Bruun, Lars K., Lammers, Karl Christian, Sørensen, Gert
World War II is often seen as a victory for democracy, but at the same time represents the final bankruptcy of those humanistic ideas that seemed so deeply rooted in European tradition. This affected not only the self-perception of the Germans, as obvious, but also that of the winning democracies, who in their struggle against totalitarianism descended to systematic and extensive bombing of civilians, including women and children. However, the unprecedented violence of World War II that went far beyond the traditional moral codes of war, was in many respects a result of World War I, where an invisible line had been crossed – irreversibly, as it seemed. Even if Europe of today is built on ruins in every sense of the word, this may proof to be a more solid foundation as any, if these experiences can find a common ground to be remembered in and thus remain – and maybe in a more reflected way become – a part of European identity. The paper will discuss the possibility of a new transnational remembering of the Ruins of Europe and show some of the still remaining difficulties. If the experience of two World Wars, including the long cold war to follow, plays a decisive role in creating a more unified Europe, then the common narrative about this ‘civil war’ must include the perspective of the defeated as well as the victorious, victims and aggressors on both sides in a way that provides reconciliation. Such a transnational narrative of World War II depends on the ability of the involved parties to rewrite national narratives of the war that of course have served very different purposes. The case in point will be the debate on the allied, specifically the British bombing strategy in World War II, which has evolved since the end of the Cold War. In Britain as well as in the Germany, the debate involves questions as: Was the British bombing campaign legitimate to the very end of the war? Do the Germans have any right to commemorate their being victim to the allied air raids, considering the Holocaust and the German conduct towards other countries? How can experiences like this even be remembered? And which lesson is to be learnt by this – does it affect the European conduct in international conflicts? In order to provide some background information to understand this debate, the paper will give an outline of the background and the extent of the bombings, including the development of the concept of ‘total war’ since World War I.
European Self-reflection Between Politics and Religion: Crisis of Europe in the 20.th Century, 2013, p. 213-226
Bombekrig; Tyskland; 2. Verdenskrig; erindring; litteratur; Faculty of Humanities