After intense pressure from veterans’ lobby groups, the Canadian War Museum has agreed to adjust the wording on an exhibit dealing with strategic bombing attacks during the Second World War. These are the 67 words that the veterans objected to:
“The value and morality of the strategic bomber offensive against Germany remains bitterly contested. Bomber Command’s aim was to crush civilian morale and force Germany to surrender by destroying its cities and industrial installations. Although Bomber Command and American attacks left 600,000 Germans dead and more than five million homeless, the raids resulted in only small reductions of German war production until late in the war.”
These are the words the War Museum will adjust. And this despite the fact that a number of professional historians consulted by the Museum found the above words to be factually accurate. The distinguished Canadian historian, Margaret MacMillan (author of the acclaimed book, Paris 1919) says the Museum is not a war memorial. She warns that altering the text to satisfy veterans could mean that “whoever screams loudest can have their view made known.”
In other words, this is an extremely dangerous precedent. What pressure group will the Museum cave in to next? The Japanese? The Italians?
Not one word in this exhibition impugns the bravery, the patriotism or the chivalry of the young men who flew the bombers.
Isn’t it a pity that the decision-makers at the Canadian War Museum did not show half the courage and guts that those young flyers exhibited so long ago?
In my view, the Museum should stand firm in face of the veterans’ pressure.
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