Gransnet forums

News & politics

Are we still influenced by WW2?

(28 Posts)
Dinahmo Sun 20-Oct-19 14:03:10

I and my DH were discussing this morning when a "Rejoin the EU" party might start. He concluded that it would be unlikely to succeed until our generation had died out. The reason for his opinion is that we are too influenced by the events of WW2. There has been so much rhetoric from the leavers that is war related and the vast majority of those were born during or after the war and so cannot remember it. However, our parents' generation often reminisced about the war and this may have affected our thinking about our relationship with Europe.

My father was too young for WW2 and was called up and did his military service in Palestine and his father, who worked for Marconi, was involved in communications so neither talked about the war. My FIL volunteered for the navy and was on destroyers throughout the war. His ship was turned into an hospital ship for the D Day landings. He kept a diary and talked often about various events.

We have a neighbour here in France and when we celebrated her 90th birthday, 5 years ago, she sang some wartime songs and reminisced about the good times and the fun she had. (Before some of you pounce, I am aware that good times were not had by all)

A good example of a rhetorician is, of course, Mark Francois. Born in 1965, 20 years after the end of the war and yet constantly referring to his father's war time exploits.

What do you think?

aprilrose Sun 20-Oct-19 14:13:57

My father was called up in 1940 at 18 years old. He was in the Navy but he never spoke about it at all. I know, because I know what ships he was on and what he did, that things must have been awful. It took the whole of his youth but my dad never uttered a word about any of it.

My mother was a child in the war but largely it missed her entirely beyond rationing. No bombs fell in her town. Life went on. She does not speak of it either. So no rehetoric in my family. I am sure I have heard many others say their parents were not forthcoming on wartime also.

The media picture is rather different.

Jane10 Sun 20-Oct-19 14:28:56

Our family too. Dad didn't talk about his time in Burma. He'd never have a Japanese car though. No problem with Germans or Germany at all.

Elegran Sun 20-Oct-19 14:47:23

I have noticed that on the subject of Brexit upheaval, those who bring the war most into discussions (^"we survived the war and rationing . . "^) are in the generation born "after" the war, who don't have any memories of rationing, shortages, and shopping trips consisting of queuing at several shops which were said to have received a delivery of some staple, but had sold out by the time you were served. Those born before the war remember trailing around with their mothers, or coming home from school to find their mother worn out from a morning finding enough of what was needed. If Brexit does cause the disrupton in supplies that has been predicted, I think the oldest among us would vote for rejoining and say "We told you so" to the "younger old 'uns"

TerriBull Sun 20-Oct-19 15:11:48

My father was in the army in North Africa for nearly the entire duration of the war, he did get to other places such as Palestine. I know those years left him with an enduring hatred of sand, other than that he didn't really talk about it much.

My mother, was in London and I remember her telling me "the war could bring relationships to an abrupt end" I think she lost a boyfriend, my parents met post war. Strangely around that time she took it upon herself to start learning German not a popular choice in 1939, however it was an enduring interest that lasted a lifetime she was still going to her German conversational classes well into her late 80s just before she died.

We have other members of the extended family who were part of the Free French. I had one aunt who, in spite of travelling all over the world, husband worked for an airline, told me she would never go to Germany, as far as she was concerned the Germans started two world wars, which left Europe in ruins. Parts of our family lived in other parts of mainland Europe which became occupied, again the older generation were anti German and didn't appreciate them re-emerging as the dominant force in Europe, I think there was a resentment among some of them that they were helped out of the doldrums a lot quicker thanks to The Marshall Plan only to re-emerge as the most pivotal player in the EU.

lemongrove Sun 20-Oct-19 15:18:08

Once out it it highly unlikely that we will ever be in again, or want to be.The EU may eventually collapse anyway before too long.
I don’t believe the ‘war’ has anything at all to do with it, no leaver I know was even alive at that time.

Whitewavemark2 Sun 20-Oct-19 15:32:51

I know remainers who both fought in the war and were on war work.

In fact I know a remainer who was born before the end of the First World War.

What they emphasis always is the fact that we have enjoyed peace with Europe and that it should never be taken for granted.

The Union was set up with the express purpose of keeping peace in Europe. It has naturally evolved over time reflecting the changing world economy and the need to form a strong economic block to defend business and the consumer against other strong economic blocks. It has been highly successful and is the envy of the ROW.

Septimia Sun 20-Oct-19 15:39:56

Perhaps the war does influence some people. Or maybe some leavers are more influenced by de Gaulle's repeated 'Non' and didn't vote to go into the EU in the first place.

I am not against the EU, but the 'one size fits all' system doesn't work with the wide variety of e.g. agricultural methods. It's grown too big without evolving to accommodate the differences properly.

It's interesting that countries which were never part of the Commonwealth have subsequently joined.....

NanaMacGeek Sun 20-Oct-19 17:25:33

I think this speaks for itself:-

MaizieD Sun 20-Oct-19 17:27:07

I don't think that it's necessarily the war directly influencing people so much as the fact that Germany is a leader in the EU.

Having been brought up with anti-German sentiment expressed in countless WW2 films and films about WW2 where Germany was The Enemy it is hard for many to readjust their thinking about Germany.

