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 Colonial attitudes in the Thirties

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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Colonial attitudes in the Thirties   Thu 29 Oct 2015, 21:16

I start a new thread as the subject is that wide and not os easy to explain. I limit my subject to the former Belgian Congo (not the Congo Freestate) and the attitudes from the Belgian Colonials overthere and the perception in Belgium it self. Perhaps with some links to other colonial powers as France where Belgium always was nearer to than the Indonesian circumstances from the Netherlands.

First of all about the Hergé attitudes as in Tintin in Africa:
From the wiki:
"As in Land of the Soviets, where Hergé had based his information about the Soviet Union almost entirely on a single source, in Tintin in the Congo he used limited source material to learn about the country and its people. He based the story largely on literature written by missionaries, with the only added element being that of the diamond smugglers, possibly adopted from the "Jungle Jim-type serials".[18] Hergé visited the Colonial Museum of Tervuren, examining their ethnographic collections of Congolese artefacts, including costumes of the Leopard Men.[19] He adopted hunting scenes from André Maurois's novel The Silence of Colonel Bramble, while his animal drawings were inspired by Benjamin Rabier's prints.[17] He also listened to tales of the colony from some of his colleagues who had been there, but disliked their stories, later claiming: "I didn't like the colonists, who came back bragging about their exploits. As in Land of the Soviets, where Hergé had based his information about the Soviet Union almost entirely on a single source, in Tintin in the Congo he used limited source material to learn about the country and its people. He based the story largely on literature written by missionaries, with the only added element being that of the diamond smugglers, possibly adopted from the "Jungle Jim-type serials".[18] Hergé visited the Colonial Museum of Tervuren, examining their ethnographic collections of Congolese artefacts, including costumes of the Leopard Men.[19] He adopted hunting scenes from André Maurois's novel The Silence of Colonel Bramble, while his animal drawings were inspired by Benjamin Rabier's prints.[17] He also listened to tales of the colony from some of his colleagues who had been there, but disliked their stories, later claiming: "I didn't like the colonists, who came back bragging about their exploits. But I couldn't prevent myself from seeing the Blacks as big children, either."

My family had no links with colonials, so I had it all to hear indirectly from other sources up to the Sixties.

"But I couldn't prevent myself from seeing the Blacks as big children, either"
As I understand it, it was for the natives, who came from a society, which had still the norms and beliefs of a primitive community, quite a gap to the modern organisation and behaviour. And it is perhaps normal that the Europeans coming from a 20th century society feel superior to them and found that they had to try to bring them to the same level of knowledge and behaviour as theirs.
And from all that I heard the missionaries and their action were beneficial for the highning of the standards of the native population. Of course it was the same education as in the "motherland" with all the flaws inherent at the Belgian Roman-Catholic education system and nursing systems. But in my opinion, if the balance is positive, who are those who want to...

Yes and that Belgian society of the Thirties was also a bit otherwise of this of the beginning of the 21th century. My mother was talking about her cinema visits. The silent film with a man in the corner playing piano to have some music. The plot a bit as in the Keystone Cops, the Charly Chaplin films already the summum of intellectual entertainment.
She spoke about the cowboy Tom Mix, always dressed in white, while he was the good guy...and he hanging above the abyss...and than suddenly the end...to come back next week to see what happened to their hero further...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Mix
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTCn3jyZ4wM


And even in 1939 as I saw "Stagecoach" recently it was not "that much" better yet...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stagecoach_(1939_film)


Will comment further tomorrow...See you tomorrow again...

Kind regards, Paul.




















Subject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Fri 23 Oct 2015 - 21:53


nordmann wrote:Paul wrote:I had a lot to say about the subject and wanted to elaborate about Hergé and Tintin, but nearing midnight overhere it will be for tomorrow...
Great, I look forward to a Belgian take on Hergé and his wee reporter. The last time I was there he was still very much a local hero. I really hope the PC brigade haven't done him posthumously down in the meantime!

PS: I found this Paul - evidence that Hergé himself tackled early complaints about the Congo adventure and attempted to keep the story alive without inadvertently offending people further. Here Tintin switches in a later edition from teaching "the natives" to look up to all things Belgian to teaching the Congo students mathematics. When modern critics pour scorn and contempt on the book in question it is actually the revised one that they are having banned from shops and libraries. I wonder if they actually know just how offensive it once really was?



Yes Nordmann I checked my copy of Tintin in Congo and it is already the revised one of 1946.
But weren't that no "normal" attitudes in 1931?
I better start a new thread aobut colonial attitudes of the Thirties and their nowadays perception, also the difference in culture between the "natives" of some (I have to pay attention on my terminology!) land not been in contact with the modern 19th/20th  century society.

I will first give my links to elaborate further tomorrow:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tintin_in_the_Congo
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tintin_in_the_Land_of_the_Soviets
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Mix
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTCn3jyZ4wM




https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stagecoach_(1939_film)


http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Scramble-Africa-Thomas-Pakenham/dp/0349104492
http://joelswagman.blogspot.be/2011/06/scramble-for-africa-18761912-by-thomas.html
https://goo.gl/mokSHr

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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Colonial attitudes in the Thirties   Thu 29 Oct 2015, 23:24

Isn't "Heart of Darkness" supposedly set in the Belgian Congo (as it then was)? Was there a difference in attitude, do you think, because it was seen as the personal fief of the King of the Belgians, rather than as a possession of the Belgian polity? Equally interesting to me - was there a difference in the British view between South Africa, already a Dominion by the 30s, colonies where it was apparently assumed a similar situation would be reached, such as Kenya and Rhodesia, and other colonies? Were the "mandated" territories (the ex-German colonies) viewed in a different light to those established by the British?
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Colonial attitudes in the Thirties   Sat 31 Oct 2015, 17:53

@Gilgamesh of Uruk wrote:
Isn't "Heart of Darkness" supposedly set in the Belgian Congo (as it then was)? Was there a difference in attitude, do you think, because it was seen as the personal fief of the King of the Belgians, rather than as a possession of the Belgian polity? Equally interesting to me - was there a difference in the British view between South Africa, already a Dominion by the 30s, colonies where it was apparently assumed a similar situation would be reached, such as Kenya and Rhodesia, and other colonies? Were the "mandated" territories (the ex-German colonies) viewed in a different light to those established by the British?


