Memories of the 1940's

[appeared in Kyouiku Katei Shinbun April 2000]

In 1994, almost 50 years after the end of the Second World War, Tom Holloway from England started a project to collect "extraordinary stories of ordinary people" about the 1940's and to put them on the Web.
With his initiative, Holloway, born in 1933, wants to make sure that young people from the 1990's have the opportunity to talk to their elders who were young during the 1940's and learn about the times of war.

So far stories from about 30 people from different countries can be found at the project's homepage ( Among them are stories by civilians as well as people who were soldiers at that time. Zvonko, a Croatian soldier, was only 17 years old, when he had to start fighting for the German side. Violette, a girl from Paris, tells about the time of occupation by the Germans. Romuald from Poland together with his family was deported to Russia. Paola from Italy tells the story of her father, at that time a 6 year old boy, who lost his relatives in a bombing. Arthur from England reports about what happened to him as a pacifist who objected to fight. Art, a 12 year old American boy of German descent, was imprisoned by the US Army. Jagjit gives a record about the war in India.

The memories project has a "panel of elders", a group of people who volunteer to answer questions about the 1940's.
A mailing list also exists as well as a collection of background information on food ratios and recipes in different countries during the war and afterwards.

On the memories page we also find a link to Doshisha Junior and Senior High School, where Japanese students have collected interviews with their grandparents about the war in Japan ( Through those interviews they found out about bomb attacs, food ratios, clothing, evacuees, war propaganda, life in the Japanese cities and the countryside and much more.
The accounts by their relatives about daily life during the war felt much more real than textbooks could. So some of the students reported that through the interviews for the first time they really thought about what war was like - an imagination almost impossible when life in one's own country appears to be peaceful and abundant.

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Irene Langner,,
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Last modified: 2000-12-17