History is written by the victors.
Since humans first began recording their stories, victories, and losses, history has been a game of influence. Only those privileged few who had the ability to document their story, and even fewer among them whose records were not later destroyed, were responsible for passing down the stories we read and accept today. We can’t even begin to image the millions of names and stories lost and forgotten by time, even those who did many great and bold deeds during their life. In this sense, the pen is mightier than the sword.
Based on where you are from, where your parents and family are from, and where you were educated, you will learn a very different story about the world. In North America, you may grow up learning that there are seven continents, whereas in Europe you may learn that there are only six, and in other places still, a four-continent theory is taught and accepted. What’s more, all of these are correct, depending on the definition of continent you accept.
Things are much the same for all aspects of human history, from wars and conquests right down to specific historical figures. Was Columbus a hero or a monster? Were Native Americans a cultured people or savages deserving to be slaughtered? History is written by the victor.
But what if the losing side got to speak out? In the United States, we’ve been taught the exceptional mythos of how we entered both World Wars only to win them shortly thereafter, but was it as simple as all that? Redditors asked Germans, Japanese, and Italians what they were taught about World War II growing up, and it might not surprise you to hear that the stories in our American textbooks were very different than theirs.
What did the losing sides learn about WWII?
I just went to the Nanjing massacre memorial in China with a Japanese friend of mine actually. asked him a similar question about what is taught about the incident in Japan and he told me it was about a paragraph in his textbook that mentioned it. Crazy sh*t! (snugglezone)
Yeah, that was actually on the news here in Korea… that the Rape of Nanjing is one paragraph in Japanese textbooks, and they refer to it as an “incident”… (lonelady75)
Japanese here. I remember in junior high we learned general details about it and spent a lot of time learning the A-bomb. We actually went to the A-bomb dome in Hiroshima on our school excursion. The teachers were telling us how important peace is. So basically in junior high WW2 stuff was introduced us as a material to learn and think about the importance of peace. In high school, however, I learned WW2 in World History classes from the teacher who was very conservative and nationalistic. I didn’t think he was biased or extraordinary at that time. I totally believed what he taught us. (like justification for, you know, the touchy stuff) Luckily, I had a chance to study Japanese history including WW2 at a university abroad and it wasn’t until then I realised what I had believed might be wrong. I don’t mean to say every Japanese history teacher is like him but it is true some are inculcating their twisted ideas in students. (Onebrella)
I wonder how the world would be different if everyone learned about their country’s history from another country (or at least a teacher from another country). My guess is that we all would realize that what we believe might be wrong. (Darwins_Dog)