Gil,

"Isn't "Heart of Darkness" supposedly set in the Belgian Congo (as it then was)? Was there a difference in attitude, do you think, because it was seen as the personal fief of the King of the Belgians, rather than as a possession of the Belgian polity?"

yes it was set in the Congo Freestate. In 1890 not yet the Belgian Congo.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_of_Darkness

There is quite a difference in ruling between the Congo Freestate and the later Belgian colony. Perhaps the cruel behaviour didn't change immediately but by the entering of the Belgian state, education and social support were quite stepped up, as the application of the laws.
And now by reading the "Heart of Darkness" story perhaps some parallels with Tintin in Congo? Could Hergé have read "Heart of Darkness"? Tintin in the Congo some parallels with Kurtz? From the wiki article:


Léon Rom, photographed c. 1880, who some have argued served as the inspiration for Kurtz.

Did I find now a new item for the study of the Tintin albums? Wink

I made I see now in 2005 in response to a question of our Tim of Acleah from overhere a whole article about the Congo Free State on the old BBC boards.
As we can seemingly not search anymore via Google (still last year possible!) on the old BBC boards, I found out that as I mentioned the subject on my former French messageboard I can find my BBC messages back:



http://www.empereurperdu.com/tribunehistoire/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=703

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbhistory/F2233809?thread=735352
And there again our Arnald Amalric, our Dirk Marinus now on Jiglu (I will use his comments further in this thread) and of course the Swedish baron Hasse soldier for the UN...and John Hesseltine, by his stroke not able to attend the boards anymore...I hope taht Caro will fare better...what a memories...and I see now that it was just the date of the dead of my mother as mentioned in the thread...yes a lot of things happen in 10 years...

For your further questions comments after my evening dinner...

Kind regards, your friend Paul.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Colonial attitudes in the Thirties   Mon 02 Nov 2015, 22:07

Hmm, Gilgamesh, after the dinner...

I started to read further and looking on the net for the behaviour of Belgian colonials during the Thirties...and read and read...learning a lot...and came even on this:
a book of some 800 pages from a certain Bambi Ceuppens (who seems to call Godelieve Ceuppens)
And she is a Belgian Flemish Congolese female anthropologist...and she did studies about the Belgian colonialism and from my first approach it was all very thought provoking and pushed me to do more research before entering a lose discussion...
http://cas1.elis.ugent.be/avrug/bambi02.htm

To have an impression in English who Bambi Ceuppens is:



Tomorrow, more...

Good evening from the European peninsula, Paul.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Colonial attitudes in the Thirties   Wed 04 Nov 2015, 21:45

Gilgamesh,

sparked by the book I mentioned from Bambi Ceuppens:
"Congo made in Flanders"
http://cas1.elis.ugent.be/avrug/bambi02.htm
(and I see now that they have the book in the local library Bruges Belgium)
I read yesterday also the lengthy debates on Historum:
http://historum.com/european-history/39586-european-colonial-power-treated-their-colonies-best-worst-s.html
I learned not that much and a lot of energy flows to unnecessary discussions. In my opinion it is as with every discussion on that forum as who is the best of, the worst of, not history but a personal opinion or moral stance. Overhere I want to separate the different colonial powers as each case is different and even within the same colonial power there are different cases according to the particularly areas, regions involved. Are they lucky that the Belgians had only one colony. Ruanda-Urundi were mandate areas by the League of Nations after WWI.

But reading in the book of Ceuppens about the interviews with the Flemish minded colonials in the former Belgian Congo I learned from her that it had a lot to do with the paternalistic way the Belgians saw themselves as the ones who were nearly another kind of people in comparison with the locals, she makes even if I read it well in this quick survey a comparison with the 19th centrury patrons against their working force...as she is also involved in the modern relations in Belgium between the "authotones" and the "allochtones" (in Belgium Moroccans and Turks) and the behaviour of the far right Flemish party...it has also something to do with the "us" (les Belges de souche I don't know an English word for it, the Belgians, who live here since generations and adhere to the old values (values as in positive as negative sense)...some rethorik that is actual with the arrival of the "refugees"...

From my perception from a "geopolitical" French forum where I also contribute to, that feeling of our "Western values", the French republican principles against the "others" are in the core of the debate and I can only say that it remembers me to my discussions on Historum about nationalism and nationhood:
http://historum.com/general-history/64570-early-nationalism.html
http://historum.com/general-history/88389-concept-nationhood.html

 For my take on the subject read my messages in these threads.

The summum would be, as I don't agree with a lot that Bambi Ceuppens said, that we could discuss it overhere with her...

Gil, tomorrow more...kind regards, Paul.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Colonial attitudes in the Thirties   Sat 07 Nov 2015, 18:08

Gil,

I have now from the local librarry the book that I earlier mentionned "Congo made in Flanders" from Bambi Ceuppens in my hand.
Yesterday I did some more research about the colonial history of the Belgian Congo and especcially about the attitudes and the rememberance of the colonials from that time, colonials who are now all in their seventies even nineties...
Read among others this:
http://www.cegesoma.be/docs/media/chtp_beg/chtp_19/003_Gillet.pdf

Read about Cegesoma: a federal institute for war documentation, something like the Nios in the Netherlands:


http://www.cegesoma.be/cms/index_en.php

 I read the whole enquête, the discussion about the fiability of the enquiry list and the rate of responses and the conclusions.
More and more I see now the "picture" even in comparison with North Rhodesia, the rest of the Copperbelt...
And now I understand more and more Dirk Marinus, I will ask him if he for once comes over from Jiglu...and yes also Tas when we discussed the emergence of India and Pakistan on the old BBC messagebords.

