy rather than historic accuracy. in terms of fact, churchill was using the habit of underground for the subway. goes, his wife or would a said later in a winston was that only from the underground, it was during the generals fight in
1936, there were no tabs or public transport. that put him on the circle line and he just went around and around until someone got him off. think that if you are asking more generally about our image of churchill, partly what i feel is there is a tendency to turn him into a slightly two-dimensional figure. almosttional icon, and the kind of character of his own image. when i have written about churchill, i tried to bring out a three-dimensional perspective on him. let me give you something i a lightbulb moment in
the archives, and account of .hurchill's conversation this was a visit to france armi wasnd p tice wasice -- armis signed. he got back in the car and was thoughtful and morose and they try to cheer him up. said, we shall be dead in three months'time. they talked about how we would be able to fight on a level with the rest of it.
were churchill's considered judgment, but what it reminded me of was this was a man who looked into the abyss, who could see the challenges and saydangers yet could stillyet d on the 18th of june a few days later if the british empire lasts for a thousand years, men would still say this was their finest hour. for me is the kind of churchill that i feel is commanding of interest and respect as a historical character rather than being a two-dimensional figure. >> in the very front. >> as far as i know, the treaty of versailles punished germany
to the extent it have the unintended consequence of giving rise to nazism under hibbler. -- hibbler. hitler.ar -- wasunited states primarily a very benevolent victor towards germany and towards japan. connectionske some between the aftereffects of world war i and the after tax of world war ii? on the question of treatment of germany in the versailles treaty. there remains a debate about whether the germans have for example paid the reverberations
-- reparations that were demanded. there were many economists who say that the bill inflicted on was less than the bill inflicted on france after 1870. the point was that germany wasn't -- it wasn't whether germany was economically in a position to pay the weather germany was politically willing to pay and certainly one of the conclusions after the the next was -- that's why roosevelt was so keen to make clear that germany had been defeated. and that could draw a line under the conflict and then allow germany to be more radically ed,ilitarized, d nazifi democratized and then sort of its militarism -- currrent of
its militarism -- currrent cured of its militarism and brought back into the world. 1945 unlike 1980 team, you have the u.s. and the soviet union in strength right in the heart of europe. two powers that had been , havezed by that conflict very different views of what the conflict was about and what the notre should hold and were of a mind to compromise. the only way stalin knew how to control a country or region was by eliminating dissent.
that was unacceptable to the united states and its allies. the united states also had a that after to put it bluntly the europeans had screwed up twice in a generation it was time for the americans to put their own imprint on the future piece. what you got is a war that shifts in terms of values and perceptions into a cold war confrontation with the soviet union in which the rebuilding of germany is accelerated and the rebuilding .f japan is accelerated >> thank you very much for your comments this morning and please forgive a question from someone who is very new to the sub check. >> they are always the most difficult. please carry on.
>> my understanding is that women in great britain were out marching for the vote. and then a generation of their sons are being killed. why didn't they take to the streets to protest what is happening? >> thank you. yes. 1914, the last few years are not as sometimes imagined a period of placid edwardian piece in pastoral england. intenseually a time of political agitation. big strikes organized by the andns and the labour party also of course a militant movement for women's suffrage for giving women the vote.
involves what seemed for the time to be extremist measures. women touching themselves to the .ailing at buckingham palace women being imprisoned and for us to -- force-fed. in some cases deliberately committing suicide. this is a really militant situation. as with other questions including ireland and the question of independence, many of those things are folded over and for the moment put on one the by the fact that british are fighting a moral war against german aggression in belgium and so on. fast-forward to 1918.
the representation of the people act gives the vote to all british men over the age of 21. whether or not they have property. it's very difficult not to give the vote to young men who have been fighting to preserve the property of landowners and so on. it also gives the vote to a substantial number of women on the grounds that there for effort was also essential in the larger scheme of things. women are referred to as tommy's sister. soldiers are tommy. they are doing their bit as well. there was debate about actually conceding the votes to women
over the age of 21. but the elderly gentleman who did the arithmetic works out they would did that be in the majority in the electorate and that obviously could not happen. fancy footworkof from different arithmetic and you ended up with a bit of a property qualification. it wasn't until 1920 that british women got the vote. although there were women's suffragettes who campaigned there was aat times very strong commitment of women who had gained the vote after 1918. the threw themselves into internationalist movement in the
1920's. in other words the argument was we might be able to come to terms with the loss of our loved ones. our sons and brothers and so on. if this proves to be the war that ends wars. then perhaps we could say they have not died in vain. and if you want to understand the moral intensity behind appeasement in the 1930's, it stems from that feeling of holding on to what remains is the justification for the lost -- loss of your loved ones. it's a moralization project. can still come to terms with his death if that is the last war. so that's where i would fit the women story into this.
