Page 1

Spring 2014 Volume 4, Issue 1


Underground ____________ A Peer Reviewed Academic Journal of Undergraduate Research Spring 2014 Volume 4, Issue 1



THE UNDERGROUND is a peer-reviewed academic journal that publishes the work of students whose creative endeavors reflect issues in mediums of representation identity, culture, communication, and performitivity discourse (e.g. PCA, Film, Gender, Fine Arts, Art History, Sociology, Government). The goal of this journal is to provide an outlet which allows St. Lawrence students to share the results of their work with the rest of the academic community. All submissions must be original and reflective of the learning goals in the social science or humanities fields and of St. Lawrence University academia. The journal will be published online once a semester. Submissions may include but are not limited to written pieces (plays, research papers, creative pieces) and multimedia (photography, art, video of performances, spoken word). Each submission will undergo a rigorous editorial process based on series of blind peer reviews and may be subject to a series of revisions. Each submission must be solicited by a faculty sponsor. Professors can either recommend works directly to the journal, or individual authors may earn sponsorship by asking professors with whom they produced the work that they would like to submit. All submissions must reflect the critique and feedback of the faculty sponsor before they are submitted. All work must be submitted in an electronic copy. Students are limited to submitting up to two pieces of their work per semester. It is recommended that submissions be sent in by the time determined and announced by the editorial board and should be addressed to Juraj Kittler ( and Jessica Prody (


ON THE COVER: An adaption from Corey Hahnl’s Philia work demonstrating the love between friends. The work features an allusion to Raphael’s School of Athens (1509-1510). Hahnl’s work was featured in the Richard F. Brush Gallery at St. Lawrence University in the late spring of 2014.



Welcome reader! The Underground is back again this spring with its seventh volume. For the second semester we have decided to expand the scope of our journal even further to include pieces from all areas of study within the social sciences and humanities disciplines that are concerned with issues of representation. We are excited with the expansion of the journal and the incorporation of pieces from departments of Performance and Communicative Arts, Film and Representation Studies, Art History, Fine Art, Gender and Sexualities Studies, Sociology, Government, History and Estudios Hispánicos. Ally Friedman leads the issue with her fascinating piece about American camping culture and its influence on society and how it is used as a socialization tool for children. Sam Marvin follows with his essay on the myths surrounding the topic of Nazi concentration and death camps in World War II. Also on the topic of World War II, Brayden Henry offers an analysis of American war films created during 1939 and 1940 and the disjuncture between primary accounts of the war and Hollywood’s depiction. Jamie Caroccio follows with her Spanish poems dealing with topics of identity and place through the traveler’s perspective. Nicole Eigbrett delves into the perspective of the female infanticide since the enactment of the one-child policy in China. Kyle Blanchette examines the formulation, actions and heritage of the 28 Maori Battalion in World War II in New Zealand and the motivations of individual soldiers. Alie Mihuta’s poem “Courtesans and the Lover or the Customer” speaks to the idea of God in a human form as a customer in the Red Light district of Amsterdam. Matt Dudley investigates the language offerings of government websites in Israel and the language hierarchy that was created in the Israel-Palestinian Conflict. Alex DePrade’s Spanish paper deals with the struggles of the Spanish democratic transition starting in 1975. And finally, Allison Talbot concludes the edition with her poem “Ode to Saint Lawrence” about our beloved school, St. Lawrence University. On behalf of all of us at The Underground, we hope you enjoy this spring edition. After six semesters with the journal I am sad to say goodbye as I graduate this spring but I am excited to follow the journal’s growth over the coming years. Sincerely, Renee Lavigne ‘14


EDITOR-­IN­-CHIEF Renee Lavigne ’14 EDITORIAL BOARD Alexis “Lexi” Beckwith ‘14, Alie Mihuta ‘14 Anna Tsybko ’16 Corey Hahnl ’14 Emily Baldwin ‘16 Geneva Pond ‘14 Hannah Kinsey ’14 Jennifer Brown ‘14 Josh Cameron ’15 Karen Mullen ‘14 CREATIVE DIRECTOR Corey Hahnl ’14 FACULTY ADVISORS Juraj Kittler, Ph.D. Jessica Prody, Ph.D.





Te miran con ojos vivos por las muertes que han visto,


In Escape in the Outdoors:




A Theoretical Case Study of American Summer Camping

Ally Friedman 1

A Flawed Liberation:

A Look at the Challenges Facing the Allies During the Liberation of Nazi Concentration and Death Camps

Sam Marvin 7

Combat Film:

The Disparity Between Cinema and Reality During World War II

Brayden Henry 17

Flujo De Lobo Jamie Caroccio 27 One Child Policy and Female Infanticide: Theoretical Representations of the Chinese Subaltern

Nicole Eigbrett 31



g. n i g n u si untain, rd. o y ear of mo ave hea h I , aint the gods them h ing, s e l Litt tains, thin gather i w oun curled ng and r songs m e Th etics en reapi g out fo t thins. c s a the have be callin harves n e v e They cing and ired, the rest? dan y grow t you not o he but t Why d ODE TO SAINT LAWRENCE P. 81

Don’t Talk About it Corey Hahnl 42 Hordes of the Fierce The Formation, Conduct, and Legacy of the 28 (Maori) Battalion

Kyle Blanchette 43

Courtesans and Their Lovers Alie Mihuta 55 ‫( ונחנא‬us) vs. ‫( مه‬them)

The Politics of Language in Israel

Matt Dudley 59

El Proceso De Reconciliacion Espanol El cuarto de atrás como una herramienta de la memoria colectiva

Alexander DeParde 73

Ode to Saint Lawrence Allison Talbot 81


Ally Friedman

IN ESCAPE IN THE OUTDOORS A Theoretical Case Study of American Summer Camping

ABSTRACT: The implications of American summer camping as a cultural practice and institution are deeply embedded in theoretical and historical notions of both dominance and difference. A synthesis of works from three preeminent cultural studies theorists, Louis Althusser, Raymond Williams, and Antonio Gramsci, is provided here to debunk the nexus between summer camp and modern society. Not only does summer camping reveal much about American culture, it can also shed light on a multitude of relevant global processes. While summer camp deigns to be an “escape” from a more fast-paced urban lifestyle, it will be argued that camps of all sorts inevitably continue to socialize youth in a manner consistent with the newly industrialized, capitalist society in the United States. Essentially, camp may be at once a fragment and an engine of dominant culture, a supposedly “liberated” arena in which the ruling class still exerts its own values and ideals. The prevalence of dominant ideology within American summer camps ultimately reflects the narrowing scope of subaltern expression and efficacy in the face of globalization. KEYWORDS: Louis Althusser, Raymond Williams, Antonio Gramsci, Dominant Ideology, Social Reproduction, Interpellation, Alternative and Oppositional Culture, Hegemony, Subaltern Cultures




Introduction Though it may be considered a relatively inconsequential historical event, the “summer camp movement” that took hold in the Northeastern United States in the 19th century was a significant expression of the shifting conditions and ideals of a new capitalist society. As their nation adjusted to an array of changes wrought by the industrial revolution, the American public in turn began to debate the effects city life would have on future generations. Indeed, the advent of American summer camping coincides with the historical period in which many preeminent cultural studies theorists began to think about and write about the nature of modern capitalist society as it relates to global cultural processes. Thus, when examined through the lens of cultural studies theory, summer camp is a particularly relevant case study because of its linkages to the same kind of societal discourse that grounds many cultural theories. To specify the analysis undertaken by this study, the examination of “summer camp” will be limited to its bearing as a cultural practice and institution, rather than its portrayal within cultural discourses and texts. Furthermore, the kind of summer camp evaluated in this study will only be that of a “traditional” nature. That is, camps in the United States which are centered on outdoor skill building and other nature-based activities, and which run programs in the summer geared toward “sleep away” sessions for youth. Camps led by special interest groups, like those of religious or organizational affiliation, will still be categorized under the umbrella of traditional summer camps so long as they subscribe to the same agenda of outdoor pursuits. This paper will draw conclusions about summer camp as a cultural case study through the work of three theorists: Louis Althusser, Raymond Williams, and Antonio Gramsci. As a whole, these varying theoretical interpretations of summer camp reveal much about the nature of globalization and culture in the United States. While only a fraction of the American population, and typically an upper-middle class fraction, has personal experience with organized summer camping, the origins and implications of this longstanding practice have reverberated throughout the sociopolitical landscape of the United States. From a theoretical standpoint, camp may be at once a fragment and an engine of dominant culture, a supposedly

“liberated” arena in which the ruling class still exerts its own values and ideals. The prevalence of dominant ideology within American summer camps ultimately reflects the narrowing scope of subaltern expression and efficacy in the face of globalization. Althusser and Social Reproduction An interpretation of American summer camp via Louis Althusser might suggest that camp not only serves but also reflects the ideology of the state. For Althusser, camp’s most important function would be the socialization of youth, particularly in the context of a newly industrial, labor-based society. A foundational aspect of Louis Althusser’s theory of social reproduction is his belief that in the modern era, education serves as the ultimate ISA, or ideological state apparatus.1 In order for society to maintain power, or “reproduce” itself, a plurality of ISAs must work together to integrate “subjects” into the dominant ideology. According to Althusser, “each mass ejected [from the capitalist education system] en route is practically provided with the ideology which suits the role it has to fulfill in class society: the role of the exploited, the role of the agent of exploitation, agent of repression, professional ideologist.”2 Certainly, it could be argued that camp is part and parcel of the educational ISA. However, it might make for a stronger argument to say that summer camp may well be its own ISA. Of course, Althusser does not account for summer camp when he lists the numerous categories of ISAs in “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses”, but camp is nevertheless an institution in which American youth “practice the rituals of ideological recognition, which guarantee for us that we are indeed concrete, individual, distinguishable and (naturally) irreplaceable subjects.”3 The very establishment of summer camp speaks to the influence of dominant societal roles and values. In A Manufactured Wilderness: Summer Camps and the Shaping of American Youth, Abigail Van Slyck argues that many of the first summer camp leaders in the United States believed that “overcivilization was linked to effeminacy and racial decadence” and “called into question the value of institutions established to civilize 1

Louis Althusser, “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses (Notes Toward an Investigation),” in Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays (Monthly Review Press, 1971), 132.

2 3

Althusser, “Ideology,” 157. Althusser, “Ideology,” 177.


young boys.”4 To this point, Ernest Balch, the founder of the first summer camp in New Hampshire, “created an environment that forced boys to seize the initiative for building and maintaining their own shelters and cooking for themselves, activities he believed would develop self-reliance instead of dependence.”5 In many ways, summer camp can be seen as a vessel for the transmission of dominant ideology to American children. Camping was often deemed useful for preserving “traditional” American values like resourcefulness and independence in the face of urbanization and industrialization. Additionally, camps can be considered laboratories for experimenting with how best to prepare youth for modern society. In his article “’The Ego Ideal of the Good Camper’ and the Nature of Summer Camp”, Michael Smith asserts, “most camping advocates believed that guided play in a natural environment far from the stifling city would be sufficient to achieve…the readjustment of children to the new conditions of society.”6 Not only did many early summer camps seek to re-instill hearty American values into the minds of their privileged young campers, but some charity camps also aimed to Americanize and “acculture” children from poorer immigrant classes.7 Another key component of Althusser’s explanation of social reproduction is the idea of interpellation, a process of “putting into place” that can be applied to American summer camp in two respects: as a societal microcosm and also as a stepping stone concurrent with society as a whole. Just as camp operates as an ISA to “save” young boys from overcivilization, so too does this process interpellate youth into the gender roles that dominant society views as appropriate. The first camps were open only to boys, in order to steer them away from the feminizing influence of home and the city life, and the eventual establishment of girls’ camps was also an exercise in interpellation. Van Sylck claims that, “both the Girl Scouts and the Camp Fire Girls still upheld the importance of gender differentiation and continued to see marriage and motherhood as each girl’s ultimate goal.”8 4 Abigail Ayres Van Sylck, A Manufactured Wilderness: Summer Camps and the Shaping of American Youth (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009), 9. 5 Michael B. Smith, “The Ego Ideal of the Good Camper’ and the Nature of Summer Camp,” Environmental History 11 (2006): 75 doi:10.1093/envhis/11.1.70.

6 7

Smith, “The Ego Ideal,” 76.


Van Sylck, A Manufactured Wilderness, 11.

Leslie Paris, Children’s Nature: The Rise of the American Summer Camp (New York: New York University Press, 2008), 121.


A defining feature of Althusser’s conception of interpellation is invisibility, so to speak. Essentially, “the individual is interpellated as a (free) subject in order that he shall submit freely to the commandments of the Subject, i.e. in order that he shall (freely) accept his subjection.”9 Summer camp is a practice in which individuals feel like they have some degree of free will, not only to enroll themselves or their children in camp, but also because the whole premise of camp feels “free”, in a sense. In A Manufactured Wilderness, Van Sylck debunks this illusion of freedom and free will at summer camp by explicating the evolution of landscape and construction at American camps. She writes, “what had started as an ad hoc arrangement of tents sitting lightly on the land has been transformed by midcentury into a professionally planned environment…midcentury camps enveloped campers in an environment akin to the modern suburb: safe, bucolic, and somewhat artificial.”10 Not only does the physical setting of summer camp mimic that of the dominant, urban culture, but additionally the power structures inherent in a camp setup - that of the campers underneath another hierarchy of leadership - also reflects and therefore teaches children about how American society is structured. Thus, campers may believe they are experiencing nature in an authentic sense while at summer camp, when in reality they are willingly becoming incorporated, i.e. interpellated, into the modern conditions of society. Williams and Alternative or Oppositional Culture After examining summer camp through Althusser’s point of view, it would seem that this interpretation of camp as an ISA and agent of interpellation leaves little room for other, perhaps more positive, analyses of American summer camp. Certainly, summer camp socializes youth in a certain way, but why does this socialization have to be directly tied to state power and dominant ideology? Raymond Williams, through his notion of alternative and oppositional cultures, might argue that summer camp is indeed a means of interpellating youth, but that this interpellation does not necessarily have to be an expression of dominance. Williams is of the belief that, “we have to recognize the alternative meanings and values, the alternative opinions and attitudes, even some alternative senses of 9 10

Althusser, “Ideology,” 182. Van Sylck, A Manufactured Wilderness, 38.



the world, which can be accommodated and tolerated within a particular effective and dominant culture.”11 If camp comes to be known as “alternative”, according to Williams’ definition of the term, then American summer camp could be considered an entity that is truly unique from the dominant culture. Smith would agree that summer camping can be considered an alternative culture, as he states that, “most [summer camp leaders] were not…anti-modern, they were (and are) rather, counter-modern, exalting something more ‘natural’ and more ‘real’ as a means to being modern in a different way.”12 Often, camps provide a sanctuary, of sorts, for children to escape from the frustrations and challenges of everyday life. The idea that camp is intentionally different from society, but is not necessarily “anti-society”, fits nicely into Williams’ vision of an alternative culture. Yet there is also a possibility that summer camp could be defined as an “oppositional culture”. For Williams, “there is a simple theoretical distinction between alternative and oppositional, that is to say between someone who simply finds a different way to live and wants to be left alone with it, and someone who finds a different way to live and wants to change the society in its light.”13 If camp is set up simply to provide respite from dominant society, than it may indeed be considered “alternative”. However, there are certainly many cases in which camps were established with the intention of transmitting particular viewpoints and messages to youth. In this sense, summer camping as an “oppositional culture” is an idea similar to Althusser’s theory of social reproduction in that camps are created to mold children in a certain way. Yet this “mold” cast by camps under Williams’ conception of oppositional culture would be inherently contradictory to the dominant ideology. Specialty camps of all kinds are perhaps the best example of oppositional culture within the practice of Americans summer camping. In his article, “Happy Campers”, Jim Rasenberger details the influx of special interest camps in the United States – Communist camps, socialist camps, Quaker camps, Jewish camps, charity camps – and states that “each supplied its own mythologies, its own explanation for 11

Raymond Williams, “Base and Superstructure in Marxist Cultural Theory,” New Left Review 82 (1973): 10.

12 13

Smith, “The Ego Ideal,” 73. Williams, “Base and Superstructure,” 11.

how nature improved children.”14 What could be more contradictory to the dominant American ideology than a Communist camp? And certainly, in the 1930s and 1940s especially, “the radical Left embraced summer camps as ideal locations for putting into practice the visionary aspects of Communist culture.”15 Of course, there would be no use in establishing a Communist camp if not to plant the seed of Leftist ideology in the minds of campers. Still, though Williams’ theory of alternative and oppositional cultures works for some camps, it may not apply to American summer camping as a whole. Gramsci and Hegemony Finally, this study turns to Gramsci, who seamlessly ties together Althusser and Williams’ theories with his conception of hegemony. According to Gramsci’s theory, alternative culture is not just “tolerated”, like Williams might argue, rather it is incorporated into the dominant (hegemonic) bloc. The element of the “alternative” is crucial to any interpretation of summer camp, given the history of the practice and also the variation in ideologies of special interest camps. Althusser’s theory does much to explicate the process of summer camping in relation to the reproduction of capitalist society, but it does not acknowledge how camps can also serve the interests of subaltern groups. Gramsci’s theory on hegemony is grounded in the theorist’s belief that social change will occur at the level of culture, or “civil society”. According to Gramsci, the “everyday”, naturalized nature of civil society makes it “increasingly difficult to recognize that civil society has some connection with the operations of power.”16 Undoubtedly, American summer camps are an institution buried deep within Gramsci’s conception of civil society. Camp appears to be a natural, unassuming cultural practice that is disentangled from the web of dominant ideology and power. And Gramsci maintains that, “it is precisely in this private realm that ruling values seem most natural and therefore unchangeable.”17 The “natural” aspect of how dominance permeates summer camping is certainly evident, as previously outlined via Althusser’s concept of interpellation. Yet the most crucial component of Gramsci’s “hegemony” is his 14 15 16 17

Jim Rasenberger, “Happy Campers,” Wilson Quarterly 32 (2008): 23. Van Sylck, A Manufactured Wilderness, xxvi. Steve Jones, Antonio Gramsci (London: Routledge, 2006), 32. Jones, Antonio Gramsci, 32.


notion of incorporation. Due to the various alternative and oppositional cultures apparent within summer camping as a cultural practice, “the institutions of civil society must therefore try to reshape themselves in order to accommodate the uneven and multiple forms of common sense.”18 In this sense, American summer camps are an amalgamation of the alternative and the dominant. For instance, the trend of summer camping during times of war in the United States indicates how Gramsci might perceive camp as an incorporated cultural institution. While camps were designed to be distant from modern American society in every respect, the interests of the state came to infiltrate these separate spaces. During the First World War, summer camps became an “organic complement” to the interests of the American government in that “many camp directors were inspired to create more regimented, militaristic camp experiences.”19 By World War II, the incorporation of camp into the hegemonic bloc became even more pronounced, as camps became an emblem of American democracy in a number of different ways. According to Van Sylck, “at the start of WWII, public discourse often positioned summer camps as experiments in democratic living”, even going so far as to invoke dominant, “democratic” ideology in conjunction with interracial camps, “which were touted as a means ‘to broaden the racial attitudes of the next generation’.”20 Smith adds that throughout the Second World War many summer camps in the United States “served the war effort directly by providing agricultural labor or creating large Victory Gardens to provision themselves, each of which was often advertised as ‘reconnecting’ with ‘frontier’ or ‘pioneer’ heritage.”21 A closer examination of wartime summer camps would suggest that the camps themselves relayed dominant ideology through a process Gramsci would deem hegemonic incorporation, because “the individual, writes Gramsci, must come to ‘govern himself without his self-government thereby entering into conflict with political society – but rather becoming its normal continuation, its organic complement.”22

18 19 20 21 22

Jones, Antonio Gramsci, 54. Smith, “The Ego Ideal,” 76. Van Sylck, A Manufactured Wilderness, xxvi. Smith, “The Ego Ideal,” 79. Jones, Antonio Gramsci, 32.


Conclusion On the whole, despite the reality that summer camps were established to extract American youth from the influence of modern society, it would seem that the dominant culture has swept up the practice of summer camping with relative ease. Summer camp undoubtedly serves as a mechanism of social reproduction while it also presents itself as an alternative or oppositional culture. These two seemingly contradictory functions are combined via Gramsci’s theory on hegemony, in which the dominant culture incorporates elements of subaltern cultures by allowing them to exist while even working in conjunction with subaltern groups. Although other countries certainly have varying forms of summer camping, it is a practice that is rooted in the United States. So what does summer camp say about modern American society? In the age of globalization, the dominant culture has readily absorbed all other perspectives in its purview. There is an evident backand-forth between summer camping and the ruling class, in which somehow both the state and summer camp end up steering youth toward the same dominant ideology. Globalization has allowed this kind of mutual integration to exist, as the world’s increasing interconnectedness makes it impossible for anyone to ever truly “escape” into the woods.



Bibliography Althusser, Louis. “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses (Notes towards an Investigation).” In Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays. Monthly Review Press, 1971. Jones, Steve. Antonio Gramsci. London: Routledge, 2006 Paris, Leslie. Children’s Nature: The Rise of the American Summer Camp. New York: New York University Press, 2008. Rasenberger, Jim. “Happy Campers.” Wilson Quarterly 32 (2008): 20-25.. Slyck, Abigail Ayres. A Manufactured Wilderness: Summer Camps and the Shaping of American Youth, 1890-1960. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006. Smith, Michael B. “The Ego Ideal of the Good Camper’ and the Nature of Summer Camp.” Environmental History 11 (2006): 70-101. doi:10.1093/envhis/11.1.70. Williams, Raymond. “Base and Superstructure in Marxist Cultural Theory.” New Left Review 82 (1973): 3-17.


Sam Marvin

A FLAWED LIBERATION A Look at the Challenges Facing the Allies During the Liberation of Nazi Concentration and Death Camps

ABSTRACT: This essay has been written to widen the breadth of knowledge, and debunk some of the myths, concerning the liberation of Nazi concentration and death camps as World War II came to a close. Many preconceived notions exist surrounding how the allies (United States, Russia, Great Britain) planned, and acted on, the liberation of the hundreds of camps in Europe holding Jews, anti-Nazi citizens, Russians, and Gypsies, among other groups. In order to break down those notions, the piece focuses on key phases throughout the “liberation” that proved the allies were effectively unprepared for the task of liberating millions of prisoners. Among those phases includes the immediate “discovery” phase, the “triage” phase, and the “displaced persons” issue. It is argued that these three phases are reasons for the allies unpreparedness, as well as providing some explanation as to why Nazi camp liberation should not be viewed simply as a joyous and merry occasion. KEYWORDS: Liberation, discovery, medical assistance, displaced persons, liberation myths.




The liberation of Nazi concentration camps and the uncovering of numerous death camps were undoubtedly traumatic and life-altering experiences for those in the camps as well as their liberators. Horrors, mostly unknown and out of the public eye, were witnessed. Mass graves, piles of bodies, and halfdead humans were witnessed by Allied soldiers during their liberation movement of the Nazi camps near the end of World War II. The process of liberation, however, was not as cut-and-dried as simply freeing the prisoners. The functional organization of the liberation occurred in three distinct phases. “Discovery” is the opening phase in which Allied forces, from July 1944 to May 1945, initially uncovered and liberated the camps. Leading up to the discovery, there were mixed sentiments among Western Allies regarding the camps because of the rumors that had revolved around the liberation conversation. Sometimes information was received with skepticism, and other times the true knowledge of the camps did not make its way to the subordinate soldiers effectively, if at all. The “triage” phase is a period of time after the initial discovery that was important for the health and safety of the prisoners that were still well enough to be saved. Lastly, and possibly most difficult, is the “displaced persons” aspect of liberation, in which millions of survivors came under the watchful eye of Allied personnel attempting to determine their next destination or “home.” Upon liberation of the Nazi concentration camps at the end of World War II, Allied forces found themselves not only horrified and confused by the atrocities they unearthed, but also effectively unprepared for the task of tending to the released prisoners’ needs. Historiography Scholarship on liberation is extensive and likewise intriguing. For this paper, recent literature has offered an understanding of the subject and raised questions not answered previously. A broad range of scholarship was analyzed on the subject and combined with different author’s thoughts in order to enhance the argument of this paper and to affectively understand the true identity and general functioning of “liberation.” This historiography incorporates five sources, including Robert Abzug’s Inside the Vicious Heart: Americans and

the Liberation of Nazi Concentration Camps, volume 5 of Auschwitz 1940-1945: Central Issues in the History of the Camp by Andrzej Strzelecki, Jon Bridgman’s The End of the Holocaust: The Liberation of the Camps, volume 9 of The Nazi Holocaust by Leonard Dinnerstein, and Ben Shephard’s After Daybreak: The Liberation of BergenBelsen. Topics in this scholarship are vast but focus on a few important details involving how liberation occurred and the challenges that surrounded the entire endeavor. Specifically, the literature addresses the medical assistance needed to ensure safety of the prisoners, the “displaced persons” issue, and some of the myths associated with liberation studies. The aspect of liberation labeled as “triage” is discussed in most texts involving the liberation of Nazi camps. Abzug gives some attention to the important job of medical care for prisoners by American medics. He discusses their decisions upon liberation, such as “the isolating of survivors with communicable diseases, treating various serious infections, and creating a flexible diet regimen.”1 Andrzej Strzelecki also centers some of his work on the medical phase of liberation. His focus is on the difficulties that Soviet medical personnel encountered. For example, Strzelecki states, “working conditions in the post-Auschwitz hospitals presented many difficulties for the Red Army... The stokes in the barracks had to be kept burning day and night to maintain an adequate temperature.”2 Moreover, Ben Shephard explains that at Bergen-Belsen, “all the British could realistically hope to do in the short term was to try to prevent further loss of life from starvation and disease by carrying out several obvious priority tasks.”3 Medical assistance is an important phase of liberation and it is adequately discussed in most scholarship of camp liberation. As for the “displaced persons” aspect of liberation, it is nearly always covered in Nazi camp scholarship. “Displaced persons” is an important issue because it is the phase of the Holocaust that continues for years after the end of the war. Leonard Dinnerstein, in The End of the Holocaust, focuses much of his discussion about 1

Robert Abzug, Inside the Vicious Heart: Americans and the Liberation of Nazi Concentration Camps (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), 142.


Danuta Czech, Stanislaw Klodinski, Aleksander Lasik, and Andrzej Strzelecki, Auschwitz 1940-1945: Central Issues in the History of the Camp, vol. V (Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, 1995), 49.


Ben Shephard, After Daybreak: The Liberation of Bergen-Belsen, 1945 (New York: Schocken, 2005), 49.


liberation on “displaced persons.” Dinnerstein explains the uninhabitable DP camps that were used for many of the survivors after liberation. Dinnerstein illuminates that there were, “Jews housed in horse stalls, and many former concentration camp victims still imprisoned behind barbed wire, wearing their old concentration camp garb.”4 Jon Bridgman also explains some of the enormous problems involving the “displaced persons” in Europe following the liberation of Nazi camps; namely, “there were about 11 million DPs in Germany in addition to several million prisoners of war.”5 “Displaced persons” is a widely discussed topic in liberation scholarship. Most literature on the subject mentions the DP issue and how the Allies attempted to go about relocating Holocaust camp victims. This paper takes into consideration all of this previous literature on the subject of liberation, but, the goal is to combine the ideas encapsulated in previous scholarship to create a logical argument. Examining previous arguments together as well as numerous firsthand accounts of the liberation experience provides evidence that Allied forces were unprepared for the task of tending to the victims in the camps. Reflecting on the existing and available scholarship, this analysis concentrates on debunking simple misconceptions about liberation rather than simply explaining it as a phase of the Holocaust. The purpose of this paper is to emphasize the vast liberation process as a larger issue than simply a chapter at the end of a book on the Holocaust, because it was much more difficult than most understand. Phase I: Discovery The physical discovery of the concentration and death camps in Nazi-occupied Europe provide some of the most horrific and atrocious images ever witnessed by mankind. The physical horror that consumed the camps was tremendous and personal experiences are a key indicator of that horror. In April of 1945 when American soldiers liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp outside of Weimar, Germany, “soldiers were horrified when they encountered more than twenty thousand 4

Leonard Dinnerstein, “The Death Marches and Liberation,” in The End of the Holocaust, “The Nazi Holocaust, Vol. 9,” Michael Robert Marrus (Westport, CT: Meckler, 1989), 516.


