Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The London Victory Parade

The Wikipedia is a superb concept and many world experts have contributed to it. It is completely free and accessible to all. Unfortunately a few are abusing that freedom of access. American politicians have been discovered doctoring their biographies, editing out anything that shows them as anything but shining white. Others are distorting history for nationalistic reasons. A case in point is the 1946 London Victory Parade which Polish nationalists. and perhaps others who are well-intentioned but ill-informed, persist in seeing the parade as a slur on them.

I have edited this article several times, most recently this morning. This time I have left the accusation untouched but added a word of explanation.

The one really democratic state in central Europe before WW2 (the term Eastern Europe really refers to the post-war Iron Curtain era) was Czechoslovakia. In Poland there was an expansionist military dictatorship governing a highly anti-Semitic state. We hear very little now about the Union of Young Poland an out-an-out fascist and violently anti-Semitic organisation and the major pre-war party.

When Czechoslovakia was dismembered in March 1939 (after the Munich Agreement of September 1938) Poland and Hungary rushed in to grab what they could. Hungary taking a huge swath of Ruthenia in Slovakia and Poland further chunks of territory.

But this was nothing new. Polish international agression has all but been brushed out of history except in academic books. In March (16-19) 1938, taking advantage of the international situation created by the German annexation of Austria, Poland sent an ultimatum to Lithuania demanding territory as 'a regulation of relations' between the two countries. Lithuania yielded on 17 March. Then on 29 September 1938 a Polish Note was sent to Czechoslovakia demanding the secession of the Teschen area. The Czechs, face-to-face with the threat of German invasion were obliged to yield, and on 2 October 1938 Polish forces occupied Teschen (this, mark you, was before Munich). Then, in the discussions following the Munich Agreement the Poles ardently championed the Hungarian claims in Slovakia and tried to secure a common frontier with Hungary. But these devious schemes were thwarted and frustrated by a bigger vulture, Germany.

The German-Polish crisis flared up in March 1939, not before then.

Now here we have a breath-taking article on the betrayal and hypocrisy of the West (read 'Britain'). Even the Baltic States are thrown in, all three of which were under forms of dictatorship and had all concluded pacts with Hitler. They were annexed by the USSR after WW2 began.


Blogger Tomcann said...

One of the first casualties in war is the truth - but history states the truth long before wars and in the Polish case we had the propaganda from the media that they were the oppressed people who had lost all - which was ahalf truth at best.
We had the same type of propaganda about the "oppressed" Russians until Gorbachev's late wife went shopping in Paris in all the most expensive stores and salons - and paid for her purchases with a GOLD Visa card which few people had at that time.
This put the truth front and centre that some Russians were more equal than others.
The media would do well in a cricket team as they are great "spinners"

Wednesday, 27 September, 2006  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

I do not think it is a good idea to deliberately write something that is incorrect. It is bad enough when someone does it inadvertantly.

I've looked at some things on Wikipedia and I did not feel they were that good. Personally, if possible I like to try and give any sources of information. I feel 'opinions' or 'viewpoints' should be clearly separate from factual information. We do need to try and get things correct as much as possible.

Regarding the WW2 Victory Parade in London in 1946, some of you may remember my uncle Tom Ritson was one of those who marched in it, representing the Cumberland Miners. One of those watching Uncle Tom marching was of course a certain Queen's Own Hussar by the name of Ron Goldstein. The wartime exploits of these two fine fellows and the fact they were at the Victory Parade are not recorded anywhere other than on the "People's War" website. In both cases, we could 'prove' that they were there in 1946. Documentary proof and sources are important in validating the truth of events.

Wednesday, 27 September, 2006  
Blogger Tomcann said...

As I was stationed in Austria at the time of the parade and as the regiment was short of numbers - I was in the first draft of personnel to march.
This list was cut down to 16 from the whole regiment and so only those with honours MM etc were allowed to go and they had a good five weeks away which included a week's leave at home.
One chap - Reg Robinson M.M.from Leeds, came back and within days he was on his way back to the U.K. for a months LIAP - that took some real staff work !

Wednesday, 27 September, 2006  
Blogger Peter G said...


I must come to the defence of the Wikipedia. You said that I've looked at some things on Wikipedia and I did not feel they were that good. Personally I have nothing but praise for the Wikipedia project and it cannot be blamed for entries distorted by some contributors.

On accuracy the Wikipedia has been found to be marginally better than the Encyclopedia Britannica. Read this BBC News report, here

As for the few dubious entries, in the long run the Wikipedia tends to be self-correcting. Treat modern history and political entries cautiously (provenance clues often lie in the given links), but on Science, Astronomy, Biology, Geology, and every other academic subject it is second to none.

Thursday, 28 September, 2006  
Blogger Ron Goldstein said...


Like Peter, I rise to the defence of Wikipedia.

This truthfully might be because I have actually got two articles on the site myself, both are quoted and linked to the BBC Archives.

The first (through the efforts of Saint Peter)is "1946 London Victory Parade" and the second is "End of World War II in Europe" and relates to the Keitel surrender document.
In both cases you have to scroll down to the References or Footnotes.

