Category: Research Topics

“Amnesia” or Fantasy? The Indian Contribution in World War II

“Amnesia” or Fantasy? The Indian Contribution in World War II

Indi­an amne­sia? “Dunkirk, the War, and the Amne­sia of the Empire,” by Yas­min Khan. New York Times Opin­ion page, 2 August 2017.

__________________________________

We should be grate­ful to Pro­fes­sor Yas­min Khan. Why? Because in deplor­ing the absence of Indi­an troops in the new movie Dunkirk, and the trag­ic 1943 Ben­gal famine, she blames “the impe­r­i­al state,” not the usu­al cul­prit, Win­ston Churchill:

At least three mil­lion Ben­galis died in a cat­a­stroph­ic famine in 1943, a famine that is almost nev­er dis­cussed. The famine’s caus­es were a byprod­uct of the war, but as Mad­hus­ree Muk­er­jee has proved in her book Churchill’s Secret War, the impe­r­i­al state also failed to deliv­er relief.…

Read More Read More

“Dunkirk” film: What if Hitler had Launched an Invasion?

“Dunkirk” film: What if Hitler had Launched an Invasion?

Inva­sion in 1940? Tim­o­thy Egan pos­es a thought­ful ques­tion in The New York Times. What if Hitler, not hes­i­tat­ing after Dunkirk, had rapid­ly launched an inva­sion of Britain?In con­vey­ing the movie Dunkirk‘s impor­tance, Egan’s first para­graph is a much bet­ter intro­duc­tion than the film pro­vides:For more than a thou­sand years, the tribes of Europe have stared into the gun-met­al-gray chop of the Eng­lish Chan­nel and thought of con­quest. “We have six cen­turies of insults to avenge,” said Napoleon. I was just there, on the same spring week when the great bedrag­gled scraps of the French and British armies were cor­nered for slaugh­ter by the Nazi war machine 77 years ago.…

Read More Read More

Churchill Myth and Reality: Antwerp. Shocking Folly?

Churchill Myth and Reality: Antwerp. Shocking Folly?

Churchill’s role in the defense of Antwerp, in Octo­ber 1914, has been called one of his “char­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly pirat­i­cal” adven­tures. An emi­nent his­to­ri­an described it as “a shock­ing fol­ly by a min­is­ter who abused his pow­ers and betrayed his respon­si­bil­i­ties. It is aston­ish­ing that [his] cab­i­net col­leagues so read­i­ly for­gave him for a lapse of judg­ment that would have destroyed most men’s careers.”1

 As the Ger­mans closed in around Antwerp, Hast­ings writes, Churchill “assem­bled a hotch­potch of Roy­al Marines and sur­plus naval per­son­nel… his own pri­vate army.” Then he “aban­doned his post at the Admi­ral­ty.” Then he “had him­self appoint­ed Britain’s plenipo­ten­tiary to the belea­guered fortress.”2

The Royal Naval Division

Before the war, Churchill had opposed con­scrip­tion (“the draft”).…

Read More Read More