Last week, Guy Walters spoke at the History Society. He explored the prevalence of World War Two in everyday British life, drawing on its widespread use in political discourse, popular culture and even advertising campaigns.
Mr Walters argued that World War Two has acquired almost mythological status within British culture, and that it is presently over-commemorated by Britons, who find themselves “obsessed” with it. He contended that this contrasts with the views of many of the generation who actually fought in the war such as Harold Macmillan, who found it “undesirable” to pursue a campaign of commemoration after the devastation of 1939-1945.
Mr Walters accounted for this obsession by explaining that World War Two is often interpreted as a morally “good” or necessary war for Britain, of its position as a conflict that ended in victory for Britain and of it feeding into the idea of British exceptionalism. It is interesting to note, for example, that it has been used by both sides of the political spectrum to further their political agendas.
I would like to thank Mr Walters for a thought-provoking and considered discussion.