Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Australia contributed to Bengal Famine

An ....'interesting'... article plopped into my inbox the other week and I've been um-ing and ah-ing over it.
It does contain many facts and many easily found references.

You knew there was a 'however' hovering, didn't you?

While it is a well-written and well-researched article, it does not make for pleasant reading.

It states that Australia was partly responsible for the Bengal Famine in WW2 that saw the death - by starvation, not war - of between 6 -7 million Indians.
And, yes, Australia had such a glut of wheat from bumper harvests during WW2 that the 'temporary' stick sheds were hurriedly contstructed to store it all (Murtoa stick shed, that I posted about last month, is the last remaining one).

Interestingly,  this piece was not picked up in Australian media (strange that) and it also states that the Bengal Famine is not taught in Australian schools nor that of Australia's role in it.

The link is HERE.


  1. Were you taught that not all Indians were on the side of the Empire in WW11?
    India for the Indians, communists, fascists getting help from Germany, none of this fascinating period was ever made known to us. Thank you for SBS and its docu's.

  2. We are really good at only covering the sunshine and roses parts of our history aren't we. Another thing which makes me a tad ashamed.
    Little Johnny used to talk about 'black armband history' but I was certainly taught 'rose coloured spectacle history'.

  3. ...and let's not forget how we imprisoned German families and renamed local towns that sounded too Kraut-like. My friend's grandmother was forced to stay in a 'camp' because of her German ancestry, even though she had been born in Australia. I'd love to see a historian study that era and how it was for German-Aussies at the time.

  4. Whatever was done, was done in the interests of all at the time by persons in the Govt elected by the people to protect and provide in the best possible way.
    Difficult decisions were expedited in ways not always satisfactorily
    to all but necessary in the light of unseen circumstances unbeknown to the hoipoloi.
    Remember, you cannot make an omelette without smashing a few eggs.

  5. True, Vest, but to 'hide' or completely remove/ignore these events in our nations history is the equivilant of Japan not teaching its children about the WW2 PoW camps, like Changi.
    Australia isn't a lily-white, unsullied country although those re-writing our history would like us to believe it.

  6. Never knew, but can't say as I'm surprised. Does this mean I can't sling off at the Poms any more for passing the Corn Laws during the time of the great pratie famines? Dang.

    History is written by the victors, but remembered... always remembered... by the rest.

  7. I didn't know this either.
    I think all countries teach only the "good" parts of their histories, something to do with teaching national pride perhaps. If they taught the bad stuff as well, people might not be so proud to call themselves (insert nationality here).