I am glad that in addition to what I studied in the time for Tim of Aclea, namely the Congo Freestate of Léopold II, now have read that much about the later hsitory of the "Belgian Congo" from 1908 on...

A history of the Congo I guess from a former colonial or from the colonial cercle, in defiance to all the latest fuss about the Belgian Congo, especially from the Anglo-Saxon, American corner...And I have to say I don't find it biased, perhaps because it is not written in a provocative way...? Although the "accents" could have been laid otherwise... Wink
From Baron Alexis de Crombrugghe de Picquendaele:

http://www.afacbelco.net/Baron%20ALEXIS%20Perceptions%20fr.pdf

 
I will add for fear of loosing my elaborated message overhere my further comments in a new message.

Kind regards, Paul.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Colonial attitudes in the Thirties   Sat 07 Nov 2015, 18:20

http://www.afacbelco.net/Baron%20ALEXIS%20Perceptions%20fr.pdf
I don't know why the link don't work...
I tried via the website and this one works
http://www.afacbelco.net/
http://www.afacbelco.net/page26.html

You can find the article that I mentioned: under: "La colonisation belge (1908-1960): "Perception de la colonisation belge"
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Colonial attitudes in the Thirties   Thu 12 Nov 2015, 21:36

I have now read the book from Bambi Ceuppens I mentioned in my thread. 824 pages to be exact. I haven't read it page per page but only selectively, but catched all what she wanted to say I suppose. And that's a wide range: over the paternalism of the Belgian government, to the gender question, the anti migrant and anti- muslim religion attitudes of the  Flemish Blok (far-right, a bit like the Wilders party in the Netherlands). And she knows about what she is speaking as an antropologist, as a woman, as the daughter of a "white" woman and a "black" man, as educated in the Flanders region, being from a "village", the differences between village and city, the difference of the "classes", the history of the "paternalism" of the 19th century in Belgium, the existence of "classes"...
She was a host prof in Glasgow and said about the British "class" feeling that it was more pronounced than in Flanders, Belgium...
In fact a lot of subjects from the social sphere and I think I will start a new thread about the history of the changing attitudes in the social behaviour from the 19th century till nowadays...

From all what I read about the Belgian Congo (1908-1960) during the last days the wiki seems to give a "fair" view of the history:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgian_Congo

Tomorrow more comments, especially for Tim of Aclea.

Kind regards, Paul.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Colonial attitudes in the Thirties   Fri 13 Nov 2015, 22:03

The core remark for the Thirties in the Belgian Congo was "paternalism" perhaps to compare with the 19th century attitudes of new industrialists, who bound the workers to their working place, with all services nearly obliged to them to take from the boss as food, drinks, healtcare. And a strong awareness of the classes of the bosses and the workers.
They had perhaps the best system of health-care and education of the sub-Sahara countries, but the Congolese had only to work and only a basic education, because higher education and black people evoluted to European standards, the so-called "évolués" meant only trouble. And they wanted a docile colony which had to be self-sufficient, no money from the Belgian taxe-payer. Economical exploitation was the colony's top priority. This was implemented by the state agents, the Catholic church's missions and the private societies, which worked all three in close coordination.

That paternalism and not doing enough for the full emancipation of the Congolese population was only changing from the Fifties on with the Ten Years plan of 1949. But some colonials, who knew the local situation very well, said not a 10 years plan, but a 30 years plan is needed. Some spoke even of a 60 years plan...

But that was not given to the Belgian Congo...in the Fifties everywhere in the world there was a trend for decolonisation, even promoted by the big two of the time, the US and the Soviet-Union both with their different reasons...and all the colonial mights were taken in this turmoil, while in the Cold War the two fought their divergences in proxy wars in the former colonies. And the Belgian colony was not prepared for this, with nearly no black elite, the first university Lovanium opened its doors in 1954. And even the local middle class was not prepared or educated enough to take the leadership of the new independent state.

But the time of independance was nearly inevitable seen the circumstances of the time. An interesting alternative is that of Angola where Portugal struggled another 14 years to keep their colony and was it that better than the Belgian Congo.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angola

As I came during my reading in contact with the neighbouring North-Rhodesia (now Zambia?), they say that the British ruled indirectly by local chiefs, but was that so different to the Belgian Congo where the smallest units of the six regions were also ruled by the local chiefs. And how was it in South-Africa? And in India?

Tomorrow more comments...

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonial attitudes in the Thirties   Sat 14 Nov 2015, 21:58

Doing research about indirect rule in Rhodesia I found this as a first approach from Wiki:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Rhodesia
We had once the president Kaunda in our factory in the time...

And while I had already Angola and now Rhodesia adjacent to the former Belgian Congo I read also the Wiki of the Congo Brazaville
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_of_the_Congo

Kind regards, Paul.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Colonial attitudes in the Thirties   Wed 18 Nov 2015, 21:24

To end my colonial thread I want to speak again about the attitudes of the Belgian colonials.
Some two weeks ago I met a lady in the clinic where the wife was hospitalized. She had as a child spent with her parents some 6 years in the Congo till 1960. Date of the independance and when they had to leave because of the troubles. I read that after the independance of Angola some 300,000 left because of the civil war.