Jon Bridgman, The End of the Holocaust: The Liberation of the Camps (Portland, OR: Areopagitica Press, 1990), 12.


starving and emaciated prisoners.”6 The terrifying moments of discovery were complex and confusing to Allied troops because many of the ordinary soldiers had little or no knowledge of the camps. Again, for American soldiers specifically, many of the experiences warranted disbelief and engendered an inability to recall events years later. American liberator Dallas Peyton recalled his assistance in liberating Dachau on April 29, 1945: “most of the things I saw were so horrible that they’ve been blocked mentally.”7 Others, such as American soldier Fred Bornet, felt different sentiments towards the events and recalled emotions: “angered, yes, and even more: furious, enraged—even dismayed, disoriented, and made violently ill.”8 Their confusion and terror originates from the indescribable reality that most soldiers encountered in these camps. Most military forces had little idea of what to expect when they arrived at concentration camps. Illequipped for the assignment psychologically, Allied soldiers found themselves in a situation that was completely foreign and for which they presumably had little training. While the level of atrocity was so great, the lack of information to the soldiers about what they might find is even more astounding. For example, an American soldier who took part in the liberation of Buchenwald in 1945 explains, “no one had told me about the death camps. I went through my orientations, but no one shared with me what had been going on.”9 As a consequence, this soldier entered a situation for which he had little frame of reference and where his role as a support was undefined. Such a lack of mental preparation caused situations that were irreconcilable for many individual soldiers. Moreover, some American soldiers had heard rumors about the camps because of previous Soviet liberation in the East. Certainly, Allied military personnel had an idea of what to expect, as the first camp liberation came in July 1944 by the Soviets at Majdanek. 6

Patricia Heberer and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Children During the Holocaust: Documenting Life and Destruction (Lanham, MD.: AltaMira Press, 2011), 377.


Dallas Peyton, “Oral Histories of the Liberation of Concentration Camps,” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.


Fred Bornet, Dachau April 29, 1945: The Rainbow Liberation Memoirs, ed. Sam Dann (Lubbock, Texas: Texas Tech University Press, 1998), 67.


Leon Bass, The Liberation of Nazi Concentration Camps 1945: Eyewitness Accounts of the Liberators, ed. Brewster Chamberlin, Marcia Feldman, Robert Abzug, and United States Holocaust Memorial Council (Washington D.C.: United States Holocaust Memorial Council, 1987), 25.



Because of the rumors, curiosity and intrigue engulfed some soldiers’ minds. For instance, American soldier Frank Hamburger explains that “Eisenhower and several of the other generals had been there (Ohrdruf) and suggested that every soldier who could possibly see the camp should go.”10 Eisenhower probably hoped American soldiers could further develop an understanding for why they found themselves thousands of miles from home fighting in a foreign land. Clearly, fascination played a part in soldiers’ willingness to visit and examine camps. Despite their curiosity, their reactions and experiences upon arrival at such camps varied little. Horror, sickness, and anger were the common emotions that accompanied soldiers upon camp liberation and often the emotional states they triggered in soldiers was lasting. In addition, the grotesque sight of liberation had a profound effect on liberators, making some soldiers both physically and mentally ill. The sickening experience of witnessing half-dead humans and piles of dead bodies were almost always the most lasting, and in some cases unforgettable, memories from liberation. Specifically, World War II historian Ben Shephard explains that upon arrival at Bergen-Belsen, British “soldiers looked in the camp and then, one after another, they threw up.”11 Bergen-Belsen, which was liberated by the British in mid-April of 1945, was followed by the liberation of Dachau by the Americans just days later. Experiences of liberation at these two places are similar, as are experiences at many other Nazi camps. American liberating soldier, James Rose’s experience paralleled that of many British soldiers: “[he saw] thousands of people crowding out what looked like skeletons with skin stretched on them. They were dirty, they smelled, and just one look at them, some of them half dead.”12 The sight of mangled, almost nonhuman, men and women had a profound effect on those that liberated. Americans and British alike were traumatized by the occurrences. These soldiers were physically and emotionally unprepared for the task of witnessing such inhumanity first hand. Similarly, the discovery phase was difficult for liberating soldiers because information usually was often not disseminated to the common soldier. There 10 Frank Hamburger, “Oral Histories,” USHMM. 11 Shephard, 22. 12 James Rose, “Oral Histories,” USHMM.

was clearly a flow of knowledge about camp liberations between the Russians in the east and the Western Allies, especially after the Russians discovered Majdanek, Sobibor, Treblinka, Belzec, and liberated Auschwitz all between the summer of 1944 and January of 1945. The liberations by the Russians came early in comparison with those by the Western Allies. Despite Russian discoveries in the east, “a remarkably high percentage of the people in the West remained skeptical, dismissing eye-witness accounts and photographs as ‘Russian propaganda.’”13 The interesting aspect to consider about these Russian discoveries and liberation is that upon their findings, “they made no mention of these camps in their own press and none appeared in the Western press at the time.”14 Despite the skepticism from the West, there was a significant amount of obscurity from the Russian liberation movement. Because there was little mention of the events, and more importantly, little suspicion, the early discoveries and liberations held minimal weight in Western political thought. This lack of knowledge contributed heavily to the Allied lack of preparation for the events that succeeded early Russian action in the East. Also, the discovery phase often presented hardened soldiers a justification for their fight in the Second World War. Gruesome images of prisoners emptying out the camp affected Allied soldiers quite viscerally, especially liberators from the East. The liberation of camps in the East was personal to Russian soldiers, especially because “the worst atrocities of the Holocaust took place in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.”15 With millions of their POWs having been imprisoned or killed, Russian soldiers held a vengeful attitude toward the Nazi extermination campaign. Similarly, when the Allies discovered the atrocities in the camps their justification for fighting strongly emerged. Specifically, for the Eastern Allies, “the existence of the German extermination camps and Soviet political propaganda fueled the soldiers’ revenge, which by the end of the war had become routine.”16 Not only were Russians moved and fueled by the action of 13 14 15

Bridgman, 17. Bridgman, 21.

David Crowe, The Holocaust: Roots, History, and Aftermath (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2008), 421.


Anita Kondoyanidi, “The Liberating Experience: War Correspondents, Red Army Soldiers, and the Nazi Extermination Camps,” in Russian Review 69, no. 3 (07, 2010): 438-462, 439.


discovery, but Western Allies also felt a sense of revenge and justification for fighting. American soldier James Rose, in explaining his personal sentiments during liberation, “something happened that we realized what this war was all about.”17 Discovery and liberation of extermination and concentration camps nearing the end of World War II effectively revitalized negative Soviet sentiment toward the German occupation in the East, thus making a speedy and just liberation process more difficult to accomplish. Phase II: Triage/Immediate Medical Assistance As a result of the discovery portion of liberation, liberators had to take immediate action in order to ensure the safety and health of the prisoners. The lack of preparation for success marked the triage phase as strongly as the discovery stage. The near inability of the liberators to even medically help many prisoners is astounding. Nurses and medical personnel struggled in weighing what to do with many victims, as they debated who they were best able to save given the sheer number of patients and the gravity of their conditions. Because of the overall shock of experiencing the liberation process for many soldiers and medics, the task of nursing and caring for victims became extremely challenging and nearly paralyzing. Also, camps like Auschwitz posed a deeper problem because of the dire circumstances. All camps contained victims stricken with various serious diseases, especially typhus. Therefore the medical phase of liberation proved to be as daunting and insurmountable as the emotional fallout for soldiers involved in discovery. On the most basic level, many of the former prisoners found in the camps had been driven nearly to death and their bodies often rejected medicine or they were unable to even swallow food. For example, Pat Lynch, an American nurse at Dachau in April 1945, explains that “starting IVs was almost impossible because here they were starving, and if you start shooting fluid in, and… it would be just a little bit too much in the heart and lungs, you know, start shooting all that in them. Here they…they hadn’t…they couldn’t even swallow. But we started IVs very, very carefully, and very slowly.”18 Allied nurses had an extraordinarily difficult time tending to patients as victims were often 17 18

James Rose, “Oral Histories,” USHMM. Pat Lynch, “Oral Histories,” USHMM.


too far-gone, or simply unable to receive the proper care because of their physical conditions. Lynch continues on that “[they would] try to get the sickest ones first, get them cleaned up and get them outside, get them out of bed. And take care of them. And if there’s any way that they had any flesh at all under the skin, [they would] inject water.”19 Finding victims who could not respond to improvement caught Allied medical personnel off guard. Medically, the health and safety of prisoners was a slow and grueling process because of the current health of patients, the gravity of which Allied personnel realized only after liberation. Moreover, one of the most difficult aspects of the triage phase was the lack of resources and manpower. The Allies were committed to continuing success on the battlefield throughout the early months of 1945, which meant that there were only a handful of additional medical personnel for Nazi camp liberation health services. American nurse Marie Ellifritz, explaining the poor conditions for the victims at Mauthausen in May 1945, says “to take in 1,500 patients into a 400bed hospital had to be madness. That fact became our madness, and it proved to be a tremendous, overwhelming job.”20 Insufficient resources, housing, and medical equipment were key in the medical difficulties for Allied personnel. Because of scarce allocation of resources to the initial push for medical assistance, Allied staff had a terribly demanding task. In addition, British Army doctor, John Johnston’s explanation for the initial medical procedures upon arriving at Bergen-Belsen is an indicator that the job was simply overwhelming. Johnston explains, “[their] capacity to deal with individual patients would be extremely limited and that [their] principal effort would have to be directed to preventing, as far as possible, further loss of life from starvation and disease.”21 The initial phase of medical assistance during liberation clearly was an anomaly for most medical personnel. With the lack of resources, proper equipment, and adequate staff, Allied medical personnel were thrust into a situation that had not been properly prepared for. 19 20

Pat Lynch, “Oral Histories,” USHMM.


John Johnston, The Liberation of Nazi Concentration Camps 1945,

58. 55.

Marie Ellifritz, The Liberation of Nazi Concentration Camps 1945,



Furthermore, the existence of disease within the camps proved to be an exceptionally problematic situation for Allied doctors and nurses. American nurse Pat Lynch explains: “for typhus, that was the main thing, there was no medication, just supportive treatment, and get fluids down them, well they couldn’t drink anything, so we had to feed them with medicine droppers.”22 Because the camps were dreadfully unsanitary and the prisoners had been treated poorly for such a long period of time, disease ran rampant throughout many camps. At Bergen-Belsen, John Johnston explains that the plans for prevention of diseases spreading included “(a) to institute suitable feeding for all internees, and (b) to prevent the further spread of typhus and other infection or contagious disease by every available means.”23 Disease, both typhus and dysentery, were widespread amongst prisoners at camps even after liberation. The cruel treatment of the prisoners led to horrible physical health after liberation, which precipitated a slow process towards survival. Because diseases like typhus were incurable during the 1940s, Allied doctors and nurses were effectively unable to treat prisoners who were suffering. Given the tremendous medical difficulties, the liberation of Auschwitz proved to be one of the most challenging tasks taken on by Allied medical personnel. The overall number of prisoners was low because of the SS “death marches”, yet, “approximately 7,000 prisoners awaited liberation.”24 The camp, liberated in January of 1945, was the largest and most important killing center during the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question.” Because of the massive structural size of the camp and the timing of liberation (January in Poland), “working conditions in the post-Auschwitz hospitals presented many difficulties for the Red Army… The stoves in the barracks had to be kept burning day and night to maintain an adequate temperature.”25 Again, the Soviet medical experience of liberation was much the same as American and British experiences. The lack of necessary doctors and nurses as well as proper equipment was ever present in Auschwitz. For example, “the lack of adequate numbers of orderlies and helpers made 22 Pat Lynch, “Oral Histories,” USHMM. 23 John Johnston, The Liberation of Nazi Concentration Camps 1945, 55. 24 Strzelecki, 48. 25 Strzelecki, 49.

it impossible immediately to remove all the corpses lying in front of the barracks.”26 The ratio of nurse to patient was almost 200 patients to each nurse.27 With a ratio like 200 to 1, it is no wonder the Soviets had a difficult time nursing the prisoners back to health. To conclude, Auschwitz, though an extreme example of the challenges of liberation, is an important instance of the overwhelming aspects of medical assistance during the liberation of the Nazi camps. Because so many victims were in such poor health, there just was not enough manpower or medicine to cure and save every patient. That reality took a toll on the human beings sent in to “save” them. Phase III: Displaced Persons Arguably one of the most difficult problems that Allied military personnel faced was the issue of displaced persons. The decisions about assistance varied from camp to camp and differently between military apparatuses. Despite these decisions regarding how to take care of victims and how to medically assist them, the strategy for their next steps were unsynchronized. The Allied soldiers and medical personnel, who found themselves unprepared for the conditions and the lack of personnel to adequately care for the grave illnesses they encountered also had to take on the challenge of the “displaced persons.” Because each camp had thousands of inmates that were still alive and were eventually nursed back to health, the Allies were faced with the task of giving victims a place to live while assistance was given to set up long-term living opportunities. Europe was destroyed, Jewish neighborhoods no longer existed in the ruins of cities, and the immigration laws in other countries of the world were stringent against many of the Nazi prisoners in the post war era. Jewish victims clearly deserved a life after this horrible sequence of events but found it very difficult to carry on. Initially, the displaced persons (DP) camps were uninhabitable. In many cases, prisoners were kept in the camps that they were “liberated” from because of the accessibility of those camps to other areas. The psychological aspect of keeping victims in the prisons that they had been interned in was detrimental, but there were few options. Once prisoners had been nursed back to health, their possibilities were miniscule. Some victims wanted to travel back to their previous homes, others had no 26 Strzelecki, 49. 27 Strzelecki, 49.


ambitions, and still more wanted to move to the U.S. or Palestine. Allied personnel did not always have distinct orders or power to give the victims what they wanted, or even what they deserved. “Displaced persons” is clearly one of the most difficult issues encountered after liberation because Allied personnel were as unclear of what to do as the victims had been. “Displaced persons” posed such a grave problem simply because of the massive number of prisoners that had recently been set “free” and their inability to return to the places from whence they had come. Because there were dozens of large camps and hundreds of smaller, sub camps liberated in the early months of 1945, there was bound to be a substantial number of liberated prisoners. For example, the Mauthausen concentration camp system had approximately 60plus sub camps that belonged to it. Some camps had more prisoners than others, but the total number of prisoners who had to be cared for and reintegrated into society was monumental. Holocaust historian Robert Abzug explains that there were approximately 18,000 prisoners at the mother camp of Mauthausen.28 Besides the large number of prisoners, Abzug explains, “once American personnel at the camps looked beyond the simple but crucial question of saving lives, they found themselves to be part of a dismal circus.”29 Not only was the medical process overwhelming, but the entire procedure of finding appropriate homes for these human beings proved to be chaotic given the disruption of European society after the war. Europe was physically destroyed, so there were few housing options immediately available. Further complicating the issue were the societal damages that occurred as a result of extended war. Governmental and economic systems had been destroyed throughout Europe as a result of the German occupation and prolonged military conflict. While the Allies knew that displaced persons would be an issue and made a plan for it in the middle stages of the war (1942-43) “these plans were later augmented as the magnitude of the task became apparent, but few anticipated the enormous numbers that presented themselves in the summer of 1945.”30 Again, the sheer number of displaced persons because of the Nazi concentration camp system is an indicator 28 29 30

Abzug, 143. Abzug, 143. Abzug, 149.


that the Allied forces were were totally overwhelmed by the task to properly house and plan for the future of these victims. The immediate issue was the thousands of people that needed to find their way back into human society. How would countries reabsorb them and where would the money come for their support? How long would this process take? Given the severe economic strain of prolonged war, most European countries were not in a strong position to rebuild both their infrastructure and their societal systems. Nazi victims did not want to continue to live in DP camps, but the options were severely limited. To generalize, DP’s had aspirations to start over and begin new lives after the concentration camps. Sadly, Polish and Jewish communities in Central Europe were effectively demolished because of Nazism during WWII both culturally and structurally. As a result, camp victims had mixed emotions and difficulties returning to their original homes. For example, “Jews, fearing with good reason that anti-Semitism would continue to be a powerful force in their homelands, hoped to gain entry to Palestine, the United States, or some other friendly nation.”31 The problem with prisoners wanting to “take off ” and emigrate is that it was difficult for Allied personnel to simply let prisoners fend for themselves. Immigration was a political issue that military could not control given its cross border and intergovernmental nature. American representative to the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, Earl Harrison, published an extensive report that stated the “solution to the Jewish DP problem, then, centered on expediting emigration, especially to Palestine, and improving temporary camp conditions.”32 Harrison noted that “most of the Jews wanted to go to Palestine but neither he nor his subordinates could deal with that matter. It was a problem for the politicians. In the meantime, however, the military would have to maintain the DP camps, a task that the soldiers did not appreciate.”33 Allied militaries were waiting on British and American bureaucratic decisions in order to get the displaced persons on their way. The DP camps were not set up to continuously care for the victims and the longer prisoners were stuck there, the more restless both the military aid and victims became. 31 32 33

Abzug, 145. Abzug, 162. Dinnerstein, 518-519.



Further, the DP camps were not established to provide long-term solutions in Europe. Even before the prisoners had been “liberated,” they were forced to continue to stay in the imprisioned conditions that they endured during Nazi occupation. Not only were the DP camps uninhabitable and foul, but camps pressured a victim’s mental and emotional health. American “displaced persons” aide in 1945 and 1946, Joseph Levine, explains that the prisoners were shuffled “from a death camp into another camp”34 after liberation. Conditions following liberation were not ideal because Allied militaries were unable to create a positive and appropriate living situation for the victims in such short time. For example, the “initial conditions at such facilities were dismal. Rations were meager, and residents lived under imposed curfews in fenced enclosures, often within the same confines as Nazi perpetrators and collaborators.”35 To say the least, the camps were inadequate for the necessary care that was required for the victims. The inhabitability of these camps is likely the consequence of all the issues that arose from the liberation process prior to the “displaced persons” phase. As a result, “even the best of the DP camps were ‘unfit places for human habitation.’”36 The reality of housing large numbers of human beings in close proximity without optimal nutritional, medical, or space needs was made worse by the fact that these same people had been prisoners of war and treated inhumanely. The situation took a further psychological toll on the victims; something that the liberators could not have adequately prepared for but a situation that had grave consequences. Former prisoners faced great hardships even after the process of liberation. Having to remain in the same physical spaces where they were imprisoned served to provide another form of psychological torture. Simple aspects of life in the DP camps reminded victims of the struggle in their respective Nazi camps. For instance, at Auschwitz, “many of the prisoners who were to be bathed hid when they heard the word ‘bath house,’ and had to be persuaded at length that they were in no danger.”37 Allies had trouble 34

Studs Terkel, “The Good War”: An Oral History of World War Two (New York: Pantheon Books, 1984), 438.

35 36 37

Heberer, 396. Dinnerstein, 523. Strzelecki, 50.

comprehending the depths of the psychological scars that the victims possessed as a result of their horrific experiences. Holocaust victims had been punished beyond belief; punished to an extent that no man, woman, or child should have to endure. Because of the constant ridicule and harassment during their time in camp, victims were dreadfully misunderstood, especially as they felt further imprisoned in their DP camps. Robert Abzug explains, “some Americans never ceased to wonder why, even after food had been made readily abundant, the survivors pushed and shoved their way to the soup kettle or bread basket.”38 All in all, the experiences of the victims were incomparable to those of even the worst experiences of soldiers. Because prisoners were effectively locked up in the place that they were supposed to die at the hand of the Nazis, nothing appeared to have changed. In the summer of 1945, President Truman got wind of the treatment of displaced persons, and explained to Dwight Eisenhower in a letter that, “we appear to be treating the Jews as the Nazis treated them except that we do not exterminate them.”39 Essentially, the treatment of prisoners after liberation was much of the same as during Nazi rule. Allies were truly under prepared and unfit for the job of liberating and accompanying the Nazi prisoners far away from the most grueling periods of their lives. Conclusion Lastly, “displaced persons” is the lasting memory of the concentration camps and of the Holocaust, in general. Because of this, there is moving information involving the Holocaust that has been lost and forgotten. For instance, important aspects concerning liberation are lost today, which can be attributed to the inattention to the multiplicity of events during that period. Given the overlap of needs that were nearly impossible to fulfill, many personal stories were never recorded nor spread widely. For example, in the case of the liberation at Majdanek, Jon Bridgman argues: “the story was given only moderate prominence in the Western Press. In the popular mind the name Majdanek counted (and even today counts) for very little.”40 Despite the fact that there was little attention attributed to Majdanek in particular, that does not mean that there was no press coverage at all. After the camp had been liberated, the 38 Abzug, 144. 39 Dinnerstein, 517. 40 Bridgman, 21.


Soviets allowed only two Western journalists into the camp. One of those journalists, H. W. Lawrence wrote an article in The New York Times describing what he witnessed: “I have just seen the most terrible place on the face of the earth… civilization itself was on trial.”41 Names such as Majdanek should now be recognized household phrases that conjure fear and images of death among the peoples of Europe and the United States because hundreds of thousands of people were exterminated there. Instead, unless one is a student of the subject in some depth, Majdanek is no more than a Polish word that is hard to pronounce. This is one example of how the Holocaust and Liberation Studies specifically is remembered. Not only are the most compelling and interesting aspects of liberation lost, but the Holocaust and its survivors, were quickly forgotten in the early years following the war. Survivors continued to stay in the DP camps years after liberation, but both the Soviet and American public quickly moved from sympathy for the European Jewry to what they perceived were more pressing issues. For example, as liberation evolved and the years went by after WWII, “inflation appeared and the Cold War heated up, even the Nazis seemed pushed from consciousness. In the minds of most Americans, the survivors quickly became shadows of a distant nightmare.”42 More important issues evolved in the minds of the Allied public. For those stuck in the Belsen DP camp, life went on with no home, possessions, or families to speak of. It is truly amazing the forgetfulness of humans following World War II and the rise of a new “enemy” to take hold of the nations. Realistically, liberation was not the end of the Holocaust; in fact, it unraveled a new understanding of Nazi terror, the opaque layers of humanity, and the challenge of coming to terms with the reality of vile human behavior. The realities of the war began to settle in for many soldiers as they lay their eyes on the aftermath of the various concentration camps. Between 1944 and 1945, Allied forces liberated a vast number of camps and an even larger number of sub-camps. During this period of liberation, Americans, Soviets, and British troops were the main liberators of Nazi camps. Discovery is an important phase in the study of liberation that 41 Bridgman, 20. 42 Abzug, 141.


confronts historians. The discovery of these camps was the first step in uncovering the events that had been occurring since the 1930s. Nazi atrocities happened outside of these camps, but the worst of the Holocaust, such as mass killing and slavery occurred within these camps. The sad, yet intriguing aspect of liberation is the fact that the Nazis had been overwhelmingly successful in their “Final Solution” of the Jews in Eastern Europe without much international interference. Between the years of 1942 and 1943, “the SS had murdered almost 1.8 million (out of about 2.2 million total) Jews during Aktion Reinhard.”43 Liberation in 1944 and 1945 was essentially too late to save the majority of the Jews in Europe. Without a push for liberation at the end of the war, though, there is no telling how much more damage could have been inflicted on the enemies of Nazis in Europe. Despite the joy of liberation, the liberation process proved to be frought with complication which had serious effects on the participants. The Allies, though they had good intentions, ran into complex problems that negatively affected the liberation process. Issues that centered around discovery and the experience of the liberating soldiers, the immediate medical concerns confronted by Allied physicians, and the overwhelming question of “displaced persons” made the Allied liberation less than smooth. Although countless individuals were saved and medically brought back to health, the scars of the Holocaust have been left on not only the European continent, but on the entire world because of the collective experiences of so many.


Crowe, 251.



Bibliography Primary Sources Chamberlin, Brewster S., Marcia Feldman, Robert H. Abzug, and United States Holocaust Memorial Council. The Liberation of the Nazi Concentration Camps 1945: Eyewitness Accounts of the Liberators. Washington, D.C.: United States Holocaust Memorial Council, 1987. Dann, Sam. Dachau 29 April 1945: The Rainbow Liberation Memoirs. Lubbock, Texas: Texas Tech University Press, 1998. Terkel, Studs. 1984. “The Good War”: An Oral History of World War Two. New York: Pantheon Books. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Oral Histories of the Liberation of Concentration Camps.” php?ModuleId=10005131&MediaType=OI. Accessed on November 15, 2013. Secondary Sources Abzug, Robert H. Inside the Vicious Heart: Americans and the Liberation of Nazi Concentration Camps. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985. Bridgman, Jon. The End of the Holocaust: The Liberation of the Camps. Portland, OR: Areopagitica Press. Crowe, David. The Holocaust: Roots, History, and Aftermath. Philadelphia: Westview Press, 2008. Heberer, Patricia and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Children during the Holocaust. Documenting Life and Destruction. Lanham, Md.: AltaMira Press, 2011. Kondoyanidi, Anita. “The Liberating Experience: War Correspondents, Red Army Soldiers, and the Nazi Extermination Camps.” Russian Review 69, no. 3 (07, 2010): 438-462. Marrus, Michael Robert. The End of the Holocaust. The Nazi Holocaust. Vol. 9. Westport, CT: Meckler, 1989. Shephard, Ben. After Daybreak: The Liberation of Bergen-Belsen, 1945. 1 American ed. New York: Schocken, 2005.

Strzelecki, Andrzej. Auschwitz: 1940-1945: Central Issues in the History of the Camp, ed. Danuta Czech, Stanislaw Klodzinski, Aleksander Lasik, and Andrzej Strzelecki. Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, 1995.


Brayden Henry

COMBAT FILM The Disparity Between Cinema and Reality During World War II

ABSTRACT:This essay seeks to analyze films produced from 1939-1940 in the United States and their depictions of combat. The initial first half of the essay is made up of a historiography that features the preeminent film historians and their analysis of World War II combat films. The second half of the essay seeks to critically analyze primary documents in comparison with the films and try to find the source of the disparity between veteran’s experiences and the Hollywood portrayal. Using films such as The Fighting Seabees, Back to Bataan, and Air Force the critical analysis of the essay pairs these works up against first hand accounts from soldiers such as Studs Terkel and Jerry Countess. Highlighting this disparity allows for a narrative to evolve in which the concept of American propaganda was instilled as well as patriotism in the eyes of the American public. KEYWORDS: war propaganda; Office of War Information (O.W.I); Kenneth Rose; Jeannine Basinger; Studs Terkel; “The Good War”; The Greatest Generation




Introduction The conversation among historians on combat film during World War II is essential to understanding the differences between cinema and reality. Film shaped the way the world would view WWII, a fact undeniably influencing the title “the greatest generation”. In a side-by-side comparison with films produced from 1939-1945 and primary documents (diaries and letters of soldiers), the drastic differences between the two reveal themselves quite apparently. Breaking down the experiences of soldiers versus combat film into themes of violence, combat and courage, moral and patriotism, and the relationships among soldiers, this essay seeks to establish these differences and grapple with the reasoning behind why films portrayed battle and soldiers in the manner that they did. The impact of World War II on the international community in the twentieth century was devastating in countless ways. The death toll, damage to infrastructure and cities, as well as the long- term mental baggage which soldier’s would carry for years to come are only a small portion of what came from 1939-1945. As the American population went through World War II, the government was keenly aware of the situation abroad and in an effort to cloud this reality and repackage it with patriotism and a dedication to the United States. The government used film as a medium to maintain a sense of national pride. The experiences on the front lines on land, sea, and in the air are available through primary documents such as the letters and diaries of soldiers who fought in the war, all of which reveal a reality of intense violence and destruction. Doubt and questioning were often common among soldiers when they reflected on their motivations to fight, an issue that was murky and complicated during the war. Through an analysis of Hollywood films produced from 1939-1945, it’s clear that the experiences of soldiers were drastically different from that of John Wayne and other actors. Films often minimized violence, allowed racial and economic differences to fall to the wayside and there was an unwavering sense of patriotism to the American flag. The importance of popular culture and propaganda

on the American public during World War II was of paramount concern to the United States government, a fact that can be seen through television, advertising and film. Maintaining a sense of patriotism, belief in the war effort and positive morale led the government to using film as a medium through which they could project these core values. However, after an analysis of primary documents from soldiers who fought in World War II in both the European and Pacific theaters, it is evident that there is prominent disparity between the Hollywood portrayal of World War II and the realities members of the military faced. In a majority of films produced from 1939-1945, there was often a cloaking of violence, tensions among soldiers, and questions of reasoning behind fighting. While it was a reasonable concern for The Office of War Information (O.W.I) it didn’t do justice to the reality and experience of the soldiers abroad. History of Hollywood and the Office of War Information (O.W.I.) In order to grapple with the reasoning and causes behind the disparity of combat and film, it’s essential to get a historical background of Hollywood and the Office of War Information (O.W.I) during World War II. The government intervened in the production of films just before Pearl Harbor by going after filmmakers they believed were “violating the official neutrality of the United States by actively promoting American involvement in the war.”1 Thus O.W.I. came into being. The aims of this government agency were to keep films in line with American ideologies of patriotism, freedom and brotherhood. Through promoting these ideals, especially during the war, the O.W.I. hoped to use the powerful propaganda machine of film to instill these values in the hearts and minds of those watching them. Kenneth Rose notes, “By the end of the war the OWI would resemble a more traditional propaganda agency” and they designed the Government Information Manual for the Motion Picture Industry which “outlined the themes that the OWI wanted to see in Hollywood films, with the bottom line being, ‘Will this help win the war?’”2 The effects of the O.W.I. can be seen in numerous 1 Kenneth D. Rose, Myth and The Greatest Generation: A Social History of Americans in World War II, (New York: Routledge, 2008) 164.


