tv Remembering D- Day CSPAN August 2, 2014 6:55pm-8:01pm EDT
will be recovered, the other member meade's staff made is the bodies are so black white withn and also maggots eating the flesh and i'll could've been avoided if the letter that meade wrote he had sent it over to the confederates. intricacies ife you want to talk about it we can with the where the letter is going and how will arrange and it takes a day and a half. it is really disgusting. i always say to those people, these men are not heroes. thank you. [applause] the civil war years here every saturday at 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. to watch more anytime, go to our website www.c-span.org/history.
americanatching history tv all weekend, every weekend. a panel of historians discuss the different ways d-day has been remember in the united states and abroad. in the u.s., it has been memorialized. by contrast in germany, there's not a single museum marking the d-day invasion. the panel looks at how different countries have changed their views. for example in some countries, simply to the nazis, d-day was seen as in defeatist terms and later the liberation of europe. the museum in new orleans hosted this event. , thank you for joining us ladies and gentlemen. if you are just joining our programming, i am dr. keith hudson. have the distinct pleasure
of presiding over a panel of distinguished scholars to discuss the subject of d-day and how we commemorate and remember there is a great decisive event of world war ii down, 70 years on. oneou pay attention today, can still see a current news reports where the results of world war ii still reverberate chinese,rld such as in japanese relations or the situation between russia and ukraine today. if one travels you will see how different nations remember the war and their own a national cemeteries,uments, and other places of cultural memory. joining us today are dr. michael doctor,nd another contributors to another volume which deals specifically with the normandy landings and how
they are remembered and commemorated internationally. not only wasolksy a contributor, but also served as one of the editors of the volume. he holds a phd from templeton university and is a historian with a joint preserve war missing in action accounting command central identification laboratory in hawaii. w is theer bisha professor of history and director of center austria at university of new orleans. he was a graduate student of our ateum founder, and our ceo uno. before going to harvard university to earn his doctorate in history. as a presidential counselor, a group of renowned historians who advised dr. miller here at the national
world war ii museum. and joining for our discussion as well is dr. john mcmanus, who americansor of military and served as our keynote speaker, the past two days for our event commemorating the 70th anniversary here at the museum. gentlemen, welcome. [applause] to begin our discussion today sky who willbol present his ideas and thought about the american expense of remembering d-day. keith.k you, first of all i will like to say thank you to everybody here today and in the veterans and this is the reason we are all here for this. first of all, i have to issue a disclaimer that everything i say
represents my own ideas and not the department of defense. ok, allow me to set the stage. craft overburden with a nervous men, cluster soldiers shipped about in last-minute destruction. repaired --ly prepared. .o show the shoreline shiftldiers eventually and a few individuals, captain breach.ler with such a and it quickly dissolves. there's a depiction that i gave
you very briefly with a warralized of the tell of and is what dr. mcmanus presented yesterday. the details here have been drawn at this point from the 1998 blockbuster movie "saving private ryan." populard to be a very and acts as a frame of world war ii. as was alluded to. my question is why is it second place in our understanding. stems from question the d-day films. to understand the past. look at how people
in normandy. he called this democracy. these things go beyond the movies as well. in fact, and former discussions of the battle. despite the growing -- and immediate postwar years, american society did not focus so much on the war itself. it was trying to get on with things. the going to the end of 1940's, john wayne was for popular with fans of iwo jima. then, there's a brief. were there was much attention paid to the war itself. out in 1948. it is actually d-day movie that well proceeds saving private vine -- ryan.
it is not particularly a good movie. with fightingama germans in the sky. the battle seemed to depend on a few guys that take the fight to the germans in the sky. likewise, there is a 1950 movie called breakthrough. it depicts a preparation for the conduct of combat in normandy. the central character you see depicted as lieutenant joe mallory. english teacher who struggle to lead his men to combat on the shores of normandy. interesting, for any of you that saw saving private ryan, it is sort of a prelude to tom hanks character in that movie. one of the most bloodsoaked sectors of omaha beach, which again, john talked about in his discussion. these early movies showed sanitized versions of the war.