When I asked her while I was busy with this thread, she wanted not to speak about it saying in defiance, to talk about the chopped hands, no rather no, even before I started to ask. It depicts what I encountered with many old colonials. A kind of victimization as to the unfair treatment they received from I have to say mostly leftist/green circles in Belgium.

And after all what I read last days I can understand them. It was in fact the Belgian government who made the colonial rules. And yes there was paternalism and a feeling of we are the Whites, we come from a civilized country, especially before 1954 but in the mother country too there was a lot changed in attitudes from the Thirties on and with WWII...perhaps a watershed was 1958 with the world exhibition of Brussels...(that was already in my lifetime).

And there was a big difference between the natives and the white colonials.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Scramble-Africa-Thomas-Pakenham/dp/0349104492
http://joelswagman.blogspot.be/2011/06/scramble-for-africa-18761912-by-thomas.html
Read about Lippens and de Bruyne and cannibalism in the war to Sefu...
https://goo.gl/mokSHr

But yes after some fifty years the Belgian colonials could have changed that attitudes and indeed they changed it and started a good education network all over Congo, but only for the basic education. They never allowed for equality and only in the Fifties started higher education and never considered the natives as equals. Only at the end there was change as there was change in the motherland too. After all paternalism was still wide spread in Belgium until the Fifties, class feeling too. Only in 1948 women had voting rights in Belgium and even after it was still a men's society.
And I understand the old colonials...had they by a magic streak had had more time before independence and had had time to change their attitudes towards the natives learning them to govern it could have been quite another land than now...although perhaps some colonials would have never learned it...
I understand Dirk Marinus from the time of the BBC board and now still at Jiglu, as an old colonial who is still frustrated by all the backwardness from a former flowering colony.
The same for Tasneem Tas, also from the former BBC board and now here and at Jiglu, who regretted the former British India which was with all its flaws, if I understood him right, better of than now...

Kind regards, Paul.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Colonial attitudes in the Thirties   Thu 19 Nov 2015, 09:04

A legacy of colonialism - regardless it seems of who was doing the colonising - is that strange caste of people it leaves in its wake, those who find themselves alienated by both sides at the end of the process of dismantlement of the old regime. They inevitably contain within them the remnants of the "über class" that pertained while the colony was in operation, but by far the majority are people who - for various reasons and in very diverse circumstances - found it necessary more than others in their country to invest in that regime's structure and mode of operation. Such investment is a fundament of identity, and it is the loss of that identity that is difficult to address once the fundament has been effectively removed for ever.

It is interesting though to see how this identity crisis is tackled in different scenarios. In Belgium I found much as you cite above Paul, a persistent incomprehension on the part of those most affected by this phenomenon - revealingly almost entirely whites - that their mission to "civilise" the natives had ended so terribly. But Belgium amongst colonising powers is a very unique case, as you know. From when British pressure forced Leopold to sell his personal fiefdom of Congo to the Belgian state there existed in Belgium a form of missionary zeal in every sense - an overriding impulse to be seen to be addressing Leopold's inhumanly cruel wrongs by implementing modern and progressive policies designed to bring the Congolese to a state of civilisation comparable to Europeans.

Of course the egregious mendacity inherent in such a policy was obvious, even at the time to many outside commentators - particularly neighbouring colonists who, it must be said, were fearful more of rebellious contagion from the Belgian holdings in Africa spreading into their own dominions than the welfare of the masses under colonial rule. The truth of the matter, and crucially the truth as understood by the Congolese, was that one regime based on unspeakable cruelty had simply been replaced by another which pretended that its relative lack of cruelty represented a form of egalitarianism. But of course it was a particularly jaundiced view of equality which allowed the coloniser to continue to own and control the country's resources, leech vast profits from its colony of which only a tiny fraction were reinvested back into that country's infrastructure, and in which the drive to "civilise" was tempered with the necessity to ensure that the newly civilised people still knew their place in colonial terms, essentially not as exalted a place as full-blown Belgian citizenry.

But it was the peculiar Belgian strain of mendacity which would, in the end, decide the fate of the colony and post-colonial relationships between Belgians and their former colonial citizens, right up to today. One thing one notices in Belgium, unlike almost all other ex-colonial centres of power, is the almost total absence of an established Congolese sub-society in urban centres. There are ghettos, and in fact Belgium's failure to integrate immigrant minorities is one of the most pronounced of all EU states, but if anything it is a Moroccan culture that is most expressed in these enclaves. Congolese exist, but they are a very small percentage of "the rest" of the accommodated immigration population and perceived by Belgians as such too. When Belgium was finally forced to relinquish its colony there was no provision for dual citizenship, as for example Britain had arranged for many of its ex-colonials, not to mention full citizenship for some ex-colonials as extended by France during its own tortuous abandonment of colonial holdings. Congolese were as welcome in Belgium as they had always been throughout colonial times - that is to say not very welcome at all.

And yet as recently as 2006 this is what 12 year old Belgian children could read in their history text books:

"When the Belgians arrived in the Congo, they found a population that was victim of bloody rivalries and slave trade. Belgian civil servants, missionaries, doctors, colonists and engineers civilized the black population step by step. They created modern cities, roads and railroads, harbours and airports, factories and mines, schools and hospitals. This work greatly improved the living conditions of the indigenous people."

Historiographically the above is a classic example of history written by people effectively in denial of their past, and despite some recent initiatives to promote a wider general popular perception of the actual experience of the Congolese (repression, murder, forced labour etc) a more honest appraisal historically of the true nature of Belgian involvement in the Congo has been very much the preserve of historians essentially writing for each other.