Ibid, 164


films, which in turn mirrors the discrepancy between combat and cinema. Reinforcing a positive attitude and mindset about what was happening overseas and the bravery of the soldiers had an enormous effect on the way the war was perceived on the home front, feeding into the idea of “the greatest generation”. It’s clear that the ultimate goals of the O.W.I. were why combat films generally didn’t graphically depict violence or the true emotions of soldiers, a problematic representation for one of the most altering wars in our nation’s history. Historiography American culture has traditionally celebrated cinema as an art form through the years because of a film’s ability to comment on a broad range of topics and bring them to light. Directors and actors are able to work together to deliver a message and convey emotions to the audience, creating a connection with their viewers. During World War II, film was an important part of American life because it was often a source of information as well as an escape from the overbearing stresses and tension of war. Both on the battlefield and on the home front, World War II affected the country in unimaginable ways, altering millions of people’s lives for decades to come. The films created during World War II are a source of scholarly discussion in the modern day because of the use of propaganda and the disparity that became evident between soldier’s experiences and what was depicted on the big screen. The United States government was ideally trying to use film to instill a sense of patriotism and unity among citizens both domestically and abroad. In order to grasp the impact of the government’s influence on Hollywood studios, it is important to analyze the critical discussion of these films and their positive or negative effects on American culture. The scholars whose work is discussed in this essay conclude that the films produced from 1939-1945 depicted a fictional wartime experience because of the government’s wish to instill a sense of patriotism and hope among Americans. They often depicted an alternate reality in the movies, which turned a blind eye to the social, racial and economic differences as well as the violence, and emotional devastation that World War II incurred upon all those involved. Approaching the subject of cinema during World War II for the purpose of this paper was exponentially


advanced by the work of Kenneth Rose in his book, The Greatest Generation: A Social History of Americans in World War II. Rose is a valuable source because of his own work in his primary and secondary sources, followed by his own thesis. Rose states that “it is a tribute to the power of film propaganda that movies made during the war, while having only a wobbly footing in reality, continue to color our understanding of World War II.”3 Rather than broadly focusing on Hollywood’s involvement, Rose seeks to establish a conversation between primary sources of WWII soldiers and their opinions about Hollywood films and the portrayal of battle. One of the main points Rose focuses on considers John Wayne, arguably the most famous World War II film actor, and the themes of his films: “The Hollywood war that Wayne was fighting especially rankled combat veterans because Wayne’s characters never exhibited any traces of combat’s most common denominator: fear.”4 The lack of fear, as Rose argues, creates a fundamental difference between the real life experiences of soldiers and what was represented by the Office of War Information and Hollywood. Another key aspect to Rose is his use of some of the major film historians in his argument, Clayton R. Koppes, Gregory D. Black and Jeanine Basinger. Rose uses Koppes and Black separately in his discussion of World War II films on the topic of propaganda concerning race and dissolving differences that came through in Hollywood films, contrary to the reality. Jeanine Basinger is a well-known film historian whose work Rose uses to capitalize on the framework in which these combat movies were produced. As a strong source of general knowledge, Rose draws strong connections in terms of primary accounts of the war against the way in which it was depicted by Hollywood. In order to analyze the different aspects of war depicted in film, land, sea, and air must be considered. Frank J. Wetta and Martin A. Novelli, in their article, “Good Bombing, Bad Bombing: Hollywood, Air Warfare, and Morality in World War I and World War II”, discuss the Hollywood portrayal of air bombings and their effectiveness against the experiences and accounts of soldiers who were present and actively involved in the attacks. Their thesis states that: 3

Kenneth D. Rose, Myth and The Greatest Generation: A Social History of Americans in World War II, (New York: Routledge, 2008) 165.

4 Ibid, 169.



the technological solutions that paved the way for victory, the romantic appeal of war in the air, and a desire for retribution--along with its complex moral issues--offered potentially powerful dramatic appeal in the movies. As refracted through the Hollywood lens, air warfare became especially exciting and glamorous during World War II.5 By establishing a sense of distance and dehumanization from the target, films depicted pilots and bombers as insensitive and detached from the damage that they inflicted and more as victorious heroes. Wetta and Novelli specifically focus on the film Bombardier (1943) and its approach to removing the “face” of civilians from the bomber’s view and focusing on the broader goal of winning the war. Wetta and Novelli note that the film “…clearly illustrated how many airpower theorists, with the help of the Hollywood dream machine, considered precision bombing in both its technological and moral dimensions.”6 These two authors are similar to Rose in that they create a dialogue between the accounts of soldiers and the Hollywood portrayal; however, their focus is on aerial bombings and their glorification in Hollywood films. Similar to Koppes, Black, Wetta and Novelli, film historian Jeanine Basinger explores the Hollywood portrayal of World War II; however, she outlines a framework within which she seeks to fit these films and their continuing cycle. Basinger outlines the emergence of the wartime film in three different stages: Introductory Stage (December 7, 1941-December 31, 1942), Emergence of the Basic Definition (1943), and Repeat of the Definition (January 1, 1944-December 31, 1945). These stages are important when analyzing the historiography of film because they create a framework in which historical analysis can occur later on. In terms of the Introductory Stage, Basinger notes that, “Looking at each of these films, one can see how the pattern of hero, group, objective, etc. slowly developed and solidifies.”7 Beginning with the idea of the general outline of these films allows Basinger to then connect the development of Hollywood’s portrayal of the war. 5 Wetta, Frank J., and Martin A. Novelli. “Good Bombing, Bad Bombing: Hollywood, Air Warfare, and Morality in World War I and World War II.” OAH Magazine Of History 22, no. 4 (October 2008), 26.

6 7

Ibid, 26.

Basinger, Jeanine. The World War II Combat Film: Anatomy of a Genre. New York: Columbia University Press, 1986, 26.

As she begins to describe the Emergence of the Basic Definition in 1943, Basinger details how films released prior to 1943 constantly elude combat and don’t directly approach the topic of war, but contain a plot that has strong connections to patriotism.8 By creating a sense of contrast between reality and film, as Basinger elaborates, “A different genre [of war film] takes its [war’s] place. This is particularly true in the early stages of the genre’s development, in which it is obvious that the removal of combat is specifically done for audience release and relief. After the war, the continuation of the war-era combat film genre usually finds such scenes more directly connected to the combat story.”9 Tracing this development is crucial in analyzing Hollywood films that covered World War II because they all seemed to follow a diagrammed and plotted connection of character development and had a unanimous sense of avoiding the grisly nature of battle and focusing on more superficial details. Basinger discusses the Repeat of the Definition in the final years of the war and the positive imagery, which was produced by these films. Problems of race, class and education were disregarded in movies, allowing a sense of kinship among soldiers to develop, which in turn brought down the serious tone of battle scenes. The movies often emphasized that “if our families were separated and torn apart by war, this group could become our substitute family--a kind of big, national family of other Americans. More than anything else, we needed that group.”10 In many ways, as Basinger concludes, these films supported a sense of community and brotherhood when it was needed most by Americans and as the films were produced during the World War II era, they often followed along a similar course, each maintaining a framework of a hero, an objective, the group and patriotism.11 Clayton R. Koppes and Gregory D. Black are two of the most cited scholars in terms of film and propaganda in the United States during the 20th century. Their book, Hollywood Goes to War: How Politics, Profits, and Propaganda Shaped World War II Movies, is a wealth of information concerning films that were produced in the World War II era. Koppes and Black narrow their 8 Ibid, 37 9 Ibid, 39 10 Ibid, 79 11 Ibid, 26


focus on the specific relationship of the Office of War Information (OWI) and Hollywood. This relationship would influence films that were created from 19391945 as the two groups battled back and forth over censorship and content. Koppes and Black narrow their thesis to the idea that, “By making war pervasive in the depiction of ordinary lives, the movies would show that the country was united, with everyone participating equally […] OWI prepared to manipulate cinema images in way imperceptible to the public.”12 Both the home front and the battlegrounds were places in which propaganda was implemented to paint a more romantic picture of war. Kenneth Rose uses Koppes and Black as a backbone to his discussion of film during World War II, quoting them in his discussion of Hollywood portrayals: “labor and capital buried their differences for a greater cause; class, ethnic, and racial divisions evaporated in the foxholes and on the assembly line; even estranged family members were reconciled through the agency of war.”13 Koppes and Black have been recognized by historians as the preeminent scholars of propaganda during the twentieth century and their work focused on World War II films is strongly supported by their use of primary sources (films and interviews) that are shown against one another, revealing the manipulation of Hollywood film makers and O.W.I. in order to preserve a sense of patriotism and bonding. One of the most prominent features of Hollywood films that the Office of War Information discovered was the depiction of unity among soldiers, regardless of race and class. This false unity is present in many films and is the subject of Koppes and Black’s article “Blacks, Loyalty, and Motion-Picture Propaganda in World War II”. Once again, these two historians provide a broad historical context about the OWI and racial tensions in the United States, but then begin a focus on OWI and how it handled race relations in film. Koppes and Black make a point to discuss what many black soldiers felt because of the discrimination they faced on the home front as well as in the military, an issue that OWI worked with Hollywood to address in their films. The authors elaborate, “This article analyzes the racial 12

Koppes, Clayton R., and Gregory D. Black. Hollywood Goes to War: How Politics, Profits, and Propaganda shaped World War II Movies. New York: Free Press; 1987, 64.


Rose, Kenneth D. Myth and The Greatest Generation: A Social History of Americans in World War II. New York: Routledge, 2008, 165.


aspect of OWI’s propaganda campaign, in particular its longest-lived and most significant effort-its liaison with Hollywood motion-picture studios. Although black leaders and OWI policy makers hoped to work together to improve Hollywood portrayal of people of color, the objectives of black leaders and those of the propagandists proved to be incompatible.”14 The broader theme that this article approaches is essential to building a sense of the way Hollywood manipulated film and public opinion by being influenced by the OWI and government. Above all else, war and patriotism was meant to be the focus during WWII and investing the films in details such as truth flew right out the window. Similar to their book, in this article Koppes and Black demonstrate that movies were an easy outlet for the government to use propaganda and there was a depiction of unity and brotherhood that was virtually non-existent in America. The common theme the authors describe goes into detail, “The purported alliance between blacks and white liberals did not produce victory for blacks [in terms of film representation], however. The OWI staff wanted to improve the portrayal of blacks in the movies, but the war came first.”15 In essence, Koppes and Black focus on the argument that above the domestic tensions of racism in America, the wartime propaganda and instilling a sense of patriotism heavily outweighed any need for depicting racial just and realistic problems. The academic dialogue that has been created through the analysis of World War II era films have come to a rather uniform conclusion that there was an evident disparity between the experiences of soldiers and the content and plot of many Hollywood films. It is important to note that some films were created in which there were realistic emotions and plots, but these films were often less popular or blocked by the OWI. The popular cinema which portrayed a common bond among soldiers and focused on details such as their love interests or relationships with one another often took away from the truth of what happened in both the European and Pacific theaters during the war. The work of Jeanine Basinger, Clayton R. Koppes, Gregory D. Black, Kenneth Rose, Frank J. Wetta and 14

Koppes, Clayton R. and Gregory D. Black. “Blacks, Loyalty, and Motion-Picture Propaganda in World War II. The Journal of American HistoryVol. 73, No. 2. 1986. 383.

15 Ibid, 394.



Martin Novelli all elaborate on a different aspect of the World War II film, often borrowing from one another in order to develop their points. As Basinger, Koppes and Black have revealed themselves to be some of the most important academic voices on the subject, they have approached propaganda and cinema in a way that allows their audience to conclude that World War II films were significant in American culture but clearly had shortcomings that were a result of the government’s desire to maintain patriotism and optimism among American citizens. Violence in Film John Wayne, one of the most celebrated American actors of all time, was catapulted into fame through his work in World War II movies. The films he starred in were some of the most popular and well received such as Back to Bataan (1945) and The Fighting Seabees (1944). Obviously in films depicting the war, there was re-creation of battle scenes; however these films often strayed quite far from the reality of war. The reasoning behind this is complicated but there appears to be several causes. One of the most basic is that film companies and the film industry in general had not achieved the point in its development that special effects would effectively depict battle and violence. Explosions and bullet holes were made with the technology that was available and in hindsight it appears to be rather comical in its representation. Another line of reasoning is due to the Hays Code. The Hays Code was the original rating system used to control the content that was in movies. Gregory D. Black, a film historian, provides some background:


From 1934 until the mid-1950s Breen [Joseph I. Breen, head of the PCA] and his staff closely scrutinized every Hollywood script for offensive social, political and sexual themes. Although the initial intent was to protect the public from sexual improprieties, Breen was determined to eliminate controversial subjects from the screen to maximize worldwide appeal of Hollywood films. In the process he imposed on film producers and filmgoers a rigidly conservative view of politics and morality.16

Gregory D. Black, “Hollywood Censored: The Production Code Administration and the Hollywood Film Industry, 1930-1940”, Indiana University Press 3, no. 3 (1989): 168.

These restrictions imposed by the Hays Codes could also have been behind the depiction of violence in these films. When trying to find reasoning behind the disparity between film and reality, it’s important to consider all the reasons why these films presented war as they did. Another theory behind why violence was shown in such an unrealistic manner could also have had to do with the relationship between Hollywood, O.W.I., and the government’s determination to keep the films popular to the masses and instill a sense of courage and bravery rather than fear in the face of war. Depicting some of the gory violence from WWII could have potentially had devastating effects on those who watched it, combat veterans or not. Behind one of these reasons or in a combination of them, it is abundantly clear that violence was restricted in these films for one reason or another. In Myth and The Greatest Generation, Kenneth Rose details a whole section on film and Hollywood. Rose notes, “A marine on Iwo Jima said that if a film was made showing war as it really was, it would include ‘people falling in crap, parts of people lying around, bodies flung apart, people getting shot while they was trying to take a crap.’”17 This soldier captures one of the main contrasting elements between the reality of war and these films. The audience is presented with an alternate reality in which the danger of war is minimal. These misrepresentations are problematic because they do a disservice to the men who fought and risked their lives by making war seem less dangerous than it is. The disparity between the actual battlefield and what John Wayne faced in The Pacific have clear differences; however finding the reasons behind them is much more complicated. Combat and Courage In order to grasp these differences between film and movies, it’s essential to read first-hand accounts where soldiers explain the gore that they saw or the feelings that they had before an attack. Jerry Countess served in the United States Army in North Africa during World War II, and in his memoir, Letters from the Battlefield in Love and War: Memoirs of a WWII Soldier, Countess describes a battle in Africa “That was 17 Kenneth D. Rose, Myth and The Greatest Generation: A Social History of Americans in World War II, New York: Routledge, 2008, 169.



it. No pep talk. No ‘Let’s do this for the gipper’ speech, just ‘Fix bayonets and charge!’ Fix bayonets? Why, were they broken? Bad joke. I knew what he’d meant, but I couldn’t see myself jabbing that foot long sliver of steel into anyone.”18

reading war stories like Garcia’s. Producing films in which soldiers show no fear and head into battle with a clear sense of purpose and direction is inaccurate and caused an unrealistic depiction of WWII.

Countess touches upon one of the major differences between film and reality: the action of killing someone and the emotion behind it. Killing someone with a bayonet is a very graphic and brutal form of battle as is indicated by Countess’ tone. In The Fighting Seabees, Wayne leads a guerilla group attached with bayonets against the Japanese and there isn’t an ounce of fear exposed by the soldiers. When this attack occurs, they would jab the bayonets forward, sliding them under the armpit of another actor who would crumple to the ground. Once again, the reasoning behind this depiction has several possible origins, but it is undeniable that it runs contrary to the experiences of soldiers.

The portrayal of fear and bravery in war films produced from 1939-1945 also shows itself to be a stark difference between the battlefield and the movies. As discussed in the historiography, John Wayne films often strayed from exhibiting fear by the soldiers, a readily common emotion experienced by members of the military. As the leader/owner of a construction crew in The Fighting Seabees, Wayne is instructed not to get involved in fighting as the Japanese attack an airfield they are constructing. As he and his men run for a bunker, a Japanese plane flies overhead and fires on three of his men while they are standing outside. Instantly killing one man, Wayne carries him back inside and there is an instant shift in his mood. Rather than obeying the Navy’s commands, Wayne and his men run from the bunker and start arming themselves with rifles to take on the Japanese as inexperienced soldiers. There is no question about what they are about to do and they approach the task with great certainty and confidence. Their dedication to one another and their hate for the Japanese create enough of a reason for them to put themselves in harm’s way.

As accounts of World War II became available after combat was over, one of the most prominent collections was compiled by Studs Terkel in The Good War. This collection contains interviews with numerous individuals who were in some way, shape, or form affected by the war. John Garcia, a native Hawaiian who was at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and fought in the Pacific, spoke to Terkel in an interview about his combat experiences, “This one night I shot when it came daylight, it was a woman there and a baby tied to her back. The bullet had all gone through her and out the baby’s back. That still bothers me, that hounds me. I still feel I committed murder[…]I was drinking about a fifth and a half of whiskey every day[…] It was the only way I could kill.”19 Garcia’s experience in the Pacific is one of the darkest and most tragic in terms of loss of life. The woman and her child had been civilians fleeing, but he was simply doing his duty as a soldier to protect their lines. He was so emotionally distraught by killing another human being that he was forced to drink an excessive amount of alcohol to do so. His words are sobering and starkly contrast from the film portrayal of war. Regardless of the limitations of restrictions on film, these inconsistencies are the most glaring when 18 Jerry Countess, “The First Infantry Division.” In Letters From the Battlefield in Love and War: Memoirs of a WWII Soldier. Palm Springs: Digita Pulp Publishing, 2006, Chapter 7.


John Garcia, “A Sunday Morning”, Interview with Studs Terkel, The Good War, New York: Pantheon Books, 1984, 23.

Morale and Patriotism

In contrast, Lieutenant Robert Lee Shannon, who enlisted in the U.S Navy and fought at Iwo Jima and in the Pacific, in a letter home to his parents in March of 1945 reflected on the concept of patriotism: “Patriotism? Well, yes, there is patriotism among us, not the synthetic kind that comes forth in the war mongers and profiteers—the kind that is amassed in the throats of people when our national ensign is unfurled, or like as many sheep, cheer at a passing parade—but rather the kind which lies deep and still in the hearts of our defenders.”20 Shannon’s words comment on the evolution of patriotism as the war progressed. There seems to have come a point where patriotism didn’t simply mean fighting for the pride of the United States, but rather fighting for one another to survive and make it out alive from the brutal violence and destruction of 20

Robert Lee Shannon to Mr. and Mrs. Shannon, March 8, 1945 in = World War II letters: A glimpse into the heart of the Second World War through the words of those who were fighting it, ed. Bill Adler and Tracy Quinn McLennan, (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2002), 83.



the war. The movies made during World War II didn’t acknowledge this fact and instead, much like the feeling of fear, replaced it with courage and honor.

a sense of brotherhood and patriotism. The cause of the disappearance of tension in film can be traced back the portrayal of violence.

Being drafted into the war or enlisting was met with hundreds of thousands of young men from all across the country, and in this process there was again an opportunity to instill a sense of commitment via film. Soldiers in many of these combat films, as it has been discussed earlier, have a clear-cut sense of dedication to the military and their country. Rose quotes an excerpt from a veteran of the war:

One possible cause is the government and O.W.I.’s constant determination to maintain a united American front in film, giving viewers the notion that soldiers were intensely dedicated to one another and their background went out the window during war. It is important to analyze this missing piece of reality in these films because of the power of film in society and culture and the creation of “the greatest generation”. Idealizing and inaccurately portraying soldier relationships paints a picture of a military that never truly existed. Historian John Bodnar, author of The “Good War” in American Memory, writes, “As moviegoers entered this land of cinematic fiction, far removed from battles on the ground, they were actually presented with the reality of another contest—over how the war was to be recalled.”22 Herein lays the main issue with the Hollywood depiction of World War II. By painting a picture of military life on the battlefront, the images and experiences shown to moviegoers would inform them with inaccuracies that still linger in the way the war is remembered today.

Dellie Hahne remembers watching a movie in which a character played by George Murphy reads a telegram that transports him to realms of ecstasy. When asked about the contents of the telegram, Murphy exclaims, ‘I’ve been drafted! I’ve been drafted!’ According to Hahne, ‘The whole audience howled. ‘Cause you know you can feed ‘em only so much bullshit.’ Still, it is a tribute to the power of film propaganda that movies made during the war, while having only a wobbly footing in reality; continue to color our understanding of World War II.21 The expression of excitement by George Murphy was so unrealistic that it caused laughter among the soldiers watching it, a flag to the falsified inspirations that came out of combat films in this era. As Rose notes, even though these films were ridiculous to soldiers, it comments on the power that film has had in American society and culture. Relationships among soldiers Another inconsistency that is shown in these combat films is the interaction and relationship among soldiers. In the late 1930s and mid 1940s while the war was occurring, there were also social tensions that existed in the United States along racial, class and ethnic line. Discrimination against African-Americans was very prevalent and that is mirrored in these films and it’s important to note that not one of them had an African-American actor. In addition, ethnic and class discrimination has been a large part of American social history, a tension that clearly carried out in the military. However, as noted in the historiography, films chose to override these tensions and replace them with 21 Kenneth D. Rose, Myth and The Greatest Generation: A Social History of Americans in World War II, New York: Routledge, 2008, 165.

Discrimination against fellow soldiers fell away in the films, something that can be seen very readily in Back to Bataan and Air Force (1943). The rag tag crew Wayne leads into battle in Back to Bataan features two heavily drinking Irish men, another stereotype, but there is hardly any indication of discrimination towards them or stereotypical backlash. Backgrounds of soldiers whether they are rich or poor, Jewish or Christian, and any other sort of socially constructed distinguishable characteristic evaporates in order to form a united front. The purpose of removing any confrontations between soldiers over such differences gives films the sense that all that matters is the victory over the enemy and allegiance to the United States. Film historian Jeanine Basinger elaborates, “And if our families were separated and torn apart by war, this group could become our substitute family-a king of big, national family of other Americans. More than anything else, we needed that group.”23 While the home 22

John E. Bodnar, The “Good War” in American Memory, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010. 130.


Basinger, Jeanine. The World War II Combat Film: Anatomy of a Genre. New York: Columbia University Press, 1986, 79.


front discriminations existed in the military, in the world created by film they disappeared and became a non-issue among enlisted men. This is another stark contrast to the reality of World War II. Exceptions/Later Films While the majority of combat films produced from 1939-1945 featured an unrealistic depiction of the war, it is important to note that there were some movies, which went against the grain in some ways. The Story of G.I. Joe (1945) is based on journalist Ernie Pyle and his experiences on the front lines with soldiers. This is one of the few films that reveal the devastation and loss and how it affects soldiers. In the beginning minutes of the film, one of the soldiers begs his C.O. to allow him to hold onto a dog and he is subsequently killed during an air attack. As his body lies on the ground, the dog is taken from him while the other soldiers stare in a mixture of sadness and grief. In comparison to The Fighting Seabees and Back to Bataan, this film presents the audience with the grief of soldiers on multiple occasions. However, The Story of G.I. Joe isn’t immune to falling into the trap of an unrealistic war zone. As the soldier’s listen to a German radio station, a woman tells them to lay down their arms and enjoy the pleasant aspect of Germany or else they will be defeated like every other army that has faced the Germans. Instantly the soldiers begin yelling about their pride in their army and in America. John Bodnar, author of The “Good War” in American Memory, recalls a scene from the film, …the encounter with the enemy is even stopped for a moment to allow one of the men to marry a nurse in the ruins of a church in Italy and recite vows about cherishing one another until death. And in the same story another man volunteers for a patrol at Christmas time, reasoning that every step taken forward defeating the enemy ‘is a step forward to home.’24 The notion of sentimentality among the soldiers became a trend in the later war years as victory became more clear, but even here we can see how there is a skewed picture of the war. The power of film is the ability to create a world for the audience and hold them there through plot and dialogue, and in the case of 24 John E. Bodnar, The “Good War” in American Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010. 134.

Memory, Baltimore:


WWII combat films; plot and dialogue were censored in a way that was an unrealistic depiction of war. Conclusion The discrepancies between combat films from 1939-1945 and actual battlefield experience in World War II are obvious in hindsight, but they are major factors in both the way Americans remember the war and “the greatest generation”. By comparing letters, diaries, and interviews of soldiers who fought in the war with some of the most popular films of the time, a clear line begins to develop. While it is notable that these inconsistencies could have been a result of several factors the ultimate effect is clear: these discrepancies don’t do justice to the veterans of World War II in their physical and emotional toll and in the same instant they contribute to the mythological idea of “the greatest generation”. E.B. (Sledgehammer) Sledge, one of the most well-known veterans for his book With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa, describes the transformation the war had on a fellow soldier as he tossed rocks in a Japanese gunners skull that had collected rain water, “Every time he’d get one in there, it’d splash. It reminded me of a child throwin’ pebbles into a puddle. It was just so unreal. There was nothing malicious in his action. This was just a mild-mannered kid who was now a twentieth-century savage.”25 Sledge’s words echo the transformation the war had on those who fought and it is chilling to think of the desensitization of these men. While the combat films of the era provided entertainment, they also provided fabrication of reality. Studying first-hand accounts against Hollywood films is integral to understanding the deeper social and cultural aspects of the war in an effort to pay homage to those who were killed, maimed or injured in any way. The legacy of World War II and those who fought in it was heavily affected by the film industry. The accessible nature of film and their widespread popularity painted a portrait of a fictional war where men had unwavering patriotism and courage no matter what the circumstance. The war must be remembered as it was fought, no matter how grim the reality.


E.B. Sledge, “Tales of the Pacific”, Interview with Studs Terkel, The Good War, New York: Pantheon Books, 1984, 63.



Bibliography Basinger, Jeanine. The World War II Combat Film: Anatomy of a Genre. New York: Columbia University Press, 1986. Black, Gregory D. “Hollywood Censored: The Production Code Administration and the Hollywood Film Industry, 1930-1940”. Indiana University Press 3, no. 3 (1989). Bodnar, John E. The “Good War” in American Memory. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010. Countess, Jerry. “The First Infantry Division.” In Letters From the Battlefield in Love and War: Memoirs of a WWII Soldier. Palm Springs: DigitalPulp Publishing, 2006. Dmytryk, Edward. Back to Bataan. DVD. Directed by Edward Dmytryk. 1945. Hollywood: RKO Radio Pictures, 1945. Garcia, John. “A Sunday Morning”. Interview with Studs Terkel. The Good War. New York: Pantheon Books, 1984. Hawks, Howard. Air Force. YouTube. Directed by Howard Hanks. 1943. Hollywood: Warner Bros, 1943. Koppes, Clayton R., and Gregory D. Black. Hollywood Goes to War: How Politics, Profits, and Propaganda shaped World War II Movies. New York: Free Press; 1987 Koppes, Clayton R. and Gregory D. Black. “Blacks, Loyalty, and Motion-Picture Propaganda in World War II.” The Journal of American History. Vol. 73, No. 2. 1986. 383-406, EBSCOhost. Ludwig, Edward. The Fighting Seabees. YouTube. Directed by Edward Ludwig. 1944. Hollywood: Republic Pictures, 1944. Pitkethly, Lawrence. The Combat Film. VHS. Directed by Lawrence Pitkethly. 1994. South Burlington: The Annenberg/CPB Collection, 1994. Rose, Kenneth D. Myth and The Greatest Generation: A Social History of Americans in World War II. New York: Routledge, 2008. Shannon, Robert Lee. Robert Lee Shannon to Mr. and Mrs. Shannon, March 8, 1945. In World War II

letters: A glimpse into the heart of the Second World War through the words of those who were fighting it, ed. Bill Adler and Tracy Quinn LcLennan. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2002. Sledge, E.B. “Tales of the Pacific”. Interview with Studs Terkel, The Good War. New York: Pantheon Books, 1984. Wellman, William A. Story of G.I. Joe. YouTube. Directed by William A. Wellman. 1945. Hollywood: Lester Cowan Productions, 1945. Wetta, Frank J., and Martin A. Novelli. “Good Bombing, Bad Bombing: Hollywood, Air Warfare, and Morality in World War I and World War II.” OAH Magazine Of History 22, no. 4 (October 2008): 25-29. America: History and Life with Full Text, EBSCOhost (accessed October 9, 2013).


Jamie Caroccio

Flujo de lodo

ABSTRACT: The selected poems pertain to a book of original poems, Cuaderno de lugares, completed during a SLU Fellowship. They deal with identity and place through a traveler’s perspective. KEYWORDS: poetry, identity, place, Xiaolin, Lisbon, Sachsenhausen




Para los niños taiwaneses de Xiaolin Te miran con ojos vivos por las muertes que han visto, queriéndote, porque vienes de una tierra resistente, existente… Ojos de almendras que brillan reflejándote como un riachuelo que fluye hacia atrás— donde vivía su pueblo, lleno de niños jugando y viviendo sencillamente hasta que vino la tormenta. Casas, gente, tierra, un pueblo destruido por la crueldad de la madre naturaleza, se escapó con todo. Los árboles fueron los primeros en irse corriendo piernas estrechas y manos largas en alto, bocas abiertas, engendrando gritos de barro. No se ríen los niños, se ha ido el gusto por jugar con amigos ya muertos, han cesado de cantar las abuelas, cocinando ahora con el silencio a su lado. Ni siquiera cantan los pájaros, ojos mojados mirando al hoyo vacío, sabiendo que ya se ha ido el momento y no habrá nadie para escuchar su llanto.