they're relatively bloodless. overcome the enemy on d-day. they created very tidy narratives for what are essentially commonplace events. there were examples of major films of how wars should be fought and won. largely in reference to the second world war. we can take a brief moment to talk about the steel helmet, which is not a world war ii movie. it was written and directed by sam fuller. -- he threw this movie together in late 1950. it was going to be another world war ii movie, but he realized with korea public attention is shifting to the new war. he rapidly shifted it and made it into a korean war melodrama. he threw the guys together behind m&a -- enemy lines. what is instructive, is that sergeant zach was a d-day
veteran. he constantly referred back to d-day and the men of normandy as an example of how soldiers should act given the most pressing of circumstances. film versions of the second world war and d-day in particular existed in a mutually influential relationship with society. they're influencing how society sees warfare. very quickly, because time is pressing, i will run through a couple other d-day films to show evolution of some key ideas that are mentioned at the outset. the first major american movie that focus on d-day is the 1956 title d-day. it begins with the invasion forces. quickly switches to this melodrama, this relationship between these two individuals and their fighting over the same
woman that they have fallen in love with. the guy and the left is british and the guy on the right is american. interestingly enough, they work out their differences and come together in order to fight on the beaches of normandy in order -- success. there's plenty to talk about transatlantic relationships. even though we have different opinions and we don't always rub each other right way -- the right way, we can work together for success. in the battle scene near the end, these two characters work out their differences. you can see in gangster-esque , he steps on a landmine and dies immediately. a diversion away from the book that was the main source of the movie. in the book, he steps on the
mind but survives. the filmmakers were trying to the britishstone to empire and british independence. in a very fitting way to say that the british empire died on the beaches of normandy, right when the american empire was picking up. flaws in thertain movie. the special effects were pretty spotty. those planes were hand-drawn. it was an action oriented film. it offered a chance for the heroes to earn success. it was brief and relatively bloodless. this is a story that was not really all that different from other world war ii movies that were out there. american strength and vigor leads to ultimate success. that film seems pretty different from what most people come to latch onto as the iconic world war ii, if not d-day movie.
the longest day is based for a book of thate title. there are significant differences. some of the major differences like the fighting lead to some rather notable controversies. again, we can talk about that later. it leads toward the epic. productions 1962, a of the famed film producer darryl zanuck who fell in love with the book and purchased the rights to make the movie. he looked to the longest day is a crowning achievement of is long and distinguished career. he fully expected it to be the most important war film ever made. this is an argument that we will see in 1998 with saving private ryan as well. -- saw this as a way to revive his own career.
for new century fox was in dire straits because of the overproduction costs on cleopatra. producer and the director had a clash of personalities. did not get along. it was hate at first sight. one difference of opinion was darryl zanuck insisted on creating a role for his then girlfriend. she played a french resistant agent and sex object in the film. have none of this. he did not want to make his beloved story into some sort of love story. he felt there was no place for that in the movie. as you can see, darryl zanuck won that argument. masterpiece.a why did it make such a success? i think you can draw on a couple of things. zanuck showed what he was
thinking when he made a movie. one thing he argued was, the allied made every conceivable blood or an error. the germans were even more stupid. we can only come to the conclusion that god was on our side. this is an argument that was very appealing. of x film capture the chaos the battle in a way that -- the resources he could devote to the project were immense. while filming it, the film makers controlled ninth largest military force in the world, which is absolutely immense. storytellingshed that he was able to portray the movie also drew on certain themes that were popular by then. ambrose saysphen the triumphm shows of democracy over dictatorship. triumphination of drama of good.
all of these come together to the immense popularity of the movie. made $17 million in its initial year of release. you can see, some of the flurry of stars, darryl zanuck at the top chomping on his cigar which is typical when he was filming. middle, john wayne who threw his name into the hat at the last minute. then at the bottom, robert mitchum. it is unfortunate that robert mitchum got one of the coolest lines and the title. it is not accurate at all. it made for good comedy. enemiess on allies and -- this is the early 60's after german rearmament. we're trying to show that even the germans fought well and somewhat honorably as well.
