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Narrating the Second World War

History Textbooks and Nation Building in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine

Lina Klymenko

This article explores the theoretical understanding of the relation between school history textbooks and the state-led construction of national identity. It does this by conceptualizing a history textbook as an assembly of historical narratives that provide young readers with an opportunity to identify with the national community in which they live. By focusing on narrative techniques, including plot, concepts of time and space, and the categorization of characters as in- and out-groups, this article shows how narratives of the Second World War in Belarusian, Russian, and Ukrainian textbooks contribute to nation-building.

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Renata Jambrešić Kirin and Reana Senjković

This article shows how the model of the ideal patriotic woman, established through propaganda activities between two competitive ideologies in Croatia during the Second World War, have been transformed and adapted to accommodate diverse genres of memory culture from 1945 until the present day. In order to indicate the inter- relation of media-ideological constructs and self-definition, the authors have compared cultural representation models of ‘acceptable’ and ‘obnoxious’ females in war time with ethnographical interviews conducted with women at the celebration of the sixtieth anniversary of the Antifašistički front žena (Women’s Anti-Fascist Front, AFŽ) Istrian Conference in 2004. The contrast between recollections and culturally constructed official memory shows how the memories of women, as autonomous historical subjects, resist the imposed collective amnesia on the anti-fascist movement, although these women also leave many ‘unsuitable truths’ untold about their subordinate role within the anti-fascist movement.

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Gretchen Schafft

Anthropologists who were also medical doctors often had a particularly active role in the Nazi regime, including the SS. One of these, Herbert Grohmann, studied under Eugen Fischer at Kaiser Wilhelm Institut of Anthropologie (KWIA) in Berlin from 1937 to 1938 and became his assistant. Grohmann, an SS officer, was sent to Poland as the head of public health in Lodz while maintaining his association with the KWIA. This article describes the interconnections of anthropology and public health in occupied Poland including the elimination (killing) of mentally ill patients, the implementation of the Deutsche Volksliste and the culling of 'racially fit' children for abduction to Germany. All of these activities are seen through the career of Herbert Grohmann.

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Leo Pavlát

The Jewish Museum in Prague has as many as 40,000 items in its collections, the uniqueness of which is underlined by the exceptional circumstances under which most of them were acquired by the museum. Nearly all of the items were confiscated during the Second World War from Jews who were sent to concentration camps and from Jewish communities that were closed down.

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Magda Veselská

The Jewish Museum in Prague (JMP) was founded as an association in 1906.2 The largest expansion of its collections occurred in tragic circumstances during the Second World War, when almost all the Judaica, books, manuscripts and archival documents of the former Jewish religious communities in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia were gathered in the depositories of the Central Jewish Museum in Prague.3 At the time, the museum was administered by the Jewish religious community in Prague, which was put under so-called ‘national trusteeship’ after the end of the war.4 In 1949, with a view to maintaining the completeness of the museum’s collections, the legal successor to the pre-war Jewish communities – the Council of Jewish Religious Communities in the Czech Lands (hereafter cited as the Jewish Council) – definitively renounced its restitution claims to items that had been shipped to the museum during the war.

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Kira Mahamud Angulo and Anna Ascenzi

This special issue examines textbooks in countries undergoing political transition, change, and convulsion. The articles consider textbooks from countries shifting from one political regime to another, “at different speeds and with different priorities,”1 in the second half of the twentieth century. The articles raise a number of questions. What happens to textbooks during the intervals between one form of government and another? How does the information contained in textbooks change during these intervals of instability and uncertainty, and during the phases of the construction and consolidation of a new political regime?

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Transnational Cultural Propaganda

French Cultural Policies in Britain during the Second World War

Charlotte Faucher

The Second World War challenged the well-established circulation of cultural practices between France and Britain. But it also gave individuals, communities, states, and aspiring governments opportunities to invent new forms of international cultural promotion that straddled the national boundaries that the war had disrupted. Although London became the capital city of the main external Resistance movement Free France, the latter struggled to establish its cultural agenda in Britain, owing, on the one hand, to the British Council’s control over French cultural policies and, on the other hand, to the activities of anti-Gaullist Resistance fighters based in London who ascribed different purposes to French arts. While the British Council and a few French individuals worked towards prolonging French cultural policies that had been in place since the interwar period, Free French promoted rather conservative and traditional images of France so as to reclaim French culture in the name of the Resistance.

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Anthropology and Total Warfare

The Office of Strategic Services' 1943 'Preliminary Report on Japanese Anthropology'

David H. Price

More than two dozen U.S. anthropologists worked for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during the Second World War. Some anthropologists at the OSS's Research and Analysis Branch analysed information on Japanese culture and tracked shifts in Japanese morale to estimate the best ways of employing psychological warfare. Among the papers produced by these anthropologists was a 1943 'Preliminary Report on Japanese Anthropology' which included the contemplation of biological warfare programmes using anthrax and other weapons of mass destruction on Japanese civilian and military populations. This article summarizes and critiques the roles of American anthropology in designing and opposing various programmes directed against Japanese soldiers and civilians under consideration at the OSS.

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War Memories and Online Encyclopedias

Framing 30 June 1941 in Wikipedia

Mykola Makhortykh

This article examines how digital media interact with collective memories and teaching practices by exploring a selection of Wikipedia articles that describe the capture of Lviv by the Germans on 30 June 1941. This event constitutes an important episode in the history of Ukraine and a complex case of violence that produced several controversies concerning the national historiographies of the Second World War in the post-Soviet region. Using a combination of qualitative and quantitative metrics, this article investigates how the event is represented in different language versions of Wikipedia and assesses what kind of memory is produced by each of them.

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Soviet Russian Primers of the 1940s

The War after the Victory

Vitaly Bezrogov and Dorena Caroli

What changes did the content, structure, and production of Russian primers published in the Soviet Union undergo between 1941 and 1948—that is, during the Second World War and its aftermath? This article answers this question by analyzing language, content, iconography, and the printing process. The first section addresses key characteristics of primers printed between 1941 and 1944, while the second section focuses on the content of postwar primers printed between 1945 and 1948. The final section addresses challenges facing the textbook approval and circulation process experienced by the State Pedagogical Publishing House of the Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic (RSFSR) from 1945 to 1948.