Recuerdos de Lisboa Me acuerdo de la lluvia, cuatro días sin parar, gotas lúcidas cayendo sobre nosotras. Sabía de pasteles de Belem, chocolate gourmet, chupitos de tequila con sal y limón. Sonaba música reggae una nube de humo, flotando entre yo y el brasileño con quien bailaba riéndome más que nunca, bajita entre sus brazos, me guió. Olía la humedad que gobierna mientras llueve, la transpiración de la catarata donde entramos por la cueva sin luz sin miedo, con toda confianza, de encontrar el final. Una cortina gris sobre el cielo, nos abrió la ciudad y su grandeza. Me encontré con un antiguo amor, reencarnado en un escocés de la misma altura, sentados a la orilla, me besó allí con un mar de distancia que había conquistado para besarme por última vez. Era el punto más occidental de Portugal de toda Europa, encima de la montaña el viento me liberó el corazón deteriorado, destruyéndose contra las rocas, dejándome ligera y libre. Lisboa era mi vieja abuelita que nunca llegué a conocer pero me abrazó entre sus brazos grises, contándome historias antiguas, llenas de alegría, me enseñó su juventud, y la viví.




Sachsenhausen ¿Cómo iba a sentir frío cuando la gente desnuda llegaba aquí, con la ropa rasgada por las manos de la crueldad? Dos días enteros en Berlín el frío golpeando la cara, dejándome la piel roja e irritada como los nazis fueron, rojos e irritados gritando a la pobre gente en idioma ajeno. De pie, en el centro del campo, la guía de audio en la oreja, escuché las historias más feas que me quitaron todo el frío. Un chico arrebatado de los brazos de su madre, que gritaba, pidiendo que le dejasen su niño por lo menos que le permitiesen eso. Súplicas echadas sobre corazones congelados, inmundos a la compasión, tomaron el niño, le llevaron al médico donde experimentaron, inyectándole enfermedades como rata del laboratorio no un pobre humano, mortal con su madre cubierta en lágrimas negociando con Dios para poder volver a ver a su hijo. ¿Cómo iba a sentir el frío cuando la gente entró por estas verjas, sin esperanza de salir? La mayoría quedaría para siempre, en esta tierra, los fantasmas enterrados bajo la nieve, tierra manchada por la suciedad del genocidio y la vieja amiga, la humanidad, muerta y olvidada.


Nicole Eigbrett

The One Child Policy and Female Infanticide: Theoretical Representations of the Chinese Subaltern ABSTRACT: After the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 (referred to as China in the rest of the paper), the Chinese population practically doubled from 550 million to 900 million. The one-child policy was adapted in 1979 out of fear that overpopulation would cause starvation and an inability to distribute national resources. It is estimated that the one-child policy in China has resulted in 400 million fewer under the age of 30, with a particular gender imbalance favoring males over females. China is missing 40 million females, of which 1.4 million are between the ages zero and six. The research question, What are the perspectives on .female infanticide in China since the inception of the one- child policy? seeks to dissect an issue that is not merely a matter of Communist state control nor a clear-cut issue of human rights; it is a convoluted intersection of history, culture, customs, values, governance, economic necessity and practicality. My hybrid perspective, as a U.S. citizen born in China with an unclear cultural identity, has allowed a flexible examination of these perspectives. KEYWORDS: China, the one-child policy, female infanticide, subaltern studies, nationalism, autoethnography, cultural hybridity




Introduction Women, children and reproductive rights are an inherently feminine issue. The research question, What are the perspectives on female infanticide in China since the inception of the one-child policy? seeks to dissect an issue that is not merely a matter of Communist state control nor a clear-cut issue of human rights; it is a convoluted intersection of history, culture, customs, values, governance, economic necessity and practicality. My complex identity has made this research crucial to unravel, but challenging. I am a twenty yearold female American college student, born Chinese. I describe myself this way because I physically identify as Chinese (however, not even Han; an ethnicity I have yet to identify) but I do not culturally relate to this group of people. I was born with a cleft lip in the formerlyshanty southern city of Nanning (updated tourist sites demonstrate China’s development prowess), abandoned without documents at a hospital, spent minimal time in a state orphanage before coming under the care of a British foster care missionary named Pauline. I was adopted by a Protestant, German-descended couple from Rochester, New York, who scooped me up from foster care two months after birth. I was one of the fortunate infant girls of China. In all honesty, this project has been one of the most difficult to pursue. This year, in Post-Colonial Feminist Theory, I felt more prepared, theoretically informed and willing to consider my cultural history. My cultural identity still remains murky and under speculation, but I have a greater understanding of where I’m from and where I’m going next. I’m studying in Shanghai this spring, an opportunity that I’ve anxiously awaited my entire life. I cannot conceptualize the enormity of the city, the country, communication through a language I barely understand, nor how I will finally feel twenty years later, amongst millions of people that look like me. Taking this all into consideration, my position in the research hovers ‘in between’, a space Homi Bhabha (1994) would refer to as cultural hybridity. My initial reaction to the one-child policy is one of sadness and frustration; reading through accounts of infanticide and statistics of missing girls was a grim experience. I was once one of Spivak’s (1988) unheard voices, a subaltern girl of a debilitated orphanage. At the same

time, it was more than likely this policy that gave me a new secure, unmarginialized life in the United States. Should I be thankful that I was part of the international wave of adoptions China finally allowed? Is it okay that my joy for life is occasionally tinged with resentment and confusion because I will never know my biological lineage? As a researcher I am in a peculiar cultural limbo, but yearning to step inside my Chinese background, such as how Spivak explains: My Indian example could thus be seen as a nostalgic investigation of the lost roots of my own identity. I know that one cannot freely enter the thickets of ‘motivations’, I would maintain that my chief project is to point out the positivist-idealist variety of such nostalgia. I turn to Indian material because, in the absence of advanced disciplinary training, that accident of birth and education has provided me with a sense of the historical canvas, a hold on some of the pertinent languages that are useful tools for a bricoleur […] (Spivak 76) Now that I’m older and trained towards Western individualism, my perspective is orientalist. I seek to understand this policy from the Chinese perspective, and why the restrictions and lack of girls are not a major concern. This case requires immense empathy and cultural and historical specificity, less I suffer the ignorance of making definitive conclusions. Because I can’t speak for the aborted girl fetuses, the newborn victims of infanticide, or the grown orphans that exist unrecognized in Chinese society. Through my own identity, I hope to present a scholarly narrative of underrepresented perspectives and contribute to this largely misunderstood policy. Inception of the One-Child policy With the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 (referred to as China in the rest of the paper), the Chinese Communist Party lead by Mao Zedong equated rapid population growth with modern development and prosperity (Stolc 11). The Chinese population practically doubled from 550 million to 900 million. By the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1971, the fertility rate was at 5.75 children per woman (Stolc 11).



which families needed “official permission to be pregnant” (Hemminki et al. 2). Although the one-child policy was less strict in rural locations and with ethnic minorities, the general regulation was one child per family. It was, and is, governed strictly in cities and citizens of the Han ethnicity (the most prominent in China). The government sought to “redefine reproductive ideology” and usurped every source of media to promote “one couple, one child” (Stolc 11 and Nie and Wyman 318) [see Fig. 1]. Another campaign slogan was wan, xi, shao –or, “later, longer, fewer” (Pascu 103). The media portrayed smaller families with a higher quality of life, especially for mothers and children (Bu and Fee 1959). They encouraged singles to delay marriage, increased education on contraceptives and legalized abortion. It was impossible to ignore this policy and compliance was compulsory (Nie and Wyman 318).

“The practice of family planning benefits mothers’ and children’s health.” Fig. 1 The image is from a series of seven posters, created and produced by the Family Planning Office of Kunming, China, circa 1975 (Bu and Fee 2012).

With the passing of Mao Zedong, the unofficial successor Den Xiaoping aimed to advance China’s position in the global economy with market reform. For this to succeed, Xiaoping received pressure from the West to control China’s population. The one-child policy was adapted in 1979 out of fear that overpopulation would cause starvation and an inability to distribute national resources (Curtis 54). Grain shortages were a problem in a country already at 1 billion people in 1980, and memories of Great Famine from 1959-1961 remained (Xiwen 26). The Community Party of China, coupled with the State Family Planning (FP) Commission, employed a bureaucratic framework to enforce the one-child policy. There were governing boards at the state, province, district/county, street/ township and finally neighborhood/village levels, at

The FP included numerous material incentives for families that registered and received certificates verifying one child: extended paid maternity leave; monthly stipends for the sole child until 14 years of age; housing preference in cities; priority school admission; and increased pensions (Stolc 11). There were rewards for birth control, accessible contraception and health care, and penalties when the policy was not followed, generally through fines (Bu and Fee 1859). The consequences of high-parity births, failure to accept contraceptive programs and non-compliance with the policy included: pay deductions, revoking compliance certificates and repaying the benefits that were received (Hemminki et al. 12). Families with too many children and ‘illegally’ pregnant mothers were sterilized. There are even recent reports of state-directed, forced sterilizations to meet “family planning targets” of the policy (Amnesty International). According to Hemminki et al., “the idea behind disincentives is that society will benefit … the government has vested interest; infringements on personal rights are excuseable” (21). In that sense, the Chinese family unit is part of a grander vision directed by the state. After 30 years of policy, China has cut population growth by at least 400 million people (Xiwen 26). In 2004 the fertility rate had plummeted to 1.7 children per woman, with urban areas as low as 1.3 children (Bu and Fee 1959).



The Subaltern of China It is estimated that the one-child policy in China has resulted in 400 million fewer people under the age of 30, with a particular gender imbalance favoring males over females (Stolc 25). In industrialized countries the average sex ratio is 1.03-1.07. Since the implementation of the policy in China, the ratio has increased from 1.06 in 1979 to 1.20 in the last decade, indicating at least 120 males for every 100 females (Hvistendahl 136). China is missing 40 million females, of which 1.4 million are between the ages zero and six (Stolc 23). What has happened to these lost girls? Infanticide and abandonment, particularly of females, was committed in historical contexts of patriarchal ideology, and still occurs in present-day China because of limits to a single child. Although illegal, advancements in pre-natal technology, ultrasounds and amniocentesis have allowed sexselective abortion. Spinelli states that “data and research on infanticide are scarce [and] infant death statistics are likewise glaringly underestimated” (15). Children with abnormalities, perceived bad omens for the family, birth and population control, issues of inheritance, illegitimacy, and social stigma are all reasons for infanticide (Spinelli 15). As Hesketh confirms, “female infanticide, abandonment of newborn girls and neglect of daughter have been used in such societies to increase the male-female ratio in families” (9). In China, the issue of lost girls is hidden even further because the government has complete control over statistical publications (Mirsky 13). When babies are abandoned to avoid legal association and punishment, they are excluded from demographic counts. The death rate for infants has not been counted—or perhaps the survivors are cared for by government foster homes, or undocumented somewhere else (Smolin 8). The case for surviving, unregistered children is grim. Without a government-issued identity, they do not have any human or political rights. They will not receive a legal education, employment, or any social services. Pascu asserts that in 1998, there were about 30 million Chinese without an official identity and therefore, institutionally unrecognized (107). Amongst the Communist Party and media, the human rights critique, and the Chinese opinion, these lost and orphaned girls are the unheard voices. This

research seeks to treat the lost girls as the subaltern; neither resurrecting the voices, nor confirming hegemonic beliefs, nor understating alternative perspectives. In Gayatri Spivak’s Can the Subaltern Speak?(1988) the imperialist/orientalist discourse (purportedly myself and other Western perspectives) tends to […] reintroduce[s] the constitutive subject on at least two levels: the Subject of desire and power as an irreducible methodological presupposition; and the self-proximate, if not self-identical, subject of the oppressed. Further, the intellectuals, who are neither of these S/ subjects, become transparent in the relay race, for they merely report on the nonrepresented subject and analyze (without analyzing) the workings of (the unnamed Subject irreducibly presupposed by) power and desire (Spivak 74). Without reinforcing the subject-object dichotomy, how do we chastise the cultural devaluation of females in a society that has flourished in many other aspects for over 2000 years? Infanticide Historicized Deeply rooted Confucian ideology can account for son preference in Chinese society. A son inherited land titles, a bride and perpetuated family tradition. They could work the land and better support the elderly and extended family (Rosenberg and Jing 56). Deutsch adds that, “the failure to produce a son was considered one of the most unfilial acts” (368). In this patrilineal system, daughters drained resources and only remained in the family until marrying into another. Daughters could not continue the family legacy, so female births were not as valued as male births. In Sachdev’s analysis of early European travelers, their travelogues hailed Ming Dynasty China (13681644) as a utopia for their comparative wealth, social welfare system and lack of any visible gender struggle; however, infanticide and inherent gender equality existed in this utopia for men (27). Smolin notes that infanticide is “a product of rational decision making embedded in a peculiar cultural attitude towards life” (13). As a child’s existence was not officially recognized until the third day after birth, “post-natal abortion” was akin to an acceptable killing of “young animals” (Sachdev 31 and Smolin 13). Mirsky contends that midwives and husbands could easily conceal the deaths,



or the baby was resumed still born (13). If a woman was accused of adultery by her husband, the baby girl would be abandoned as forfeited property. Infanticide through drowning, neglect, mutilation and abandonment became an acceptable, practically legal solution to deal with unwanted children (Sachdev 31). Urban overcrowding in the Ming Era influenced families to commit infanticide to save resources. In her book Mother Nature (1999), biologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy describes that: In large cities like Beijing, wagons made scheduled rounds in the early morning to collect corpses of unwanted daughters that had been soundlessly drowned in a bucket of milk while the mother looked away� (qtd. in Dahl 21).

Fig. 2

Landlords would force tenants to pay a royalty before naming a baby girl, while corrupt officials would ignore the act in order to present positive statistics to the state (Mirsky 13). The impoverished would drown girls if they did not have the means to provide a dowry, in order to avoid the social stigma of selling their daughters (Sachdev 32). Religion has also played a role in this practice. Dahl notes that female infanticide was rooted in Indian Hinduism (20). The religious belief in metepsychosis, or transmigration of the soul, would allow babies better life after death (Sachdev 30). As it seems, the Communist policy of family planning cannot entirely be blamed for female infanticide and abandonment. According to Dahl, in 18th and 19th century China, the sex ratio was as high as

The 1990 Population Census of China structured by age and gender. (Pascu 2011)



154 males to every 100 females (21). Coale’s and Banister’s demographic study suggests large excess female morality for Chinese born in the ‘30s and ‘40s due to persistent female infanticide (476). They noted that the “missing” statistic of females decreased as this practice waned, but the resurgence in the late ‘80s could indicate sex-selective abortion (477). This evidence adds a historical aspect to concerns on the current sex ratio [see Fig. 2]. Athough “traditional reproductive culture” and son preference are fundamental causes for the lack of girls in China, the restrictive birth policy is an important exacerbating factor (Greenhalgh 872 and Hesketh 10). Orientalism and Western, Human Rights Perspectives China’s one-child policy has faced immense critique from human rights advocates, scholars, reporters and the media. In 1983, the China correspondent for the London Observer opened an article with, “the murder of female babies by ancient Chinese methods of family planning—drowning, exposure, mutiliation—has been revived as a direct result of a birth control law passed in 1979…” (Mirksy 12). He claims that Mao Zedong “deserves much of the blame for this great demographic leap” resulting in this “draconian birth control law” (Mirsky 13). From a Western perspective, the sentiment has barely changed nearly three decades later. At the 2007 World Economic Forum, demographer Nicholas Eberstadt, with support from the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, called China’s one-child policy “a slow-motion humanitarian tragedy” (Pascu 108). These attitudes and commentary, whether considered logical or righteous, certainly qualify as orientalist. Said defines orientalism in several ways, including “a style of thought based upon an ontological and epistemological distinction made between ‘the Orient’ and (most of the time) ‘the Occident’” (2). The term is somewhat outdated as it references Victorian era colonialism, but in this case it is entirely relevant to the European travelogues analyzed earlier. Said states that “literature and culture cannot be presumed as politically or historically innocent” (27). Many of the ‘facts’ in history textbooks and literary representations of the indigenous ‘Other’ are the products of hegemonic values—i.e., those of white, European males. Jacques Derrida makes an assertion of ridicule, but fascination, of ‘utopian’ China:

The concept of Chinese writing thus functioned as a sort of European hallucination. … This functioning obeyed a rigorous necessity … It was not disturbed by the knowledge of Chinese script... which was then available. … A “hieroglyphist prejudice” had produced the same effect of interested blindness. Far from proceeding … ethnocentric scorn, the occultation takes the form of an hyperbolical admiration […] (qtd. in Spivak 88) Furthermore, when Western subjects search for a “philosophy of truth”, indigenous people, nonwhites and women become objects of study (Yegenoglu 550). Several theorists agree that this has resulted in problematic dichotomies and a linear regard of time and development. The “simplistic binarism … and its ignorance in relation to the devastating rhetoric of ‘us and them’” supports a “patriarchal ideology that assumes that the other at the low side of the hierarchy of self/ other is ‘lacking’” (Suleri 244 and Chow 328). It is clear that the majority outside of China subjectively view the one-child policy and its followers as “backwards, marginalized and depressed” others (Chow 327). According to Amnesty International, “a women’s right to control her body, including her sexuality and reproduction, is a basic human right” (“Stop violence against women” 27). Western scholars have criticized China’s one-child policy because it restricts reproductive rights and abuses against women, especially in the countryside (Deutsch 385). Hemminki et al. maintain that certain policy tools, such as coercion and forced abortions, were rare but had questionable morality (5). Yet in 2003, a Chinese woman sought asylum in the U.S. after government plans for her forced sterilization (“Stop violence against women” 27). The 2008 Human Rights Watch report on China also indicated continued problems of violence towards women, stating: Gender-based discrimination and violence remain entrenched problems in China … Strong son preference contributes to sexselective abortions, differential care of girls leading to significantly higher rates of female infant mortality, and in extreme cases female infanticide or sale to human traffickers. (“China Events of 2007”) It is plausible that Western scholars will not find China’s one-child policy reasonable from an individualistic perspective where women have greater


agency, freedom and choice. The policy must be analyzed with historical and cultural specificity. As Avtar Brah stated, “each person and situation must be considered in a specific, historical context because “‘situatedness’ is central to how different groups come to be relationally positioned in a given context” (617). Westerners emphasize gender-equity for a society based on 2000 years of group-centric, patriarchal values. In addition, the pronatalistic Europeans and North Americans have never faced the threat of explosive population growth (Hemminki et al. 5). In 1995, the BBC released a documentary called The Dying Room, directed by Kate Blewett and Brian Woods. As an under-cover investigation, it caused enormous controversy by revealing debilitating conditions of state-run Chinese orphanages. The directors found the ‘dying rooms’ where abandoned infants, practically all girls, were neglected until death because this indirect action was not considered a crime (Blewett and Woods). This is where my stake and position as a researcher blurs: I was pained to watch these images of helpless girls who would only be three years younger than me today; a horrific violation of human rights and moral discrepancy. Yet, does this documentary generalize the situation for all Chinese orphanages, or did these British film makers display the most sensational footage? I fight the urge to condone what they show, recalling Angela Bourke’s conclusion in Reading a Woman’s Death (1995): Instead of a story, the public was given a report on the story – a written metanarrative not only about Bridget Cleary’s death but also about the desired death of fairy legend as a way of thinking and speaking […] (Bourke 454) Thus, the perceivably positive, activist intentions of this documentary also need to be held in question. There is the simple fact that China is so large, that we cannot know what happens at each orphanage. Europeans and Westerners in general do not hold the ‘knowing’ position in this matter. I might venture as far to say that we need to see the evidence for ourselves, but it is with the desperate hope that the circumstances in orphanages have changed. As shown, literature, media and general sentiment on the one-child policy tends to be biased towards the orientalist, Western spectator of Chinese society. It must be asserted that the individual lens of liberty and


equality is limited for this policy (Smolin 29). The liberal European model of a sphere—“a social organization and interaction with potential to limit the exercise of state power”—does not apply to China (Greenhalgh 849). Procreative freedom does not fit in a cultural and historical context in which the government, society, elders and patriarchs are, and always have been, making the decisions (Smolin 24).

Fig. 3 Orphanage in Nanning, China – January 1992. Provided by author’s mom.

Nationalism and Chinese Perspectives The Chinese perspective is complicated because geographic and socio-economic realities affect the desire for children. There are those who agree with the policy, those who silently combat and those that do not comply. For residents of Shanghai, Nie and Wyman describe feelings of “resignation to government intrusive regulation mixed with understanding and even approval of the reasons behind the policy” (Nie and Wyman 314). The Communist Party, of course, will openly publicize positive aspects to support the policy. The head of National Population and Family Planning Board, Minister Zhang Weiqing, applauded the success of China’s population control in 2007 (Pascu 106). For families in the burgeoning middle class of urban areas, one child makes pragmatic sense because of financial



stress. As mentioned earlier, economic incentives for compliance supported higher standards of living for the family (Nie and Wyman 322). Parents could focus their utmost attention on the education, success and happiness of one child. With realistic considerations, the risk of unstable resources and the rising costs of living make children less desirable (Greenhalgh 864). In the BBC documentary The Dying Room, reporters anonymously interviewed women in rural China who were staunchly against the one-child policy (Blewett and Woods). A larger family makes more sense for farming societies because they need the physical labor that children provide. Peasants are hostile towards the policy and its enforcers because fines for a second child are as high as RMB 8,000 or almost $1,300 USD (Shuang 1). These fines could cause impoverishment then force urban migration to make up the payment. There also are families that find loopholes in the law. Pascu describes that pregnant mothers will flee China and return right before birth because out-of-country pregnancies are not penalized (104). It is arguable that the one-child policy is a social experiment of nationalism. The feminine nature of this case—women, children, reproductive rights—are at stake for China’s greater good. Pandey states: […] Nationalism must speak the language of rationality, of the equality of all individuals and of ‘construction’, the possibility of making the world as we want it; on the other it needs the language of blood and sacrifice, of historical necessity, or ancient (God-given) status and attributes – which is part of the discourse of community, as it were, and not of individual rationality (qtd. in Sahgal and Yuval-Davis 46). Yuval-Davis explains that “women’s roles as biological reproducers of the nation play a central part in most nationalist discourses … myths are central to the construction of national collectivities joined through birth … Nationalist discourse is then translated into population policy” (qtd. in Greenhalgh 851). Radhakrishnan affirms that nationalism betrays its own realities through concern with the West and local elitism, therefore it fails to speak for its own people (200). It is important to recall that in order for Deng Xiaoping to economically develop China to excel like Western entities, the population needed control. This demonstrates that the relationship between women, nation and population is discursive and material

(Greenhalgh 851). The one-child policy needed to become a national paradigm to have effective, tangible results. The Chinese Communist Party plays an omniscient role not only in the facilitation of the one-child policy, but also the mindsets of lifestyles of Chinese people. Nie and Wyman describe the Communist Party’s usage of media to emphasize the potential for a Malthusian, population catastrophe (319). Perhaps these aspects of propaganda, fear and coercion employed since 1979 have formed the current national collectivity— the distinctly communal mindset on the matter, a shared fear of unchecked population growth. Sahgal and Yuval-Davis state that “this sense of common experience is fundamental for political mobilizing and creates links across religious and cultural specifics” (48). Women in China no longer face the traditional pressure of birthing several children, but now share the restrictions of an only child (Xiwen 27). Legalized abortion and contraception are reproductive resources for women, yet they foster state-directed nationalism through policy compliance, by controlling procreation and population (Smolin 23). Greenhalgh grants insight on the one-child policy from selected Chinese feminists and scholars in the emerging women’s movement, who also agree with the state’s position on population; it is not an individual problem, but everyone’s. Additionally, a survey by Pew Research Center in 2008 revealed that 75% of Chinese support a one-child policy for families (Hesketh 11). It seems that the feminist consciousness works with the state because the women’s movement has developed under official sponsorship (Greenhalgh 849). For the Chinese feminists, there is not much concern for the plight of infant girls. The issue is overlooked because the State Birth Planning Commission does not widely publicize the sex ratio (Greenhalgh 873). Even for these scholars of the emerging women’s movement, the one-child policy is an extremely sensitive issue. They are fearful of causing political trouble as it is almost impossible to breach the topic through government policy. The entrenched nature of this problem would require an overturn of the entire economic and social structure; family and inheritance system; and a cultural and institutional environment dictated by masculine ideals (Greenhalgh 873). For the Chinese, it is too dangerous to criticize


the core state narrative on birth planning, a policy so beauracratized by the top leadership (867). Even if scholarly opinions are subversive, government policy must be critiqued in careful language; offering suggestions that are not too radical and avoiding the fundamentals of the system. By all means, China’s population policy has succeeded: 400 million births have been prevented since 1979 (Xiwen 26). The feminists emphasize these positive results and acknowledge the progress made with population control, rather than the lack of gender equality and reproductive choice (Greenhalgh 879). The Chinese might have more outstanding positions against the government and its policies, but the Communist Party strives to quiet any destabilization. Conclusion Rosengberg and Jing succinctly state, “in the past two decades, China has been host to an unprecedented experiment in family life, and results from that experiment are just beginning to come in” (66). Female infanticide in China, as it seems, is a vastly complex matter encompassing two millennia of history and customs, not merely three decades of Communist Party policy. As an implement of nationalism, the consequences of the one-child policy are evident; Radhakrishnan stresses that nation-building “suppresses the politics of subalternity” (200). There is extensive speculation on China’s future in light of this policy; the social culture, economic power, family structure, women’s position in society, the abandoned orphans –but how will the government react (Hesketh 2012, Nakra 2009, Rosenberg and Jing 2102, Pascu 2011, Stolc 2008 and Xiwen 2009)? There are worries that easing the policy to a “second child” will cause social turbulence (Xiwen 27). Even if girls and women gain value because they are disproportionate, Hesketh contends that “it is probably too optimistic to hope that by the time the next generation become parents every child will be equally valued” (12). While Chinese society remains unequal for women, the government hegemonic in its discourse, and outside perspectives ignorant of cultural circumstances, the lost infant girls are the subaltern. As an issue so desperately subverted, their voices cannot be resurrected. Spivak shares: We should also welcome all the information retrieval in these silenced areas that is taking place in anthropology, political science,


history and sociology. Yet the assumption and construction of a consciousness or subject sustains such work and will, in the long run, cohere with the work of imperialist subjectconstitution, mingling epistemic violence with the advancement of learning and civilization. And the subaltern woman will be as mute as ever (Spivak 90) Spinelli acknowledges that “infanticide is deeply embedded in and responsive to the societies in which it occurs”, supported by the socio-political culture (17). We must remember that economic and cultural realities contribute to the acceptance of infanticide, and we will find extreme differences between societies. Smolin affirms the need to evaluate procreative choices through multiple lens (30). Western critics and human rights activists orientalize China’s culture as backwards, while Chinese feminists accept state-directed family planning as a fact of life. My hybrid positionality has allowed a flexible examination of these perspectives. The circumstances of my abandonment are a subaltern aspect of my identity I may never understand. But the lost girls of infanticide, abandoned orphans who did not survive and those who exist unrecognized—it is crucial that their positions are not forgotten.



Bibliography Amnesty International. “It’s in our hands: Stop violence against women.” Amnesty International Publications, 2004: 1-132. Web document. 9 Dec. 2012. Retrieved from Amnesty International. Thousands at risk of forced sterilization in China. 22 Apr. 2010. Web. 14 Nov. 2012. Retrieved from http://www.amnesty. org/en/news-and-updates/thousands-risk-forcedsterilization-china-2010-04-22. Bhabha, Homi K. The Location of Culture. Routledge: New York, 1994. Sakai. Bourke, Angela. “Reading a Woman’s Death: Colonial Text and Oral Tradition in Nineteenth Century Ireland.” Feminist Studies 21 (1995): 553-586. Sakai. Brah, Avtar. “Diaspora, Border And Transnational Identities.” Feminist Postcolonial Theory: A Reader. Eds. Reina Lewis and Sara Mills. New York, NY: Routledge, 2002. 613-634. Print. Bu, Liping and Fee, Elizabeth. “Family Planning and Economic Development in China.” American Journal of Public Health 102.10 (2012): 18581859. Web. 5 Dec. 2012. Coale, Ansley J. and Banister, Judith. “Five Decades of Missing Females in China.” Demography 31.1 (1994): 459-470. Web. 17 Dec. 2012. Chow, Esther Ngan-Ling, Zhang, Naihua, and Wang, Jinling. “Promising and Contested Fields: Women’s Studies and Sociology of Women/ Gender in Contemporary China.” China And Society 18.2 (2004): 161-188. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. Cook, Sarah and Dong, Xiao-yuan. “Harsh Choices: Chinese Women’s Paid Work and Unpaid Care Responsibilities under Economic Reform.” Development and Change 42.4 (2011): 947-965. Web. 1 Nov. 2012. Dahl, Edgar. “Gendercide? A Commentary on The Economist’s Report About the Wordwide War on Baby Girls.” Journal of Evolution and Technology 21.2 (2010): 20-22. Web. 17 Dec. 2012. Deutsch, Francine M. “Filial Piety, Patrilineality, and China’s One-Child Policy.” Journal of Family Issues 27 (2006): 366-389. Web. 1 Nov. 2012. Greenhalgh, Susan. “Fresh Winds in Beijing: Chinese Feminists Speak Out on the One-Child Policy and Women’s Lives.” Journal of Women in Culture and Society 26.3 (2001): 847-882. Web. 1 Nov.