it is just part of the moment of the 60's. part of the reason for the success of the movie as well. even with the profound success of the longest day, all would not remain placid. toould like to take a moment talk about our alternate stories that we can tell about d-day. movies thatebration i talked about briefly so far, these are the only options. one of them is here with arthur miller's 1954 film, the americanization of emily. , arthur himself said one thing we can do toward eliminating war from our world is get rid of the goodness and virtue we attribute to war. here's very consciously trying to poke apart the celebratory narrative of war. focusing on the cowardly protagonist portrayed by james garner at the top of the poster, the primary message of the movie is a critique of the glorification of war. you can see this is going in on
d-day itself. just the look of abject terror on james garner's face. again, this is very different from the book. the book showed the lieutenant commander as sensible and a guy who did not want to die and the beaches. in the movie, the unpackaged that and made it a story about a complete coward... trying to survive the war anyway possible. it wasn't very popular, but it was a movie that was out there. admiral gets the idea to boost the navy's reputation by proffering one of its own is the first dead man on omaha beach. that is how the navy is going to one up the army in the movie. turning the common d-day -- that was very well known in the 60's on their head, you see james garner storming the beach on his own. he promptly gets hit by a near mortar round and dies.
so you think. and -- heured on film hits all the magazine shelves and becomes the famous face of omaha beach. the blast just knocked him unconscious. his friend even went so far as to say when he found out, we had a nice dead hero, now we have a live coward. again, just on packaging the common stories of d-day glory that were out there. by the mid-60's, what was going on is the best united states was going into vietnam. they conspire to push hollywood away from these kinds of stories. this was the last major hollywood depiction of d-day the after vietnam, until 1980's. however, there were references to d-day out there.
he did not have to depicted. you can draw on some things that -- you couldly reference things that people could widely understand. blazingut out there saddles. it is a comedy. here, we see a scene nearly at the end of the movie where they're drawing on some of the iconic d-day phrases. there is an assembled group of bad guys, we're about to embark on a great crusade. the bad guys went out and attacked the village. does the object of concern. what was mel brooks doing? he was trying on something that was widely known and prevalent at that time, these d-day phrases were something that people understood. here's trying to turn them on their head. this wasn't the only place you could see d-day in the 60's and 70's. the world at war, the very ,opular documentary from 1973
also showed, i'm not getting into documentaries, but even there you can see how we depict d-day is changing very notably. it is more grim and destructive. anyway, what the americanization of emily and blazing saddles, what we see is to zany films that are poking holes at the common d-day stories. they're trying to challenge american conceptions of warfare through d-day specific stories. often told afilm story that americans want to hear. we're winningys, the war and saving the world and making it right for democracy. with that characterization of the second world war in general and d-day in particular, we can see why d-day comes back to its own in the 80's and on. i will talk about a couple of things really quick. this is a 1980of movie by sam fuller, the big red
one. he felt the john wayne is tried to position himself to be cast as a sergeant, a role that would eventually go to lee marvin. sam fuller did not like john wayne. he thought he returned to this hokey story that he could not support. he held off and funding went away. he wasn't able to make the movie until 1978. it was released in 1980. a small film treats group of men. really, it is very different from the longest day, where you get the grand scale and this flurry of stars. you try to conceive of the whole of that. here, he is zeroing in on a couple of guys and trying to make you more personable, a more relatable story. these guys are good guys, their crack ups, jokesters. they do good things, they save civilians in combat.