Belgians are not alone in wishing simply to avoid a nitty-gritty assessment of their country's actual conduct throughout its colonial history. But my experience has been that they lag behind their other ex-colonising contemporaries by a long shot. In recent decades some excellent examinations of Congo's troubled history have come from Congolese historians (I recommend anything written by Mumbanza Mwa Bawele for a much more contextual analysis of Belgian conduct from an African perspective), but these as yet are few and far between on bookshelves in Belgium, at least as far as I could see when I was there. The Belgian legacy in that part of the world has been profound and persists even up to today, but one would be forgiven for thinking the opposite were one only to read what makes up the bulk of modern Belgian historians' output.

Within the context of such "blind eye turning" to what is still a relatively recent colonial past it is hardly surprising that the class of people who inevitably are left stranded in terms of identity upon a colony's transfer to independence feel, in Belgium, an even more heightened sense of alienation and of being misunderstood. However it is salient to notice that this class in Belgian circumstances contains so few ethnic Africans that their predicament, upon any close examination, in itself reveals much of Belgian colonial history that the children's history books have yet to acknowledge.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Colonial attitudes in the Thirties   Fri 20 Nov 2015, 21:41

Nordmann,

"A legacy of colonialism - regardless it seems of who was doing the colonising - is that strange caste of people it leaves in its wake, those who find themselves alienated by both sides at the end of the process of dismantlement of the old regime. They inevitably contain within them the remnants of the "über class" that pertained while the colony was in operation, but by far the majority are people who - for various reasons and in very diverse circumstances - found it necessary more than others in their country to invest in that regime's structure and mode of operation. Such investment is a fundament of identity, and it is the loss of that identity that is difficult to address once the fundament has been effectively removed for ever"

Agreed. And they form a circle, which comes together some times a year and memorate of the old colonial times and protest about the unfair attitudes towards them in the motherland where they are returned and how it could have been that much better if they had only had the time to perform it in the colony.

"It is interesting though to see how this identity crisis is tackled in different scenarios. In Belgium I found much as you cite above Paul, a persistent incomprehension on the part of those most affected by this phenomenon - revealingly almost entirely whites - that their mission to "civilise" the natives had ended so terribly. But Belgium amongst colonising powers is a very unique case, as you know. From when British pressure forced Leopold to sell his personal fiefdom of Congo to the Belgian state there existed in Belgium a form of missionary zeal in every sense - an overriding impulse to be seen to be addressing Leopold's inhumanly cruel wrongs by implementing modern and progressive policies designed to bring the Congolese to a state of civilisation comparable to Europeans.
Of course the egregious mendacity inherent in such a policy was obvious, even at the time to many outside commentators - particularly neighbouring colonists who, it must be said, were fearful more of rebellious contagion from the Belgian holdings in Africa spreading into their own dominions than the welfare of the masses under colonial rule. The truth of the matter, and crucially the truth as understood by the Congolese, was that one regime based on unspeakable cruelty had simply been replaced by another which pretended that its relative lack of cruelty represented a form of egalitarianism. But of course it was a particularly jaundiced view of equality which allowed the coloniser to continue to own and control the country's resources, leech vast profits from its colony of which only a tiny fraction were reinvested back into that country's infrastructure, and in which the drive to "civilise" was tempered with the necessity to ensure that the newly civilised people still knew their place in colonial terms, essentially not as exalted a place as full-blown Belgian citizenry."


"egregious mendacity" In my opinion from what I read in the last days nobody was fooled. There existed not as in South Africa a colour bar and even less in Angola, but it was we the colonials and them, the colonized ones, undependent from the level of education. An "évolué" remained always someone other than a colonial. And the colonials wanted to bring up the people to European standards, but before the Fifties it was only education at the basis and a higher level of "native" government and education for fear of troubles was only implemented when in the world the decolonisation was in full swing and it was too late. But I think that even had they had some twenty years more although the relations between "natives" and "colonials" would have been better and the difference with European standards perhaps less, the feelings of the difference between we the "colonials" and them, the "natives" would not have been abolished.
But if you look to the history of Mid-Africa, French -Congo, Northern-Rhodesia, Angola, is their history that different from the Belgian Congo (1908-1960)? All to say that the Belgian Congo was not a cas unique...

"But it was the peculiar Belgian strain of mendacity which would, in the end, decide the fate of the colony and post-colonial relationships between Belgians and their former colonial citizens, right up to today. One thing one notices in Belgium, unlike almost all other ex-colonial centres of power, is the almost total absence of an established Congolese sub-society in urban centres. There are ghettos, and in fact Belgium's failure to integrate immigrant minorities is one of the most pronounced of all EU states, but if anything it is a Moroccan culture that is most expressed in these enclaves. Congolese exist, but they are a very small percentage of "the rest" of the accommodated immigration population and perceived by Belgians as such too. When Belgium was finally forced to relinquish its colony there was no provision for dual citizenship, as for example Britain had arranged for many of its ex-colonials, not to mention full citizenship for some ex-colonials as extended by France during its own tortuous abandonment of colonial holdings. Congolese were as welcome in Belgium as they had always been throughout colonial times - that is to say not very welcome at all."

"is the almost total absence of an established Congolese sub-society in urban centres"

That's a difficult question. Did some quick research. In 1945: 10 Belgian Congolese. In 1961: 2585. In 2010: 16,000 and 25,000 born in Congo and now Belgian citizen. Reasons: Perhaps the lack of migrant workers due to full employment by the Congolese industry, fear that the Congolese, visiting Belgium would contaminate the relation between colonials and natives (in fact the natives from the Congoboats in Antwerp had a contract to retuyrn to Congo again), fear that the Congolese would have become by the Communists of Germany infiltrated with decolonisation ideas, or a mix of the three? Belgium rather took in poor Italian migrant workers and later Moroccans and Turks...

