1945-1955; A DOOR LEFT OPEN?
Some Surprising Facts About 'The Golden Years' Which Followed the Defeat of Germany and Japan.
Was the Outcome of World War II Decided by Military Strategy? Or Was it Decided in Heaven?
And Did God Later Open a Door to Test British and American Christianity?
The ending of the Second World War in 1945 proved to be an amazing period in the history of western nations not only because of the ending of that war but because of the incredible 'feel good factor' which followed.
The feeling of joy and celebration in those countries which had unselfishly committed thousands of troops in order to defeat the tyranny of Nazism has been described by numerous commentators as quite unparalleled. This feeling was especially strong in Great Britain because – unlike the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – Britain had been directly threatened by super-tyrant Adolf Hitler and his henchmen thugs. Actually, Britain would suffer many years of shortages and food rationing because of the sheer cost of financing their huge war effort, and the early years of our considered period from 1945 up to 1952 were years of especially great shortages and hardships in the UK. Moreover, it seemed particularly ironical and poignant that troops returning from the theatre of war often found that there were now very few jobs because – in many cases – former places of employment had been either bombed to oblivion by the luftwaffe and/or former employers had been killed. Some returning British servicemen have related how fighting the war was as nothing compared to the horrors of returning home and finding that previous places of happy employment no longer existed, or that their wives had died or had gone off with other men (no forwarding address). Moreover, bomb-damaged cities had to be restored, which was an especially major task in cities like London.
Yet despite all of the above (and those things obviously involved quite substantial hardship in many cases), it remains the case that the joy, elation and euphoria in post-war Britain has been described in the most glowing terms; other allied nations too which had been somewhat less directly threatened also shared in much of this nation-wide joy (we should not forget, of course, that following Pearl Harbor, the United States also felt directly threatened by Japan). So the feeling was abroad that, when combined, the Anglo-Saxon democracies, that is, nations like Britain, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand could accomplish great things and need take second place to no other pact or grouping of countries in the entire world. For his part, Britain's war Prime Minister Winston Churchill was quite convinced that within a few years the allies would also need to confront Russia and her motley collection of Warsaw Pact countries in eastern Europe, but the allies were now tired after many years of war and the dominant feeling was something like, 'Lets just hope that Russia can behave herself and maybe even learn some democratic ways.' Of course, that did not happen, but the reluctance to immediately look for other foes is entirely understandable.
It is still occasionally claimed (usually by atheists and religious cynics) that Britain and America fought another Christian nation during World War II. In fact, this is completely erroneous for Hitler had displaced Lutheranism as Germany's national religion with Nazism and continual propaganda sought to re-awaken interest in ancient occultic and pagan practices. Lutheran pastors could only continue to operate by accepting the authority of the Nazi State, those who refused were imprisoned.
A Fact Overlooked by Modern Commentators: It Took Christian Nations to Defeat Germany and Japan...
One thing frequently overlooked by modern, sceptical, revisionist and liberal commentators and historians is that the allies were Christian nations. Of course, this never meant that Christians ever formed the majority in these countries but these nations all contained some official recognition of the perceived supremacy of the Christian religion in comparison to other religions - either through national churches, or in the original framing of their constituitions, or in many of their laws. I grew up in late 1940s through mid 1950s Britain and the feeling that Britain was a Christian country was very strong, indicated through such things as required Christian services within schools (several hymns sung most mornings!) and even extending to a widespread perception that the few people of other religions one rarely encountered were either mentally deficient or needed to be taken to church to sort out their souls as quickly as possible! The BBC was the national broadcasting radio and television medium and BBC Radio was packed with Christian services and Christian-type programmes. Television was, perhaps, determined to be a little more light-hearted but here too the regular late evening Epilogue (a short talk usually given by a Christian minister which concluded the day's television output), left one in no doubt that Christianity and Christianity alone was perceived as being the only answer to those people who were suffering personal problems. Sunday television contained two or three worship slots with at least an hour of hymns around 7PM every Sunday. Even average BBC commentators – at least until about 1955 – seemed prepared to uphold the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount as being the most supreme rules of life one could ever wish to find. When Easter arrived, both Radio and Television (especially the former), became packed with glorious Christian music and praise (my – how we British Christians miss those great days!) It was quite late in the 50s before Freudism and Psychotherapy started creeping into programming as a philosophy providing possible alternative answers for those who were suffering from various problems. It is almost too painful to contemplate now how the modern BBC has changed and now seeks to undermine Christianity wherever it can.
The 'Golden Years' of Gratitude and Post-War Christian Evangelism.
