Friday, 8 May 2020

VE Day and after

Is it too much to hope that the 75th anniversary celebrations will mark an end to the digital channels' obsession with the Nazis and the war in Europe? While the analysis of the Nazis' rise to power, especially Goebbels' use of state-of-the-art media, has served as a warning for our own times, the flood of footage from 1933 to 1945 has been overwhelming. One cannot blame the channels' editors for making use of the copious amounts of film, professional and amateur, shot by the Nazis and clearly available relatively cheaply. However, enough is enough. I do not need to know how the type 86 K├╝belsitzwagen differed from the type 82. I am also uncomfortable with the glorification of "our boys'" victories in Europe and North Africa.

There is a case for switching attention to the forgotten wars in the Far East. Japan stubbornly refused to lay down arms in spite of the loss of her major ally, with the consequent freeing of Allied forces to prosecute the Pacific war. There were to be three more months of gruelling fighting in Burma and British prisoners of war continued to die or to suffer in Japanese work camps.

But we should also be looking at reconstruction, the Marshall plan and the benevolent imposition of a model democratic structure on post-Nazi Germany. Victory in Europe was not only victory for the Western allies but also for the democratic and liberal elements in continental Europe, not least in Germany herself. The successes and failures (the snaffling of rocket and security experts by the US comes to mind) of de-Nazification should be examined. The British Army's r├┤le in rebuilding German industry deserves recalling.

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