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Politics and Cultures of Liberation

Politics and Cultures of Liberation: Media, Memory, and Projections of Democracy

Hans Bak
Frank Mehring
Mathilde Roza
Series Editor Sophie Levie
Volume: 7
Copyright Date: 2018
Published by: Brill
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  • Book Info
    Politics and Cultures of Liberation
    Book Description:

    Politics and Cultures of Liberation: Media, Memory, and Projections of Democracy focuses on mapping, analyzing, and evaluating memories, rituals, and artistic responses to the theme of "liberation." The contributors offer a wide range of diverse intercultural perspectives on media, memory, liberation, (self)Americanization, and conceptualizations of democracy.

    eISBN: 978-90-04-29201-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction: Politics and Cultures of Liberation
    (pp. 1-14)

    At the opening of the exhibition Routes of Liberation: European Legacies of the Second World War, in Brussels on 13 February 2013, Martin Schulz, then President of the European Parliament, identified the development of multiple-perspectives on war, liberation, and remembrance as a desirable or even necessary European aspiration. Referring to Albert Camus’ conviction that human beings may not be “entirely guilty” when looking at past developments in history, he agreed with the French philosopher and author that they are not “wholly innocent” either, since it is they who shape future developments of history. Schulz went on to remind his audience...

  2. PART 1 The Politics and Cultures of Liberation:: Marketing, Memory and Mediation

    • An Invasion of a Different Kind: The U.S. Office of War Information and “The Projection of America” Propaganda in the Netherlands, 1944–1945
      (pp. 17-38)
      Marja Roholl

      June 6, 1944: D-Day, the start of the invasion of Normandy. Soldiers, tanks and Jeeps rolling out of invasion vessels, parachutists making airborne landings, horrific battles and Allied victories at heavy costs. The images of the Allied invasion on the beaches of Normandy are part of our collective memory, shaped by an abundance of photos, documentaries and (Hollywood) films. Less well-known is the story of the accompanying propaganda invasion (Scott 2006a; Scott 2008; Miller 2014). The vessels and airplanes landing in Normandy brought not only soldiers, military supplies, food and medicines, but also more unlikely “weapons”: crates full of magazines,...

    • Educating the Nation: Jo Spier, Dutch National Identity, and the Marshall Plan in the Netherlands
      (pp. 39-64)
      Mathilde Roza

      In the visual history of the Marshall Plan, the image of a Dutchman climbing the U.S. Dollar sign to a more prosperous future is well-known and holds a prominent place in the history of the Marshall Plan to the Netherlands. The iconic image (see figure 1) appeared on the cover of a small booklet, Het Marshall-Plan en U (The Marshall Plan and You) which had been designed and illustrated by Dutch artist Jo Spier, a well-known and highly popular illustrator in the Netherlands in the period before WWII, and regarded by many as one of the best, if not the...

    • From Memory Repression to Memorialization: The Bombardments of Nijmegen 1944 and Mortsel 1943
      (pp. 65-75)
      Joost Rosendaal

      On February 22, 1944, tragedy struck Nijmegen, a Dutch city in the south east of the Netherlands near the German border. American B-24 bombers, Liberators as they were called, dropped their fatal cargo on the city center. More than 760 people, including a few German soldiers, were killed in a matter of minutes. Hundreds of houses, five churches and most of the commercial center of the city were destroyed. On the same day, the Dutch cities of Enschede and Arnhem were hit as well, with less dramatic results. Alongside the flood of 1953 in the Dutch province of Zeeland and...

    • Playing in the Ruins of Arnhem: Reenacting Operation Market Garden in Theirs Is the Glory
      (pp. 76-93)
      László Munteán

      Films determine our popular image of World War II. When we remember the Battle of Britain, the Battle of the Bulge, and the D-Day landings, we do so through the spectacular battle scenes and memorable acting performances in Guy Hamilton’s Battle of Britain (1969), Ken Annakin’s The Battle of the Bulge (1965), and Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan (1998). Operation Market Garden, the air and ground offensive carried out by the allied forces in the Netherlands in September 1944, is no exception: A Bridge Too Far (1977, Attenborough), a three-hour-long blockbuster, has played a key role in introducing the ill-fated...

