This moving account of what it was like on the night in May 1943 when 19 Lancaster bombers brought the war to a valley in the Ruhr has been recently published in a New Zealand magazine. The people who still live in the village below the Möhne Dam hold an annual church service, and have published a brochure with personal stories of what happened to them when the dam was breached.
The dignified way in which many Germans continue to remember this particular event, and many others, contrasts with the puerile approach to the war’s key moments which are taken by many Brits. For instance, a recent episode of the BBC Top Gear programme spiced up a motoring competition with its German equivalents with countless references to the war. The series of races were held “in that traditional location for Anglo-German disagreements – Belgium”, the British presenters arrived in three Spitfires, named the teams in one of the races as the “Allies” and the “Axis” and generally behaved like a bunch of upper class football hooligans.
I await the comments, which I’m sure will come, accusing me of having no sense of humour. Not true… there’ve been many things on TV about the war which I’ve found funny. The classic Carling lager ad is an obvious example, because it’s clever and has a lovely final twist when the flight engineer removes his oxygen mask and speaks. But it isn’t it time we called a halt to boorish remarks about who won the war, especially from people who are too young to have experienced it directly?