they're very different from the germans to pages in the movie. at the end of the movie, we close off with the still smoking ovens in a nazi cap. it is very clearly setting the himself whileller he is directing. one of the d-day scenes. staras awarded the silver for his actions on d-day. he was there. he was a decorated vet. chopping a cigar is a requirement for d-day filming. also shooting the gun. this is something that fuller did during his action movies. he wanted the actors to feel like they were actually there, so he would fire up in the air and sometimes kind of close to them as well. this shows certain blending of vietnam influences. after 1964, when you get rid of the haze reduction code that he was self-centered, hollywood, you could show things that you see in the movie like interactions with prostitutes
that you could not see in earlier war movies. they would not have passed. there's a difference here. the is not like some of iconic vietnam movies where there was pointless terror and brutalizing. combat served a purpose. we won the war and made the world right for humanity. it is still critical of high-level leadership. this scene right before the guys beaches,ng on normandy they were told it was going to be a cakewalk. we are not going to face any intense opposition whatsoever and then immediately it cuts to under heavyering fire, taking many losses. it is critiquing the high-level leadership, even celebration of eisenhower that was still pretty popular. i think this is instructive for a couple of reasons. i going to wrap up here very quickly. this comes at a moment when people are starting to latch on
to d-day to talk about american success and american patriotism and american honor. reagan did this most famously and 84 when he celebrated the 40th anniversary. he is not the only one. the 80's started an explosion of d-day consideration focus. there were tv documentaries and books. stephen ambrose started stepping into d-day. the 90's therey were plenty of examples of d-day as an american success story. that is where you get saving .rivate ryan it didn't just come out of nowhere. it came as a result of a stephen ambrose book in 1994. a screenwriter reddin said it would make a great movie. they turned it into very successful and popular movie. ambrose was not just a historian. he stepped into the circles of hollywood. he helped create this museum
that we are at today. he did plenty of things that helped sell his particular this successday as of democratic heroes fighting and preserving the world for liberty. quickly, i will skip through there. you see steven spielberg filming . no cigar in his hand. to go for band of brothers in 2001. due to the success of saving private ryan, another stephen ambrose book that he turns into a miniseries. now we can see that even cable television is getting into the game. it is so popular and so successful. band of brothers, which aired the first two episodes here last in september shown 9, 2001. two days later, terrorist attacks. proclamationsblic were drawing on art samples from d-day in world war ii and how we
save and preserve the world for democracy. it was very much out there in the air during present-day events, which is something we could talk about a little bit more at the end. movie, i will throw a mention out to it. tnt made a made-for-tv movie. tom selleck is eisenhower in a movie called ike: countdown to d-day. this was to show that everyone at this point was so interested in telling these d-day stories, it was so popular and prevalent that tnt even got into the game. a very americanized tale of the event. the one significant british character portrayed is bernard montgomery. they get the details of an argument he had with eisenhower wrong. the point is that the results of this movie is that d-day becomes an entirely american tale, where
the british seem completely and utterly opposed to the event. what does all this tell us? in the end, how we show the story has changed somewhat. i would like us to think about that for a second. the shift in the upper left-hand fromr from illusion -- by private ryan, we are very visibly and very graphically showing you what this cost. remained largely stable. the reason we went to war and the reason it was significant remains stable. that is that the americans led the way on the beaches in order to preserve democracy and decency in the world. accurate much. [applause] -- thank you very much. [applause]
>> thank you. that is a pretty good look at the mythic framework of americans. now dr. on third bischoff -- dr. bischoff will give us a different point of view. i appreciate that you are here instead of the tomato festival. [laughter] what i will be talking about this afternoon is the german and austrian memory of d-day. just a few preliminaries, because i think the public at large is not aware of the fact that historians today much more ,han studying the actual events history left to study the memory of those events. there is a veritable memory boom in historical studies. book we are talking about this afternoon is part of that boom.
aboutistorians write memory, they read about how individuals remember events like the soldiers of d-day, that his personal memories. they write about how nations and societies think about advance, how the americans and germans think about d-day. they also think about cultural memories, how museums are constructed to commemorate these events, or how commemorations are being performed to inscribe the memory of this event international identity. when we talk about the german memory of d-day, like this book shows, in all the national memories of d-day, there is -- of memory. is veryugh the story different in germany and austria, they didn't really want to think about the war in the late 40's and the 50's. they would rather see themselves as victims of the war, too.