2012. Hemminki, Elina, Zhuochun Wu, Guiyin Cao, and Kirsi Viisainen. “Illegal births and legal abortion – the case of China.” Reproductive Health 2.5 (2005): 1-8. Web. 5 Dec. 2012. Hesketh, Therese. “Too many males in China: the causes and the consequences.” Significance March (2009): 9-13. Web. 8 Dec. 2012. Hvistendahl, Mara. “Unnatural Selection.” Psychology Today July/August (2011): 82-87. Web. 8 Dec. 2012. Human Rights Watch. China Events of 2007. 2008. Web. 14 Nov. 2012. Retrieved http://www.hrw. org/world-report-2008/china. Madigan-Curtis, Aidan. “A Decade After “The Dying Room”: Revisiting China’s One-Child Policy.” Harvard Asia Pacific Review 8.1 (2005): 53-54. Web. 1 Nov. 2012. Mirksy, Jonathan. “The Infanticide Tragedy in China.” The Nation. 2 July (1983): 103-110.Web. 8 Dec. 2012. Nakra, Prema. “China’s “One-Child Policy” The Time for Change Is Now!” World Future Review (2012): 134-140. Web. 5 Dec. 2012. Nie, Yilin and Wyman, Robert J. “The One-Child Policy in Shanghai.” Population and Development Review 31.2 (2005): 313-336. Web. 17 Dec. 2012. Pascu, Mihai Lucian. “China’s “One-Child Family” Demographic Policy – Analyzing the Consequences of the Measures Taken to Confine the Demographic Growth of China.” Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Brasov 4.1 (2011): 103-110. Web. 17 Dec. 2012. Radhakrishnan, R. “Nationalism, Gender and the Narrative of Identity.” Diasporic Meditations: Between Home and Location. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1996. 190-205. Rosenberg, B.G. and Jing, Qicheng. “A Revolution in Family Life: The Political and Social Structural Impact of China’s One Child Policy.” Journal of Social Issues 52.3 (1996): 51-69. Web. 1 Nov. 2012. Said, Edward W. Orientalism. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1978. Sakai. Sahgal, Gita, and Yuval-Davis, Nira. “The Uses of Fundamentalism.” Feminist Postcolonial Theory: A Reader. Eds. Reina Lewis and Sara Mills. New York, NY: Routledge, 2002. 43-48. Print. Short, Susan E., et al. “China’s One-Child Policy and the Care of Children: An Analysis of Qualitative


and Quantitative Data.” Social Forces 79.3 (2001): 913-943. Web. 1 Nov. 2012. Shuang, Shuang. “The One Child Recommended– Not Compulsive–Policy.” China Today March (2009): 1-3. Web. 17 Dec. 2012. Smolin, David. “The Missing Girls of China: Population, Policy, Culture, Gender, Abortion, Abandonment, And Adoption in East-Asian Perspective.” Cumberland Law Review 41.1 (2011): 1-66. Web. 5 Dec. 2012. Spinelli, M.G. “Infanticide: contrasting views.” Archives of Women’s Mental Health 8 (2005): 1524. 8 Dec. 2012. Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. “Can The Subaltern Speak?” From C. Nelson and L. Grossberg (Eds.) Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture. Macmillan Education: Basingstroke, 1988. Sakai. Stolc, Phyllis E.W. “Seeking Zero Growth: Population Policy in China and India.” Graduate Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies 6.2 (2008): 10-32. Web. 5 Dec. 2012. Suleri, Sara. “Woman Skin Deep: Feminism and the Postcolonial Condition.” From Critical Inquiry, 18, 1992: 244-256. The Dying Room. Dir. Kate Blewett and Brian Woods. Lauderdale Productions, 1995. BBC documentary. Xiwen, Zhang. “Calls for Two-for-all Family Planning.” China Today 3 (2009): 1-4. Web. 5 Dec. 2012. Yegenoglu, Maya. “Veiled Fantasies: Cultural And Sexual Difference in the Discourse of Orientalism.” Feminist Postcolonial Theory: A Reader. Eds. Reina Lewis and Sara Mills. New York, NY: Routledge, 2002. 524-566. Print. Zhang, Weiguo. “Child Adoption in Contemporary Rural China.” Journal of Family Issues 27(2006): 301-340. Web. 1 Nov. 2012.




Corey Hahnl



Kyle Blanchette

HORDES OF THE FIERCE The Formation, Conduct, and Legacy of the 28 (Maori) Battalion ABSTRACT: This essay explores formation, actions, and legacies of the 28 (Maori) Battalion of New Zealand during World War II. I argue that although many Maori joined the army to help further their desire for independence, it was ultimately a failure. Though their pursuit of equality was unsuccessful, cultural factors lead them to become one of the most revered battalions that fought in World War II. Ultimately, while on a national scale they were unable to gain equality, Maori conduct during battle earned them a measure of respect. This essay covers the historiography surrounding Maori enlistment following New Zealand’s entering the war and explores the various motives for Maori soldiers. Using both primary and secondary sources, it then describes how Maori culture affected the way that they fought and how they earned respect from their fellow soldiers. It ends by exploring the legacy of the battalion; the failure of post-war goals of equality contrasted with the heroic legacy that the men of the 28 (Maori) Battalion left behind. KEYWORDS: Maori, World War II, New Zealand, Pakeha, racial equality



“Speed your [canoe] to the east directly into the flames of the rising sun to the homeland of Hawaiki, there you will stand face-to-face with your ancestors, they of the multitudes of dread and the hordes of the fierce.”1 Taperenui-a-Whatonga Whare Wananga, Maori Proverb “I had taken over a [battalion] which had carried the greatest reputation I suppose of any of this century – certainly any this war.”2 Lieutenant Colonel Tiwi Love, Commander of the 28 (Maori) Battalion, 13 May 1942 - 12 June 1942 Introduction On September 3rd, 1939, Britain declared war on Germany following the latter’s invasion of Poland. Almost simultaneously, New Zealand followed the lead of her former mother country and did the same. Following the Kiwis’ declaration of war, enlistment skyrocketed. Within a month, the New Zealand Expeditionary Force had nearly 15,000 volunteers.3 Amongst the Maori community, there were cries for an all-Maori battalion to be formed, much like the one that had fought in World War I. Due to the huge Maori response, the government decided on an all-Maori 28 New Zealand Battalion. By the war’s conclusion, 15,744 Maori had enlisted out of a total population of 100,000. Of these 15,744, 3600 had seen combat in the 28 (Maori) Battalion, with 649 killed and 1712 wounded.4 This number includes both the Maori in combat and the Maori war effort in New Zealand; this paper will focus specifically on the Maori men who saw combat. An examination of the Maori Battalion is valuable because it provides a good example of an ethnic group combining their cultural traditions with the desire for equality in order to appeal to a country’s patriotism to achieve their ultimate goal. While tribes who had 1 Monty Soutar, Nga Tama Toa: The Price of Citizenship: C Company 28 (Maori) Battalion, 1939-1945 (Auckland: David Bateman, Ltd., 2009), 225

2 3

Ibid., 377.

Paul Moon, Victoria Cross at Takrouna: The Haane Manahi Story (Wellington; Huia Publishers, 2010), 25.


Monty Soutar, “28 (Maori) Battalion,” in The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Military History, ed. Ian McGibbon (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 2000): 310-11.

histories of loyalty to the British were already considered part of the British New Zealand, the equality the Maori desired was to be considered equal with white people, or Pakeha, regardless of tribe. A thorough examination of both primary and secondary sources shows that the Maori were primarily driven by cultural and social factors. Following the war, the Maori goals for social equality were not met; the shortcomings have resonated from the end of the war in 1945 to the present day. Though historians generally agree that a combination of social and cultural factors compelled the Maori to join the army, it was their cultural heritage that sustained their war effort and set them apart from their counterparts in the military. In combat, cultural elements such as utu and mana were the biggest factors in their behavior – not, as some historians claim, the drive for social equality. Maori Culture Central to understanding the motivations of Maori enlisting and later their conduct during battle is the concept of mana. Mana deals with kinship and the importance of reputation.5 The mana of a tribe represents the authority and prestige of a tribe and how other tribes perceive it. As John Patterson writes, “[Mana] is typically the outcome of competitive activities like warfare, oratory, and sport.”6 Mana can be earned by displaying one’s superiority over another, or through an act of generosity. Regardless, this concept is one that makes Maori culture unique – the constant giving and need for showing superiority are only means to an end, which is gaining good mana for one’s tribe. A second cultural idiosyncrasy that directly influenced the way Maori behaved during combat is that of utu, or the “natural cycle of reciprocity.”7 Utu is linked to mana, as it is “also a mechanism that enables the males of a tribe to maintain and increase personal or tribal mana. Where the mana of a chief is threatened, the chief must take steps to defend against the threat.”8 The redress that utu brings would thus prove the honor of a tribe member and bring subsequent mana to the individual and his tribe. Historian Wira Gardiner has described the act as an act of retribution that had to 5

John Patterson, “Mana: Yin and Yang,” Philosophy East & West 50:2 (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2000), 230.

6 7 8

Ibid., 233. Ibid., 238.

Tai Ahu et al., “Utu: Finding a Balance for the Legal Maori Dictionary,” University of Wellington Law Review 42:2 (2011): 204.


be exacted for any grievance.9 Tai Ahu, Racheal Hoare, and Mamari Stephens describe the complexity of utu: The general principle of Maori exchange was that for every gift another of at least equal value should be returned...The word utu is often translated as meaning “payment,” but its significance is broader than that. The root idea is that of “compensation” in the wide sense, of obtaining an equivalent. The concept of utu is not restricted merely to economic affairs, but is found in varying social contexts as one of the fundamental drives to action.10 Utu in the context of Maori during World War II deals with both obtaining an equivalent and acted as one of the fundamental drives to action during enlistment. As will be described in detail further, utu was a central part of the lives of all Maori Battalion soldiers. Lastly, the idea of the Maori as a “martial race” must be touched upon in order to understand why they were so willing to fight following the New Zealand declaration of war in 1939. During World War I enlistment, like what would eventually happen during World War II enlistment, tribes with a history of loyalty sent their immediate assistance.11 Warfare was one of the Maori’s oldest traditions – haka dances commemorated victories in battle, while children were named after defeats in order to provide a constant reminder of their martial failure and “in the hope that [the children] would exact revenge in the future.”12 Some saw the warlike Maori tendency as a biological trait – “The whole soul of the New Zealander,” settler Augustus Earle wrote, “is absorbed in thoughts of war, every action of his life is influenced by it.”13 However, as Christina Thompson points out, the characterization of Maori as warlike by the British only came about because the Maori aggressively resisted colonial invasion for thirty years.1415 Though this 9

Wira Gardiner, The Story of the Maori Battalion (Auckland: Reed Publishers, 1992), 7.

10 11

Ahu, “Utu,” 203.

12 13

Ibid., 6.

Franchesca Walker, “’Descendants of a Warrior Race’: the Maori Contingent, New Zealand Pioneer Battalion, and Martial Race Myth, 1914-19, War & Society 31:1 (2012): 4. Christina A. Thompson, “A Dangerous People Whose Only Occupation is War: Maori and Pakeha in 19th-century New Zealand,” The Journal of Pacific History 32:1 (1997): 112.

14 15

Ibid., 113. John Brown, “For Love of Land and a Good Fight,” Military History


sentiment is clearly biased, there is truth in the martial tradition of the Maori, as they had fought tribal wars for centuries before any European contact. Therefore, they had honed their skills of war both internally and externally, and World War II provided them with a chance to exhibit this tradition of war. Maori Enlistment: A Historiography A wide historiography focuses on the motives behind Maori enlistment. Currently, there many varying opinions as to why Maori enlisted to fight alongside a Pakeha (white) community that had been oppressing them for generations. Ranging from traditional cultural motives to the desire for equality to simply a taste for adventure, the literature surrounding the enlistment of Maori men into the 28 (Maori) Battalion attempts to explain the varying rationales behind why 15% of the total population felt compelled to join the cause. This historiography will attempt to discuss a number of approaches taken by scholars towards Maori enlistment. Cultural Motivations Historian Wira Gardiner argues the position that the enlistment of Maori men was based solely on the idea of utu and mana. In Maori eyes, Gardiner writes, the declaration of war was an aggressive act that required utu to solve. This feeling was popular only among the tribes who were traditionally loyal to the Crown; tribes who had a history of aggression against the British were less enthusiastic, but sent men in order to satisfy mana and help achieve the goal of equality. Due to the necessary act of retribution that utu called for, Maori were obligated to join and fight against the aggression of the Axis.16 Adding to the Maori motivation was the idea of mana. Gardiner writes, “All [Maori] understood the need for the men of the family to exercise the right to raise the war trial. It had little to do with patriotic duty, rather it was the age-old tradition of maintaining the mana or status of the family, the hapu (subtribe) and the iwi (people).”17 Apareta Awatere, in his autobiography, writes that his and his peers motives were indeed tribally based: “The pull of going to fight alongside his brother and their cousins, let alone the tribe, was too great.”18 Gardiner, in neglecting to address 19:5 (2002): 59.

16 17 18

Gardiner, Maori Battalion, 8. Ibid., 29.

Apareta Awatere, Awatere: A Soldier’s Story (Wellington: Huia Publishers, 2003), 147.



the motivations for Maori equality, puts the call to enlist solely on Maori beliefs rooted deep in tradition. However, the implication of mana would mean that the Maori who fought would gain more prestige, thus indirectly increasing the respect towards Maori and possibly resulting in further equality from Pakeha. Political Motivations Scholar Monty Soutar, in his comprehensive history Nga Tama Toa: The Price of Citizenship, identifies multiple motives for Maori enlistment in the 28 (Maori) Battalion. First, many tribes felt obligated due to the Treaty of Waitangi. Signed in 1840, the treaty imparts the right, duties, and obligations of British citizenship.19 The tribe Tairawhiti, which composed much of C Company, “would sign up because they were of a society that expected its men, as responsible citizens, to do their duty – not in anticipation of some reward.”20 Furthermore, many of the tribes that sprang into action mobilizing their youths were those who had traditionally supported the British Crown, harking back to the Maori Wars in which the British sought Maori help in defeating hostile tribes. This history of loyalty was extremely important to their mana, which obligated them to once again support the British. It was also strong – Soutar points out that every single eligible youth was committed to the armed forces in World War II.21 Third, Soutar cites a growing desire for equality between the Maori and Pakeha. Deplorable living conditions combined with racism pushed Maori to the bottom of the social ladder, and the ultimate goal of enlistment was the acceptance of their Pakeha neighbors.22 This is also the main motive given by the official battalion history, written by J.F. Cody, in which enlistment in an all-Maori battalion reflected, “pride in not accepting the implication of racial inferiority.”23 Citing Labor Party platforms from the late 1930s, Claudia Orange writes of the decreased attention given to Maori in the first half of the twentieth century as a motivator. Though the government had given attention to the Maori in the early twentieth century, it quickly relented on its plan to bolster Maori social standing, leaving them without the resources needed to 19 Soutar, Nga Tama Toa, 11. 20 Ibid., 29. 21 Ibid., 11. 22 Ibid., 67. 23 J.F. Cody, 28 (Maori) Battalion (War History Branch, 1956), 2.

adequately survive.24 Therefore, Orange argues, World War II represented a crucial opportunity for Maori to gain sovereignty and “determine the role that Maori played in New Zealand life.”25 Naming both Apirana Ngata and Company Officer Sir Charles Bennett, she argues that Maori were motivated to join the cause in an attempt at the “greatest demonstration of the highest citizenship,” thus ensuring them the post-war equality that they were denied in the first half of the century.26 Soutar further cites Sir Apirana Ngata, who frequently wrote of the “hope that after the war the bonds between the two races will be further strengthened.”27 Writing in the New Zealand Military Encyclopedia, Soutar writes that enlistment represented the “eagerness to not only prove that [Maori] were the equal of their Pakeha comrades…but also to earn the full benefits and privileges of New Zealand citizenship, for even in 1939 the sense of equality and acceptance was marginal.”28 Soutar thus adopts multiple motives as driving forces behind the enlistment of Maori men into the Maori Battalion. In doing so, he shows the complex, intertwined motives of Maori to both support their tribes and further the Maori cause as a whole. Studying the rhetoric of Sir Ngata provides a clear picture into what the driving motivator behind Maori enlistment might have been. As the creative mind behind the inception of an all-Maori Battalion, Ngata believed that it would “be the most effective means of encouraging Maori to volunteer.”29 While conservatives in the government saw it as a potential separatist attempt, Ngata continually argued that it was the complete opposite – it was a chance for the Maori to prove their worth to the Pakeha and show that they were worthy of equality. Ngata reiterated these goals while speaking to the battalion prior to its deployment to Europe: Now that we are going forward shoulder to shoulder with our Pakeha brothers, I appeal to those who are remaining at home to work to strengthen further that unity. Our earnest hope is that after the war the bonds between the two 24

Claudia Orange, “The Price of Citizenship? The Maori War Effort,” in Kia Kaha: New Zealand in the Second World War, ed. John Crawford (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 2000): 236.

25 26 27 28 29

Ibid., 237. Ibid. Soutar, Nga Tama Toa, 74. Soutar, “28 (Maori) Battalion,” 309. Moon, Victoria Cross, 26.


races will be further strengthened. If it is not, the war will have been fought in vain.30 Apirana Ngata, who coined the term “the price of citizenship” when describing the sacrifices made by Maori men in the war, was a strong proponent of the war effort as a way to prove Maori worth. Author Paul Moon, in his biography of Distinguished Conduct Medal recipient Haane Manahi, takes a similar approach to that of Soutar. Moon, while specifically addressing the motives for Manahi’s enlistment, further details the differing reasons to enlist. Like Soutar, Moon also cites racial equality – such a contribution to the war would be the “price” they had to pay for equal citizenship.31 Likewise, he cites New Zealand Prime Minister Michael Fraser, who said that the war would bring the Maori and Pakeha together by “bonds that can never be severed.”32

Tom O’Connor is the co-writer of Bunty Preece: Soldier of the 28 (Maori) Battalion. Writing alongside Bunty Preece, a member of the battalion, O’Connor describes in the introduction a desire for youthful adventure that drove a young Preece to join. O’Connor also cites Preece’s desire to gain respect and recognition from the Pakeha community.34 Like many of the scholars that have addressed the issue of Maori enlistment, O’Connor invokes Apirana Ngata, who, speaking to Maori, wrote that in losing possible future Maori leaders to war they would gain the respect of the Pakeha.35 Another biography, of battalion soldier Ned Nathan, described a different motive than that which drove Preece to enlist. Nathan’s biographer Patricia Grace uses Nathan’s letters to show a soldier motivated by mana and the desire to uphold the reputation of his family.36 Grace writes: This new battalion was the hope of the people. It was the means by which the people and culture would achieve recognition and equality – their salvation in a way – so no matter what [Ned’s] reason might be for going off to war, resting on the shoulders of the Maori soldier was the mana of his family, his iwi, and his race. His first duty was not to king and country but to the people at home.37

Social Motivations Though these views are not those of Maori, they are of those in high-ranking Pakeha positions, Moon uses them to show how they may have influenced Maori to join the armed forces. Though it is briefly mentioned, Moon also invoked mana. However, its brief mention holds the implication that it did not play an integral role. Moon also addresses motives that were neglected by both Gardiner and Soutar: peer pressure and sense of adventure. He writes: The motives for men enlisting in the battalion varied considerably. The feeling of adventure and the possibility of escaping the ordinary routines of life was definitely appealing, while the element of peer pressure cannot be discounted either. To stand against the tide of friends and relatives surging to join the army would have been difficult for any individual.33 In doing so, Moon adds an additional dynamic to the discourse on the enlistment of Maori. The sense of adventure was undoubtedly present, however Moon is one of the only historians to address the issue; Tom O’Connor being another. 30 31 32 33

Soutar, Nga Tama Toa, 74. Ibid., 31. Ibid., 30. Ibid., 29.


This is all that is mentioned about Nathan’s motive – the majority of the biography is based on the meeting of his wife while in combat in Greece during the war. However, in using the actual testimonial of a soldier, it helps strengthen the mana argument. Finally, a new perspective comes from Alistair Te Ariki Campbell, whose brother Stuart served in the battalion. Inspired by Stuart’s letters home, Campbell wrote Maori Battalion: A Poetic Sequence, a series of poems that reflected the thoughts of a member of the battalion. In the first poem of his book, titled “When Tu Commands,” Campbell writes, “When Tu commands/ we must obey.”38 Tu refers to Tūmatauenga, the Maori God of war, who was to be treated with the utmost 34 Tom O’Connor, Bunty Preece: Soldier of the 28 (Maori) Battalion (Christchurch: John Douglas Publishing, 2012), 20.

35 36


37 38

Ibid., 42.

Patricia Grace, Ned and Katina: A True Love Story (Auckland: Penguin Books, 2009), 41. Alistair Te Ariki Campbell, Maori Battalion: A Poetic Sequence (Wellington: Wai-Te-Ata Press, 2001), 16.



respect. Campbell is therefore adding another element of Maori culture to the multiple opinions regarding Maori motivation – by using his brother’s letters, it provides a legitimate, believable reason for Maori enlistment in the same vein as the aforementioned biographies. The wide array of sources discussed in this historiography reflects the numerous motivations for young Maori to enlist in the armed forces. Some sources, such as the biographies of Haane Manahi, Bunty Preece, and Ned Nathan, give overt explanations for their enlistment. These are especially valuable because they hold pieces of primary evidence. Others, such as the official history of the battalion, focus on the combat of the group and only briefly touch upon the considerations that Maori took before enlisting. Furthermore, this history was completed only eleven years after the conclusion of the war – not many things had been written about the Maori battalion to that point. In contrast, many of the other works described in this historiography were written decades after the completion of the war, allowing time for veterans to tell their stories. The increased number of both written and oral histories of soldiers was crucial in the formation of many of these works and has thus helped scholars gain a clearer picture of why young Maori men signed up to fight. The most valuable piece of recent scholarship has been the recent work of historian Monty Soutar. Synthesizing numerous firsthand accounts and testimonials, he creates a web of interlocking motivations that range from Maori culture, tribal allegiances, and racism, Soutar gives a comprehensive look at all of the motivating factors. While historians such as Wira Gardiner also believe in the cultural importance of utu and mana in the enlistment process, he does not address the issue of racism and equality at all. Due to the prevalence of the belief that the ultimate goal was Maori equality, the arguments of scholars such as Soutar, Claudia Orange, Paul Moon, and Tom O’Connor describe the most common thread that runs throughout many histories of the Maori Battalion. Together, however, the multiple opinions regarding the vast enlistment of Maori following New Zealand’s entrance into World War II more completely illustrate the many differing aims and intents of the Maori in their enlistment.

Maori in Combat During combat, Maori gained a reputation as fearless, tough soldiers who refused to give an inch unless absolutely necessary. Maori soldiers stood in the face of death courageously, as British soldier Kenneth Stadler described: “I’ll tell you about a dying Maori. He was badly wounded…And I was frightened of course. He knew he was going to die so he took me by the hand. ‘Don’t be frightened,’ he said, and he was dying.”39 Their bayonet charges were legendary, leading some to insist that the courage of the Maori were “unsurpassed in the Middle East.”40 The bayonet charges reflected the martial tradition of the Maori, in which face to face combat was preferred over killing from a distance, as guns and artillery did. The Maori in Greece and Crete The Maori wasted little time in displaying their bravery in combat; at Olympus Pass in Greece in 1940, Corporal Harry Taituha dropped rank in order to fight with his men before making a stand which allowed his men to fall back in which “he kept shooting until the butt of his rifle was blown off ” and he was left for dead.41 It was in these early battles that the Maori propensity for bayonet charges emerged. Historian Wira Gardiner writes that “The Maori instinctive battle heritage was for close-quarter fighting” – hand-to-hand combat was a source of pride among Maori, unlike the cowardly, indifferent killing via bullets or artillery.42 At Malene on Crete, the first bayonet charge of the 28 (Maori) Battalion solidified them as some of the fiercest fighters of the war. Pinned down near the Maleme Airfield on a sunken road known as 42nd Street, the Maori were forced into a corner. Out of ammunition, they fixed bayonets. The Maori then began performing a haka of tutu-ngahiru in the face of enemy fire. The tutu-ngahiru recalled the ancient Maori warriors, in which the Maori performed a disciplined, frenzied rhythm fueled by their passion for war.43 Soutar writes, “Of all occasions when the haka is executed the most breathtaking is the tutu-ngahiru. The participant’s eyes become glazed as they challenge their opponents to combat. To observe such a performance 39 40 41 42 43

Soutar, Nga Tama Toa, 143. Ibid., 144. Gardiner, Maori Battalion, 51. Ibid., 73. Soutar, Nga Tama Toa, 149.


is rare; to face it is terrifying.”44 Their commander, Lieutenant H.G. Dyer, recollected “the Maoris rose where they lay…slowly firing at the hip, there rose from their throats a deep shout…they broke into a run with bayonets leveled, and their shouts rising as they went. The ground shook…The pride of the German army turned and fled.”45 Inspired, the Australian and Greek soldiers charged as well, aiding the Maori and helping rout the Germans. Following the charge, the Maori believed themselves as good as any German fighting force.46 The respect given to the Maori were even displayed by the Germans, who, in the deserts of North Africa, told the Maori that “they were on the wrong side, and adding that if the Germans had a few divisions of men like that they would conquer the world.”47 Following the chance to prove themselves in combat, the Maori had proven themselves to be some of the best soldiers that New Zealand possessed. The Maori in North Africa Maori utu continued to define their fighting throughout their combat experience. A Private Parkinson recalls the slaughter of three cowering Germans: “I felt awful. I’d never done that to a fulla. But afterwards I learnt that gun knocked Hati Rangiuia out of the war. They killed Hooper, they killed Jensen, [and] Ehau.”48 In another incident at Minqar Qaim, private Ted Wanoa personally charged the enemy. Following Wanoa, the rest of his platoon charged and inflicted high casualties on the Germans. Wanoa was motivated by the need to extract utu for for being taken prisoner earlier in the campaign. Wira Gardiner writes that Wanoa is a good example of the “fearless, albeit foolhardy, manner in which the Maori soldiers often operated in the heat of battle.”49 At the Battle of Takrouna in Tunisia, the act of utu caused controversy amongst the Allied and Axis forces. Maori forces had stormed the cliff top fortress of Takrouna, and fighting had devolved into hand-tohand. When an Italian soldier tossed a grenade into a house where wounded Maori were sheltered, the Maori enacted utu. They ferociously charged the Italians, 44 Ibid., 148. 45 Ibid., 144. 46 Ibid., 148-9. 47 Ibid., 192. 48 Soutar, Nga Tama Toa, 238. 49 Gardiner, Maori Battalion, 94.


shooting and bayoneting some and forcing the others to jump off the cliffs surrounding the village.50 While to those below it appeared that the Maori were pushing surrendering Italians off the sides of the cliffs, Paul Moon argues that this was not the case. The “impression of a cold-blooded massacre was almost certainly a mistaken one,” Moon writes: Even if there had been a deliberate intention by the Maori garrison to throw enemy soldiers off the edges of Takrouna as utu for the attack on their wounded comrades, the practicalities of this during the height of a battle make this highly improbable…The difficulty and danger of attempting to hurl someone over a precipice as they struggled to fend off such an attack preclude it as a possibility.51 This incident would become a point of contention, as after the battle German General Erwin Rommel accused the battalion of violating the conduct of war with their supposed massacre.52 Furthermore, the incident may or may not have influenced the downgrade of Haane Manahi’s Victoria Cross to a Distinguished Combat Medal. Regardless, it reflects the role of utu in battle and how important it was to the Maori to exact revenge regardless of the circumstances. Utu also fueled the war effort back in New Zealand. Monty Soutar describes the feeling of Maori back home, writing, “Now with their brother’s blood spilt on foreign soil, a new wave of young men made for the recruiting offices. To the motives of patriotism and pride of a race that triggered recruiting during the first eighteen months of the war was added the ancient incentive of utu (vengeance).”53 Thus, utu benefitted the Maori war effort both in actual combat and during the enlistment process back home. Motivated by vengeance, the Maori showed that they were willing to continue to enlist even after the first wave of soldiers had entered combat, furthering their good reputation with the Pakeha. Maori mana would also play a role in the soldier’s combat experience. Appealing to their men’s honor, the commanding officers of the battalion would provoke the Maori men by igniting their pride. Following the battalion’s arrival in Greece, where they 50 Cody, 28 (Maori) Battalion, 305. 51 Moon, Victoria Cross, 98-9. 52 Gardiner, Maori Battalion, 172. 53 Soutar, Nga Tama Toa, 161.