"There are ghettos, and in fact Belgium's failure to integrate immigrant minorities is one of the most pronounced of all EU states"

You can be right. I will do some research about it. But at least the Italian community seems to be fully integrated. As perhaps the Spaniards and Portuguese too and of course the Chinese are everywhere. It are more the Turkish and Moroccan communities who live in ghettos. I have the impression that most Belgians aren't not that much disturbed by colour or education but more with "cultural" differences and as long as these differences exist the integration is difficult. And the political correct can say what they want as long as the feelings of the average man in the street don't change...one can't oblige the average man in the street to...
For instance now with the influx of all those war migrants, they have to subscribe an engagement declaration, where the European values and norms are incorporated. And if they don't want to do it it will have serious repercussions later on their demand for Belgian citizenship...

But is Belgium all that different from its neighbours? I don't know for the Pakistani and Indians in Britain, but I was many times in the German Rheinland-Westfalen, Köln and all that and saw not that much difference with in Belgium. Even the Dutch, who boasted on their multicultural society have last times some serious troubles with right wing parties as from Geert Wilders, who obtain an increasing part of the votes. As I read in a French messageboard, where I attend to, I have the impression that in France too they have the same problem, as again differences of "culture", where the separation of "church" and "state" of 1905 is highlighted and the far right of LePen has also a high percentage of votes.
If one compares Belgium with the others it seems nearly an oase of tranquility in the middle of... Wink

"Belgians are not alone in wishing simply to avoid a nitty-gritty assessment of their country's actual conduct throughout its colonial history. But my experience has been that they lag behind their other ex-colonising contemporaries by a long shot. In recent decades some excellent examinations of Congo's troubled history have come from Congolese historians (I recommend anything written by Mumbanza Mwa Bawele for a much more contextual analysis of Belgian conduct from an African perspective), but these as yet are few and far between on bookshelves in Belgium, at least as far as I could see when I was there. The Belgian legacy in that part of the world has been profound and persists even up to today, but one would be forgiven for thinking the opposite were one only to read what makes up the bulk of modern Belgian historia"

Not sure about it. In 2005 I did for the Congo thread of Tim of Aclea a lot of research in the local library for the history of the Congo. And it is all there from Congolese sources (I mean source written by Congolese intellectuels) as from pertinent Belgian historians, but I have the impression that the man in the street is not interested in all this. Although as I read recently on the internet with the new relationship with the former colony there are more and more initiatives as for instance in Bruges a partnership between a Belgian hospital and a Congolese one and as such the interest in the former colony is again growing and now in the "right perspective"...

That's all for the moment...

Kind regards, Paul.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Colonial attitudes in the Thirties   Sat 21 Nov 2015, 15:14

Paul wrote:
But at least the Italian community seems to be fully integrated. As perhaps the Spaniards and Portuguese too and of course the Chinese are everywhere. It are more the Turkish and Moroccan communities who live in ghettos.

This was my experience too in Belgium, but unlike you I saw this as rather more of an indictment of Belgium's commitment to integration than proof of any great success, given that it baldly states that long established European economic migrants for whom employment prospects were all but guaranteed display now a better standard of integration than economic migrants for whom such guarantees have been all but absent and who consequently have tended to become isolated and impoverished communities within a broader community which is quite content with this status quo persisting. And nor is it helpful to compare to other countries' experiences, especially France and Germany whose respective paths to non-European immigration as demographically represented within their borders today have been so unique, dissimilar and arrived at through quite different historical circumstances. But in any case even a poor demographic assessment (such as one that assumes the "Chinese" to be "everywhere", in fact a positive in integrational terms for a community numerically at the lower end of the immigration statistics) quite markedly cannot include any sizeable Congolese contingent in its analysis, quite simply because such a contingent simply does not exist. It is this more than anything else that marks Belgium apart from other ex-colonial powers in the pattern of post-colonial immigration that tends as a norm to follow this development.

Your assessment of the Belgian man on the street is however spot on, that was also my experience of "typical" Belgian attitudes towards their country's colonial history. And in truth, given the challenges now being presented by a failure to integrate more recent economic immigrants, Belgium - like the other lands you state - has more pressing matters to attend to than accounting for its failure to accommodate ex-colonials in the past.

It is unfortunate probably that the time has now passed when any meaningful policy addressing this failure could have been adopted, but it is still important (and who knows, probably vital) that modern Belgians acknowledge that resentment towards Belgium within a Congolese context is as contemporary as Belgian dismissal of such resentment as being historical is rife. A failure to understand this in Belgium today is a poor indicator of its chances of success in addressing what is now posing a much more immediate danger related to mistakes it made subsequently in failing to integrate immigrants.

Belgium is not alone in facing this dilemma, but on the other hand no other country is going to solve the problem for them.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonial attitudes in the Thirties   Sat 21 Nov 2015, 22:03

Nordmann,

"It is unfortunate probably that the time has now passed when any meaningful policy addressing this failure could have been adopted, but it is still important (and who knows, probably vital) that modern Belgians acknowledge that resentment towards Belgium within a Congolese context is as contemporary as Belgian dismissal of such resentment as being historical is rife. A failure to understand this in Belgium today is a poor indicator of its chances of success in addressing what is now posing a much more immediate danger related to mistakes it made subsequently in failing to integrate immigrants."
http://www.v-g-v.be/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/WEB_NL_Relations-belgo-congolaises_Juni-2014.pdf
http://www.v-g-v.be/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/WEB_FR_Relations-belgo-congolaises_Juin-2014.pdf
http://www.v-g-v.be/fr/qui-sommes-nous/



Kind regards, Paul.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Colonial attitudes in the Thirties   Sat 21 Nov 2015, 22:12

Addendum to the former message.

Excuses for the double, I don't know how it happened.

