Exploring public and private versions of WW2 memory : memory, identity, ideology and propaganda in relation to the representations of the Czech RAF airmen

Woolgar, Tereza (2012) Exploring public and private versions of WW2 memory : memory, identity, ideology and propaganda in relation to the representations of the Czech RAF airmen. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire.

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From a broader perspective this cross-disciplinary and cross cultural thesis examines the relationships between identity, ideology and propaganda and their influence over the production of private and public memories. This examination is carried out through a case study investigating various representations of the Czech RAF airmen from selected British and Czech WW2 newspapers approached as an archive of memory, and from individual recollections of the Czech veterans – the living archive of memory. These representations in the context of this research become interacting versions of public and private memory which in a unique way and yet equally contribute towards the historical construction of the Second World War. This thesis proposes that the various versions of memory, in Rothberg’s (2009) words ‘multidirectional memory’, are a consequence of versioning, a constant creation and re-creation of different versions of memory due to numerous influences on the producers of such memory. However, this research also considers a presence of Second World War discourse, which underpinned public and private memory and transcended collective memories of the Britishness and Czechness forming a transnational or cross cultural (Radstone, 2010) WW2 memory. In other words, this project draws upon current theories about non competitive multiple, transnational and mediated memory (Dijck, 2007) and extends upon these by considering their existence within a potentially unifying WW2 discourse within which they connect and disconnect. By doing so, this thesis challenges master narratives of history. These memories are also seen as a base for multi-layered identity of the ones who remembered and had the right to remember. Furthermore this study explores the potential reasons behind the creation of the discovered qualitative treasure of this project The Czechoslovak, a small community newspaper produced by the Czech minority living in Britain during the WW2. The theoretical underpinning as well as the methodology of the project attempt to interrogate media studies, oral history and memory studies in order to create a most pertinent space in which the written and oral memory is explored effectively. This merger of theories and methodologies allowed me to investigate the various memories within the context of the WW2 and thus construct them from the past perspective when they were being created. A discourse analysis of selected British and Czech WW2 newspapers (The Times, Daily Mirror, News of the World and The Czechoslovak) has been employed distinguishing between traditional and tabloidised newspaper representations and investigating to what extend the Czechs were portrayed as the ‘other’ or the heroes in the British society. The outcome of this analysis was a discovery that the Czech RAF airmen had not been given much prominence in the British newspapers and that their representations varied according to the different type of newspaper and the different period of the war in which they were produced. Moreover, ideology, propaganda and the notion of Czech and British identity present in the newspapers played an important role in the creation of public memory versions of the Czech RAF airmen’s images. Besides newspapers, this study took the opportunity to reveal very fragile and valuable private recollections of the Czech WW2 RAF veterans (six former members of the Czech RAF settled in Britain after the WW2 and 1 widow were interviewed in the summer 2008); the men who played an important role in the success of the Allies in WW2. By doing this, the former Czech airmen were given a voice and the chance to contribute towards existing knowledge about the Czechs in the RAF and the Second World War. The various versions of the past produced by their private memory have been investigated in the view of various factors influencing these versions: notably their identity, war ideology, propaganda, and forgetting and in relation to WW2 media. Considering the occurrence of versioning, when critically reflecting upon all different memories, I position myself as a researcher into the shoes of yet another producer of another version of the past. Thus, this study creates a space where various, sometimes contrasting memories do not fight for recognition, but where official collective memory and individual memory influence each other and also enrich each other whilst they co-construct a historical representation of the past.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Jennings, Rosrjennings@glos.ac.ukhttps://www.glos.ac.uk/staff/profile/ros-jennings/
Shaw, Paulpshaw@glos.ac.ukUNSPECIFIED
Garde-Hansen, Joannejgardehansen@glos.ac.ukUNSPECIFIED
Uncontrolled Keywords: World War II, Czechoslovakian RAF airmen, England, Memories of war, culture, identity, propaganda, contemporary journalism
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D731 World War II
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
D History General and Old World > DR Balkan Peninsula
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Creative Arts
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2015 15:08
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2021 21:31
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/2361

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