Making Hay 1

Making Hay 1

The star turn at our day at the Hay Literary Festival was Neil McGregor (the recent tsar and star of the  British Museum) and  Cambridge History Professor Richard Evans discussing “Germany and Memory”.

Dont talk about the War, f*** me , that’s all they talked about. Except when McGregor told of when Cameron and Merkel came to the German exhibition at the  BM last year. One of the iconic exhibits was the VW Beetle. Created by the Nazis, the car became a symbol of Western revolt against excessive consumerism in the 60s and 70s.

Anyway the two heads of state  stood by the car, the impulse for the photo op was to get in. But who was going to drive. There was a huddle of PR men, with Brexit looming ,mistakes could not be made. So they didnt get in.

But why has Germany  become so democratic,  so intelligent and sensitive about its past  while we Brits just bang on and on about Spitfire, Dunkirk and the Blitz. They  talk sensitively about colonial matters, we think bygones should be just that. Why are they responsive to the refugee crisis and we not?

Of course the speakers lurched into to the self hate that George Orwell so brilliantly spotted in our liberal leaning elite. But they had forgotten a  couple of major points. The German state is only 150 years old and in that time they have been defeated and occupied twice. Deep down, their national consciousness has a very different view of the success or failure of the nation state.

England has been a nation state  for over 1000 years and  not invaded  since 1066. Our relative obsession with the  War comes from our  decline and our not unnatural tendency to look back at our last days of glory. Just as 11 million German refugees since 1945 has coloured  their attitudes towards that problem ,so the fact that  between1939-45 Britain had two million under arms has affected our population. I had a legal, natural, step  and father in law who all wore khaki.

Always, and with Brexit in mind, remember that we  were the  only European nation not to be conquered and occupied. This gives us a rather different perspective to the Germans(and others) who were  not only annihilated, humiliated, starved, occupied but carved up. As well as having  11 million of their very distant   cousins ethnically cleansed from Eastern Europe.   In 1945 the whole continent may have been starving but we had   a Victory parade. So there.

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3 Responses to Making Hay 1

  1. Without detracting from your argument, we were also invaded in 1688. We pretend we weren’t, but a treacherous aristocracy facilitated the conquest of Britain.

  2. Nick says:

    There will always be an England! Love Your bother my another mother – it was the uniforms that overwhelmed her.

  3. Wim Denslagen says:

    Very clear, but there is something I do not understand. England saved Europe in 1945 (with the help of many others, of course), but do Englishmen realise that Europe is very afraid for England to leave? Why helping in 1945 and not now?

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