About the "Génération Congo" I mentioned:
https://goo.gl/LuDHPb


Kind regards, Paul.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Colonial attitudes in the Thirties   Sun 22 Nov 2015, 09:12

Double posting cleared up, Paul

It is telling that the organisation's document from 2014 concludes with three questions regarding enhancing the Belgo-Congolese relationship as it presently exists which, even you must admit Paul, were exactly what needed to be asked - and answered - as a matter of urgency 55 years ago. That they obviously were not answered then or in the interim rather backs up my own observations on the matter. And I am still unconvinced that a majority of Belgians would necessarily give priority to finding these answers either - if they traditionally had shown such an interest then there would be no need in 2015 to have such a "think tank" at all.

Recent events will further marginalise the aims of this organisation anyway. Congolese will, like every other non-European immigrant group in Belgium, find themselves all lumped together in public perception while the debate regarding how to accommodate "them" polarises into rather simplistic and ultimately unworkable alternatives (as with many other countries at the moment). Any acknowledgement of a special responsibility Belgium might have towards this particular group, something that already was shared by an impotently small sector of the population with regard to shaping official policy on the matter, can only shrink in significance even further in the circumstances that now prevail.

All European countries coping with the aftermath of the dismantlement of their colonial empires face unique challenges. In Belgium one of those challenges unique to that country's indigenous population is the consequence of attitudes towards their colonial citizens, attitudes which may have been serviceable and explicable in the 1930s (as your thread posited in its title), persevering long after either quality could be justified in the face of new realities as they developed over time. Other countries faced up to this particular danger eventually, often traumatically and rarely voluntarily. Belgium, having studiously ignored or avoided these traumas while persisting in a false belief that the issue had been settled long ago, now risks drastic consequences of its own complacency. In any resolution of this dilemma, and the signs are that such resolution will be bitter rather than amicable, the issue of the Congolese will serve as a brutally unforgiving litmus test of its chances of success at every stage.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonial attitudes in the Thirties   Mon 23 Nov 2015, 22:23

Nordmann thank you for your immediate reply.

For the readers who don't understand French: the manifesto I mentioned for a better Belgian-Congolese relationship was edited by two groups: the Belgian Friday group of young Belgian intellectuals and bussinesmen and the "Génération Congo" group the same counterpart in nowadays Congo.

And Nordmann it s sponsored by the Belgian King Boudewijn stichting Wink  That Belgian King, who was at the independence of 1961 and was later accused of having been involved in the way for killing Lumumba...

"Belgium, having studiously ignored or avoided these traumas while persisting in a false belief that the issue had been settled long ago, now risks drastic consequences of its own complacency. In any resolution of this dilemma, and the signs are that such resolution will be bitter rather than amicable, the issue of the Congolese will serve as a brutally unforgiving litmus test of its chances of success at every stage."

You can be right, but from what I observe from this corner of the globe, the cooperation is again bettered, especially since the diplomatic incidents of 2008. No, no old rancunes anymore and yes relations on an equal foot. And there are many economic opportunities too...

But the real danger is again in the Congo itself as for a third presidentship of Kabila not allowed by constitution and reason for destabilisation by the opposition. As in most African countries, the current presidents are not eager to leave their posts...Zimbabwe if I recall it well and now Burundi (from the former Belgian mandate of Ruanda-Urundi), which is approaching civil war last days.
And there is more in Congo... Kabila is from the East of Congo, which is seen as different from the West with the capital Kinshasa, nearly a duality in the political electorate...but perhaps Kabila will chose not for a third term, but for a "glissement" (slipping) of the second period because of the instability resurrecting next year 2016 after his second term ends...
No again dark clouds above our Congo for next year...

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonial attitudes in the Thirties   Tue 24 Nov 2015, 09:11

Paul wrote:
No again dark clouds above our Congo for next year...

Interesting choice of the word "our" there, Paul.

And of course it is the Congo itself which will always be the partner most likely to scupper any cooperative policies agreed between the two countries. It is a volatile region, and has been more or less since its inception as an independent land (an instability to which Belgium, it must also be stressed, has contributed hugely through political assassinations, trade and foreign policy interference, and not to mention of course the subsidisation of mercenary activity and arms provision).

My point above is still the one I adhere to with regard to how best this can be improved, and first and foremost the process would have to require an honest appraisal and admission from Belgium's side regarding residual responsibilities, one which is taken on board by at least a majority of Belgian people for it to make any difference. I cannot speak for what the current zeitgeist may be, but some short years ago I found the Belgians to be anything but willing to accept responsibility in contemporary terms for past policies adopted by their government on their behalf regarding the Congo region. The common view was that people were glad to be rid of the whole thing, so ugly had it become, and this showed an underlying assumption that Belgian involvement was either long over or that it had progressed to a level of two equal states in commerce together having conveniently forgotten their historical ties. When I have spoken to Congolese, as you can imagine, the feeling was anything but the same from their side.

It is good to see voluntary moves from the Belgian side on the part of interested individuals to at last open forums to discuss these issues - it is long overdue. But when I presented this viewpoint just yesterday to a Belgian colleague the response I got was "it's too little too late, and anyway we're better off just throwing the whole lot out." In other words there was a tacit admission that some things were still outstanding in terms of to be fixed, but the whole issue now had been subsumed into one concerning general immigration. Like a lot of people in Europe - not just in Belgium - there is now a general idea that immigration is either "right type" or "wrong type" and that the "wrong type" be addressed through eviction of those concerned. This is alarming enough in a European context, but in Belgium's case lumping the Congolese in with the "wrong type" is what marks that particular society out as having developed over time a form of racism peculiar to Belgium itself, one which studiously avoids contemplation of any special responsibilities that might apply to an ex colonial power.

