E-newsletter no. 27, 7 July 2015

ISSN: 2202-5561 ©

New on the site https://www.honesthistory.net.au/

  • Money, Monash and motive: DVA, the Public Works Committee and 'an international standard interpretive centre' in France (Immersion I of II)
  • Sideways towards conscription: WM Hughes and the War Census of 1915 (Part I)
  • Salvage salvaged: Penleigh Boyd on the Western Front, sketching and writing
  • Free and clear (till New Year's Eve): Journal of Australian Studies Great War commemorative reprints
  • The Deluge: the Great War and the Remaking of Global Order 1916-1931: Derek Abbott on Adam Tooze's book
  • 'Whose side are you on?': Douglas Newton (Hell-Bent) plus Elijah the Tishbite and Pete Seeger deal with the same rhetorical question
  • Expensive deaths: countries' comparative spending on the Great War centenary
  • Humphrey McQueen (1977) on the early history of the venerable journal Quadrant
  • Ian Buckley (2007) on not learning the lessons of the Boer War in the years leading up to the Great War
  • Les Jauncey writes to Doc Evatt after the 1958 election

Centenary Watch https://honesthistory.net.au/wp/centenary-watch-updates-july-2015

Minister still misleads Parliament despite our best efforts to set him straight; Minister keeps busy with dual commemorations; Monash centre at Villers-Bretonneux; Turkish president reads patriotic poetry; National Archives digitises 5000 repatriation records


Before. 'It is easy enough to see why men went to the [Great] war. In most minds, there could be no loyalty to Australia without loyalty to the British throne, and duty was a byword of such loyalty. To not go was to forfeit a place among the exalted, to be deemed of a less manly cast, to be a shirker. Men went to answer the call of their king, to protect the honour of the empire and their family, and because their friends did, or to escape their fathers, or as redemption for misdeeds, or for the adventure, or for the money.' (Don Watson, The Bush, 2014)

After. 'After the [First World War] you had a range of societies which were pretty much exhausted, and they tended to turn inwards. In a society like Australia, which had a poorly formed image of itself, where there was no intellectual underpinning, the image of the soldier replaced everything else as a national identity.' (John F. Williams, Australian photographer-historian, 1993)

Cradle? 'The Australian bush is both real and imaginary. Real, in that it grows in various unmistakable bush-like ways, and dies, rots, burns and grows into the bush again; real, in harbouring life. Imaginary, in that among the life it harbours is the life of the Australian mind. It is, by many accounts, the source of the nation’s idea of itself. The bush is everything from a gum tree to any of the creatures that live in it or shelter beneath it, and it is the womb and inspiration of the national character.' (Don Watson, The Bush, 2014)

Hollowed out? 'Only about 15 per cent of Australians now live outside the cities and the essentially suburban coastal corridor. The country has taken on the character of a gum tree, a critic wrote a few years ago: the heartwood dead and crumbling, all the life in the sapwood of self-obsessing suburbia. And the liveliest of those suburbs are home not to the descendants of drovers and Anzacs, but to ambitious migrants from Asia and the Middle East, with no taste for rural life, and no appetite for sagas of male bonding in shearing sheds and creek beds under Banjo Paterson’s everlasting stars.' (Don Watson, The Bush, 2014)

World leaders. Figures in 2014 had Australians as the world's biggest gamblers (and losers) on a per capita basis and the Australian gambling market as the sixth biggest in the world. (Economist, 2014)

Constructing history. 'If the past is a place we construct – one that says as much about us as it does the people we remember – then this South isn’t erasing history; it’s working to build a more truthful narrative of the Civil War for a broader, more diverse generation of Southerners. And the push against Confederate flags is just the beginning. With a vast landscape of monuments and plantations, Southerners of all colors will have to place this constructed past in its honest context before they try to build a more usable history for themselves and their descendants.' (Jamelle Bouie, Slate.com)

Legacy. 'In the warehouses the liberators found about 370,000 men's suits, 837,000 women's coats and dresses, huge amounts of children's clothing, about 44,000 pairs of shoes, 14,000 carpets, and prostheses, toothbrushes, household goods and, in the former leather factory near the parent camp, 7.7 tonnes of human hair packed ready for transport. They calculated that it must have come from about 140,000 women.' (Sybille Steinbacher, Auschwitz: a History, 2004)

Priorities. Number of items on 'Gallipoli' in the collections of the Australian War Memorial = 13 836; number of items on 'Auschwitz' in the collections of the Australian War Memorial = 24, including 13 sketches by Sidney Nolan, four items of clothing (all meticulously described) belonging to Lieutenant M. Lewinski of the Polish Infantry, and two cartoons, dated 2000, of a family standing in front of a pile of victims' shoes.

Precedent? 'Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.' (Herman Goering, interviewed by Gustave Gilbert, Nuremberg 1946)

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