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The Trial of Neville Heath, the Popular Press, and the Construction of the Memory of the Second World War in Britain, 1945–1946

Grant, Matthew (2018) 'The Trial of Neville Heath, the Popular Press, and the Construction of the Memory of the Second World War in Britain, 1945–1946.' English Historical Review, 133 (564). 1155 - 1177. ISSN 0013-8266

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Abstract

This article uses the press coverage of the sensational 1946 trial of Neville Heath for murder as a case-study for exploring how the memory of the Second World War in Britain was constructed in the immediate post-war period. Historians of Europe have described how painful narratives of occupation and defeat were suppressed, and more positive memories of timeless national values highlighted, in order to aid the reconstruction of national identity and gender relations. Although Britain had not experienced such upheaval, the nation did face troubling questions about the consequences of the war for criminality and violence. The popular press, however, discussed such issues in ways which did not call into question the central narratives of the ‘people’s war’. The trial of Heath highlights how questions concerning violence in Britain could be resolved: whereas post-war violent crime was understood in terms of short-term social dislocation rather than the psychological impact of the war, Heath’s sadistic violence was discussed using language which made it readily comparable to the German and Japanese war crimes being featured at the same time. As such, Heath was understandable as an individual, pathologised ‘type’ rather than as a symbol of the post-war British veteran.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > History, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 01 Nov 2018 10:40
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2019 14:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/23288

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