rather than the perpetrators of war crimes. in germany, it really only came about as a result of the 1968 student rebellion that young germans began to ask their fathers, what did you do in the war daddy? this question was posed in family discourses to start the debate about what individual family members might have done in the war and how they might have contributed to hitler's war crimes. acht the son of a wehrm veteran. war.d fought in the he is captured by americans in 1945 and spent a year in a pow camp in colorado springs. i was cap telling him, having studied pows, you were very lucky, dad, to have ended up in an american camp. probably in german memory of
d-day, a real turning point came with the 1978 in bc series on the holocaust. that brought the story home again to the germans and the austrians about the real downfall of the germans in nazi germany. one thing that they no longer now could deny. i would say by the 1980's, the germans are beginning to actively think about their world war ii past, which some historians really called in on master herbal past. with the genocide and the killing of 6 million jews and many other civilians being killed along the way in the war, this was the kind of historical event that would be very hard to inscribe into the national historical narrative, in that sense, on master bo. as for the germans, very often, when they think about world war that askede terms
how we can master this past. the austrian cycle is very different because austria was taken over as a country, was an occupied by the germans during the war in 1945 and became independent. and austria regained its independence with the help of the allies, they constructed a myth, namely that the austrians were hitler's first victims. met for twoh that generations. the oscars did like to think of themselves as perpetrators. my father served in the war. i don't know what level he was a perpetrator, i never had this discussion with him. that discussion was silenced in many families. only with the election of kurt waldheim in 1986 to the austrians begin to discuss their world war ii past. maybe, you could say in an honest manner, because waldheim said he just did his duty when
the issues of his world war ii past came up. just having done his duty when he served for a long part of time in the balkans and probably knew about holocaust crimes, was no longer good enough to generations after the war. that then started an active debate in austria where the austrians were finally beginning to see that they were not only victims, but they were also perpetrators of hitler war crimes. personal memories of german d-day soldiers. i have interviewed quite a bit of the german and austrian soldiers when i began work with stephen ambrose in the eisenhower center, which is really the sellout of which this museum came. in 1990, i went on interview trip of german and austrian d-day veterans. --s actually happened to be to be right after my wedding. i took my wife along and she never forgave me that a tucker her on a trip to interview d-day veterans.
thate yet to make up for failure. anyway, german d-day veterans, we know this like the writer wrote about this, he wrote about in the 1950's in order to see the places where they fought. this is also true of a veteran i interviewed extensively, and intrian veteran who fought the pegasus bridge battle. the bridge retake and failed. soon thereafter, he was taken prisoner of war and landed in a camp in arkansas. i actually visited with him at the place where he was kept in a rice field -- in a place that is today a rice field. there is no marker of remembrance. germanre thousands of
pows there at the end of world war ii. let me go on. collective memories. i said that as often being done through commemorations. we heard that there are really only in 1984 that a big -- that the big d-day commemorations begin. president ronald reagan came over and gave his speech. since then, every 10 years, we have these huge commemoration events. bill clinton went over for the 50th anniversary, george bush on the 60th. president obama was yesterday. this has become a very important event in american memory of world war ii. course, the germans were not included in this. the germans had to tend their own memories, if you keep in mind that some 77,000 german in thes lost their lives
normandy battles, i would say about 10% of those were germans, the normandy landscape is littered with german cemeteries. cambe is one of the biggest. they don't get individual crosses, they get mass graves. they are anyway commemorated much more anonymously than individual american soldiers which are being commemorated in the landscape of american d-day cemeteries. one historian has written and i think it is true, normandy has become an american place. gaulle 1966 charles de kicked americans at a paris, the said does heters want us to take the dead american soldiers, to?
how much byed then normandy had become an american place. said,al memories, as i've very often big historical events are being commemorated in museums, like this museum here in new orleans. the world war ii monument in washington, and this shows you that normandy is littered with american and british museums. that sense, it really has become an annual american place. there is no german or austrian museum there. that is not part of the normandy landscape. whatever the germans left is a of thent reminder atlantic walls. those are the fortifications 19421943 as a means to stop and allied engaged -- and allied invasion.
these fortifications were built by slave laborers. there were built very solidly, so you can't take them down. i understand that some of them are slowly sinking into the sand, but they are permanent reminders of the german presence there. as close as we'll probably ever get to a german or austrian museum in normandy. , yesterday, german chancellor angela merkel was in normandy at the 60th anniversary for the first time. a german chancellor showed up. chancellor schrader was there. a 66 yoursay anniversary. the d-day commemorations in normandy have become places of conciliation. is quiteink about it, astounding that in 1984, chancellor cole was not invited.