The fact that Britain was closely aligned to Germany for some 200 years previous to WW1 and tended to regard France as The Enemy during that time has been obliterated by more recent history.

I think that dislike of Germany has had a significant role in anti-EU sentiment

ayse Sun 20-Oct-19 17:50:06

For what it’s worth. I understand that it was felt necessary by the USA to rebuild West Germany as quickly as possible to prevent a Stalinist takeover. Germany, France and Belgium joined together to have a common policy on steel. Britain decided not to join this group.

Eventually this country decided to join Europe, our greatest trading partners.

I’d say then that WW2 led to more cooperation and Europe’s economies today reflect decisions that were made post WW2.

I agree with Septima, that the one size fits all policy of the EU does not work for the benefit of all.

My father fought in WW2 and never had a problem with the Germans, just the Nazis. In general, the EU has maintained a peaceful Europe.

aprilrose Sun 20-Oct-19 17:53:14

I think you will find it has largely been NATO that has kept the peace in Europe.

growstuff Sun 20-Oct-19 18:00:26

ayse is correct. NATO has little to do with keeping the peace in Europe. A need to co-operate economically and socially has had everything to do with maintaining peace.

After WW2 the Americans were divided about Germany. Some wanted to run the country down. Others realised that a strong and co-operative Germany would be a buffer zone against the Stalinist Soviet Union. They actually learnt the lessons of the Versailles Treaty and thank goodness they won the day.

My father was one of the bomber pilots who survived and talked very little of WW2. My mother had a fairly traumatic childhood caused by the war and was affected by it to her dying day.

ayse Sun 20-Oct-19 18:03:14

Economic cooperation is paramount in peacekeeping but I grant you NATO also has its place. E.g. the most recent Balkans in the 1990s where both NATO and the UN were involved with the interventions.

growstuff Sun 20-Oct-19 18:09:23

Agreed, but one major conflict in 70 years in Europe must be a record for peace, given the centuries of conflict which preceded it. NATO only steps in when conflict already exists. It's the fact that it's been needed so rarely that is amazing.

sarahellenwhitney Sun 20-Oct-19 19:12:54

I don't consider myself influenced by WW11 more like many of todays leavers who too voted for the Common Market and its promises which was soon to become the EU.
Why? I ask myself when I compare my life at that time to 2019 where so many are unable to do what I did at the same age back in the seventies. The choice then was take your pick from houses that were affordable on housing estates popping up like mushrooms overnight. Both H and self worked I went to work when he came home so he could look after our two small children. We had passports nothing stopped us from going abroad .There were no food banks never heard of those. No one I knew starved and people were not living on the streets which is an all too familiar sight 2019.Would I want to be the age in 2019 I was in the 70's NO thank you.

MaizieD Sun 20-Oct-19 21:46:19

Nothing you have detailed, sarahellen has anything to do with the EU.

growstuff Sun 20-Oct-19 22:05:23

… or WW2.

crystaltipps Mon 21-Oct-19 03:42:10

I think it depends on your experience- my MiL who has just died aged 99, had the time of her life in the war and never stopped talking about it. She went to South Africa, Ceylon and the Far East and had the whale of a time as a nurse, far removed from her working class upbringing in the north east.she saw the world, went to parties, had loads of boyfriends and met a husband, and learned a skills which she was able to use in later life. She voted leave to get rid of foreigners a vote which I would never “respect“ and now there is one less Brexit voter. She also believed the NHS bus lie.

aprilrose Mon 21-Oct-19 06:08:43

I think many historians suggest that peace in Europe is just a natural progression. The war..... which I think they now see as an ongoing thing rather than WW1 and WW2 has moved on to the Middle East because these were the areas that were not properly sorted after the last conflict. We have lost quite a few in those wars, so lets not pretend we have had "Peace".

aprilrose Mon 21-Oct-19 06:52:53

I should add to my above. There is a lot of civil unrest in Europe right now, especially so in EU countries. It is under reported. However, it hardly bodes well for peace. The 70 years may well have been a long weekend between wars.

growstuff Mon 21-Oct-19 08:57:27

Which EU countries do you think are on the verge of declaring war on each other?

GracesGranMK3 Mon 21-Oct-19 09:21:51

Demographers call those born between 1910 and 1924 The Greatest Generation and those born in 1925 to 1945 the Traditionalists or Silent Generation, followed of course, by the Baby Boomers of 1946 to 1964.

Interestingly, these names and those like the Lost Generation of those who fought in WW1, generally came from behavioural research done in the US. In other words generational behaviour is similar in other countries.

It is, as others have commented, more often those from the "Silent Generation" who look back with yearning. Those who lived through the war as adults do not seem, in the majority, to have seen it in the same way here, or in other countries.

GracesGranMK3 Mon 21-Oct-19 09:24:09

Aprilrose your post reads almost as if you want wars. Why?

aprilrose Tue 22-Oct-19 09:11:04

Aprilrose your post reads almost as if you want wars. Why?

I am not quite sure to what you are referring. I mentioned civil unrest. I stated a fact. I mentioned ongoing conflicts. They have been a fact.