Former Second World War bomber crew members are applauding the Canadian War Museums promise to revise the wording on a plaque that introduces the museums exhibit on the Allied bombing campaign. But historians are decrying the politically- charged decision, saying that not only is the current wording appropriate, the decision to amend it was the result of political pressure and not for academic or historical integrity. Canadian veterans organizations lobbied extensively and threatened a boycott of the museum over the plaque, which they claim inaccurately portrayed bomber crews as war criminals.
The plaque is entitled An Enduring Controversy and reads: "The value and morality of the strategic bomber offensive against Germany remains bitterly contested," the panel reads. "Bomber Command's aim was to crush civilian morale and force Germany to surrender by destroying its cities and industrial installations. Although Bomber Command and American attacks left 600,000 Germans dead and more than five million homeless, the raids resulted in only small reductions of German war production until late in the war." Historian Randall Hansen told the National Post the words may make people uncomfortable but they are true. "There is a great deal of reluctance to admit that this one aspect of the war -- and it was about one half of the Canadian bombing war -- involved the deliberate murder of civilians and that is a simple historical fact, he said. One is free to try and explain why that occurred to try and justify that decision in the context of the war, all that is perfectly reasonable. But, to try to claim that it didn't happen is absolutely Stalinist, it's Orwellian."