cole waschancellor again not invited. the story apparently was that chancellor kohl's brother was gravely wounded in normandy and later fell in france. for personal reasons, he did not want to go to such commemorations. cole was very much a nato alliance guys. the reinforcement of the german-american relationship to the alliance, is astounding and is often been criticized if you look at the press in 19841994, that the germans are not invited. in 2004 they were. maybe, finally a point about how the germans think about d-day. i have studied the german and austrian press carefully, starting in 1984. in 1984, you very often here the argument that what d-day represents for germans, and keep in mind i'm talking about west
germans, because we would really need to talk about to german memories up until 1990 there is a west german memory. east german memory was much closer to the soviet memory, meaning d-day was a war that was conducted by the american imperialists, that is how the east germans felt. the west germans felt very differently, and they largely began to argue that d-day was the beginning of the end. came outthat message even more strongly, particularly after the famous beach that the german president gave. increasingly, they're beginning to the grateful to the americans for the beginning of the end. for the liberation of the european continent. i would say that is now pretty broadly enshrined in the public today.
since the austrians are always hiding behind the bad germans like into world war ii, there never really made that step towards acknowledging that also for austria, the normandy invasion represented the beginning of the end. that is why i would like to say here in the and, as an austrian 53, like to in 19 thank american soldiers and veterans, too, for allowing me to grow up in a free and democratic society. were it not for the beginning of the end, the normandy invasion, who would've known how i would have grown up with my father had ever made it home from the war. thank you for your attention this afternoon. [applause] >> now, we would like to have a discussion. i would like to bring dr. john mcmanus into the discussion to get us started, having listened
and dr.olski bischof. yesterday, we were discussing your work and the members of soldiers. i was hoping you might be able to start to discuss that in the context of what you have heard today. >> my great compliments to these two excellent historians on the presentation. at itd say, when you look from a soldier's point of view, and in particular the big red one, it is the longest day and ryan's project to gather material from these guys that their solidifies d-day in imagination is something greatly significant that should be commemorated. i will qualify that by saying that there is a kind of reverence may not be the right word for it, but there is a deep respect among soldiers in many from thet follow on
initial assault unit from 82nd airborne division, the 29th division, fourth division, so on and so forth, that were there on d-day. there is a deep respect and a healthy respect by those who will serve in the months to come . the great majority of the us army that wasn't there on d-day, but will be involved in the campaign in northwest europe. for hearing the stories that they who were at d-day and are the original source, in many respects. myond that, there were so subsequent battles, some in a bloody places where people thought, so much that people wanted to forget in the aftermath of the war, that in a way, omaha beach and utah beach and the normandy landing era has become one more place it you do want to forget. that is why i say, when cornelius ryan reaches out, more from a historical point of view than a journalistic point of
view, to try and tell this larger story of normandy, i think it is really at that point that you start to see a bit more commemoration among the soldiers , who were very young men at that point in the 1950's, most of them. many were 20 years old and d-day -- on d-day. andre talking about 30, 35 40 years old, establishing families and careers. way, it is not until the ,pproaching retirement years but they commemorations that both gentlemen alluded to in 1984, 1994 and 2004 they start to see some of the soldier veterans place all this into the larger context of what it meant for history. unfolded, it all seeing where the cold war went, seeing where their actions fit into perhaps this larger context and why it was important to remember and perhaps may be to talk about what could be rather
that theyexperiences had hoped to bury and perhaps not share with family, that maybe there is a motivation for doing so. .his is later on by the 80's and 90's. i think by our own time in 2014, there is a completely different viewpoint among surviving soldiers, about telling the story and its significance, just having seen how this has all played out. a soldier'sfrom memory, initially, there is a hope to forget, and eventually there is a hope to remember. was struck by something that dr. bischoff brought out about the concept of reconciliation and was hoping you gentlemen might discuss. last year, i visited the cemetery in the former soviet union where, basically, you had a german and soviet joint cemetery now outside of
stalingrad. that only took place in the last , but before, the russians had completely desecrated graves of the germans there. only in the last 15 years of for back and mask greatest the germans. they had an architectural competition between the two sides to see you or do better in the commemoration. how's that different from what we are talking about with the western nations at d-day today? i'm not sure the question is directed to me, but i think the question points toward something that i should have pointed out that of course, german memory considers the eastern front to be much more important than the western front. indeed, for most of the war, that is where most of the german dying happened. some 200 or so divisions fought in the soviet union for almost three years. millions of german soldiers lost
their lives there, which is to say that of course, the families on thet loved ones eastern front, have a much more intense interest in the eastern front. i think that is still true for germany today. there are few german films made about normandy as far as i know, but there are quite a few and very good was made about battles like stalingrad. speaking of film defining cultural memories, that would be true for germany, two. going onlso dr. hudson in stalingrad, these joint cemetery is now being veryructed, but it took a long time, and of course it took the post-cold war. understandingter about what the war was about. these joint cemeteries are very much efforts in russian/german reconciliation.
