Politics of forgetting: the New Zealand and Greek wartime relationship

Brown, Martyn (2012). Politics of forgetting: the New Zealand and Greek wartime relationship. In: Proceedings of the The 18th annual conference of the New Zealand Studies Association. The 18th annual conference of the New Zealand Studies Association, Gdansk, Poland, (). 6-8 July 2012.

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Author Brown, Martyn
Title of paper Politics of forgetting: the New Zealand and Greek wartime relationship
Conference name The 18th annual conference of the New Zealand Studies Association
Conference location Gdansk, Poland
Conference dates 6-8 July 2012
Proceedings title Proceedings of the The 18th annual conference of the New Zealand Studies Association
Publication Year 2012
Sub-type Oral presentation
Language eng
Formatted Abstract/Summary
The view on the New Zealand-Greek relationship in New Zealand literature and national public commemoration largely focuses on the Battle of Crete in May 1941 and, to a lesser extent, the failed campaign on mainland Greece. On a politico-military level, the decision to join the ill-fated Greek venture and the loss of Crete hold centre stage in the discourse. In terms of commemoration, the latter dominates as an iconic episode in the national history of New Zealand. As far as the Greeks are concerned, it is Cretan civilians who are elevated to the point where they overshadow their mainland counterparts, even though both assisted New Zealand soldiers in evading capture. Furthermore, the Greek military became counters on battle plans or were simply moved to the periphery.

The New Zealand drive to place the Battle of Crete as supporting its national self-image has been achieved, but what has been forgotten in the process? The wartime connection between the Pacific nation and Greece lasted for the remainder of the war and was much more complex and sometimes violent. In occupied Greece and Crete, as well as the Middle East, North Africa and Italy, New Zealand had to interact with a divided Greek nation that had been experiencing ongoing political turmoil and intermittent civil conflict. Individual New Zealanders found themselves acting as liaison officers within competing partisan groups. Greek military units with a history of mutiny and political intrigue were affiliated with the main New Zealand fighting force, the Second New Zealand Division. This was all compounded by the controversial British foreign policy towards Greece. Even the aid of the dominion at the time of liberation was subject to British political priorities. There are a few published traces of these episodes and almost nothing in commemoration endeavours about this wider experience. What options and constraints faced the New Zealand national leadership (military and civil) at the time? How did they navigate through such a world? Later, what decisions were made in the official war history project and commemorative deliberations to promote a positive self-image for New Zealand. and yet accommodate the recognition of the Greeks? It is these questions that will be the focus of my paper.
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Document type: Conference Paper
Collection: School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry
 
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Created: Thu, 11 Apr 2013, 16:35:43 EST by Lucy O'Brien on behalf of School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry