The Third World in World War II
The 1st September 1939 marks the beginninng of World War II – in Europe ! In Ethiopia, an international war was already going on since 1935, involving soldiers from 17 nations and 3 continents, and in Asia, the Japanese aggression against China had already begun in 1937. Until 1945, millions of soldiers from the Third World contributed significantly to the liberation of the world from European fascism and Japanese megalomania. They were Indian and Chinese, African and Latin-Americans, Philippinians and Polynesians, men and women voluntarily and forcefully recruited to work or fight for the respective colonial powers involved in the war. Many parts of the Third World – from the Latin-American coast to North Africa, the Near East and India – also served as battlefields and were completely destroyed without ever benefiting of any reconstruction program whatsoever. More civilians were killed during the liberation of Manila than in the bombings of Berlin or Dresden. All these facts do not feature as part of the official historiography of World War II. This exhibition is aimed at making this suppressed chapter of world history known to a wider audience.
In order to live together in a culturally rich and diverse city like Berlin, it goes without saying that a diverse politics of memory is required.
In the framework of this month which is entirely dedicated to the memory of the millions of men and women of the "Third World" who gave their lives in the struggle against European fascism and Japanese megalomania, we invite everybody irrespective of their origins to share their memories and stories of the Second World War. What is it that people remember of World War II in the different parts of the world? What have been the long-lasting consequences of this global war? Our aim is to bring together people from different backgrounds to share these memories and contribute to a more inclusive, less eurocentric and non-racist memory, worthy a multicultural city Berlin is and wants to be.
The historic fact that Maori, Senegalese, Brasilians and Indians made up great parts of the Allied Forces and were at the forefront in the struggle to liberate the world of fascism is little known - at least in Europe. Also, the destiny of these colonial soldiers (tirailleurs) and their contribution in the subsequent liberation struggles in Africa has no place in the official memory in Germany. World War II really was a global war.
People from nearly every single country - both men and women - were involved as soldiers, workers, agents, logisticians, carriers etc. in the Allied Forces or - under very different circumstances - on the side of Germany, Italy or Japan.
The exhibition is based on the book "Our Victims do not Count - The Third World in World War II", published by recherche international in 2005 and which has been excellently reviewed. The opening will take place on Tuesday, 1st September 2009 at 7 p.m. at Werkstatt der Kulturen in Berlin-Neukölln.
Guided tours, lectures and film screenings will accompany the exhibition during the whole month of September. Other organisations, like the Korean Association, have also been invited to join and present their perspectives on the topic. The programme aims at extending and widening our horizons and to interrogate Eurocentric perspectives.
Why is there no memory in Germany that recognises the immense contribution of the so-called migrant population and their forefathers in the liberation fron the Nazi regime and thus in the democratisation of the world?
Precisely these "forgotten liberators" are at the centre of the Hip Hop Musical which will be staged as Germany Premiere in the framework of the international literature festival berlin (ilb) at Haus der Berliner Festspiele on Sunday, 20th September 2009 at 8 p.m.
Influenced by the Hip-Hop-Culture of the suburbs of Strasbourg, this performance melts poetic texts with urban sounds as well as with a contemporary dance choreography - all this is taking place to the backdrop of historical film and photo material. The production is reminiscent of the millions of colonial soldiers from the former french colonies who fought for France in 1914-18 and helped rid the world of fascism during the Second World War. The "Mémoires Vives"-Project pays tribute to those largely "forgotten soldiers" by dealing with the topic in a contemporary and modern way.
The creed of the post-World-War-era was "Never Again". In order to be able to learn from history we have to know it, and particularly this global dimension. Therefore the project "The Third World in World War II" is an invitation to dialogue and to the re-discovery of historic chapter that seemed all too evident.
The Exhibition was conceived by Karl Rössel (Recherche International e.V./ Rheinisches JournalistInnenbüro) in close cooperation with graphic designer Holger Deilke, Christa Aretz (FilmInitiativ Köln e.V.), Venant Adoville Saague (Köln/Kamerun) as well as the art consultant Bernhard Lüthi and the photographer Erika Koch (Düsseldorf).