Letter: History today: too much gloss, not enough fact

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The Independent Online
Sir: Ivor Lightman's letter (10 October), about the lack of 'short-term historical perspective' among today's students, brought to my mind an incident a couple of years ago.

It occurred on a visit to Vimy Ridge in northern France when I found myself in the company of a number of English schoolchildren. As the children wandered around the trenches, one of them looked at a piece of twisted metal and asked his friends: 'What's that?'. I told them that it was a mortar base plate.

Later, I came across the same group looking at the Canadian map of the front. One of them asked me: 'Sir, there are the Canadian trenches and there are the Germans. Where was the enemy?'

I mentioned the question to one of the children's teachers and her reply amazed me. 'You have to remember that these children have grown up in the Cold War and everything they read tells them that the enemies are the Russians.' So Stalingrad, Leningrad and Kursk are presumably deleted from our current histories - if, indeed, there are any.

Yours sincerely,

W. A. WALSH

Gravesend,

Kent

11 October

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