maybe just a final word. russian memory of d-day and the chapter in this book that we are talking about today, points is out for a clearly. it is an erratically different trajectory than all the other memories. the russians never really could understand and never appreciated the american and british obsession with d-day memories. their efforthought of defeating the germans was written out of history. i was just thinking yesterday, when one soldier appear, a veteran, said, what do you date to him also meant was, if they had not succeeded, the people of france with big german today. i actually think he was wrong. ,f he would not have succeeded if the allied invasion would not have succeeded, i think the chances would be much bigger to the people of germany and france would speak russian today,
because we should not forget the incredible size of the eastern front that the enormous amount of clashes and dying that went on in that front. >> i think one thing worth keeping in mind is that americans have had a little bit of difficulty in determining how to portray the germans. we like to think of the good war , which complicity means there is a bad enemy that we are fighting against. when we are talking about the good work, it is dismissed colleges asian -- this mythologizing. dower mosthn and our transiently focuses on. if we're focusing on this good
war story of two sides honorably , that is fine. you can focus on the germans as competent soldiers doing their duty. in most of the movies that a in somee, at the end or way, the holocaust is lurking underneath. quite obviously, you can't have good people doing such horrific things. foras been very difficult us to try to figure a way to incorporate individuals into the story. , you had theluded western and eastern german issues to take on as well. trying to rehabilitate the west germans and incorporate them into our new alliance, some people very consciously tried to boost their combat effectiveness while at the same time playing down these moral issues and applications. i think it very clear example of this tenuous divide is with
ronald reagan. in 1984 goes to normandy and celebrates american soldiers that helped liberate france and save the world. in 1985 he tried to do something more alliance politics related burgwent to bed hurt -- bit where ss soldiers were interned. there's this huge outrage in the u.s. press. it is for difficult. it is something that we are still struggling with to this day. >> all three of you gentlemen have been to normandy and seen many of the museums and monuments and cemeteries there that are dedicated to memorializing d-day. watching her presentations today, i was struck by couple places that popped up. i was wondering if each of you would be willing to discuss what you believe is the most effective d-day the moral or cultural memory that you have
seen, particularly from the american viewpoint? normandyd say, just in american cemetery as a whole. imagine 9000 crosses and stars of david recognizing the soldiers who lost allies. with a cemeteries maintained, the reverence that inspires, the place is located, on the cliffs overlooking easy read beach and fox green beach where there were -- were such a traumatic battle took place. the fact that gunther mentioned not far away at the german cemetery there are mass graves. there are no mass graves at the normandy american cemetery. a place of effects you dramatically when you go there. it really only needs to be that. you the thing to bear in mind is how the soldiers got there, not sense, but thet
traumatic and difficult decisions family by family that led to this, because the government in the aftermath of the war gave families the option of having the remains transferred him to be buried with full military honors at government expense in the cemetery of the chores, including arlington if they wished. much of this work is done in 1947 and 1948 when always memories are quite fresh. many of the decision-makers in the first families had to decide what is best. when you still have an open wound of having lost a person a couple of years before and in many cases parents making the decision of what to do with her dead son, whether to bring them home whether it was more fitting to keep them in the soil that and the view of many americans they died to help liberate.