The late 40s and early 50s saw a huge upsurge in Christian evangelism in the nations which had defeated Hitler in the wake of really widespread feelings of gratitude that an entire Christian way of life had been providentially preserved by the Will of God. Truthfully, few modern Christians have any conception of how strong this feeling was that a sovereign God had removed the threat of enslavement and tyranny from those Protestant nations which had proven bold in the dissemination of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the light of this, several highly successful allied war campaigns were freely spoken of as miracles – yes, miracles granted by God to Christian peoples against a Nazism which had officially displaced Lutheranism as the national religion of Germany, and sought a return to earlier pagan/occultic ways. The amazing escape of thousands of British soldiers from under Hitler's very nose at Dunkirk is (lamentably) no longer called “the miracle of Dunkirk” (except by those who were involved in it!), but this mass-evacuation happened against all the odds and this huge chunk of British manpower was later able to take part in the invasion of Europe in June, 1944. On paper – logistically speaking – Hitler should have been able to prevent this from happening, but countless thousands of prayers for divine assistance had gone up on that day and – at the time – the great majority of those involved had no doubt at all that those prayers were vividly answered!
A Miracle at Dunkirk
Although the British were forced to surrender at Dunkirk in 1940, in fact over 400,000 soldiers escaped in all manner of vessels which were sent over from England. The Luftwaffe caused some damage with dive-bombing but were unable to prevent this great escape and by the time that tanks were sent in the evacuation was almost complete. Many of these men were later involved in the invasion of Europe in June, 1944.
In the new optimistic climate which followed the war, American evangelist Billy Graham was typical of the new upsurge in evangelicalism, in a climate in which many Christians believed that Almighty God had providentially delivered a people and then left a door of opportunity open for them to continue to spread the Gospel. Dr Graham's campaigns made great inroads in the United States and his British Haringey campaign of 1954 is still talked about by numerous British evangelicals as a major turning point which effectively challenged a Church of England which had mostly become weak, soft, shallow and hopelessly compromised. British evangelicalism became strengthened and emboldened during the 1950s - not entirely as a result of Dr Graham but he certainly played a part in encouraging a new confidence in Christian evangelism.
The British and Americans have sent millions of Bibles around the world – of course, even there, we would not have accomplished this but for the grace of God – but might that not be one factor which God took into account when prayers for deliverance from genuinely evil foes went up during World War II? The amazingly comprehensive involvement of the British and Americans in evangelism and in sending millions of Bibles around the world (again, something rarely mentioned today), is far too big a subject to cover here but The Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions edited by A Scott Moreau could be a good place to start for any wanting further information on this.
1945-1955; A Personal Recollection.
reaching my conclusion, here is a very personal recollection of a
child growing up during this time because, as already mentioned,
having been born in 1944, I grew up during this period.
During this period, people (on average) had far far fewer possessions, and far less money than they do today – none of the wealth of modern Britain and America – but I believe that people were much, much happier. My childhood memories are of people having far fewer distractions than they do today and therefore being able to really focus on raising their children; to raise a happy family between 1945 and 1955 was everything to most families – they wanted little else. Any thought of abortion was utterly repugnant and those few back-street abortionists who flouted the law were quickly imprisoned with long sentences. Why? Because kids were everything.
In the immediate post-war years there was a simple yet supreme joy in eating a family breakfast on a sunny spring morning, knowing that the dangers of war were now past. Today this incredible gratitude and elation which was experienced by thousands of people is sadly forgotten.
Today it sometimes seems 'inconvenient' for wealthy modern couples to have a family pregnancy because of the restriction this places on the wife's earning power! Back then women – it seems to me – loved being wives and mothers – how times change! The early 1950s – despite my parents having very few material goods – seemed to be a period with a warm, comforting glow; there was love, there was security. People were beginning to have confidence again following the huge disappointment of the war. People seemed to feel grateful just to be alive and to be healthy. I especially recall the huge joy which seemed to come from things which would seem mundane to wealthier modern people: the huge joy of sitting in the conservatory on a sunny spring morning and eating boiled eggs with my Mum and brothers and sisters, the huge joy of country walks (no car in our family then and nobody even cared!) My memories of family life during the early 1950s tell me that it was a great time to raise children, before the rebellion, turbulence and what one might call 'accessible immorality' came along in the 1960s. I really believe that the birth of the rock n' roll age from 1956 onwards started a most serious decline in family life and family values because that age of rebellion told kids that they should not be doing what their parents were doing – they should be developing their own “teenage culture” - well, we know the rest: a huge wedge was driven between kids and their parents and it remains to this day.