were to have their first combat experience, commander of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force General Bernard Freyburg addressed the Maori, telling them, “I have never seen troops that impressed me more…you can tame any enemy you may encounter. You will be fighting in a foreign land and the eyes of many nations will be upon you. The honour of the New Zealand division is in your keeping.”54 This appeal to the Maori’s mana was effective – by the end of the Greece and Crete campaigns, battalion historian J.F. Cody writes, “[Maori] mana had been raised considerably among all ranks of the New Zealand Division, for any lingering doubts about their ability to stand the stress of modern war had finally been stifled.”55 Prior to an engagement at Minqar Qaim in Egypt during the Battle of El Alamein, the men were told, “The fame of your people and the honor of your battalion are in your hands tonight.”56 During the subsequent battle, the inspired Maori overran enemy positions. During combat, the Maori also harkened back to their ancestral Gods and warriors. Referencing his Maori ancestry, Apareta Awatere provides a vivid description of his Maori soldiers prior to and during an engagement at Point 209 at Tebaga Gap in Tunisia. My eyes surveyed them all. It was as if hovering above them were those from the past – the brown dogs of Uetuhaio, the warrior Umuariki, Tamahae, Makahuri, Wakarara, Tainawaka, Konohi, Tuterangikatipu, and [our] many other fighting ancestors who carried the baton in days gone by. There are no words to describe, or expressions to illustrate the determination I saw in their eyes.57 Awatere continues, writing that one of his men, Teneti, was ordinarily “a humble man,” but in battle Awatere “saw the spirit of our warrior ancestors [over him].”58 Channeling the ancient Maori warriors of legend, the soldiers lacked all fear. “Shells burst in front and behind, yet the lads neither flinched nor looked to where the shells were falling, nor did they cower. They went on fearlessly, walking in unison as if troops on a parade ground.”59 A Pakeha Kiwi witnessing the iron 54 55 56 57 58 59

Cody, 28 (Maori) Battalion, 40. Ibid., 133. Ibid., 209. Soutar, Nga Tama Toa, 252. Ibid., 255. Ibid., 250.

will of the Maori at Point 209 described the tenacity of the native New Zealanders. We stared with drumming emotion in our throats at the terrifying spectacle of a bayonet charge by some of the Maori Battalion…[they] swept upon the Germans in a fierce onslaught – a brief avalanche of stabbing bayonets and crashing rifle butts. An irresistible phalanx of fighting men, indomitable in their own element, meeting the opposition hand-to-hand and destroying them in bloody slaughter.60 Though undoubtedly more of a romantic memory of the bayonet charge than a realistic description, this passage exemplifies the power and ferociousness in which the Maori attacked. It reflects the martial nature and pride of the warrior tradition and is a testament to their bravery and fearlessness. Furthermore, it provides yet another example of the Maori’s peers standing in awe of their fellow soldiers. The Victoria Cross It was at Point 209 that a Maori soldier was awarded the highest combat award in the New Zealand military. The Maori were ordered to attack Point 209, a hill that was heavily fortified by Germans. Led by Second Lieutenant Moana Ngarimu, the Maori fought mercilessly up the hill. Ngarimu led the charge, running into machine gun fire and slowly gaining ground. When his men ran out of hand grenades, he began to throw rocks. When his ammo ran out, he resorted to hand-to-hand combat. He refused to fall back when given reinforcements; Ngarimu held his ground and kept moving up the hill. In the morning following the attack, Ngarimu’s platoon was finally able to break through and captured 231 prisoners.61 At the top of the hill was Ngarimu’s body surrounded by dead Germans. Ngarimu was subsequently nominated for and awarded the Victoria Cross. The citation read that Moana Ngarimu “personally [annihilated] two enemy MGs,” he “refused to let his men retreat,” was “wounded twice,” “rallied men against counterattack,” and the hill he died on was “strewn with enemy dead.”62 Awatere, conjuring up the previously described images of his forefathers, describes Ngarimu’s actions thusly: “And in the battalion’s effort 60 61 62

Ibid., 369. Gardiner, Maori Battalion, 116-17. Cody, 28 (Maori) Battalion, 279.


shines the courage of Ngarimu. In his leadership over his comrades, his cousins, his tribal kinsmen, he was merely living the selfless injunction of his ancestors from their Maoritanga (Maori culture).”63 By the end of the war, the Maori had solidified their reputation as some of the fiercest fighters the Allies could use against the Germans. Bunty Preece, a member of D Company, recalls “[Command] said, ‘The Germans know you are here, they heard your guys speaking Maori on the radio…so they’ve got a Panzer Division coming to oppose you.’”64 Not only had the Maori achieved greatness in the eyes of their own side, but in the eyes of the enemy. Post-War Developments Following the return of the Maori to New Zealand, the soldiers were received with huge crowds of grateful New Zealanders. Pakeha and Maori alike welcomed the 28 (Maori) Battalion home, reflecting the legacy that would endure to the present day. Despite the warm welcome from both sides, there continued to be a disconnect between the Maori and Pakeha. While the general population celebrated both V-E and V-J days, the Maori did not allow themselves to celebrate until the Maori Battalion had returned home. The separations between celebrations further emphasized the gap between cultures and reflected “how distant Pakeha remained from Maori.”65 Wira Gardiner, however, writes that generally the Maori Battalion improved the situation back home – the Maori Social and Economic Advancement Act, passed in 1945, allowed for increased job and educational opportunities for Maori.66 Major Apareta Awatere, a C Company commander who temporarily led the battalion, dedicated himself to the Maori cause, leading the Maori push for greater social and economic opportunities. In his autobiography Awatere also discusses the government’s response to the Maori war effort: “When the war ended, the Government decided to use the statute as a substitute for the war effort to enable the Maori people to utilize their present organization [stemming from a very organized War 63 64 65

Awatere, Awatere, 173.


Gardiner, Maori Battalion, 180.

Ibid., 86.

Jock Phillips, “New Zealand Celebrates Victory,” in Kia Kaha: New Zealand in the Second World War, ed. John Crawford (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 2000): 314-15.


Effort] for their socio-economic adjustment in peace.”67 As Awatere writes, the New Zealand government recognized that the Maori had proved that they were capable of handling their own affairs in the post-war era through their efficient war effort. The Maori commander also spoke directly to the government regarding the Maori situation. Addressing the government on his return to New Zealand, he appealed fervently for his people, declaring, “We have gained our victories but there is a bigger battle ahead. That is the battle for existence in civilian life…If [the government] will provide the guidance, we will do all we can do…We will work to make this country the best country in the world.”68 Recognizing that the government did not fully trust the Maori to run their own affairs, Awatere sought to show Maori as a way to improve the country as a whole and display their worth as equal citizens. The Lack of Post-War Improvements Maori conditions did not always change for the better, or change at all for that matter. Claudia Orange has argued that though the Maori soldiers were recognized as heroes, the social situation within Maoridom did not improve. Though the aforementioned Maori Social and Economic Advancement Act led to a degree of autonomy, on the whole the Pakeha government sought to assert their control over the people they had oppressed for generations. Orange writes The government’s failure to put in place adequate policies and practices in the Maori affairs area left a legacy of problems for the post-war years. In a wider context, one can see a recurring pattern in government-Maori relations: Maori are concerned for the right to run their own affairs and to act autonomously; governments and the general community are suspicious of Maori management (or ‘mismanagement’), and acutely sensitive about unequal treatment that seems to give advantages to a section of the populace.69 The government, though it acknowledged the role that the Maori played and sought to reward them for their dedication, reverted back to racist notions that the Maori were unable to run their own affairs. 67 68 69

Awatere, Awatere, 192. Soutar, Nga Tama Toa, 372. Ibid., 249.



Furthermore, as Orange writes, the general public seemed to harbor a feeling of resentment that the Maori were getting special treatment, regardless of the fact that they had been mistreated for decades. As Monty Soutar writes, “Many years would have to pass before the bigotry…dissolved. Such attitudes permeated the highest levels of government.”70 While the government continued to slowly come around on the idea of Maori equality, on a personal level the Maori had gained equality in the eyes of their fellow Pakeha soldiers. Soutar elaborates: “The overseas war experience was a great leveler for Maori and Pakeha and the army itself probably achieved more than all the social policies of the thirties to bring about at least the illusion of equality…Attitudes between many of the soldiers, at least, had certainly changed for the better.”71 The mutual respect for each other transcended tribal allegiances and “could not dim the camaraderie forged in battle and heightened by blood relationships.”72 The bond felt between soldiers transcended nationality – after the war, Rommel’s Afrika Corps invited the Maori to their reunion to pay their respects to the men that fought them so fiercely in the deserts of North Africa.73 A Soldier’s Experience Not all found complete satisfaction in their battleformed relationships. Bunty Preece, a member of D Company, wrote that: There was a great relationship between the Maori Battalion and other New Zealand units during the war. Everyone said the Maori were great soldiers but so were the other Kiwis…But, when the war had finished, what did we have? Most of us had nothing, and got nothing. We went home to an old house. Some went back to the bush to start again and you lost those war years from your life and nobody wanted to know you or what you had been through.74

todays. I wonder now if it was all worth it.”75 Bunty Preece’s testimony shows the conflicted nature of some returning veterans – that is, they were very proud and held their accomplishments in high regard, yet viewed the war with regret and returned home to very little. The conclusion of Preece’s war memoir reiterates the tenuous relationship he had with his time in the Maori Battalion. The experience broadened my horizons and equipped me with knowledge I would never have had other than by going to war. It showed me other lands and people living in poverty, and taught me how to live with all classes of people and help and support one another. I also saw the worst side of life, destruction and death… We fought hard and suffered for so little when we got back.76 As Preece writes, the government did so little for a group that was crucial in the war effort that many like Preece saw their efforts as fruitless. The experiences of serving in the battalion helped Preece grow as a person, but the effort for equality as a whole, in his mind, had failed. The loss of friends and the stress of battle did not matter if their ultimate reward of equality did not come to fruition. Aparete Awatere felt a similar sentiment, confessing that while he rejoiced in victory, “[he] cried too…because my kith and kin had fallen in a hard struggle; had fallen side by side with their Kiwi Pakeha comrades on many a foreign soil…and there stand but little white crosses to testify to their selfless sacrifice.”77

While he valued the respect that was gained from other units during the war, Preece’s descriptions of post-war life for his peers reflects the poor conditions that veterans returned to. Preece also felt for “All these fine young men who gave up their tomorrows for our

In a contemporary setting, Monty Soutar writes that “the gulf between promise and reality” still exists.78 The current Maori economic situation has remained unchanged in the decades following the end of the World War II. Maori still lag behind their Pakeha countrymen in a number of categories, including education, health, and income.79 Ultimately, while the Maori gained social equality in terms of respect and prestige, their educational and economic opportunities have continued to operate on the low end of the spectrum. In this respect, their pre-war goals failed. Despite this, as Soutar writes in the conclusion of his comprehensive history of the Maori Battalion, the

70 71 72 73 74

75 76 77 78 79

Soutar, Nga Tama Toa, 371. Ibid., 371. Ibid., 374. Ibid., 368. O’Connor, Bunty Preece, 113.

Ibid., 111. Ibid., 113. Awatere, Awatere, 182. Soutar, Nga Tama Toa, 375. Ibid., 374.


combination of mana and pride stemming from the battalion’s actions have helped temper the reality of failure. The cost of this history for the young men of [the Maori Battalion] and their families is immeasurable. They have passed to the next generations a priceless heritage and an undying legacy. The story of [the Maori Battalion] is not greater than that of other Maori, nor any more compelling. It is universal for most Maori and indeed most New Zealanders. The story of the Maori Battalion has secured a special place in the history of this country and in the hearts of New Zealanders. It led to a watershed in the relationship between Maori and Pakeha that was forged both at the battlefront and after the return home.80 The bond that the battalion’s actions forged between Maori and Pakeha was crucial in advancing race relations – furthermore, while it bonded Maori and Pakeha, it also brought Maori tribes together. In a culture where tribal grudges are held for generations, the battalion had insured that henceforth that Maori would not strive for equality on a tribal basis but on a Maori basis. Colonel James Henare echoed this sentiment when he commanded to the returning soldiers, “Go back to our mountains, go back to our people, go back to our marae (sacred gathering ground). But this is my last command to you all – stand as Maori, stand as Maori, stand as Maori.”81 In this respect, the battalion had attained a goal that was not recognized at the beginning of the war – the uniting of the Maori. Conclusion In the years following the war, it became apparent that the Maori had not gained the total equality that had driven them to enlist in vast numbers. Though through the Maori Social and Economic Advancement Act and the work of the Rehabilitation Department the Maori had gained the ability to better themselves, overall their condition had not drastically changed for the better. Instead, they found the same political gulf that had existed prior to the war and still exists today. However, on a lesser social level, they had gained the everlasting respect and support of the Pakeha community. Their conduct in battle had forged a mutual respect that would resonate past the end of the war and transcend 80 81

Ibid., 377. Ibid., 362.


race and socio-economic status. The Maori conduct in battle, which indirectly led to their post-war respect, was driven by cultural factors. It was these cultural reminders that drove the Maori in combat – not the promise for equality. The Maori were distinctly influenced by unique cultural characteristics, which formed them into a formidable fighting force. Thus, the main factor behind the limited equality and respect that the Maori gained while fighting in World War II must be attributed to their culture. Ironically, it was this cultural heritage that the British saw as savage and uncivilized – that which the British cited when suppressing the Maori. By studying a combination of primary and secondary sources, it becomes clear that the Maori traditions of utu and mana, practiced by every generation, were among the distinct Maori facets that were essential in the Maori gaining their first steps in equality with the Pakeha.



Bibliography Ahu, Tai, Racheal Hoare, and Mamari Stephens. “Utu: Finding a Balance for the Legal Maori Dictionary.” Victoria University of Wellington Law Review 42:2 (2011): 201-219. EBSCOhost. Awatere, Arapeta. Awatere: A Soldier’s Story. Wellington: Huia Publishers, 2003. Brown, John. “For Love of Land and a Good Fight.” Military History 19:5 (2002): 58-65. EBSCOhost. Campbell, Alistair Te Ariki. Maori Battalion: A Poetic Sequence. Wellington: Wai-Te-Ata Press, 2001. Cody, J.F. 28 (Maori) Battalion. Wellington: War History Branch, 1956. Gardiner, Wira. The Story of the Maori Battalion. Auckland: Reed Publishers, 1992. Grace, Patricia. Ned & Katina: A True Love Story. Auckland: Penguin Books, 2009. McGibbon, Ian, ed. The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Military History. Auckland: Oxford University Press, 2000. Moon, Paul. Victoria Cross at Takrouna: The Haane Manahi Story. Wellington: Huia Publishers, 2010. O’Connor, Tom. Bunty Preece: Soldier of the 28 (Maori) Battalion. Christchurch: John Douglas Publishing, 2012. Orange, Claudia. “The Price of Citizenship? The Maori War Effort.” In Kia Kaha: New Zealand in the Second World War, edited by John Crawford, 236251. Auckland: Oxford University Press, 2000. Patterson, John. “Mana: Yin and Yang,” Philosophy East & West 50:2 (Honolulu: University of Hawai’I Press, 2000): 229-241. JSTOR. Soutar, Monty. Nga Tama Toa, The Price of Citizenship: C Company 28 (Maori) Battalion, 1939-1945. Auckland: David Bateman, Ltd., 2009. Stephens, Tainui. Maori Battalion: March to Vistory. Television. Auckland: Television New Zealand, 1990. Thompson, Christina A. “A Dangerous People Whose Only Occupation is War: Maori and Pakeha in 19th-century New Zealand.” Journal of Pacific History 32:1 (1997): 109-120. JSTOR. Walker, Franchesca. “’Descendants of a Warrior Race’: the Maori Contingent, New Zealand Pioneer Battalion, and Martial Race Myth, 1914-19.” War & Society 31:1 (2012): 1-21. JSTOR.


Alie Mihuta

COURTESANS AND THE LOVER OR THE CUSTOMER DESCRIPTION: These two poems are based on the books of poems, When God Is a Customer. Historically in India, religious poems have placed the divine relationship between God and human subjects within the context of a monetary transaction; buyer and seller or supply and demand. In this way, God needs human subjects just as much as humans need God in their lives. I tried to make a twist by placing the context of these poems in Amsterdam, Holland where there is a well-known business of prostitution called the Red Light District. One system that is in place in the Red Light District is the use of pillows. In their shop window, each prostitute stacks up pillows, indicting to the public how many customers she’s had that day; one pillow per customer. Therefore, one can easily spot the best or most favored prostitute in the area because she has the most pillows in her window. I decided to set a scene where two courtesans, one with the most pillows in the district and the other with the least, are attended by the same man. This man longs to be with the courtesan with the most pillows, however, sometimes she already has a customer when he goes to see her. When this happens, the man goes next door to the courtesan of his second choice. The problem is that this second choice courtesan is deeply in love with him and hates the fact that she is second best and she begs to know what is so special about the other courtesan. The first poem is from the perspective of the second choice courtesan. Throughout the poem she asks what is so different between her and the other courtesan. What makes him love the other courtesan more? The love-struck, helpless courtesan clearly needs this man for his money, but more than that, she needs him emotionally. The customer also needs this courtesan for fulfilling sexual desires; however, he does not desire her emotionally. Since the poem is from the perspective of the courtesan, I entitled this poem “A Courtesan to her Lover,” because for her, he is more than just a customer. The second poem depicts the relationship that this customer has with the other courtesan. The customer is truly in love with this courtesan and she is always his first choice when he visits the Red Light District. This other courtesan, however, does not feel the same way




about him. In fact, she has the same regard for him as he does for the other courtesan we saw in the first poem. She does not love him passionately but she does to a certain extent need him in order to make money. This is why she doesn’t turn him away even though she clearly expresses that she is not attracted to him. She finds his need to show affection or emotion during their love-making humorous because the customer does not seem to understand that their love is impossible. As a courtesan, she will always have other lovers and the customer will never have her to himself. For this reason, and since this poem is again from the courtesan’s perspective, the title of this poem is “A Courtesan to her Customer,” because the courtesan does not regard the man as anything more than her customer. Both of these poems represent the customer/proprietor relationship where both parties need each other, whether it’s for economic reasons or more emotional or mental reasons. I incorporated the idea of an Amsterdam setting with the idea of the pillows just to highlight the more desperate position of the first courtesan who does not receive many customers because everyone is more infatuated with the other courtesan. The courtesan in the second poem, since she has so many customers and makes so much money, she does not think about love. Meanwhile, the courtesan from the first poem does not receive many customers and therefore does not earn much money. She is only thinking and longing for love. KEYWORDS: religious traditions, India, love, prostitution, divine relationship


“Courtesan 1: To Her Lover” Why am I always second best? My neighbor, here, is always your first visit I watch from my window As you walk into her shop I wait for five seconds, holding my breath You come back out onto the street with gloom in your eyes “She’s occupied,” her ladies must have told you What makes her so special? Do we not share the same dark hair That curls softly around the small of our backs And the same dark and sparkling eyes, Set against the same gold, bronzed skin Why am I always second best? I see you turn from her shop, and head towards mine, The gloom still lingering around your eyes and mouth, Moving your lips into a slow pout “It is one of my unfortunate days,” you say on your way through my door “It is one of my fortunate days,” I say with my hand on my heart Why am I always second best? Does her hand fit in yours so differently than mine? Do the corners of her lips bend so differently than mine when she smiles? Does she whisper “my love,” in your ears, so much softer than I? Why I am always second best? We make love And then you leave And as you’re on your way out, the door almost closed shut behind you I say, “I hope tomorrow is another one of your unfortunate days.” Why I am always second best?




“Courtesan 2: To the Customer” Here again, you foolish boy? They told me you came by yesterday But that I was with another customer I wish that every day you come, I am with a different customer Your determination is annoying, The way you mope around here all day Pacing up and down my street Like a lost and lonely dog gone astray Here again you foolish boy? Your gentleness is laughable The way you kiss and caress my hair Why bother to hold my hand You’re paying for it anyway Here again you foolish boy? You softly whisper my love in my ear And I can’t help but giggle When will you realize that I only love you for your money And I love hundreds of other ones for their money too Here again you foolish boy


Matthew Dudley



vs. ‫( مه‬them)

The Politics of Language in Israel

ABSTRACT: When investigating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the language offerings of government websites and street signs are not the first indicators researchers look to in order to represent disenfranchisement or subjugation. However, language is one of the oldest and most universal tools humans and larger communities use to separate themselves from those they consider outsiders. This paper explores the language offerings of government websites and signage in Israel so as to illuminate the role language plays in separating the national “us” from the peripheral “them.” The theoretical basis for this study builds off a rich canon of scholarship regarding national identity and the newer field of language policy. Furthermore, the analysis draws from a comprehensive survey of Israeli government sponsored sites and prior surveys conducted by an expert of Israeli signage. The findings of this paper point towards a language hierarchy in Israel more than any conscious effort to disenfranchise non-members of the Israeli nation. They also weaken monolingual theories of the nation. A common language is not the most significant litmus test of Israeli national identity (confessional background holds more sway). KEYTERMS: language policy- any attempt by a governing apparatus to enfranchise and/or disenfranchise certain linguistic communities, primary languages of Israel- Hebrew and English, secondary languages- Russian and Arabic, tertiary languages- any other languages spoken by Israeli citizens that do not fall in the primary or secondary categories.





Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the man often considered to have been the human catalyst in the crystallization of Modern Hebrew said, “the Hebrew language can live only if we revive the nation and return it to its fatherland.”1 Almost one hundred years after his death, in accordance with Yehuda’s hope, 7 million people in Israel and 2 million more worldwide now speak Modern Hebrew.2 Though the language has returned to the fatherland, its speakers do not live in a linguistic void. In the face of a colorful mosaic of other languages, policy makers have made calculated efforts to reinforce the influence of some and not others. This is not a trend specific to Israel. National movements and governments around the world have often chosen language, among other founding myths, symbols, and common bonds, to promote national unity and marginalize nonmembers. Any usage of language as divisive or unifying constitutes what scholars deem “language policy.3” One of the earliest known examples of language policy was first recorded in the Hebrew Bible. Its implementation occurred within the geographic area of interest. Judges 12:5-6 reads:5 And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites: and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite? If he said, Nay;6 

“them.” Building up from its most pragmatic uses, in the last two centuries language has proven to be even more valuable in mobilizing national communities in protection of their common interests. Very few individuals’ contributions to any given language and its corresponding nation, rival those of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda’s to Modern Hebrew and the national project of Zionism. He arrived in the Holy Land in 1881 committed to speaking solely Hebrew and to encouraging its revival through educational institutions in the region.5 This persistence drove him to publish a weekly Hebrew publication Ha-Tzvi from 1884-1915, to cofound the Committee for the Hebrew Language in 1890, and to lead the opposition against the Relief Organization of German Jews, who endeavored to normalize German language education in the region.6 It is clear that the father of Modern Hebrew placed more importance on his language than its Germanic and Semitic rivals. Yet, the efforts to legally and politically reinforce some languages and not others in Israel represent a more recent political phenomenon. These instances raise an important question of how language is used as a political tool of enfranchisement and disenfranchisement within the nation of Israel. Research Design and Methodology The D.C. Approach


The Immigrant Justice Clinic of American University offers a viable model for measuring the linguistic exclusion at the center of this research topic. In 2004 the Washington D.C. Language Access Act was promulgated to improve the overall quality of life within the highly internationalized capitol city.7 In theory, this policy specific to Washington D.C. would give residents equal opportunities to take advantage of services sponsored by the local government.8 Eight years after the act came into effect, the Immigrant Justice Clinic of the American University Washington College of Law tested the accessibility of city and government services and published the results in an article titled “Access Denied: The Unfulfilled Promise of the D.C. Language



Ilan Stavans, Resurrecting Hebrew (New York: Schocken Books, 2008),


6 7

Ibid, 215-217.

Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.4 The story of “shibboleth,” or if you prefer the Ephraimite version “sibboleth,” tells us that as long as humans have communicated verbally, language has always been a convenient tool in discerning “us” from Eliezer Ben Yehuda, cited in Benjamin Balint, “Confessions of a polyglot,” Haaretz, Nov. 23, 2008, accessed October 20, 2013, confessions-of-a-polyglot-1.258033. “Hebrew,” UCLA Language Materials Project, accessed October 21, 2013, Jan Blommaert, “Language Policy and National Identity,” ed. Thomas Ricento, An Introduction to Language Policy: Theory and Method, (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2006), 244. Ronald Schmidt Sr., “Language Policy and Political Theory,” ed. Thomas Ricento, An Introduction to Language Policy: Theory and Method, (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2006), 97.


Judges 12: 5-6, (King James Version).


“Access Denied: The Unfulfilled Promise of the D.C. Language Access Act,” American University Washington College of Law, 2012, 1, www.wcl.american. edu/news/documents/AccessDenied.pdf.


“Know Your Rights: Language Access,” The District of Columbia: Office of Human Rights, accessed December 5, 2012, know-your-rights-language-access.


Access Act.”9 The report applies the methodology of analyzing signs and websites through surveys of DC residents and through the use of ESL auditors. More specifically, besides using public surveys relating to signage, the Immigrant Justice Clinic employed testers from a variety of linguistic backgrounds to test the availability and the quality of translations for “vital documents” on government sponsored websites.10 In essence, the Immigrant Justice Clinic used the independent variables of government websites and street signage to shed light on the dependent variable of continued linguistic disenfranchisement in Washington D.C. With the resources available the D.C. approach can be reapplied to demonstrate the limitations signage and government websites impose on linguistic communities in Israel. Government Websites The first independent variable in this study is the language offerings of Israeli government websites. The process of quantifying this variable requires a comprehensive online survey of each individual site’s language offerings. Of the seventy “.il” Israeli websites surveyed sixty-seven bear the domain name “” This indicates direct sponsorship by the Israeli government. The other three that do not fall within these parameters are the IDF, Navy, and Airforce websites which all bear the domain “” Although every site surveyed does not fall into the “” category, the military owned sites are also directly sponsored by the Israeli government. In total the seventy sites exhibit nine different language offerings; Hebrew, English, Arabic, Russian, French, Spanish, Amharic, Farsi, and Chinese. Their distribution across the wide spectrum of Israeli sites will be explored and analyzed in the following section. Signage The second independent variable is the language offerings of Israeli road signs and place markers. The survey of signage will draw from preexisting scholarship on the topic. This paper’s exploration of signage centers primarily on the work of Maoz Azaryahu and his survey of the usage of Hebrew, English, Arabic, and Russian in Israeli place markers. His observations on the ties language have with history/geography and the 9

“Access Denied: The Unfulfilled Promise of the D.C. Language Access Act,” American University Washington College of Law, 2012, www.wcl.american. edu/news/documents/AccessDenied.pdf.


Ibid, 20.


linguistic hierarchy of signage will become integral to the analysis and assessment section. Resulting Disenfranchisement or Enfranchisement The dependent variables in this study are the levels of enfranchisement or disenfranchisement that signs and websites cause in the lives of Israeli citizens. The dependent variables can be defined as the amount of difficulty or sense of ease Israeli citizens experience when using government websites or streets signs. The analytical basis of these dependent variables centers primarily on the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics report “Social Survey on Mastery of the Hebrew Language and Usage of Languages.”11 This report captures the challenges non-native speakers of Hebrew face in the work place, formal document writing, and public speaking. Key Definitions: Language Policy and the Nation In preparing to explore the research question, key definitions must also be provided in order to highlight the prerequisites of true membership in the nation of Israel and what constitutes language policy. Though preexisting literature provides varying perspectives on language policy and the scope of this political tool, within the context of the discussion language policy entails any usage of language by the state to enfranchise or alienate any linguistic group from important information and/or vital resources. The commonalities that account for true membership in the nation of Israel are primarily religious and secondarily linguistic in nature. Though Hebrew has enjoyed a significant revival over the past 150 years and it is directly tied to the traditions of Judaism, it is by no means the only language spoken by Jews. Along these lines, the primary litmus test of Israeli national identity is one’s adherence to Judaism. Given that a majority of Arabic speaking citizens in Israel are also Muslim it is this paper’s conjecture that languages spoken by Jews will be more prevalent in Israeli signs and government websites than Arabic (a language spoken primarily by non-members of Israeli national identity). Israeli street signs and government websites might present evidence that language policy follows the requirements of that country’s core national identity. 11

“Selected Data from the 2011 Social Survey on Mastery of the Hebrew Language and Usage of Languages (Hebrew Only),” Central Bureau of Statistics, accessed November 4, 2013, template.html?hodaa=201319017.



