To the Editor,
I remember way back when my dad was still alive — he died when I was 16 and we lived way out in the Pacific-Queen Charlotte, Haida Gwaii, as it is called now.
As there was no access to a local library, books had to be shipped in via mail, at first by Union steamships, and then Northland Navigation, then moving into modern time. We received airmail three days a week — whoopee do.
One of the books my dad brought in was The Rommel Papers, the personal account of the legendary German commander of WWII — the Desert Fox.
After my father had read it, he passed it on to me. He always encouraged me to read beyond my year — I was about 13 or 14 at the time.
The first thing I noted when reading The Rommel Papers was, “Holy smoke! The Germans actually won a battle or two?!” Remember, this was the 50’s and the awful avalanche of lousy propaganda and just utter nonsense that passed for war movies and pseudo documentaries was overwhelming — almost criminal. The fact that the Korean war was on didn’t help the situation in any way.
It wasn’t until the late 60’s, the Battle of Britain, early 70’s, Tora! Tora! Tora!, and possibly the best war movie ever made — A Bridge Too Far — that war movies started to resemble reality. In the versions we were fed, G.I. Joe just had to show up and there were dead Germans or Japanese all over the place with nary a scratch on the Americans, or British for that matter.
Rommel in the German sweep through France describes some Australian soldiers they’d captured — Hale Hardy fellows in the peak of health. He then compared them to captured British soldiers — sickly hollow-chested, bad teeth, etc.
Whether Britain’s auterity measures were any worse than that of Canada’s or the United States’ is hard to say. Maybe they just looked and felt worse.
One has to remember that somewhere along the way the U.S. got Roosevelt’s “New Deal” —although small at first, it did make a difference and perhaps some of this spilled into Canada.
It is said that the Depression and austerity gave Germany, Hitler, and the British, starvation and misery. It reflected in the health of even Britain’s soldiers!
So, when one hears, “Oh, that horrible Trudeau he’s plunging into debt! We’ll never get out! Oh, horror!” think about this: At the end of WWII, Canada was in debt up its neck and this led to the longest boom of them all!
Sure, beat the austerity of the 30’s and the soldiers were well fed!