I hope nobody takes this post the wrong way.
We were in what may loosely described as a ‘fashion’ store yesterday. The store celebrated its German origins with historical photos all over the walls. I was truly staggered to see images of Hitler, Hess, Goebbels, Rommel and other notorious figures amongst them. In fairness there were also pictures of Churchill, Roosevelt and I think, De Gaulle. But what sort of marketing is this?
Even more frightening was when I asked the shop assistant if she could identify any of the people pictured on the wall behind her. Not one. Not one single one.
The lessons of history are learned hard but perhaps it is unfair to expect a 20-something HK shop girl to have any knowledge of mid 20th Century world history. Would a 20 year old in Birmingham or Chicago recognize Mao? I don’t know.
As the world becomes more integrated I feel history becomes more important. To understand the Chinese antipathy towards the Japanese you really do have to force yourself to read some history that will leave you with a sick stomach. If you can’t take the real thing read Lisa See’s Shanghai Girls. Read how the colonial powers treated their charges in years past. Few if any are exempt and would stand up to scrutiny. All in all the world has a pretty miserable track record. I draw no conclusions for the future.
But I do question the judgement of those who decided that their need for a contemporary 1940/1950s feel was best served by the use of images of war criminals.