A Typical 1951 'Festival of Britain' Street Party.
The 1951 Festival of Britain took place in a land which had been made almost destitute by war, but also - paradoxically - a land of great contentment with a huge accent on happy family life. Even with so little the British remained determined to enjoy themselves and this joyful picture seems to capture the joy and euphoria of the 1945-55 'golden years' when to stand with a clear conscience before God and to raise a happy family was all that most Brits seemed to want.
Having written this far, I asked myself: Am I really right about this? Everything seemed so much better then, could I just be imagining this? Then – by sheer chance – I caught a radio programme about the 'hit movies' and 'hit music' of the early 1950s and it confirmed to me that that really was a 'golden era' – the hit films did not allow swearing or sex scenes – they were wholesome family entertainment. This was the era when Hollywood turned out such great classics as 'Singing in the Rain,' 'A Christmas Carol,' 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers' and 'Easter Parade.' The music hits were great too, people like Nat King Cole singing 'Mona Lisa' and Frank Sinatra singing 'Three Coins in the Fountain' – people like Doris Day and Bing Crosby too were having hit records – great tunes, nothing vicious or immoral to be found anywhere! I think today's young people have really missed out in this. It seems to me that the influences from today's movies and hit tunes are almost entirely bad.
About 12 years ago I was witness to a fascinating conversation which revealed a whole lot about conceptions of 'happiness' held by 1990s housewives in comparison to 1950s housewives. A lady of about 68 years who had been a young housewife in 1950 was discussing kitchens with a modern 1990s housewive. The younger woman had seen a television programme which had shown a typical British kitchen of the war years through to the early 1950s and she sympathised with the older lady saying, "How awful! How on earth could you be happy in a kitchen which was so awful? I would be lost without my fully fitted kitchen!" The older lady smiled in a good-natured manner and responded in this way, "But my dear, happiness to us was not about kitchens, it was about our families, our church, our friends and our village!"
Genuine Evidence that a Christian People Were Spared German/Japanese Tyranny For a Purpose!
I believe (its fine if you want to disagree – that's your right), that God was very much involved in deciding the victory of the Christian nations against the forces of tyranny in the 1940s, and that thousands of prayers offered up from Christian homes were not ignored.
I further believe that it is no coincidence that a huge evangelistic door seemed to re-open from about the late 1940s. It seems to me that the earlier evangelistic thrust of the early 20th century was not yet entirely complete and a little more needed to be done. There seems very little doubt that the sovereign God again wished the Americans and British to be the main physical participants in facilitating this (please do not misunderstand, I don't mean only the Brits and Americans and I am well aware of what other countries have also accomplished).
I have no doubt that there really was something of a 'Golden Age' in the stated ten-year period in which the worship of Jesus Christ was everything, that crime was clearly recognised for what it was and that immorality was widely hated. I mean, on the whole, people in the Anglo-Saxon nations again focused on Jesus Christ, on 'church' and on the joys of family life and we were blessed for this – yes, even blessed in the popular music of the day! We had sacrificed in order to defeat satanic despots and the Lord recognised that fact. Would it be so surprising that He should then grant blessings? Were not Israel granted blessings when they trusted in God and then valiantly stood up to the Amalekites and Midianites?
But from 1956-1957 things definitely started to change. Did God decide to test us with more prosperity to see if we would remain faithful? The 1960s through 1970s and right on down to the present has seen unparalleled prosperity coming to our peoples – did we remain faithful to God? Did we continue to focus on Jesus Christ (as being the main peoples responsible for the dessemination of the Gospel from about 1800)? Did we continue to recognise crime and evil? Or did we start to accommodate it? Did we still place our families as almost sacred areas of our lives, prizing fatherhood and motherhood? Or did we seem to think that prosperity was suddenly more important? Did we even start to think that tiny unborn children in the womb were expendable in the interests of convenience and prosperity? Did we continue to value Christian moral standards? Or did we allow perverted practices to prosper and even to become socially acceptable? Do we still have National Days of Prayer to show gratitude for what we have? Or has our Christian heritage become an embarrassment for many of our leaders?
I am not even going to answer these questions because those answers seem so obvious. I honestly believe that Britain and America could be heading for a major fall. God is no respecter of peoples and Israel suffered a major fall after they received a major revelation from the Lord but then abandoned Him in their days of prosperity. The evidence – it seems to me – is strong that the major revelation of the New Covenant found a most willing home among the Anglo-Saxon peoples who willingly spread that message but who have also latterly abandoned God in their 'days of prosperity.'
Is God a respecter of persons or isn't He?
Robin A. Brace, 2006.
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