>> sticking to your left and the far back. >> my question is in the early 1990's after the collapse of the soviet union there was a lot of that the horrors of the 20th century were finally behind us, that liberal democracy and modified capitalism one and we were ready to move on into a new golden news. we didn't get there. my question is so much what went but your opinion was there ever a chance that things might go right? >> how many hours have we got?
one of the most frightening developments in terms of what went right is the with churchill called the iron curtain was rolled down. also in terms of his history germany was reunified and it was reunified peacefully. the cold war in many ways is a war for mastery of germany. people did appreciate is the idea that you can kind of just democracy in countries that did not have a long experience of it also did not have if you like a deeper sense of civic values.
free association. a liberal political system is the idea that people get on with their old lives most of the time. they organized themselves into ,lumps come into societies churches, whatever it is. they don't require the government to tell them how to socialize. how to be social beings. society aseen in a is true of much of eastern europe were all that was controlled by the state. the idea that if you just say, guys atof these nasty the top and somehow democracy is going to flourish, you have the same problem. it's too simplistic. then you say, could we have done more?
could there have been marshall plans for the soviet union and eastern europe? you are talking on a huge scale. so for me the jury is still out. on and off to russia for 30 years. me as it when i , one of the people i met who took my wife around moscow, a woman in her 30's. she had never seen a map of moscow ever. in the and we gave her our tourist map when we left. that was what allows knauf was trying to change. today russia as a society is in many ways very western.
internet ande 75% attrition among people who are over 16 and unless you are a political dissident the internet is not really rigidly controlled in the latest in china. the problem if you like is that as a society which in many ways is becoming more western still has an essentially authoritarian almost soviet style leadership so there's a disjoint between the politics and the society. putin claims that russia needs strong leaders. it's an unruly country. the jury is still out where gorbachev's resolution is actually going. fortunately i don't think i will be around in 2050 when we can come to a firm judgment. let's put it that way. way in the back, to
your left. my experience of world war i and america currently was formed by my fifth grade teacher who lost her fiance in the war. she was an older woman. she taught us in flanders fields to recite and we were very sort of monroe's learning all these songs. it opened my eyes to see wherever i went any city or town you go to a new england there's always a world war i memorial with the names of the people from the town. i guess there's an experience of being locally remembered. i wanted to hear why nationally it was more prominent in our memory. >> i'm not sure. maybe other people could answer that. certainly in terms of where is the british for example the temporary
memorial that was so successful it became a stone memorial very quickly. most of the rituals of memorialization of the first world war were created very quickly in 1920. it's conceivable that if the united states had carried on into that campaign of 1919 that particularly if the losses had continued to be on the scale that they had been those autumn of 1918 dwarf your worst civil war battles. antietam and gettysburg and so on. if those are being continued for months while the u.s. army was learning the tactics that we
were hearing about in the last in the way to the british and french had learned at real cost maybe the blood would have been such that there would have been a national demand for a memorial. as it was, the american experience of that war was butnse, hugely formative, very short. became overtaken walsh ofconcerns about this am, red scare and so on before the country moved on into the 1920's. so i think you would have to go with the brevity of the american experience. >> i'm going to see if we can get two more questions in.
we have built an extended lunch break for everyone. i want to get in a couple more questions. >> can you talk about how the french regard general de gaulle now? a it's a big country and he's complex figure. one book i would recommend is julian jackson's recent biography of de gaulle which is written by someone from outside the country. often there is something to be said for someone writing from position of knowledge, not within a fixed national debate. if you want a very good story, jackson's new book is that. de gaulle as you know, he's a soldier of the first world war.
wounded and put in a german prisoner of war camp. is no great consequence in the french war effort at the beginning of the war. it's only because it has passionate obsessive belief in honor thatfrance's he is accurate himself to focus ofnd becomes the the french resistance outside the country with the support of churchill, it has to be said. does is to create ass mythology about himself
literally the embodiment of the spirit of friends. -- the embodiment of the spirit of france. for example even the resistance movement within france itself or glossed over by de gaulle, let alone the extent of the the naziy of vichy in project. he goes for this enormous effort to retrieve the honor of friends. most french people still go along with that and accept that. he is still very much a centerpiece of national memory. he was aher hand divisive figure as far as the lift was concerned.
of franceleadership from 68 to 69. was regarded by many french national patriots as a sellout of algeria. he is a national figure but one that also remains very very divisive and one who is not easily come to terms with french people alone. macron is trying to revive france's position in europe. who isle is somebody central to the idea of modern france and also problematic i think for french memory. much for au very wonderful presentation. [applause]
you're watching american history tv only on c-span3. history professor talks about land-use and water access on the colorado plateau. piloting the difference between navajos andpla mormon settlerst in the 19th century. american history tv recorded the interview at the western history association annual meeting in san antonio, texas. >> joining us from san antonio, texas got a professor of history at the university of texas at austin and your paper, your presentation is titled as follows, droughts, dams, and the attempt to stave off the disaster on the colorado plateau. explain your research, what have