Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Victory in Europe Day

Hi Everyone,

For most of my life I've had a fascination with European history and politics. Now I study the political institutions of European and other democratic governments. It's nice to get paid to do what you love. Anyway, in my view there are few dates in European history that approach the importance of May 8, 1945 or Victory In Europe Day. On this day, the Allied forces of most of the world's governments defeated the National Socialist regime of Adolf Hitler. This day was the beginning of the peaceful unification of Europe. Only November 9, 1989 (the night the citizens of a divided Berlin united to rip down the hated Berlin wall with whatever tools they could lay hands on) comes close to (but does not match) the importance of the day Humanity defeated the NAZIs.

World War II was the costliest war in human history. And what caused this global holocaust? Was there a sudden scarcity of food or some other resource vital to life itself? No! The war was started to satisfy nationalist pride. When the guns finally fell silent no fewer than 62 Million human beings had been killed, most of them innocent civilians.

Soviet Union: 8 million soldiers, 20 million civilians killed
Germany: 5 million soldiers, 2.7 million civilians killed
Poland: 123,000 soldiers, 5.7 million civilians killed

The list goes on and of course the global massacre went beyond Europe's borders to include Asia as well.

China: 2.5 million soldiers, 15 million civilians
India: 60, 000 soldiers, 4 million civilians (largely in war induced famine when Burmese rice was cut off from Bengal by the Japanese occupation compounded by British food distribution that favored their military)
Japan: 1.3 million soldiers, 672,000 civilians

As American (mostly Republican) politicians and jingoist "journalists" on TV demand that we adopt an "America First" posture in the world, consider the price of nationalism. Take a moment this VE Day to reflect on the consequences of nationalist ideology.


US West said...

RBR, great post. And your point about the dangers of nationalism is well taken. Americans seem to look at WWII with this romantic notion that we won, that it was a time of great solidarity in this country. But it would do us well to remember that Americans lost very little in that war compared to so many others in the world. In fact, we have been lucky in how little we have lost here at home in wartime across the years. And WWII was hardly a "clean" war. As with all wars, there are horrid actions take. Fire bombing then nuking, refusing to allow Jews to enter the U.S., etc. These are just a few that come to mind.

My father was a veteran of WWII and fought in the European Theater, Germany and Alsace to be precise.. He was 6ft3, blonde, blue eyed man with a very German last name. His Great Great Grandfather fled Germany to Poland when the Hessians wanted to draft him. And 3 generations later, he found himself facing an enemy that looked a lot like he did in a country that his relatives had left in order NOT to fight.

I have all his war letters sent home. And I am constantly amazed at the respect he had for his enemy and the empathy he had for the civilians he encountered. He talks about entering towns where not a single building was whole. And he describes some of the people he sees saying, "How these people have suffered!" For him, everyone was a victim, including himself.

After the war ended, my father was sent to Dachau to help clean up the concentration camp. My father died 3 years ago at the age of 79. Not once did I ever hear my father talk about what he saw in the war and after. Not once did he express any malice toward those he fought. Not once did he call himself or any of his buddies heroes. They had a job. That was all it was. No mawkish sentiments attached to it. No nationalism because of victory.

I mention all of this because we are a nation at war again- a war more like the Vietnam War than WWII. And I wonder if the soldiers today respect their enemy and empathize with the civilians they see. Or do they look to different from us? I wonder if we will all remain as humble about our accomplishments as my father's generation did. I wonder if we will remember the failures. VE-Day makes me sad. It makes me sad because I am reminded of how little we have learned.

Anonymous said...

I saw something on cable recently in which the narator described German WWII veterans as men who died fighting against their own liberation.

A similar futility aflicted Soviet veterans who were fighting to ensure that one genocidal tyrant ruled them instead of another.

Later in the week I'll make a posting about the alternative...freedom of trade, commerce and concience! 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

die pinko die!!! 

// posted by Anonymous

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,

I hope that's German you're speaking... As in "the pinko the."

If you aren't speaking German then you've missed the point of this posting entirely. The point is that such simplistic, violent rhetoric has caused the human species untold harm and devastation. We'll never get rid of such thoughts but at the very least, those of us who know better should behave in a more mature manner rather than trying to score cheap points with hate speach or nationalism.

If you are asserting that anyone (whether in the Soviet Union or on this blog) is a pinko and should therefore die, you are showing yourself to be of low character and even less intelligence. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

I like those of less intelligence, they make me burgers. 

// posted by Jake

Anonymous said...

Problem is sometimes they get elected President. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans