I have to admit that my memory fails me sometimes. From being unable to remember the titles of well-loved pieces of music when played on the radio, to being completely foggy when asked who played whom in a film, or t.v. series. I suppose that time is catching up on me, as it does for all of us. But I regret to state that the passing of one of the most momentous days in the last Century went by my memory without even a stir.
That day was of course May 8th 1945, V.E. Day, or Victory in Europe Day. The day after Grand Admiral Hans Georg von Friedburg, Dönitz successor as Chief of the Naval Staff, and General Hans Kinzel, Chief of Staff, North West Army Command, surrendered to Field Marshal Montgomery. The dreams of a Thousand-year Reich were smashed, the dreams of a madman who infected a Nation were toppled, the Courts of Nuremberg were in the near future, and I was less than five years old. Six million Jews had perished in the Death Camps, countless thousands had perished with Hitler’s march to ‘Lebensraum’ , and his vaunted Reich was dismembered.
The sad truth of the deal between an ailing Roosevelt, a Churchill who was treated as very much the junior partner; and an exultant and triumphant Stalin at Yalta was becoming evident, with the crushing of any signs of Polish democracy, as well as the nations of Eastern Europe who had been surrendered to the evils of Communism by an American President who was only dead a month. It would be another forty-four years before the stain of Stalin’s shadow would finally be removed with the fall of Communism.
You will note that I used the term by which that Day was known, Victory in Europe Day. I believe that another monster has succeeded the terror of the Nazi plague, but this monster comes complete with politeness, rules, regulations, and strict attention to protocol at all times; but none whit less ruthless than the evil which preceeded it onto the stage. That is why I would never, ever, use the term ‘European Victory’, because that strikes too close to home!