In these times of unrest, lockdowns and change, and on the 75th Commemoration of the End of World War II, it feels more appropriate than ever to see what lessons we can take from pivotal moments in history, and the actions of those who came before us. After all, as George Santayana wrote in 1905: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
In looking back on history, it is imperative we re-examine, expand our understanding, and in some cases, take inspiration.
I have long had a passion for history’s under-told stories, in particular the extraordinary women of the WWII era—and there are so many women who we have not heard enough about.
In recent years, with evidence of rising fascism, and even Nazi symbols proudly displayed at marches, the hard lessons of WWII and the postwar period continue to resonate, spurring me on to write my thirteenth book, The War Widow, which I dedicated to my Oma and Opa—ordinary citizens who did extraordinary things to escape the Nazis in occupied Holland. The War Widow is a novel in the hard-boiled tradition, but with a twist, and is unashamedly centered on ordinary people—not generals, royals and politicians—but on the women who are too often overlooked in our retelling of history.
In it, my main character—war reporter turned private inquiry agent Billie Walker—pushes against the workforce prejudices of 1946 Australia, as does her informant and friend, Shyla, a Wirajuri woman who deals with the compounded prejudices experienced by Aboriginal women. The world these brave women inhabit is one of danger, massive social and political change, disabled and traumatised soldiers returning from overseas, and ongoing racial and class divisions…
Learn about 7 incredible women of WW2 and read the rest of Tara’s piece at Ms Magazine