Great North Woods libraries explore WWII
How did women serve in World War II? Why do many people believe that the veterans of this war had an easy homecoming? How is the experience of war passed from generation to generation?
More than 70 years after World War II ended, stories from the frontlines and the home front of the most devastating world conflict of all time continue to be told through books, film and oral histories. This fall, Berlin Public Library, White Mountains Community College Fortier Library, and Gorham Public Library are collaborating on a four-part series exploring some of the lesser-known stories of World War II and challenging some popular notions in the process.
Supported by a $1,000 Community Project Grant from New Hampshire Humanities, the series kicks off with book discussions facilitated by project humanities expert Suzanne H. Brown and continues with two Humanities to Go programs: John Gfroerer’s film-based discussion World War II New Hampshire and Marina Kirsch’s talk, based on her family history, Flight of Remembrance: World War II from the Losing Side and the Dream that Led to Aerospace Engineering.
On September 20, Brown will guide readers in an exploration of the often overlooked history of women’s service in the war. We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of the American Women Trapped on Bataan by Elizabeth Norman suggests this account of nurses in the Philippines provides a context for contemporary discussion: “In many ways the modern debate about the role of women in combat can be traced back to the bleak early days of 1942 when five score nurses traded their hospital whites for battle dress.” Indeed, notes Brown, much of this book concerns the blurring of combat and non-combat roles that is still an issue.
On October 4, discussion turns to a book that challenges readers to rethink the accepted version of soldiers’ return from WWII: as victorious warriors welcomed home with the GI Bill. Because veterans from other conflicts returned to more obvious and dramatic tensions, the contrast with their experience tends to bury the traumas of WWII. Soldier from the War Returning: Troubled Homecoming Not in News by Thomas Childers uncovers statistics and stories about the diverse and complex reactions of returning World War II veterans and civilians alike.
Books are available for borrowing at the participating libraries. Each event in the series stands alone so participants may attend one, two, three, or all. Events are held on Wednesdays at the White Mountain Community College - Berlin, Fortier Library:
September 20, 6:00 pm:
Suzanne H. Brown leads a book discussion of We Band Of Angels: The Untold Story of the American Women Trapped on Bataan.
October 4, 6:00 pm:
Suzanne H. Brown leads a book discussion of Soldier from the War Returning: Troubled Homecoming Not in News.
October 25, 6:00 pm:
John Gfroerer shows and leads discussion about his documentary film, World War II New Hampshire.
November 8, 6:00 pm:
Marina Kirsch tells her family’s story based on her book, Flight of Remembrance: World War II from the Losing Side and the Dream that Led to Aerospace Engineering.
For details, contact Melissa or Denise, Fortier Library, 342-3087 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Host one of the following Humanities to Go programs related to World War II:
African-American Submariners of World War II and Beyond
Presented by Glenn A. Knoblock
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: The Man Who Wrote The Little Prince
Presented by Scott Eaton
Flight of Remembrance, World War II from the Losing Side and the Dream that Led to Aerospace Engineering
Presented by Marina Kirsch
John Winant: New Hampshire Man of the World
Presented by Richard A. Hesse
Motivating the WWII Home Front Via Magazine and Radio Advertising
Presented by Calvin Knickerbocker
Stark Decency: New Hampshire’s World War II German Prisoner of War Camp
Presented by Allen Koop
World War II Hero of Conscience: The Sousa Mendes Story
Presented by Douglas Wheeler
World War II New Hampshire
Presented by John Gfroerer
For descriptions and details, visit www.nhhumanities.org/HumanitiesToGo
Resources about the Holocaust
Keene State College's Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies offers workshops, presentations, and other events to educate about the Holocaust. Visit www.keene.edu/academics/ah/cchgs/cchgs.
Design a Community Project Grant on World War II
New Hampshire Humanities offers grants up to $10,000 for public programs involving humanities scholars on topics of interest in your community. There's always another way to look at things! www.nhhumanities.org/grants