    • “Can Anybody Fly This Thing?” Appropriations of History in Reenactments of Operation Market Garden
      (pp. 94-112)
      Wolfgang Hochbruck

      A modern military transport plane flies over a field, parachutists jumping out of its rear hatch. It is followed by a World War II vintage twin-engine bomber. Above the noise of the engines, the guitar of Jonny Buckland is heard, and then the voice of Coldplay lead vocalist Chris Martin with the first line of “High Speed:” “Can anybody fly this thing?” (Hemmen 2009). The video by one Paul Hemmen is one of about forty YouTube amateur videos that were sampled for this study. All of them cover 21st century commemorative reenactments of the 1944 World War II airborne Operation...

    • On the Road to Nijmegen Earle Birney and Alex Colville, 1944–1945
      (pp. 113-146)
      Hans Bak

      That the Canadian army played a significant role in liberating the Netherlands from German occupation between D-Day (June 6, 1944) and the unconditional surrender of Germany on May 5, 1945 has been well-documented by historians, diarists, and even—if to a lesser extent than the contributions made by the British and American forces—by novelists and poets (Bosscher; Davey; Zuehlke). The carefully maintained Canadian Military Cemeteries in the Netherlands—at Bergen op Zoom (968 graves), Groesbeek (2,400 graves) and Holten (close to 1,400 graves)—form a compelling memorial to the sacrifice of many Canadian lives. The Canadian war effort was...

  3. PART 2 The Soundtrack of Liberation

    • Liberation Songs: Music and the Cultural Memory of the Dutch Summer of 1945
      (pp. 149-176)
      Frank Mehring

      Photographs of victory and liberation of 1945 have entered the collective memory of contemporary viewers. In the United States, the iconic snapshot of the homecoming sailor kissing a nurse at Times Square in New York at V-J Day comes to mind, or: the liberation of Paris with crowds of French patriots lining the Champs Élysées to view Allied tanks and half-tracks passing through the Arc de Triomphe on 25 August 1944, the flag raising by Soviets over the Berlin Reichstag during the Battle of Berlin on 2 May, the liberation of concentrations camps in Auschwitz, Dachau or Buchenwald (by the...

    • The Reception and Development of Jazz in the Netherlands (1945–1970s)
      (pp. 177-191)
      Walter van de Leur

      In the decades after the Second World War, the Netherlands underwent significant economical, political and cultural changes, which invited the Dutch to rethink their national identity. Jazz, which triggered cultural debates since it first arrived in Europe, provides an ideal lens to look at these changes. This essay seeks to position jazz in the ever-changing cultural and social landscapes of the Netherlands in the postwar years, beginning with the liberation in May 1945 and ending in the 1970s.

      As Mehring (2015) argues in Soundtrack van de bevrijding (“The soundtrack of the liberation”) it is hard to know the actual music...

    • Sounds of Freedom, Cosmopolitan Democracy, and Shifting Cultural Politics: From “The Jazz Ambassador Tours” to “The Rhythm Road”
      (pp. 192-208)
      Wilfried Raussert

      Music is a powerful global player, as it traverses national and continental boundaries faster than any other art form. It moves within transnational economic, cultural, and political circuits and forms an important asset of translocal and global community-building. Music has also remained linked to visions of change, liberation, and even revolution. We may think of the reputation of jazz as a liberating force in the Cold War period, of the Cuban Nueva Trova as a reflection of the ideals of the Cuban Revolution, or of soul and funk as an expression of change for African American and Afro-Latino cultures in...

  4. PART 3 Transnational Re-Locations

    • Marching Towards Kullman’s Diner: Performing Transnational American Sites (of Memory) in Bavaria
      (pp. 211-240)
      Birgit M. Bauridl

      The arrival of the advance contingents of U.S. troops in Southern Germany in the spring of 1945 and the liberation of that part of Germany from the Nazi reign of terror marked the beginning of a highly complex, mutually enriching, and at times intricately conflicted history of German-American encounters in the fields of politics, social interaction, and cultural exchange. In the decades to follow, the German State of Bavaria—immediately after World War II the larger part of the American military occupation zone in Germany—saw the emergence, institutionalization, and transformation of a wide array of sites of contact. Originally...

