Letters from MHM 121

Determined to fight

I read with interest your generally fine article on Okinawa (MHM October/November 2020). I do want to take issue with one statement, a very important one.

Alexander Izza wrote: ‘However, Japan was not planning to fight into oblivion.’ This is false. It is false notwithstanding the views of Professor Sheldon Garon of Princeton. This point of view attempts to blame the United States or President Truman for dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In fact, the Japanese leadership was determined to fight to the end. Indeed, all evidence indicates they even wanted to fight on after the two atomic bombs were dropped, only to be overruled by the emperor, an unheard-of intervention by an otherwise constitutional monarch akin to Britain’s.

In the early 1990s, this issue came up in Washington, where I then worked, when the Smithsonian proposed a Hiroshima exhibit that suggested the United States was to blame for the atomic bomb. The Smithsonian ultimately dropped the proposal.

Brigadier General Reid K Beveridge (ret.)
Milton, Delaware

It dawned on me

I read the October/November 2020 issue of MHM with much interest, particularly Taylor Downing’s review of 1979’s Zulu Dawn, as it compared two of my favourite movies.

Both it and 1964’s Zulu have their strengths and weaknesses. For example, Downing liked the dusty look of the uniforms in Zulu Dawn over the nattier impression in Zulu. But that should not be taken as a mark against the older movie when one considers that the soldiers in Zulu Dawn were on active campaign, while the men at Rorke’s Drift were garrison troops.

Personally, I prefer the uniforms in the older film, as they appear to be made out of the right woollen material, as opposed to Zulu Dawn’s decidedly nap-less polyester look.

Downing also mentions the Martini-Henry ‘rifles’ carried by the troops, but on closer inspection the weapons in Zulu Dawn look more like carbines, which is fine for the mounted units, but not for the infantry. The older film’s weapons appear to be more accurate.

James Kocur
Linden, New Jersey

Propaganda image

The image of child inmates in the Nazi camp that appeared in your August/September 2020 issue is a Soviet propaganda picture. Notice the civilian clothes under the inmate stripes? This was due to the Soviets handing out clothes to the freezing victims. Then a party photographer wanted photos. Rather than make them get back into their inmate ‘pyjamas’, the Soviet guards had them put the stripes over their warm clothing – a humanitarian gesture from an otherwise ruthless, sadistic set of thugs called ‘the Red Army’.

Almost all Soviet photos from the war were staged, even the ‘combat’ footage. Each image went through several photo inspectors and Party men, who looked for any reason to reject images (the most common being that it would seemingly make the Party and/or state look bad or weak).

As a historian, I’ve studied Soviet/Marxist and Nazi propaganda and methods. You’d be surprised at just how closely they mimic each other.

Allen Mixson
Portland, Oregon

More Letters

I always find the letters section very interesting, but it is rather disappointing in that it only occupies one page (in fact, in the February/March 2020 issue, it only occupied half a page, because the other half was taken up with a very deserved obituary). May I suggest that you allocate two pages!

Rodney Bennett
West Wickham, Kent