9387, they are a minority of the about 20,000 or so americans who do die in normandy, and largely that is a way intended to play out, that the majority, about 60% of families elected to have them brought home. as i understand it, not having been there, just as a historian, this was a decision that often lead to real and deep family crises. difficultiesnd that sometimes endured for years. cemetery,r visit that my thoughts sent to go in that direction, even more so than the combat the took place. that is what do they memory and memorialization means to me, beyond the plans -- not that they're not moving or important, but nothing any of them really hold a candle to that cemetery
in that sense. my answer will be very quick. i have not been there, actually. i've never been to normandy, but i feel like vicariously i've been there for a long time and midn, because simpson 1980's, i've been attending professor ambrose's world war ii conferences at the university of new orleans. i've actually encountered many of the famous characters personally that are in his books , meaning the pegasus bridge side ands, the german colonel howard on the british side. talked to me from east london, who stores i could never hear enough of. of course, i heard the stories .rom winters i was involved in collecting the stories for ambrose's d-day book in 1994. we collected some 1300 oral histories which are now here at
the museum and started that boom stories from soldiers so they would not be lost to history and essentially provide us with the tools to write the history of duty in ,reat detail from the bottom up as ambrose called it the soldiers experience, which is a concept here at the museum, two. if i think about what steve ambrose has accomplished, i think he has accomplished more than any other historian to define one historical event like d-day for an entire nation through books and the museum. in that sense, i feel like it is an off their but never really in the place. >> i would like to add that both of those, firstly with gunther, you can take ambrose's impact and spread even further than that. with some of the movies i discussed, they're based not only on his works, but on his
active input. he was very involved in them. you could go further. i would have to go with john. it is a cemetery for me, and short. success thatat the that place has had in spreading like to people -- that we like people that have of d-day. 1983, they kept accurate records of visitor attendance there. it was like 1.5 million people every year. then they stopped because there were a few too many people. most of those were europeans. it costs a lot of money and it is hard for americans to get out there, but there are still hundreds of thousands every year. if you look at the commemorative events, they're happening at the cemetery. steven spielberg's movie starts and ends in the cemetery. it is a place that evokes awe .nd reverence it is for successful in doing
that. >> at believe have a few minutes for some questions from the audience. raise your hand, please. we will bring a mike. >> can we talk about the french? they were collaborators and took part in the holocaust heard i sometimes think they took it a bye. >> is covered in the book that gunther and i contributed to. said about the american incorporation of the german story, the french story of d-day is very disliked it. there is immense destruction and devastation. the people there had to deal with the losses, personal
losses, there were more french civilians killed on d-day than american soldiers. it is not just a success story of liberation from their standpoint. destruction, pain, sorrow and loss. dealing with that has been an issue ever since. they're still doing that. even though it is turned more to celebratory stories. the vast amount of american visitation to that area, it is a very americanized section of france. it changes over time at the local level. celebration ofd victory. the on that, the local memory in , also inndy relationship with the national french memory, work rotates over ,ime from what i am focusing on solidarity, to the mid-sixties were france under charles a
degaulle focuses on french pride in french resistance. this the landings. they downplay what else is been said and focused on what we did for france, if that makes sense. it is very contested and very complicated. in 1964, charles de gaulle did not go to the commemoration. he did go a few weeks later in southern france commemorating the landings in southern france, which was largely a french force of landed and contributed to the liberation of france. you could almost say he was probably envious of all the attention that the british and americans were getting in normandy. under the hand, you also have to say that the french have been very gracious hosts since 1984. the french president is always there at the big commemoration.
they have certainly played up to it. an important point that michael was making is that when we talk we have local memory and national memory. we look at the world war ii bringing in that figure of andrew higgins back into historical limelight. that is a local memory. at the same time, it also contributes to the national memory. >> did we have another? >> i don't really have a question, but one thing i have heard the last couple of days is the number of french children and older adults that take care of the cemeteries and help with that and bring flowers. can he anything about that? yeah, i will offer small anecdote.
forgive me if you were here yesterday to him i talk. i mentioned this yesterday. one of the soldier as i wrote about -- one of the soldiers i a guy named pfc. norman specular. he was killed almost instantly near a shower on d-day morning. instantly near h hour. i heard a few weeks ago from a frenchman who maintains his grave. he wondered if i could provide him with any information about specular and his background and what had happened to him and how he died. though it wasn't at all a pleasant story to relate, i was at least able to do that and perhaps personalize him a bit more for the gentleman who takes the time to maintain that grave and the memory of specular.
i think he is something of a microcosm for many french, whether children or adults, who do just that. this is considered to be a great honor. france is not unique in that respect, either. in dutchthing goes on cemeteries and other spots in europe, as well. >> any concluding thoughts, gentleman? is join me in thanking our panelists. [applause] >> american artifacts on american history tv. this weekend, a visit to the national archives reveals declassified arguments about the gulf of tonkin in vietnam. 50 years ago this week, resident johnson was given broad powers to invade east asia. 6