Analysis and Assessment Contrary to this paper’s hypothesis, research regarding websites and street signs suggests that a language hierarchy determines the accessibility of information in Israel, not that the linguistic requirements of national identity target any particular group. A strong correlation does not exist to suggest that an “us” versus “them” dichotomy is present in Israeli websites or signage. In fact, and perhaps counter-intuitively, Arabic speakers have many more opportunities to access important information than Jews who speak Russian, or languages other than Hebrew and English. The data suggests that a hierarchy consisting of three classes of language exists in Israel. The primary languages are Hebrew and English. The secondary languages are Arabic and Russian. And finally the tertiary languages are those left behind with very little representation; French, Spanish, Farsi, Amharic, and Chinese. Government Sponsored Websites Before diving into categorical analysis of the indicators of the first independent variable, attention must be dedicated to overarching trends and larger implications of data collection. Wider trends in the data, indicative of a language hierarchy, are suggested by the percentage of language distribution with regard to the total number of websites. Of the seventy sites surveyed 100% offer information in Hebrew, 57/70 or 81.4% offer information in English, 33/70 or 47.1% offer information in Arabic, 13/70 or 18.6% offer information in Russian, 5/70 or 7.1% in French, 4/70 in Spanish, 3/70 in Amharic, and 1/70 for Chinese and Farsi. On the whole, these numbers illuminate several disparities, which could be representative of a language hierarchy. For example, in the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics “Social Survey on Mastery of the Hebrew Language and Usage of Languages” of the population of Israeli citizens polled over the age of twenty, 15% identified as native speakers of Russian and 18% native speakers of Arabic.12 When combined with the aforementioned data, it is clear a substantial sector of the Israeli population does not have access to government data in their native language. More specifically, less than fifty percent of the websites surveyed are accessible by members of both linguistic communities. For Russian 12

“Selected Data from the 2011 Social Survey on Mastery of the Hebrew Language and Usage of Languages (Hebrew Only),” Central Bureau of Statistics, accessed November 4, 2013, template.html?hodaa=201319017.

speakers this might represent an effort made by the Israeli government to encourage Hebrew acquisition and assimilation. Whereas for Arabic speakers, this discrepancy in available information could outline the linguistic boundaries of Israeli national identity. More evidence will be presented along these lines as part of the categorical analysis section. At this point however, one major disparity still remains unexplored: the availability of English language material. The indication of the elevated status of English is by no means a novel finding. What is interesting about the level of saturation of the English language in Israeli Government websites is that only 2% of Israelis over the age of twenty in Israel are native speakers of the language.13 Because the percentage of accessibility for English materials does not align with the number of native speakers in Israel or with the country’s national identity for that matter, there must be some reason for the heightened status expressed in the data. One explanation might lie in Israel’s close international relations with the United States. Yael Reshef may also provide the answer. Reshef argues: Within this complex linguistic situation, English has a special place. While it is the mother tongue of a negligible portion of the population, it has a strong presence in Israel, surpassed only by the presence of Hebrew. It is the language of wider communication, used as a default option whenever the use of Hebrew is not possible. It enjoys a prestigious status... it plays a s i g n i f i c a n t role in the professional and cultural life of large portions of the population, especially among the affluent and educated social strata.14 Reshef ’s words capture every nuance of the analysis presented and the trend suggested by the data. The elevated status of English will be explored in subsequent sections, along with the marginalization of Russian and Arabic. Analysis of Websites by Category These data are useful not only for their representation of overarching trends in language accessibility in Israel. When divided into categories they can illuminate the primacy Hebrew and English experience as the languages of military, research, and 13 14

Ibid, 1.

Yael Reshef, “English in Israel: Linguistic and Socio-Linguistic Aspects,” Conference at the University of Milan, October 2003, http://pluto.huji.


business/industry related websites. Conversely, by using categorical analysis it can also be demonstrated that websites relating to more vital services such as internal security, healthcare, and immigration display more language diversity. This split could represent the priority some sectors are given in terms of government funding, or a concerted effort to give certain languages more influence than others. This categorical analysis will begin by focusing on genres of websites that provide more balanced accessibility. Websites that fall into the category of internal security, emergency services, and justice have a higher concentration of the secondary languages with respect to other categories. This could represent several trends (See Table 4). With the exceptions of Israeli Fire and Rescue and the Prison Service, those services that are directly related to emergency services or the justice system offer information in several languages. This could represent the government’s care for general public safety and possibly its efforts to create a more equal playing field in the judicial system. The latter is less likely however, as the Judicial Authority does not offer information in Russian. Though much of this category does not seem to represent any efforts at disenfranchisement through language policy, one website stands out as a possible indicator. The fact that the Israeli Prison service offers information only in Hebrew and English is striking. The ease with which the site can be navigated by a native English speaker in search of prison names/locations and lawyers’ contact information might not be the case for a native speaker of Arabic or Russian. Because both languages are excluded, the government is not directly disenfranchising nonmembers of Israeli national identity. It is more likely this case of limited access highlights the divide between primary and secondary status languages. In keeping with the main discussion on equal access, the categories of immigration, public health, and education all seem to place special emphasis on primary, secondary, sometimes even tertiary languages (tertiary: Spanish, French, Amharic). The immigration category offers a plethora (See Table 3). It is logical that there would be such a wide array of languages for immigration related information, though some would argue it is surprising that the website does not offer more languages given the global distribution of the world’s Jewish population. Furthermore, the omission of Arabic from the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption makes sense, as few Jews still


remain in Arabic speaking countries. Yet, the Ministry of Interior’s offering in Arabic, and no other languages but Hebrew, represents an outlier within the larger data set. Only two other websites, the Employment Service and the Publications Office exhibit this distribution. Similar to immigration and public safety, websites relating to public health and education display a diverse grouping of languages (See Table 3). The clear exception to this trend is the section of the Ministry of Education dedicated to the Negev region. Recent demographic data from the Central Bureau of Statistics supports the dominance of Hebrew in the Negev; its 2013 statistical abstract estimates that 855.2 thousand Jews live in the Southern District (compared to only 216.2 thousand Arabs).15 Putting the exception of the Negev aside, the other three websites demonstrate the openness of the government when it comes to more vital services. Of the seventy sites surveyed Israel’s social security webpage offers the most language access options and the Ministry of Health offers the second highest amount. This represents a sincere concern for public health and the general well being of the populace. At the same time, outside of vital services such as health, public safety, and immigration the data suggests that the same multilingual accessibility does not exist across all sectors of Israeli web pages. Among the least accessible are defense, intelligence, religious, business, and research related websites. Beginning with the defense and intelligence related fields, one could argue that because many Arabic speakers are barred from military service there is less of a demand for the language on security related sites. Yet, this does not explain the severe lack of Russian language resources (See Table 4). Interestingly enough, the IDF and Shin Bet (Intelligence Service) offer information in Arabic. Yet, most defense related sites exclude Arabic and Russian altogether. The lack of accessibility for most sites could be representative of the hierarchy between primary and secondary languages or the disconnect between Arabic speakers and the Israeli military/intelligence apparatus. This stems from the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians in the region. A disconnect is also represented through state-sponsored religious websites (See Table 3). Though the sample size is not broad, it offers a meaningful snapshot of the connection between Judaism, the 15

“Statistical Abstract of Israel: Localities and Population,” Central Bureau of Statistics, 2013, html?num_tab=st02_17&CYear=2013.



Hebrew language, and the Israeli government. This is not so much an example of language policy as it is an affirmation of government sponsorship of religion and in its language of choice.

variable (the use of language policy). In the process of analysis however, more solid evidence is provided in support of a language hierarchy than a conscious use of language policy by the Israeli government.

Beyond the religious realm and the primacy of Hebrew, it appears that Hebrew and English maintain their primary status among business and research related sites (See Table 4). Reshef ’s quote on the special role of English, along with Hebrew, as a professional and an academic tongue resonates with the data on government-supported research. This chart is a definite indicator of language hierarchy and might also show language policy at work. Of the many research-oriented web pages the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Space alone offers information in Arabic. By not offering information regarding state archives, geographical surveys, and demographic data in a variety of languages, governments can alienate any given community from historical sources, the land they inhabit, and the society in which they live.

Israeli Signage

This alienation can also span out into the economic sphere when government sites limit the availability of information regarding job opportunities such as civil service or civic obligations like taxes. Though the Israeli Tax Authority and the Civil Service offer individual indicators of disenfranchisement, a noticeable split exists between economy related sites, in terms of multilingual access (See Tables 2 and 3). The lack of linguistic diversity among websites concerning industry, international commerce, and regulatory commissions (the second table) might indicate the lack of relevance Arabic and Russian have at the professional level. The dominance of Hebrew and English appear unchecked in these sectors (except of course for Chinese). This is not the case however for the third data table. One plausible analysis for the split between data sets is that the second represents organizations and authorities which serve all sectors of the general public, rather than those working specifically for corporations and big business. More specifically, the Israeli Employment Service assists the unemployed and the Israeli Securities Authority “protect[s] the interests of the investing public.”16 A counterargument to this interpretation could be raised by the narrow language offerings of the Tax Authority, which also deals with the full spectrum of Israeli citizens. Along these lines, it must be clear that no relationship outlined in this paper is perfect. Each grouping merely sheds light on the independent 16 Israel Securities Authority. “Homepage.”

The other independent variable in this study is the usage of street signs as political tools of disenfranchisement and enfranchisement. The findings of the most recent case study on street signs in Israel will offer an appropriate comparison for analyzing language usage beyond communication and basic nomenclature. The most recent publication on the Israeli case is Maoz Azaryahu’s “Hebrew, Arabic, English: the politics of multi-lingual street signs in Israeli cities.”17 Of primary importance is the author’s argument that, “when invested with a commemorative function, street signs introduce official discourses of history and memory into daily routines and mundane urban experiences.”18 This idea of controlling access to important information such as “history” or “memory” with place names is key when compared to this paper’s analysis. With language a government can control access to the historical meaning of a name just as it can control access to the information held by its websites. The author’s research also leads to a significant observation of the hierarchy of languages, according to his analysis of monolingual, bi-lingual, and multilingual street signs. Azaryahu makes the point that when signs in Israel are not offered in Hebrew or with English alone, Russian and/or Arabic are often given secondary status by means of “markedly smaller fonts.”19 Furthermore, the meaning of the street or place in each secondary language is often lost because they are “mere transliterations of the Hebrew name.”20 This observation of linguistic hierarchy through analysis of everyday objects will become integral in the discussion of dependent variables. Resulting Disenfranchisement The indicators of the dependent variables (resultant disenfranchisement and enfranchisement) partly reinforce the claim the hypothesis makes relating to the use of language policy within Israeli 17

Maoz Azaryahu, “Hebrew, Arabic, English: the politics of multi-lingual street signs in Israeli cities,” Social & Cultural Geography, Aug. 2012, Vol. 13, Issue 5.

18 19 20

Ibid, 464. Ibid, 475. Ibid, 475.


government websites. These indicators are provided by the Central Bureau of Statistics’ report “Social Survey on Mastery of the Hebrew Language and Usage of Languages.” Overall, the survey points to the reality that employment and education rates in Israel correlate directly with mastery of Hebrew. For ages 25-54 who identified as having weak to no command of reading or writing, their employment rate hovers at about 50%. At the other end of the spectrum, those who claim very good reading and writing abilities experience a rate of employment over 80%.21 Because of language prerequisites thousands are on the outside looking in when it comes to the Israeli job market. According to the CBS report the same goes for 58-60% of Russian born Israelis and 45% of Arabs over twenty years of age who experience difficulty when filling out forms or writing official documents.22 In this manner, one can only imagine the difficulties that adult Russian born Israelis or Arabs must encounter when only 18.6% or 47.1% of their government’s websites, online forms, and crucial information are offered in their native tongue. The interplay of the independent and dependent variables gives voice to the everyday challenges not just Arabic, but untold numbers of Russian, Amharic, and other language speakers experience on a day-to-day basis in Israel. This interplay contributes to unexpected conclusions with regards to the original expectations for the investigation. Conclusions Although the results of this study are illuminating, they did not verify the hypothesis regarding linguistic exclusion and national identity. This investigation began with particular emphasis on the exclusion of the national self from the other, us from them, ‫ונחנא‬ (us) from ‫( مه‬them). This paper’s original research question asked: how is language used as a political tool of enfranchisement and disenfranchisement within the nation of Israel? The hypothesis offered the answer that the institutionalization of Modern Hebrew in Israeli street signs and government websites has been wielded as a means of exclusion for those who do not meet the requirements of membership in the Israeli nation. Though data was presented in support of the Arabic language’s disenfranchisement in Israel, a more glaring story of marginalization emerged from the data 21 “Selected Data from the 2011 Social Survey on Mastery of the Hebrew Language and Usage of Languages (Hebrew Only),” Central Bureau of Statistics, accessed November 4, 2013, template.html?hodaa=201319017.




collected. The lack of language resources for combined hundreds of thousands of Russian, Amharic, Spanish, French, German, Romanian, and other language speakers offers a nuanced and unexpected conclusion about the hierarchy of languages in Israel. Because most Israelis of Russian descent are Jewish, and therefore fall within the lines of Jewish national identity, the severe underrepresentation of this language and many others spoken by Jews undermines the hypothesis. The Israeli government would not use language policy to alienate its own Jews moreso than Arabs. One would think or hope this would be true, yet it must be said that the data generated by this study cannot refute the possibility that the Israeli government subjugates newer Jewish immigrants’ linguistic identities in an effort to promote assimilation. With that being said, the tangible importance of this investigation lies in its portrayal of the linguistic hierarchy in Israeli government websites and signage. This paper captures the collective disenfranchisement of all language speakers without fluency in primary level languages such as Hebrew and English. This contributes to an even richer understanding of the grey area in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As for the prospective audiences of this study– experts on the nation and language policy –the investigation captured the undeniable connection that Hebrew has developed with the nation of Israel. It is offered across the board throughout government websites and signage. However, the data shows that the Hebrew language does not exist in a void, rather alongside a mosaic of other languages spoken by Jews. Furthermore, it weakens monolingual theories of the nation; in other words a common language is not the most significant litmus test of Israeli national identity (confessional background holds more sway). It is clear the rich linguistic diversity of the world’s Jewry and non-Jewish Israeli citizenry disallows the Israeli government from offering all its resources in only Hebrew. Pragmatically speaking, the country could not function with a single language. For scholars of language policy this makes showing the intentionality of linguistic disenfranchisement in Israel more difficult. The conclusion of a language hierarchy rather than an overt use of language policy does not take away from the strength of this investigation’s research design. Looking beyond the Israeli case study it is possible that the hypothesis and methodology employed here could be extended to study signage and government



websites in other countries. Exciting opportunities exist for exploring the issue of disenfranchisement and enfranchisement in linguistically divided or diverse countries such as Canada, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, the United States, and many others. Further steps can be taken to improve the quality of data collection for future case studies of Israel and other countries. The ideal application of the D.C. Approach requires a variety of foreign language auditors and surveys regarding the use of government signage. Due to the fact that a native Hebrew speaker did not conduct the website survey, this may have prevented the data from representing every language offering (for example it is possible some languages were represented as transliterations or mentioned in Hebrew on other pages). With the help of other linguists, more attention could be dedicated to avoiding such mistakes and to determining the quality of translations offered by any given government. Furthermore, with extra time, staff, and monetary resources, surveys could be administered in Israel regarding signage and the dependent variables of enfranchisement and disenfranchisement. These might provide further evidence of the language policies implemented by the Israeli government. Future research will help demonstrate the reality uncovered by this investigation: the linguistic divide in Israel is not as clear-cut as some might assume. Eliezer BenYehuda’s dream for a Hebrew speaking nation in the Holy Land has not fully crystallized. Over a million Muslim Israeli citizens share in a common struggle alongside hundreds of thousands of their fellow Jewish citizens– they all live under a government that does not fully accommodate their language needs.


Appendix: Tables 1-4









Bibliography “Access Denied: The Unfulfilled Promise of the D.C. Language Access Act.” American University. Accessed December 4, 2013. www.wcl.american. edu/news/documents/AccessDenied.pdf. Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities. London: Verso, 2006. Azaryahu, Maoz. “Hebrew, Arabic, English: the politics of multi-lingual street signs in Israeli cities.” Social & Cultural Geography, Aug. 2012, Vol. 13, Issue 5. Ben Yehuda, Eliezer. cited in Benjamin Balint. “Confessions of a polyglot.” Haaretz, Nov. 23, 2008. accessed October 20, 2013. www.haaretz. com/news/confessions-of-a-polyglot-1.258033. Blommaert, Jan. “Language Policy and National Identity.” ed. Thomas Ricento. An Introduction to Language Policy: Theory and Method. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2006. The Gatekeepers. Dir. Dror Moreh. USA: Sony Pictures Classics, 2012. Gellner, Ernest. Nations and Nationalism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1983. “Hebrew.” UCLA Language Materials Project. accessed October 21, 2013. Profile.aspx?LangID=59&menu=004. Hobsbawm, Eric. Terrence Ranger eds. The Invention of Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. “Israel.” Ethnologue: Languages of the World. accessed Dec. 5, 2013. country/IL. Judges 12: 5-6. Bible. King James Version. “Know Your Rights: Language Access.” The District of Columbia: Office of Human Rights. accessed December 5, 2012. know-your-rights-language-access. Lefkowitz, Daniel. Words and Stones; The Politics of Language and Identity in Israel. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Renan, Ernest. “What is a Nation?.” cited in Eley, Geoff and Suny, Ronald Grigor, eds. Becoming National: A Reader. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, (1882) 1996. Reshef, Yael. “English in Israel: Linguistic and Socio-Linguistic Aspects.” Conference at the


University of Milan, October 2003. accessed Nov. 20, 2013. ModenaFestschrift.pdf. “Selected Data from the 2011 Social Survey on Mastery of the Hebrew Language and Usage of Languages (Hebrew Only).” Central Bureau of Statistics. accessed November 4, 2013. Schmid, Carol L. The Politics of Language: Conflict, Identity, and Cultural Pluralism in Comparative Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. Schmidt Sr., Ronald. “Language Policy and Political Theory.” ed. Thomas Ricento. An Introduction to Language Policy: Theory and Method. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2006. Smith, Anthony D. “Gastronomy or geology? The role of nationalism in the reconstruction of nations.” Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism. Nations and Nationalism, no. 1 (1994). Spolsky, Bernard. Langauge Policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Stavans, Ilan. Resurrecting Hebrew. New York: Schocken Books, 2008. Israeli Government Websites Airports Authority Agricultural Research Organization Bank of Israel Central Bureau of Statistics Central Elections Committee Chief Rabbinate of Israel Civil Aviation Authority Constitution for Israel Galilee Development Authority Geological Survey of Israel. Government Advertising Site Government Companies Authority Government Publications Office Government Press Office Government Website for Kids


THE UNDERGROUND JOURNAL OF UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH SPRING 2014 Israeli Air Force The Israeli Anti-Trust Authority Israel Atomic Energy Commission Immigration Authority Industrial Cooperation Authority Institute for Biological Research Israeli Civil Service Israel Defense Forces Israeli Employment Service. The Israeli Export and International Institute Israel Fire and Rescue Services Israeli Government Information Site Israel Government Portal The Israel Foreign Trade Risks Insurance Corp. Insurance Institute Israel Laboratory Accreditation Authority Israel Land Authority Israeli Meteorological Service Israeli Navy Israeli Police Force Israel Prison Service Israel Tax Authority Israel Securities Authority Israeli Security Agency Israel State Archives Jerusalem Development Authority Judicial Authority The Knesset Ministry of Agriculture Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption

Ministry of Defense Ministry of Communications Ministry of Construction and Housing Ministry of Economy Ministry of Environmental Protection Ministry of Education (Negev) Ministry of Finance National Ministry of Education Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ministry of Health Ministry of Interior Ministry of Justice Ministry of National Infrastructures, Energy, etc. Ministry of Public Security Ministry of Religious Affairs Ministry of Sci, Tech, and Space Ministry of Transport Mossad National Sustainable Energy and Water Program Official Site of Israeli PM President of the State of Israel Soreq Nuclear Research Center Survey of Israel (GIS) Tel Aviv Municipality Voting Results 19th Election



Alexander DeParde

EL PROCESO DE RECONCILIACIÓN ESPAÑOL El cuarto de atrás como una herramienta de la memoria colectiva

Resumen: La tercera ola de democratización que inició la transición democrática en unos regiones del mundo dejó muchas sociedades con una memoria colectiva de los abusos de derechos humanos del régimen autocrático anterior. En algunos países la memoria colectiva fue procesado a través de comisiones de verdad o prosecuciones de los partidos responsables para los abusos. En estos países, la conversación pública de los abusos del régimen anterior servía como una catalizador para traer la memoria colectiva desde un espacio intimo hasta un espacio transferencial para formar una memoria colectiva organizada. Sin embargo, el deseo para la estabilidad política prevenía una conversación pública de los abusos del régimen anterior en algunos países. En estos casos, como en la transición española, amnistías y perdones prohibieron una conversación y la pusieron fuera del sector gubernamental,. Carmen Martín Gaite, en su novela El cuarto de atrás (1978), inició esta conversación en España como un acto de rebelión contra la complicidad de la democracia nueva que creó su constitución el mismo año. A través de una conversación con el “hombre de negro”, Martín Gaite simula una comisión de la verdad privada en que se inicia, sino no cumplir, el proceso de transición democrática española. Palabras Clave: amnistía, Carmen Martín Gaite, comisión de verdad, El cuarto de atrás, España, franquismo, memoria, transición democrática.



La tercera ola de democratización, que empezó en Portugal con la caída del régimen autoritario en 1974 antes de expandirse a España, Grecia y a muchos países de América Latina entre otros, dejó muchas sociedades con una memoria colectiva del trauma social producido por los abusos de los derechos humanos que cometieron los regímenes autoritarios (Lupo 17). Algunos de los países que experimentaron estos abusos sociales procesaban la memoria comunal por varios métodos oficiales que incluían las comisiones de verdad y las prosecuciones de los individuos responsables. Sin embargo, en muchos países las amnistías y las transiciones pactadas han prevenido la finalización de estos procesos oficiales y la realización de justicia transicional. En estos casos, otros sectores de la sociedad se responsabilizan de procesar la memoria colectiva y el trauma que produjeron los abusos del pasado. Con la muerte de Franco en 1975, España empezó su proceso de transición democrática siguiendo una trayectoria conservadora que protegía la estabilidad política al implementar una amnistía general (Cuesta 134; Skaar 1124). Esta amnistía prevenía la utilización de los métodos oficiales como las comisiones de verdad y las prosecuciones, pero la amnistía no pudo parar a todos los sectores de la sociedad. La literatura, en el caso de España como en los otros países que no podían disfrutar los procesos oficiales, sirve como una herramienta alternativa para procesar la memoria comunal.  El cuarto de atrás  (1978) de Carmen Martín Gaite sirve como una herramienta de transición que llena el espacio vacío que fue creado por la ausencia de una comisión de la verdad y que la amnistía completó en la transición democrática de España. A lo largo de la obra, Martín Gaite mueve la trama desde un espacio íntimo hasta un espacio transferencial a través del personaje del “hombre de negro” que facilita una conversación sin un fin distinto que refleja la incompleta transición democrática en España. La transición democrática española El 20 de noviembre 1975 marcaba la muerte de Franco y una nueva época española (Chaves Palacios 97). Lo marcaba también el fin de un periodo de represión social y política que siguió la Guerra Civil Española, que se llevó más de 580.000 vidas españolas, entre las cuales se incluyen 200.000 prisioneros “rojos” que murieron en las cárceles y los campos de concentración

establecidos por el régimen franquista entre los años 1939 y 1943 (Encarnación 439). La represión de la época franquista no era limitada al sector de cárceles y campos de concentración, sino que también afectaba cada parte de la sociedad. Según Hernández Burgos y Ángel Del Arco Blanco, “[r]epresión física, represión cultural y represión socioeconómico fueron los tres pilares de la violencia política del franquismo” (72). Martín Gaite recuerda esta represión en  El cuarto de atrás, de esta manera: Podría decirle que la felicidad en los años de guerra y postguerra era inconcebible, que vivíamos rodeados de ignorancia y represión, hablarle de aquellos deficientes libros de texto que bloquearon nuestra enseñanza, de los amigos de mis padres que morían fusilados o se exiliaban, de Unamuno, de la censura militar…(66) Este recuerdo de Martín Gaite describe la extensión de los tres pilares de la represión franquista, y sirve también como un ejemplo del testimonio presente en la novela, un tema que está desarrollado en las siguientes páginas. Con la muerte de Franco en 1975, Rey Juan Carlos I, que fue nombrado el sucesor del título de rey en 1969, inició el proceso de democratización  (Zugasti 61). La parte clave en la transición española era el Pacto de Olvido de 1975, que sacrificó el proceso de justicia transicional en España para la estabilidad política. Según Encarnación, “[t]his unwritten pact precluded any formal treatment of the past, and as a result there would be no transitional justice in Spain’s passage from dictatorship to democracy…”  (437). El  Pacto de Olvido  no afectaba sólo al nivel gubernamental, sino todos los sectores de la sociedad. León Solís describe la falta de una conversación acerca de franquismo a través de un artículo en El País de 23 febrero 2001, “Franco no está ya en las calles, pero tampoco ha entrado en el museo” (52). Según esta cita, la sociedad española no había pensado suficientemente en el tema de Franco y el franquismo para crear una memoria colectiva organizada en conjunción con una sociedad sana. Esta cita también muestra que el Pacto de Olvido permanece en la sociedad postfranquista. La estabilidad política que el nuevo régimen democrático quería promover era cosificado a través de una serie de amnistías en 1976 y 1977 (Aguilar 94). Simplemente, el efecto de estas leyes era la prohibición de prosecuciones de los individuos que cometieron


crímenes durante el periodo franquista, y por extensión, un silencio social. Según Skaar, una democracia nueva está más preocupada con la sobrevivencia del nuevo gobierno y estabilidad política y, “will do less rather than more to resolve the problem of human rights violations” (1124). Esta predicción es evidente en el caso español. Gálvez postula que, “el ‘consenso acerca de la memoria’ [está] basado en el olvido voluntario de los crímenes de la dictadura franquista como condición  sine qua non  para avanzar en el proceso democrático” (26). El gobierno español progresó a la democracia, pero lo que faltó era una conversación acerca de la memoria colectiva a través de una comisión de verdad. La memoria colectiva, la comisión de verdad, y la justicia transicional La memoria colectiva es un concepto central en lograr una transición democrática completa. Aguilar define este concepto como, “the memory that a society, either directly or indirectly, has of crucial recent events in the life of the country” (89). Una sociedad tiene que dirigirse a la memoria colectiva para mover desde un estado fragmentado y afligido hasta un estado sano en que la memoria puede ser una herramienta útil de enseñanza y crecimiento social. Esta transición está explicada por Vilaseca a través de los conceptos de espacios íntimos y espacios transferenciales. Se dice, “unlike spaces of intimacy that are private and hidden, transferential space is a space of conversation in which repressed or forgotten experiences are expressed or made public” (183). Antes de una conversación al nivel estatal, la memoria colectiva existe en el espacio íntimo en que cada individuo guarda sus interpretaciones y sentimientos en sus mismos, no depende si ellos han experimentado el trauma del pasado directamente o indirectamente. Lira continua, argumentando que, Los desplazados, los que perdieron a sus familiares que fueron secuestrados, desaparecieron o fueron asesinados, los niños que no tuvieron infancia y que vivieron bajo la amenaza y el miedo no siempre pueden dar vuelta a la página para empezar de nuevo como si no hubiera pasado nada… La reparación se funda en el reconocimiento de las víctimas y de sus derechos. (15) Es el tema de reconocimiento que trae el segundo espacio de Vilaseca; el espacio transferencial es lo que promueve la publicación y la conversación de


temas que previamente fueron secuestrados en los pensamientos aislados de cada individuo en una sociedad. La reparación, según Lira, está basado en el reconocimiento, por emparejar este concepto con el de Vilaseca, el espacio transferencial, se puede concluir que el proceso de curación está basado en una conversación acerca de la memoria colectiva de los abusos de derechos humanos que convierte la memoria desorganizada del espacio íntimo en una memoria organizada del espacio transferencial. Esta conversación es un elemento central en las comisiones de verdad. Las comisiones de verdad sirven como un vehículo para traer la sociedad desde el espacio íntimo hasta el espacio transferencial. Del Álamo Pons describe una comisión de verdad como, a) impulsadas por los presidentes elegidos tras el fin de las dictaduras militares o mediante acuerdos de paz con mediación de la comunidad internacional; b) conformadas en un clima posdictatorial o de postconflicto con el objetivo de esclarecer hechos, atribuir responsabilidades y evitar la impunidad. (43) El reconocimiento de las víctimas que es una parte central de una comisión de verdad es clave para la reparación de la sociedad y la transición a la democracia. Además, las comisiones de verdad cosifican el derecho de la verdad que, según King, está subsumido en los artículos ocho y veinticinco de la  Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos (613). Según Vilaseca, Martín Gaite elabora que, “the narrative reconstruction of the past allows us to recognize the changes that have occurred in ourselves, in politics and in history” (182).  Por extensión, la reconstrucción del pasado que hacen las comisiones de verdad sirve el mismo fin. A partir de la tercera ola de democratización, muchos países llevaban historias de abusos de derechos humanos. Aunque la implementación de una amnistía después de una transición era común, como comenta Skaar, la decadencia de las prohibiciones convertía las amnistías en comisiones de verdad.  Skaar  desarrolla, “as democracy solidifies over time, the democratic government may gradually become willing to implement stronger measures in the human rights field” (1124). Entonces, si un país puede lograr una situación estable, puede iniciar una conversación después de un periodo. Esta decadencia de la prohibición ocurrió en algunos países, como en Argentina después de un periodo de silencio.