    • The Promise of Democracy for the Americas: U.S. Diplomacy and the Meaning(s) of World War II in El Salvador, 1941–1945
      (pp. 241-264)
      Jorrit van den Berk

      In early 1944, radio listeners in El Salvador were assured several times a day that “[Y] ou don’t ask for liberty, you conquer it. United, the United Nations will triumph.” Somewhat anticlimactically, the radio announcer continued with the advice to “take Mejoral” for “your headaches” (Krehm 21). Sterling Products, the U.S. manufacturer of Mejoral aspirins, had its slogan from the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (OCIAA), the U.S. government’s agency for the coordination of wartime relations with the Latin American republics, which blanketed the continent with pro-Allies propaganda during World War II. William Krehm, a U.S. journalist critical...

    • Liberation and Lingering Trauma: U.S. Present and Haitian Past in Edwidge Danticat’s The Dew Breaker
      (pp. 265-284)
      Josef Raab

      On the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, Emma Lazarus’s sonnet “The New Colossus” identifies Lady Liberty as the “Mother of Exiles,” proclaiming

      … “Give me your tired, your poor,

      Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

      The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

      Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

      I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” (Lazarus 2007, 520)

      Although Lady Liberty continues to lift her welcoming torch, its light nowadays increasingly ferrets out the “tired” and the “poor” in order to return them to their dangerous countries of origin, instead welcoming mainly the middleclass and wealthy....

    • The Japanese American Relocation Center at Heart Mountain and the Construction of the Post-World War II Landscape
      (pp. 285-306)
      Eric J. Sandeen

      Between 1942 and 1945 more than 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry, twothirds of them American citizens, were relocated from the West Coast of the United States to ten centers in the interior of the country. This essay focuses on Heart Mountain, Wyoming, one of the largest of these temporary settlements, the landscape surrounding the former camp, and the barracks that were both the make-shift dwellings of Japanese-American internees and the building blocks for post-World War II settlement. Taken together, these elements represent an important, complex site where American memory is still being negotiated. The ground on which this memory is...

  5. PART 4 Transnational Perspectives from the Archives

    • The Cornelius Ryan Collection of World War II Papers
      (pp. 309-318)
      Doug McCabe

      The quotation above is just one of thousands of golden nuggets contained in the collection of research files of reporter, journalist and author Cornelius Ryan (1920–1974). This native Irishman was one of the first writers on military subjects to go beyond using official records and the reminiscences of high-ranking commanders by contacting common soldiers and civilians in order to access their personal experiences of war. Along with his skill as a writer, the anecdotes they provided him with “humanized” his books, made them best sellers and turned two of them into films. And—to prove their longevity—The Longest...

    • “Quality First!” American Aid to the Nijmegen University Library, 1945–1949
      (pp. 319-343)
      Léon Stapper

      This article is about the aid that was given to the Library of Nijmegen University from 1945 to 1949, more specifically about the help received from the “American Committee to Aid the University of Nijmegen” (ACA) under the inspiring leadership of its executive secretary P.J.M.H. Mommersteeg,1 a Dutch priest who had been active in the United States of America since 1939. The other protagonists in this story are Dr. Ch.M.J.H.J. (Karel) Smits, the librarian of Nijmegen University, the jurist F.M.E. Haan, secretary to the Board of Governors, and Prof. Dr. W. M. (Willibald) Ploechl,² an Austrian professor of Canon Law...

    • The Marshall Plan: “A Short Time to Change the World”
      (pp. 344-359)
      Linda Christenson and Eric Christenson

      Forty-five years after the European Recovery Program commenced, research began with interviews in the U.S. and Europe in order to provide historical context for the PBS documentary, The Marshall Plan: Against the Odds (1997). It was the first film to emphasize the crucial role of Europeans themselves in the ultimate success of the innovative American initiative. On its premiere, the Washington Post called it an “important hour-long film” which achieved “[the] impossible by making the Marshall Plan not only understandable but fascinating—as important and engaging a history lesson as you’re likely to get this year.” Professor Ernst van der...

    • The Liberation Route Europe: Challenges of Exhibiting Multinational Perspectives
      (pp. 360-372)
      Jory Brentjens and Wiel Lenders

      In February 2014 the traveling exhibition Routes of Liberation: European Legacies of the Second World War was launched at the European Parliament in Brussels. The exhibition, which considered the origins, course and complex legacies of World War II was an initiative of the Liberation Route Europe Foundation (LREF) in collaboration with a consortium of leading World War II museums and other partners.¹ The opening of the exhibition marked the end of a period of six months of close collaboration between historians, project-managers and designers from five European countries: Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Germany and Poland. A collaboration that, due...