08 May 2010

V-E Day

Today, May 8th, is the date that commemorates the defeat of Nazi Germany's campaign to enslave Europe in 1945. It had, of course, been clear for a long time that the end was coming. Germany's cities were in ruins from relentless Allied bombing; the Red Army had been steadily pushing back and grinding down the Wehrmacht ever since Stalingrad; the Americans and British had liberated most of western Europe. By the time Hitler blew his brains out in his bunker on April 30, the fruits of his megalomania had already taken the form immortalized in Yevgeny Khaldei's iconic photo- graph above -- Berlin reduced to smoldering wreckage under the Soviet flag.

In addition to launching the most disastrous war in history and murdering millions of people by means of extermination camps, slave labor, and starvation, the Nazi regime ended a century of German pre-eminence in the life of the mind by turning Germany into a place from which scientists and intellectuals fled. By leading Germany into an all-out war against the British Empire, the Soviet Union, and the United States all at the same time (perhaps the most spectacular error in judgment in history), Hitler all but gua- ranteed the catastrophic defeat that followed. The Nazi regime's crimes blackened Germany's name forever. The day of its defeat is indeed a date to celebrate.

Unconditional surrender was signed in Reims, France, on May 7, to formally take effect at 11:01 PM on May 8. Because of the time-zone difference, in Moscow it was May 9 when the war officially ended. For this reason the Soviet Union and its successor states have always commemorated V-E Day, which they call Victory Day (День Победы), on May 9.


Blogger TomCat said...

On a more modern note, Bush and the GOP had plans to attack and conquer seven countries.

08 May, 2010 13:49  
Blogger Tim said...

Just a thought...
I have to wonder if the German people were so different from the rest of humanity. When it is looked at the despair and empty promises they endured, one has to make comparatives with all down trodden people.
Even today the us versus them mentality prevails. I also can't help thinking of the teabaggers and how irrational their dribble is.
Yes I too celebrate putting a stop to that regime but wonder who will step up to the plate now.

08 May, 2010 17:48  
Blogger tnlib said...

Thanks for the reminder and the review. I'm also glad you translated the Russian into English! You must know it at least to write. Can you speak it as well?

08 May, 2010 18:34  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

TC: ????

08 May, 2010 19:35  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Tim: I certainly don't think the Germans were or are inherently different from other people. Factors such as national humiliation, a weak democracy with little legitimacy, and a belief in racial superiority all combined to give Hitler his opportunity. Such a combination could happen in any country, and there have been other people -- Saddam Hussein and Kim Il Sung come to mind -- who would have done as much evil as Hitler if they had had as much power as he did.

But it was the Nazi state which did do that evil. If it had won the war, all the lands that fell under its rule would have been plunged back into the Dark Ages. Those who destroyed it were true heroes.

08 May, 2010 19:41  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

TNLib: Thanks. Yes, I can speak a little Russian. When I was in Kiev, the people there probably wished I couldn't:-)

08 May, 2010 19:44  
Blogger boomer bob said...

I just watched a Discovery Channel show about the cult of Nazism.

I knew they were somewhat into the occult, but damn, the SS was eye-deep into Pagan symbolism and worship. Hell, Himmler thought himself a direct descendant of Thor. Even the symbol "SS" was derived from the Pagan runes.

Fascinating stuff considering what a stranglehold Hitler had on the German people

08 May, 2010 20:18  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

BB: Many people these days think that paganism is somehow less evil than Christianity or Islam. It isn't.

08 May, 2010 23:05  
Blogger TomCat said...

Infidel, I was point out the similarity between German and GOP war plans. Bushco had plans to conquer Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Libya, Sudan, and Somalia. My source is Gen. Wesley Clark.

09 May, 2010 10:38  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

TomCat, I have to disagree. As bad as the Republicans are, any attempt to compare them with the Nazis only undermines our own credibility.

09 May, 2010 12:41  
Anonymous amadmike1 said...

As I recall Hitler passed the flag to Donitz and Goebbels, although the latter killed himself, along with wife and children, the day after Adolf ate his cyanide pill and templed his pistol. I am serious student of this era. My bookcases look like a Nazi memorial. Great post. I loved it.

10 May, 2010 15:10  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

MM: My own shelves have quite a few books on the topic -- I tend to focus on those that tell the history from the Russian viewpoint.

12 May, 2010 08:26  
Blogger dmarks said...

Infidel: I think Tom was being sarcastic.

Another point of view is that WW2 was successful war of Soviet aggression. Nazi Germany was a flash in the pan, but the USSR conquered millions of people and added vast territory to its empire as it expanded westward. An unrelenting brutul colonial occupation and permanent empire which lasted until the USSR itself dissolved in 1989.

13 May, 2010 11:05  

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