Thursday, 28 September, 2006  
Blogger Peter G said...

Ron drew my attention to the article I reproduce here

Is Wikipedia the fairest Middle East source?
By Alex Brummer

The online encyclopaedia makes mistakes and shows bias — and then corrects itself. That makes it useful

This weekend is the last chance for visitors to Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia, to settle once and for all on a correct name for this summer’s Middle East conflict.

The battle over the title has been raging since Wikipedia declared the war under way on July 12. The current favourite, acc-ording to Wikipedia’s discussion site, is “2006 Israel-Lebanon Conflict.” Military historians apparently like it because it conforms to the pattern describing previous Middle East wars. But a strong case is also made on the site for such designations as “The Hizbollah-Israel Conflict,” “The Hizbollah-IDF War,” “The Second Leban-on War” (a preferred title in Israel) and the “July War,” as it is known in the Lebanon.

This may seem a somewhat obscure debate, but it provides an insight into how the world’s most comprehensive encyclopaedia is compiled. Anyone can make suggestions and, wherever possible, Wikipedia settles for official data. When there is a dispute among the experts, Wikipedia seeks to give both sides, sourcing with academic-style footnotes.

Journalism, it was once famously re-marked, is the first draft of history. But that is no longer the case. Anyone who has closely followed the Israel-Hizbollah conflict and the subsequent ceasefire arrangements has a myriad of sources to turn to.

These include 24/7 news broadcasts, bloggers, email and the web. Amid this wealth of material, it has been virtually impossible to stand back and gain perspective. But one place where a determined attempt at this is made is Wikipedia, which, at the time of writing, boasted 1,403,894 separate entries. Compare this with the Encyclo-paedia Britannica, for two centuries the gold standard in the knowledge industry, which has 120,000 entries.

Wikipedia goes where other encyclopaedias dare not tread. Its entries range from Sud-oku to Islam in Iceland. But its greatest virtue is that it is current. The current article on the Israel-Lebanon conflict was first created six hours after hostilities broke out. At present, it hosts 103 kilobytes of material which Wikipedia helpfully lets us know is “too long.”

The site has ballooned in size because, unlike the printed word in newspapers, books or conventional encyclopaedias, there are no editors dictating length and content. Instead, it is a global enterprise in collaborative editing.

The reporting and facts are subject to constant intellectual challenge. In the aftermath of this summer’s conflict, all the parties were quick to make claims of victory. Israel and the US declared that Hizbollah had lost. Iran and Syria claimed victory for Hizbollah and a poll by Israeli radio found that Israelis themselves were split about the conflict.

Anyone disagreeing with any of these statements had the power to challenge them.

During the hostilities, the preponderance of broadcast images were of destruction in the Lebanon. By contrast, the Wikipedia site showed a strong image of a Katuysha-damaged building in Haifa alongside that of smoke rising above the Lebanese city of Tyre.

At the last count, Wikipedia was the 17th most popular site on the worldwide web, generating more daily traffic than on-line versions of broadcasters such as MSNBC and CNN in the United States and of newspapers like the New York Times, the Guardian and the Wall Street Journal. The number of visitors has been increasing exponentially, with the receipt of 14,000 hits per second. And Wikipedia’s material is subject to constant editing and revisions.

The Wikipedia entry on the Israel-Lebanon conflict divides into a series of chapters. As hostilities ratcheted down in late August, there were just eight chapters. This has now expanded to 15, including an account of post-ceasefire events. A chapter is included on media controversy, including the dispute over the photos of an all-eged Israeli attack on a Red Cross convoy.

Unlike other leading-edge web sites, like eBay, Google and MySpace, Wikipedia is not a commercial enterprise which has turned its founders and contributors into multi-billionaires. Founded by information-technology whiz Jimmy Wales, now 40, it carries no advertising and is a not-for-profit organisation with a small dedicated team of professional employees.

Wales is constantly having to rewrite the rules. After an entry appeared at the end of last year wrongly implicating an innocent party in the assassination of John F Kennedy, Wales ruled that users would be required to register before making entries. Whereas sites like MySpace network socially, Wikipedia networks on the facts, constantly updating in real time.

Wikipedia dates the start of the Israel-Lebanon conflict to 9.05am local time on July 12 2006, when Hizbollah initiated a Katuysha rocket and mortar attack on Israeli military positions and villages of Northern Israel, injuring at least eight Israelis. One could have listened to Britain’s broadcasters from the start of the conflict until beyond the ceasefire without hearing that version of events.

Inevitably, mistakes are made and the veracity of entries is queried. But the great thing is that they can be openly challenged. It is truly history in the making.

Alex Brummer is city editor of the Daily Mail

Saturday, 30 September, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Others [sic!] are distorting history for nationalistic reasons. A case in point is the 1946 London Victory Parade which Polish nationalists. and perhaps others who are well-intentioned but ill-informed, persist in seeing the parade as a slur on them."?! Truth is indeed the first of war's casualties, especially on the part of those who have little to be proud of. And it's not the Poles.

Tuesday, 12 November, 2013  

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