Bajo la junta militar argentina, el país experimentó un exceso de abusos de derechos humanos. Según Lessa, Argentina experimentó unas 30.000 abducciones, que incluyeron 12.890 prisioneros políticos y 2.268 asesinatos, y además unos 500 niños que perdieron sus identidades por adopciones ilegales y 250.000 personas desterradas (32). Con el fin de la dictadura, Alfonsín inició el proceso de prosecuciones con el decreto 158/83, pero con la manifestación de descontento militar en tres rebeliones en 1987 y 1988 el gobierno implementó restricciones en el proceso de prosecución. Finalmente, el presidente siguiente, Menem, implementó un perdón para los oficiales militares que fueron condenados por estabilizar el país (Roehrig 730; Zagorski 426). Sin embargo, antes del cierre del espacio transferencial en Argentina, Alfonsín creó la Comisión Nacional sobre la Desaparición de Personas que publicó su investigación Nunca Más en 1984, empezando la conversación sobre lo que pasó durante la guerra sucia argentina (Crenzel 50). Aunque Argentina logró una conversación antes de su prohibición de reconciliación el país pasó por un periodo de silencio. En 2001 la Corte Suprema declaró las prohibiciones de la décadas anteriores inconstitucional y en 2007 empezó nuevas prosecuciones (Roehrig 738; del Álamo Pons 44). El caso argentino muestra las predicciones de Skaar, en que una inestabilidad política negó los esfuerzos de conversación y causó el cierre del espacio transferencial. Argentina se pudiera empezar la conversación oficial de la memoria colectiva de nuevo sólo cuando la democracia se solidificó y la prohibición institucional de la conversación de los abusos había decaído. El cuarto de atrás en la transición española España todavía no ha logrado a una conversación oficial sobre la memoria colectiva, y las victimas del periodo franquista no han recibido su reconocimiento. En 1978 pasó la constitución democrática española, sin una comisión de la verdad y con la protección de los individuos que eran responsables por los abusos de derechos humanos (Aguilar 88). Para algunos sectores del país, el sentimiento era que España había logrado la democracia, y para otros, no. En el mismo año, Martín Gaite publicó su novela El cuarto de atrás que no permitió la suspensión de la conversación de la memoria colectiva. Vilaseca postula que,  “C. revisits her childhood spaces of intimacy in order to change those spaces of intimacy into a transferential space in which dialogue is fomented, and atonement with the past and reconciliation with her own strangeness…

achieved” (184). Las páginas siguientes desarrollan esta reclamación, argumentando que la conversión de los espacios íntimos de la juventud de Carmen en los espacios transferenciales no pasa independientemente, sino a través de la facilitación del “hombre de negro”, que sirve como una comisión de la verdad personal para Carmen a lo largo de la novela. Es así como El cuarto de atrás llena el espacio vacío creado por el silencio español y empezó el proceso de reconocimiento y reparación social independientemente del sector gubernamental. La novela de Martín Gaite empieza con una descripción de su espacio íntimo, su mismo cuarto de atrás, lleno de un enredo de libros, textos, memorias: “¡Qué aglomeración de letreros, de fotografías, de cachivaches, de libros…!;…docenas de libros que podría abrir y volver a cerrar, y que luego quedarían descolocados, apilados unos sobre otros, proliferando como la mala yerba” (25). Esta descripción constituye el inmenso caché físico del espacio íntimo de Carmen, y muestra el potencial de sus memorias para añadirlas a la conversación sobre la memoria colectiva del franquismo y crear un testimonio de lo que pasó. Sin embargo, la falta de un esfuerzo de procesar este material a través del espacio transferencial no permite la formación de una memoria colectiva organizada, y además no permite la reparación de la sociedad. En la sociedad española, el pacto de silencio gubernamental y social no permitía esta conversión, pero Martín Gaite, como un acto de rebelión contra la formación de la democracia sin una conversación oficial, inició esto proceso a través de la apertura de su cuarto de atrás, un espacio íntimo lleno de memorias e información esperando la libertad del espacio transferencial. El lector encuentra una definición del cuarto de atrás en la novela de Martín Gaite que enlaza el concepto con el espacio íntimo de Vilaseca. Martín Gaite escribe que el cuarto de atrás es, …como un desván del cerebro, una especie de recinto secreto lleno de trastos borrosos, separado de las antesalas más limpias y ordenadas de la mente por una cortina que sólo se descorre de vez en cuando; los recuerdos que pueden darnos alguna sorpresa viven agazapados en el cuarto de atrás, siempre salen de allí, y solo cuando quieren, no sirve hostigarlos (83). El espacio íntimo llena el mismo papel, en que guarda memorias detrás de una cortina para hacer más limpio el mundo exterior. Según Skaar, esta limpieza es lo que


las nuevas democracias quieren: estabilizar el ambiente político a través de prevenir una conversación de los abusos del régimen pasado, que inevitablemente va a incluir la acusación de ciertos individuos que estaban presente en el autocracia viejo y la nueva democracia. El último aviso que ofrece Martín Gaite refleja el deseo del gobierno español: “…olvido como fundamento de paz social” (Lira 15). Pero el olvido no organiza la memoria y no repara los efectos negativos que tenían los abusos de los derechos humanos durante el franquismo en la sociedad. El “hombre de negro”, como una comisión de la verdad personal, extrae del cuarto de atrás un enredo de testimonios y memorias. El argumento de la novela no encuentra el concepto del “hombre de negro” con su entrada en la puerta de Carmen, sino con la descripción del grabado, Conferencia de Lutero con el Diablo. Carmen explica que, “…esta leyenda me ayudaba a escapar el sortilegio que la habitación pintada empezaba a ejercer sobre mí” (26). Hay dos elementos de esta cita que son importantes: primero, el concepto de la conferencia, y segundo, el concepto del diablo. La conferencia, o conversación, es un tema central de la novela y es el vehículo principal para lograr la reparación social y una memoria organizada. El concepto del diablo se manifiesta en el ““hombre de negro””. Carmen describe al diablo del grabado como, “un personaje desnudo y, a excepción de la córnea del ojo, totalmente negro” (26), y con la entrada del “hombre de negro” ofrece una descripción similar, “Se para y un hombre vestido de negro sale” (35). Entonces hay una relación entre el diablo del grabado y el “hombre de negro”, pero además, el “hombre de negro” facilita una conversación sobre el franquismo a lo largo de la novela, una conversación prohibida en la sociedad española. Si se extiende el paralelo para que Carmen  encuentre el refugio no en la conferencia del grabado, sino en la conferencia entre ella misma y el “hombre de negro”, un nuevo significado emerge: Carmen encuentra refugio en la conversación de su pasado. Es así como la novela es un acto de rebelión en contra de la transición democrática incompleta de España. Una comisión de verdad íntima A lo largo de la novela el “hombre de negro” facilita la conversación prohibida sobre el franquismo, y por su método de invocar y recibir testimonio, sirve como una comisión de la verdad personal con el objetivo de esclarecer los hechos de la vida bajo el franquismo. A


través del diálogo con el “hombre de negro” y las “fugas” que induce, que representa el espacio transferencial, Carmen construye una obra de testimonio del espacio íntimo de su cuarto de atrás que cubre una variedad de temas, como la violencia estatal, la situación de la mujer en la sociedad española, y la escasez. Carmen, con un aviso del “hombre de negro”, empieza un testimonio de su juventud en Salamanca: “¿De los bombardeos? Sí, sí me acuerdo. Un día cayó una bomba en una churrería de la calle Pérez Pujol, cerca de la casa, mató a toda la familia del churrero…” (59). Aquí encontramos un ejemplo de testimonio de la violencia política bajo el franquismo que surge a través de la conferencia de Carmen con el “hombre de negro”. Además de este ejemplo está el recuerdo del control que tenía el gobierno a lo que ella hace referencia, “de aquellos deficientes libros de texto que bloquearon nuestra enseñanza, de los amigos de mis padres que morían fusilados o se exiliaban, de Unamuno, de la censura militar” (66). Esta cita revela la extensión del control en cada sector de la sociedad bajo Franco. La penetración social del franquismo está cosificada con la siguiente cita sobre el dictador: “era unigénito, indiscutible y omnipresente, que había conseguido infiltrarse en todas las casas, escuelas, cines y cafés…” (115). En esta sucesión de testimonio, Carmen recuerda la violencia estatal y control que Franco usaba para mantener su poder durante su régimen. El segundo tema que está comunicado a lo largo de la conversación entre los dos interlocutores es la situación de la mujer bajo el franquismo. Después de que Carmen se retira a la concina para preparar té, un espacio tradicionalmente femenino, cae en una fuga larga en que recuerda la situación femenina a través de un viaje a Madrid: “Mujer que sabe latín no puede tener buen fin” (84), que comunica al lector la continuación de tradicionalismo bajo el régimen franquista. En las siguientes páginas, Carmen revela que esta represión femenina estaba presente y se imponía por el régimen franquista, idea que se desarrolla en la misma fuga, Orgullosas de su legado, cumpliríamos nuestra misión de españolas… que la economía doméstica ayuda a salvar la economía nacional… y a preparar con nuestras propias manos la canastilla del bebé destinado a venir al mundo para enorgullecerse de la Reina Católica, defenderla de calumnias y engendrar hijos que, a su vez, la alabaran por los siglos de los siglos (87).



Lo que comunica ella en su fuga es que bajo el franquismo, el papel femenino era una reminiscencia del papel tradicional y chocaba con la situación de la mujer bajo el régimen republicano que pasó antes del franquismo. Esta idea se manifiesta en el espacio transferencial en una manera cortada cuando el “hombre de negro” le pregunta sobre la existencia del diablo, y ella le responde, “¿Sabe lo que le dijo? Que sí creo en el diablo y… en todos los seres misteriosos, vamos. En Isabel la Católica, no” (94). Lo que representa esta cita es la denuncia de la manipulación de la figura de Isabel la Católica y la identidad femenina como una herramienta de represión del régimen franquista. El “hombre de negro” induce el tema de escasez a través de una sugerencia directa: “Creo que debe partir del tema de la escasez. Aquí hay una frase muy reveladora” (152). Con esta facilitación, ella elabora, En tiempos de escasez hay que hacer durar lo que se tiene, y de la misma manera consumir deprisa una canción, porque no es un lujo que se renueva cada día, sino un enser fundamental para la supervivencia, la cuida, la rumia, le saca todo su jugo... (152) Ésa era la situación bajo el franquismo, pero Carmen desarrolla que la influencia de esta época de escasez no se extendía a su espacio íntimo, recordando la Isla de Bergai como, “se inventó partiendo precisamente de la escasez” (154). En este espacio íntimo podía Carmen encontrar un refugio, como la sociedad española podía encontrar refugio en sus espacios íntimos, una tendencia que continua hoy en día. El “hombre de negro” y su papel de facilitador de la conversación demandan atención. El “hombre de negro” tiene el papel de una comisión de la verdad personal para Carmen, para que ella pueda traer sus recuerdos desde el espacio íntimo hasta el espacio transferencial a través de la comunicación de su testimonio. A lo largo de la novela, el “hombre de negro” actúa como si fuera un mediador de una comisión privada y Carmen es un testigo. Este control es evidente en su invitación a Carmen a venir y sentarse. El pregunta, “¿Por qué no viene a sentarse?”, Carmen reacciona, pensando, “como si fuera él el dueño de la casa y yo la visitante” (38). Este papel dominante no disminuye a lo largo de la sesión. Después de un periodo de tiempo, el “hombre de negro” trata de mejorar la memoria de Carmen para extraer más testimonio de sus memorias, y le ofrece unas pastillas de memoria. Carmen le pregunta, “¿Avivan la

memoria?”, y el “hombre de negro” responde, “Bueno, sí, la avivan, pero la desorden, algo muy agradable” (96). Aquí está un ejemplo de facilitación directa de la memoria de Carmen, pero además un comentario sobre el proceso de recuerdo, que es un proceso complicado que muchas veces revela más preguntas que respuestas. Esto, para referirse a la definición de una comisión de la verdad, es implícito en la búsqueda de hechos. Al final de la novela, Martín Gaite revela que toda la sesión con el “hombre de negro” y las fugas de Carmen están grabadas en el libro mismo. La autora escribe, “En el primero, en mayúsculas y con rotulador negro, está escrito El cuarto de atrás. Y levanto y empiezo a leer: ‘…[y] sin embargo, yo juraría que la postura era la misma…’” (177). Esta oración es la misma que la primera de la novela. Por eso se puede deducir que la novela, en sí misma, de Martín Gaite, El cuarto de atrás, es el producto de la comisión de la verdad privada que tenía Carmen con el “hombre de negro”, en el mismo sentido que la publicación  Nunca Más  es el producto de la comisión de la verdad argentina. A través de su conversación con el “hombre de negro”, Carmen exhuma sus recuerdos del franquismo de su espacio íntimo, el cuarto de atrás, y los convierte en testimonio público que existe en el espacio transferencial de la conversación. En la novela, según Castillo, “a parallel fundamental bifurcation of memory obtains, opposing the sterile repetition of the dead knowledge shut up in books to the adaptable, living discourse of a creative memory” (817).  Con el “hombre de negro” como una herramienta para recordar, Carmen convierte el enredo de letreros, cachivaches, fotografías, y libros que describe al principio de la novela en una memoria más organizada, y esta memoria está incluida en la conversación de la memoria. Una transición incompleta En su novela,  El cuarto de atrás, Martín Gaite se rebela contra el silencio el gobierno democrático español impuso. Su novela no deja la conversación en el purgatorio en el nombre de la estabilidad política y el proyecto nacional democrático, como hacen los políticos.  El cuarto de atrás  hace la transición desde el espacio íntimo hasta el espacio transferencial a través de un proceso que se parece a una comisión de la verdad. Sin embargo, no se cumple el proceso de reconciliación y reparación social. La literatura puede iniciar la conversación, pero no puede cumplirla. Como dice Lira, “…la tarea de establecer la paz toma


tantos o más años que los que fueron necesarios para generar las condiciones del conflicto, y, quizás, los años necesarios para producir este proceso de comprensión tomarán más tiempo que el resto de nuestras vidas” (15). Quizá la Ley de Memoria Histórica de 2007 ha empezado de nuevo esta conversación, pero sin un esfuerzo más comprehensivo España no puede cumplir su proceso de reconciliación (de Antuñano 85). Sólo cuando el gobierno español reconozca la necesidad de tener un proceso de reconciliación oficial que incluya una comisión de la verdad o prosecuciones se podrá empezar a cumplir el proceso de democratización que empezó en 1975. El final de El cuarto de atrás deja el lector dentro del discurso incompleto de los hechos de la sociedad franquista y sus abusos de los derechos humanos que todavía no logra una conclusión de lo que pasó durante la dictadura. En este sentido, la novela no sólo representa un espacio de rebelión, aun más un comentario a la transición incompleta española.


Bibliografía Aguilar, Paloma. “Collective Memory of the Spanish Civil War: The Case of the Political Amnesty in the Spanish Transition to Democracy.” Democratization 4.4 (1997): 88–109. Web. 29 Nov. 2013. De Antuñano, Emilio. “Memoria de la Guerra Civil Española: en torno al trasfundo y las d e r i v a s de la ‘Ley de La Memoria Histórica’ de 2007.” Foro Internacional 50.1 (2013): 63–87. Print. Ardavin, Carlos X. “La transición a la democracia en la novela Española (1976-1996): los poderes de la memoria.”  University of Massachusetts Amherst 33.3 (1981): 83–92. Barés, Pedro Barruso. “La represión en las zonas republicana y franquista del País Vasco durante la Guerra Civil.” (1939): 653–681. Print. Castillo, Debra A. “Never-Ending Story: Carmen Martin Gaite’s The Back Room.” Modern Language Association 102.5 (2013): 814–828. Print. Chaves Palacios, Julián. “Guerra Civil y el Franquismo en la España actual.”  Historia del presente  19.2 (2012): 87–102. Print. Crenzel, Emilio. “Dos prólogos para un mismo informe: El Nunca Más y la memoria de las desapariciones.”  Prohistoria  11.11 (2007): 49–60. Print. Cuesta, Josefina. “En la transición y en la democracia: Transition and Democracy (1975-2006).”  Stud. hist., H. cont. 25 (2008): 125–165. Print. Del Álamo Pons, Óscar. “Dictar la memoria: justicia transicional en América Latina.” Metapolítica 68.1 (1982): 42–49. Print. Druliolle, V. “Democracy Captured By Its Imaginary: The Transition as Memory and Discourses of Constitutionalism in Spain.”  Social & Legal Studies 17.1 (2008): 75–92. Web. 29 Nov. 2013. Duran, Manuel. “Carmen Martín Gaite, Retahilas, El Cuarto de atrás, y el diálogo sin fin.”  Yale University 3.3 (1978): 233–240. Print. Encarnacion, Omar G. “Reconciliation after Democratization  : Coping with the Past in Spain.”  Political Science Quarterly  123.3 (2008): 435–460. Print. Gálvez Biesca, Sergio. “El proceso de la recuperación de la ‘Memoria Histórica’ en España: una aproximación a los movimientos sociales por la memoria.”  International Journal of Iberian



Studies19.1 (2006): 25–51. Web. 29 Nov. 2013. García, Carolina et al. “El peso de la memoria en los inicios de la transición a la democracia en Chile (1987-1988).”  Instituto de Historia  2.39 (2006): 431–475. Print. Heras, Manuel Ortiz. “Nuevos y viejos discursos de la transición. La nostalgia del consenso Old And New Discourses Of The Transition. The Consenso Nostalgia.”  Historia Contemporánea  44 (2011): 337–367. Print. Hernández Burgos, Claudio, and Miguel Ángel Redondo Cardeñoso. “Más allá de las tapias de los cementerios: la represión cultural y socioeconómica en la España franquista (19361951).” Cuadernos de Historia Contemporánea 33 (2011): 71–93. Juristo, Álvaro Matud. “La transición en la cinematografía oficial franquista: el no-do entre la nostalgia y la democracia.”  Comunicación y Sociedad. jun2009 22.1 (2009): 33–58. Print. León Solís, Fernando. “The Transition(s) to Democracy and Discourses of Memory.” IJIS 16.1 (2003): 49– 63. Print. Lessa, F. “Beyond Transitional Justice: Exploring Continuities in Human Rights Abuses in Argentina Between 1976 and 2010.” Journal of Human Rights Practice 3.1 (2011): 25–48. Lira, Elizabeth. “Trauma, duelo, reparación y memoria.”  Revista de Estudios Sociales No.36  36 (2010): 14–28. Ludwin King, Elizabeth B. “Amnesties In A Time Of Transition.” The George Washington International Review 41 (2009): 577–618. Print. Lupo, Lindsey. “Midwestern Political Science Association Annual Meeting.” Democratization in the Third Wave: Political Violence as a Transition Tactic. 2004. 1–45. Print. Martín Gaite, Carmen.  El cuarto de atrás. Madrid: Ediciones Siruela, 2009. Print. Masiello, Francine. “En los bordes del cráter (sobre la generación del noventa en Argentina).”Cuadernos de Literatura 31.1 (2012): 79–104. Print. McEvoy, Kieran, and Louise Mallinder. “Amnesties in Transition: Punishment, Restoration, and the Governance of Mercy.”  Journal of Law and Society 39.3 (2012): 410–440. Muñoz Soro, Javier, and Hugo García Fernández. “Poeta rescatado, poeta del pueblo, poeta de la reconciliación: la memoria política de Antonio Machado durante el franquismo y la transición.”

Revista Española de Historia LXX.234 (2010): 137–162. Print. Ocaña, Isabel Navas. “El origen de un tópico literario: tradición y vanguardia en la generación.” Revista Chilena de Literatura 76.18 (2010): 237–256. Print. Roehrig, Terence. “Executive Leadership and the Continuing Quest for Justice in Argentina.” Human Rights Quarterly  31.3 (2009): 721–747. Web. 14 Dec. 2013. Romano, Marcela. “El cuarto de atrás de carmen martín gaite: otra historia.”  Letras, Curitiba  51.1 (1999): 79–92. Print. Shifter, Michael, and Vinay Jawahar. “Reconciliation in Latin America: A Fine Balance.” Brown Journal of World Affairs XI.1 (2004): 127–135. Print. Sikkink, K., and C. B. Walling. “The Impact of Human Rights Trials in Latin America.”  Journal of Peace Research 44.4 (2007): 427–445. Web. 29 Nov. 2013. Skaar, Elin. “Truth Commissions, Trials - or Nothing? Policy Options in Democratic Transitions.” Third World Quarterly 20.6 (1999): 1109–1128. Print. Tamarit Sumalla, Josep. “Los límites de la justicia transicional penal: la experiencia del caso español.”Política criminal  7.Julio (2012): 74–93. Print. Vilaseca, Stephen Luis. “From Spaces of Intimacy to Transferential Space: The Structure of Memory and the Reconciliation with Strangeness in El Cuarto de Atras.” BHS 83 (2006): 181–192. Print. Zagorski, Paul W. “Civil-Military Relations and Argentine Democracy: The Armed Forces Under the Menem Government.”  Armed Forces and Society 20.3 (1994): 423–237. Print. Zugasti, Ricardo. “La prensa española de la transición como escenario de apoya político a Juan Carlos I: el ejemplo de la legitimidad dinástica de la monarquía.”  Palabra Clave  10.1 (2007): 60–71. Print.


Allison Talbot

ODE TO SAINT LAWRENCE DESCRIPTION: “Ode to Saint Lawrence” is in the style of pillaittamil poetry, which is a genre of South Asian bhakti (devotional) poetry addressed to god or goddess represented as a baby. This form has most often been used to worship Hindu deities, but poets have also written pillaittamil poetry to praise saints, Muhummad, Jesus and Mary in the Christian tradition, Mahatma Gandhi, and many more public or religious figures (Richman 209). Mine addresses Saint Lawrence as both a Christian saint and as the spirit of St. Lawrence University. To suggest both meanings, I incorporated puns into my poem. I could not make every phrase work on both levels, so I tried to alternate between them so that the readers would keep both ideas in mind throughout the piece. One of my goals for this poem was to make the historical form of pillaittamil poetry relevant to a modern reader, particularly a young adult reader. Many people think that poetry, especially religious poetry, is antiquated and quaint. The emotions described in these poems are common in Western society today, but most people do not abstract their forms of devotion enough to see the commonalities. By laying out the similarities between a scholarly institution and a religious one, two apparently opposing social forces, I want to help readers gain empathy for South Asian cultures and religious devotees. I focused on these groups of people because they seemed relevant to my poetic form, and they often seem to be misunderstood in America and by young Americans in particular. Since the students in my class are my audience, I wanted to use a symbol that they would respect and have strong positive associations with. This way, I could put a twist on that symbol to “make the strange familiar and the familiar strange” as anthropologists do. Since “St. Lawrence” is the name of our university and a religious figure, I decided to combine those two sides of the same word/symbol to show the elements they had common. For example, both versions of St. Lawrence function are part of social institutions, and both elicit strong and reverential emotions to those invested in them. Both versions also bring people to the “right” path on life’s




journey. I addressed this idea in the lines “The students love you, they hold you / At their hips and vow to live / up to your expectations. / Croo to them what you know.” Saint Lawrence is the patron saint of students, but this also could refer to the students at St. Lawrence University. In each case, the students are learning and being inspired by Saint Lawrence. To make the poem’s diction reflect both versions of Saint Lawrence, I alternated between a higher and lower register of language. The difference is subtle enough so the poem seems like a cohesive whole, but the change is noticeable. For example, the phrase “sweet one / of the thousand names” is a formal address and one heavily tied to South Asian religions. It is influenced by the Sikh devotion to the nam and also suggests the Hindu idea that deities can be present in many incarnations and are sometimes called by different names. This aligns with the type of language a Westerner would commonly associate with worship. But the line just above that, “But don’t look so serious!” is much more lighthearted, both in its message and the speaker’s decision to give a command to the saint. This duality fits the piece because the poet is imagining a powerful entity as a cute and helpless baby, but the poet simultaneously recognizes the saint’s future power. In the best pillaittamil poems, the language works for either form of the subject. I also tried to incorporate humor, such as in the lines “When you have laid / on your side for a mere twenty minutes / you laugh, ‘I’m well done. Turn me over!’” These were the purported last words of the martyr Lawrence, who was said to have died by being roasted on a gridiron, but they could also refer to a restless baby. A pillaittamil poem’s perspective looks relatively simple at first, but actually it speaks volumes about the complex relationship between the devotee and the saint or deity. The the high/low, serious/humorous, commanding/subservient natures of the poem reflect this. The poet who chose to write a devotional song to Mahatma Gandhi gave me the idea to make a pillaittamil poem about an even more modern topic. Most South Asian religions are against doctrine and structure, so the form of worship changed organically over time. By bringing a new idea into the pillaittamil form while still trying to capture its essence, I hope to help my audience examine this genre of poetry with more open minds. People often choose not to learn about something because they do not see how it connects to their lives, so I want my poem to challenge their distinction of “familiar” and “other.” I was expecting to feel limited while writing a pillaittamil poem. When I write poetry I usually do not use rhyme, meter, or stanzas, and having creative freedom in subject matter is also very important to me. However, the duality of the two interrelated subjects of this poem was a fascinating challenge. The use of puns and word play makes each poem unique and complex despite the use of


predetermined topics for each stanza. In a way, my idea about the two Saint Lawrences is not so far off from the widely varying South Asian idea of God. In the Baul religious tradition, God sometimes seems to have the attributes of a concrete male being, but at other times God is an androgynous being that has no clear form. In so many South Asian religions, God cannot be put into one category. As Davis illustrates in “A Brief History of Religions in India,” even someone who is intimately familiar with the tradition cannot simply explain how many gods there are (3). The duality of St. Lawrence in my poem may seem confusing to one not used to these ideas, but they are more adept at dealing with the inconsistencies of life. This complexity, the mixture of high and low, old and new, Eastern and Western, are some of the dichotomies I wanted to play with in this poem. Pillaittamil poetry may seem foreign or inaccessible at first, but although it is complex, it can be extremely relevant to a modern-day audience. KEYWORDS: poem, pillaittamil, India, relgion, St. Lawrence

Works Cited Richman, Paula. “Tamil Songs to God as Child.” Lopez 209—224. Davis, Richard. “A Brief History of Religions in India.” Lopez 3—52. Lopez Jr, Donald S, Ed. Religions of India in Practice. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Readings in Religion, 1995. Print.




Ode to Saint Lawrence I Little saint, I hear you singing. The mountains, the gods of mountain, even the ascetics curled within them have heard. They have been reaping and gathering, dancing and calling out for songs but they grow tired, the harvest thins. Why do you not rest? They will watch over you and rock you in your sleep. II You can even rock yourself like the river who is your namesake, flowing gently now. Everything is slow in the cold months, so let the earth rest. When you toddle along the earth runs behind to catch you if you should fall. It stoops with hands spread wide to you, O saint, but when you sleep it will take you upon its lap and fall into a deep, renewing slumber, lulled by its own soft rocking. III If you will not sleep, then let me hear your cooing. The students love you, they hold you At their hips and vow to live up to your expectations. Croo to them what you know, the words you have taught me: Gunisson, Herring-Cole, eggs o’larry. Speak to bless us, the comedians, librarians, students, miners, tanners, chefs, roasters, all.


IV You can show us the truth of things. Look at your fingers, count them, you are just now 1, 157, 1788, 4 and a half billion years old. Clap and watch the dimples on your knuckles. You will do this again again, when you are older, yelling all the while but do not fear the gridiron or your opponents. They will see your bravery and clap too. V But don’t look so serious! These are years to love too much, as I love you, sweet one of the thousand names. Let me smell the apple blossoms of your hair. Kiss my cheek, blow the dandelion of your kiss onto my barren, dusty cheek, and you will receive it many times in return. VI You are shy, but you can only be as shy toward me as you are to yourself, for all are one. Do not pretend to look at my ID card, the picture from when I myself was a child; you know me far too well for that. Come squeeze my hand, let me gather you into the great silos of my arms. In summer, you will cover all the hills and valleys. Let me hold you once before you become all.




VII There, you turn your round face up to me, the river leans in to see, even the earth tilts her head toward you and wants you always by her side. The moon must be your brother and I will ask him to come play. The both of you are always leaving bits of yourselves behind to light our path, living in the burning light of the Son. VIII Beat your drum and Moon will hear you, your little drum with the red and brown paint that beats lightly as chapel bells. The moon will whisper back and speak to you with all the hummings of the stars. Humans seek you both to navigate—make your presence known! You will never get to sleep. When you have laid on your side for a mere twenty minutes you laugh, “I’m well done. Turn me over!” IX I only ask, be gentle in your playing. The little girls have built houses of fur boughs and bent birches, covered them with fallen leaves, and huddle shivering inside. If you go to them, be kind. Don’t call them “townies,” don’t make fun of their grills, the cows in their yards. They, sleep the same dreaming though they be fragile.


X When you play, pull your toy chariot, ride into the North Country with all the pride that a matched set of strong horsepower engine can give. Remember that you are the pride of thousands, and the sun never sets on your devotees. They call you university, universitas, a whole. They rings bells while calling your name, they bless the fire and praise the rain— no one will say you’ve lived in vain.


The Underground Spring 2014  

Journal of Undergraduate Research at St. Lawrence University

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you