11 March 2007

War museum continues with exhibit despite controversy

The Canadian War Museum will continue with an exhibit that, in part, notes the ongoing controversy over the Allied bombing campaign against German civilian targets during the Second World War.

In response to complaints from veterans groups, including the Royal Canadian Legion, the museum asked prominent historians to review the exhibit and offer comment. The Museum has not released the commentaries but a spokesman for the museum said the historians viewed the exhibit as "accurate and balanced."

Two of the historians did suggest that the panel in question could be removed since it was "unnecessary."
"Mass bomber raids against Germany resulted in vast destruction and heavy loss of life," the disputed panel reads. "The value and morality of the strategic bomber offensive against Germany remains bitterly contested. Bomber Command's aim was to crush civilian morale and force Germany to surrender by destroying its cities and industrial installations. Although Bomber Command and American attacks left 600,000 Germans dead, and more than five million homeless, the raids resulted in only small reductions in German war production until late in the war."
The Legion, meanwhile, is looking to the senate committee on veterans affairs to conduct an inquiry into the exhibit. It is also continuing a boycott of the museum that began in 2005.

The controversy is reminiscent of complaints about a CBC series, The valour and the horror and its episode on Bomber Command, entitled "Death by moonlight."

The series attracted criticism from historians including Dr. Jack Granatstein. The series was also the subject of a senate committee review.

Sinc eopening in 2005, the new museum has also been the subject of controversy over its protrayal of Canada's military heritage and the design of the building.

Oddly enough, Dr. Dean Oliver, the War Museum's director of exhibits but who at the time was teaching at Carlton University, was critical of the Valour and the Horror. Oliver is a graduate of Memorial University and York University.