Besides, my colleague also reckons anyway that the real aliens to be rid of are the Walloons. And that just about sums up current Belgian concerns regarding demographics - they are, perhaps equally understandably, primarily concerned with a Belgian "identity" that many feel must first be resolved before any careful or meaningful attention can be afforded to the expectations of other claimants to the status. And that of course includes whatever Congolese reside there.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonial attitudes in the Thirties   Tue 24 Nov 2015, 21:38

Nordmann,

"It is good to see voluntary moves from the Belgian side on the part of interested individuals to at last open forums to discuss these issues - it is long overdue. But when I presented this viewpoint just yesterday to a Belgian colleague the response I got was "it's too little too late, and anyway we're better off just throwing the whole lot out." In other words there was a tacit admission that some things were still outstanding in terms of to be fixed, but the whole issue now had been subsumed into one concerning general immigration. Like a lot of people in Europe - not just in Belgium - there is now a general idea that immigration is either "right type" or "wrong type" and that the "wrong type" be addressed through eviction of those concerned. This is alarming enough in a European context, but in Belgium's case lumping the Congolese in with the "wrong type" is what marks that particular society out as having developed over time a form of racism peculiar to Belgium itself, one which studiously avoids contemplation of any special responsibilities that might apply to an ex colonial power."

Now I think to see that you speak of immigration, up to now I understood about cooperation on "equal" level, cooperation due to the old ties between the two countries. And yes if I understand it well the two sides say let us forget the past, that was such a time and now we start a better future...? And question of debt I don't think the general public in Belgium will ever agree to compensations for the past as if I recall it well was asked by Jamaica? Immigration as a debt compensation, I don't believe it...and yes the norms for immigration are nowadays to avoid "economic" immigrants and more let in foreign students, who once their studies are finished stay over here or return to their country to boost overthere their economy...

But nevertheless contrary to your honourable Belgian colleague I believe from what I see the last! years that there is a future for the Congolese-Belgian cooperation? But I have perhaps not enough embedded information on that question and those from the Brussels region are perhaps better informed than I?

"It is good to see voluntary moves from the Belgian side on the part of interested individuals to at last open forums to discuss these issues"
Another forum:
http://www.congoforum.be/fr/showpage.asp?page=about

"Besides, my colleague also reckons anyway that the real aliens to be rid of are the Walloons."

That remembers me of the French site where I attend also to. The French asked us, the Belgians, to explain Belgium. And of course I too contributed to the thread. It is all still there and on a given moment some French speaking Belgian from around Brussels gave some examples how the French speaking ones were intimidated by Flemish bullies....a lot of propaganda is on the internet...I spoke that much with people from the coast, who work in Brussels and daily move from Ostend, Bruges and Ghent to Brussels and return in the evening...and there I heard a more realistic story...
And the cohesion in Belgium is again improved last years...how many times is Belgium now declared dead by its neighbours but every time it is there again alive and kicking Wink ...

And the Walloons? In France you have also regions, the South, the East, Bretagne, Paris, the Ardennes...In Belgium the French Ardennes as equivalent for Wallonia, Bretagne as equivalent for Flanders and Paris as equivalent for Brussels Wink ...
No serious now, I have the strong conviction that since the last government change with PM Charles Michel and even before with PM DiRupo, that something more "Belgian" is emerging again...

"Interesting choice of the word "our" there, Paul. "

The word "our" was deliberate to emphasize the "affective" band we, especially the older ones have still with the nowadays Democratic Republic of Congo.

Kind regards, Paul.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Colonial attitudes in the Thirties   Wed 25 Nov 2015, 10:30

You misunderstood me, I think. I said nothing about financial compensation. If such was all it took to right old colonial wrongs then Ireland could simply clean out the British exchequer and everyone could conveniently forget 600 years of rather oppressive colonisation, the effects of which are still very real in one corner of the island. But somehow I don't see either happening any time soon Smile

It is nice to hear you harbour affection for your Congolese brethren. A similar remark was once made by Tony Blair about the Irish when he was on a visit one time at a summit in Dublin ("We in Britain have a special affection for our neighbours in Ireland" or something similar) - to which the then leader of the Irish Labour Party responded "Thanks, but we liked it better when you hated us - at least then we knew we were dealing with honest people".
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PostSubject: Re: Colonial attitudes in the Thirties   Wed 25 Nov 2015, 19:57

Nordmann, thank you for your immediate reply and for your point of view.

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonial attitudes in the Thirties   Thu 28 Jan 2016, 16:37

Nordmann

 'A similar remark was once made by Tony Blair about the Irish when he was on a visit one time at a summit in Dublin ("We in Britain have a special affection for our neighbours in Ireland" or something similar) - to which the then leader of the Irish Labour Party responded "Thanks, but we liked it better when you hated us - at least then we knew we were dealing with honest people".'

My abiding memory of my 2 visits to the Republic (3 weeks in all) in the 1990s was how friendly the Irish were towards us as English despite all the past history.  I also noticed how on medieval sites that the English would be referred to as 'Normans' long after the term was irrelevant in England, in fact I do not think it was until the reign of Henry VIII that the switch to English was made.

Only 600 years of oppressive colonisation!

regards

Tim

ps From my father's writings, it is clear that he liked his time in Ireland in the mid 1930s and did not feel there was any hostility to him as an Englishman.  He was though clearly shocked by the poverty there which was clearly much worst than he experienced in England.
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Tim of Aclea
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PostSubject: Re: Colonial attitudes in the Thirties   Thu 28 Jan 2016, 16:40

Paul

having read through this thread I do not think I can add much.  I would, however, mention that I have started posting some letters from my father from India and Iraq written during the war, you had read his views towards the natives of both countries in them.

regards

Tim
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