Wartime memories are a major part of national identity in each country. They may be traumatic, but they can be useful in constructing a cohesive and coherent narrative about past events. These stories of war and suffering can influence the direction of peace and reconciliation.
For example, the International Red Cross has a large archive of remembrance materials that help prove victims’ experiences during and after wars. It also helps people reconnect with relatives who are missing.
The International Review of the Red Cross recently published an edition on memory and war. The ICRC’s role in history is outlined in this article, as are its attempts to shape the future.
One of the most important uses of memory is to rework it in a way that gives meaning to the past and creates a better future. This may involve rewriting, mythologizing, or romanticizing the stories of fallen soldiers or humanitarians.
Another way to do the same thing is through popular culture. Popular movies and books have been cited as examples. Many of these narratives, however, are not based on accurate facts.
To make the most of this, governments must engage with civil society on the subject of historical memory. They must provide the right conditions for this kind of engagement, and they must support such efforts.
In addition to the above-mentioned ICRC, another publically available resource is the Encyclopedia of Japanese American Internment, which provides an overview of key individuals and events during World War II. It also includes photographs, videos, and documents.