War correspondents' writings on the Second World War offer a contemporary perspective to the fighting, the events, and the experience of individuals engaged in the 1939-1945 conflict. From the Front, wire dispatches, radio broadcast, photography, and film recordings returned to educate the populace on news of the War as a means of rallying support for the Allied effort. Since the end of the War, positive reflections on the enemy' and the German people continue to find representations in popular media as a source of controversy. Not only has war guilt' presented itself to survivors and subsequent generations of Germans, but public tribute or memory for the sacrifice and the contribution of veterans and deceased soldiers during the Second World War is impolitic. As such, negative images of the enemy' continues to classify depictions of the Axis powers to this day. For instance, Prince Harry's attire as a Nazi at a fancy dress party provoked international outrage when it was published in the British tabloids in 2005. Concomitantly, the positive Hollywood portrayal of Tom Cruise as Schutzstaffel officer Oberst Claus Philipp Maria Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg in Valkyrie (2008) was solely due to his orchestration of the 20 July, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler.
The essay will explore the characterization of Germans as the enemy' in selected Second World War literaturethat is, as a people somehow monstrous, inhumane, or to blame' for the hostilities. From this prejudicial bias, personal and collective justification was provided for the deaths of German soldiers and civilians during and after the war. As they deserved it,' it was not wrong or unjust to want them dead. Moreover, in these readings, Germans find themselves at the periphery of the narrative, as objects as opposed to subjects, never truly passing beyond the limits of Other.'
[...] The enemy is something ever-present, but not necessarily physically. As if a shadow, or a haunting image in the mind's memory, they are a force which does not necessarily materialize as a solid substance. This is in direct opposition to Charles Rawlings text Fighting Ships. Detailing the attack on a Canadian convoy by German submarines, or U-Boats, Rawlings narrative is an eye-witness report of the HMCS Skeena and her efforts to repel the “Wolf Pack.” Unlike Pyne's comment that a sort of mutual respect exists between aeroplane pilots, Rawlings expresses nothing but outright loathing and anger toward the German enemy. [...]
[...] The enemy in Fighting Ships is therefore fundamentally faceless; he is an absent, unseen menace lurking beneath the surging waves of the Atlantic. Would another medium focus the experience of the enemy in a more humane fashion? Shapiro's Camera Commandos details Canadian photojournalists during the Allied landing of D-Day and the infantry engagement across France and Western Europe. Armed with the lens of a movie or still camera, these men captured battlefield footage to be sent directly back from the Front. [...]
[...] Whereas, on the ground, Airborne pilots could express admiration for their counterparts in the Luftwaffe, in the air they would try their best to kill the enemy without remorse and with celebration. For Pyne, reflections on the necessity of fighting, killing, and dying in the War take precedence over moral judgment or excess characterization of the Germans. His narrative focuses mainly on anecdotes of everyday events, ‘tall tales,' tribute to the deceased and the fighting man, and humor intermixed with sobriety. [...]
[...] If the enemy is a monster, evil, or somehow inhuman, they are detached from the nous which encapsulates side.' The war is over. All of these texts have been produced by Allied correspondents, or editors collecting their writings or materials. German soldiers and people were never the core focus of the writing or attention during their reports—even when they were placed as the objects of the story, it was as a mere opportunity for contempt and scorn. If any appropriately authentic examination of the Second World War is to be achieved, it must proceed beyond the limitations of Allied-specific writing and perspectives: propaganda or otherwise. [...]
[...] By documenting the Allied effort, they engaged the public at home with news accounts of their sons, brothers, and husbands exploits on the beaches of Normandy and the fields of France. However, Shapiro notes that they were not entirely detached from the action due to their perspective from behind the lens. The desire to follow the war brought these correspondents to the centre of the action, resulting in numerous deaths and injuries. Canadian Sergeant David Reynolds, for instance, parachuted into German occupied territory by mistake and found himself requisitioned by a British officer to replace his own deceased sergeant in a sweep of a nearby town. [...]
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