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Thursday, May 8, 2014

VE Day

When I was a child growing up in 1950s America, May 8 was marked as Victory in Europe Day, the day upon which the German High Command agreed to cease all hostilities. Most hostilities already had stopped in the three or four days leading up to May 8, 1945, but the 8th was determined to be the final day of war in Europe--because of the time difference, it was the 9th in Moscow.

The war in Asia churned on: American, Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and British troops prepared for what promised to be perhaps the most horrific battle in history, the invasion of the main Japanese islands. VE Day meant little to the US Marines, sailors, and GIs in the midst of the ghastly three-month battle of Okinawa (April 1 - June 21, 1945) which saw some 240, 000 people killed, including nearly 15,000 US military personnel, split almost evenly among marines, sailors, and soldiers. The battle also included among its casualties famous war correspondent Ernie Pyle and Lt. General Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr., the highest ranking US officer killed by enemy fire during WWII, and the son of Confederate General Simon Bolivar Buckner, Sr. 

Does VE Day, in fact, does the victory in World War II, mean anything to us today? I suspect that most Americans today, I don't know if this holds true elsewhere, are not even dimly aware of VE Day, and probably rarely think of VJ Day, either. Truth be told, it was a victory with a limited expiration date. We moved very quickly into acquiescing to Soviet control of a large swathe of Europe, and then got into a Cold War of more than five decades duration with our erstwhile Soviet allies. While the victory over Nazi Germany was as complete as one could imagine, in sharp contrast to how the First World War ended, VE Day showed what a hard time democracies have with military victory. We seem almost embarrassed by winning, and not long after turn on the people who brought victory, e.g., the savaging of "Bomber" Harris and Curtis LeMay, and try to depict the losers as victims.

We seem incapable of exploiting victory. We saw it with the collapse of the USSR, where we allowed an angry and resentful Russia to emerge. We see it, again, in Iraq, where an initially dodgy military strategy got turned around, and with a lot of sacrifice and guts, AQ and friends were handed a major pasting. As before, it did not take long for the democracies to cut out on Iraq, and turn on the major architect of victory, General Petraeus; Iraq is now falling into the clutches of Iran and the crazies. It is being repeated in Afghanistan where we see a conscious effort to hand victory to the Taliban and its rag-tag AQ allies.

Well, I have drifted a bit from the original topic. Sorry.  I guess my point is that, ironically, democracies seem better at war than at peace--an inversion of the usual wisdom.

Happy VE Day.

31 comments:

  1. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan prove nothing other than this: our professional soldiers are far more effective at their jobs than our amateur statesmen-manque' are at theirs. But that seems to be a regular pattern in US history.

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    1. Narr, das ist nichts Narrichheit!

      The secret to winning against the USA is to last for eight years.

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    2. Damn, Kepha, I don't know whether to bless you for your insightful wording, or curse you for how much the truth hurts.

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    3. Clever and true, Narr und Kepha, so much so, ever so. Agreed, Kirk.
      Tough reality reminder. 3 more years of Deuthchland uber alles, and things might possibly have been quite different, (jets, rockets, nukes). Vs. what the Allies might have come up with. Nation/industry size and inside the enemy resistance also made up a big difference, as well.

      Jack

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    4. I have memories etched some as a 5 year old in Cleveland on VE day, having distinct memory of a brown out practice or two, prior.

      Food rationing, of much, including butter substituted by margerine. Wasn't quite as bad for us, as we had gardens and chickens, and canning, and flowers, too. We actually had a chicken farm egg operation, and my dad was expert gardener, and wrote column in big paper on "victory" gardens for supplementing vegatables.

      I remember the ANZAC nations name, and the discovery of blue tattoos of long serial numbers on arms, identifying individuals who survived, liberated, lucky, of the evil of the time not long enough prior, during summer lifeguard time at a pool/lake some frequented. I spoke to a couple, during the summer there, while in college.

      Then, I hadn't known, until recent times, the pure complicity of the muslims, in der teufel's intentions and commandments, conducted en masse, by herr hitler, et al, against so many types as well, beyond Jews.

      For me memory of the time is a blend of young age experience, and learned history, in spite of my parents not really speaking much of it, in my memory. No way to forget, in this life.

      Thanks, Dip for reminding on this date.

      Jack

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    5. While I'm on a role, forgot to add, at 5, had chores helping dad with the chickens and gardening, and time for play and a little later, school, too.

      But now from a happier time (VE day), difficult as it had been for most, I now find the following essay written I think, excellently by a woman who runs a blog, that contrasts the horrific difference between a feeling of the relief and gratefullness, mostly all together as Americans, in the land of the still free of VE day, and VJ day, vs. now, in this day of shameful regime criminal behavior, including Benghazi, IRS, and a littany of as Cruz states, 76 acts.

      Recently the blogger scribed this piece, which are my words, exactly, and those of so, too many, during this regime of morons and worse. I think most of our types will approve and agree, too well, here: http://fuzislippers.wordpress.com/2014/02/22/dear-america-i-miss-you/

      Jack

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    6. I believe it is nearly impossible to win a war in today's instant info world. Can you imagine people watching a battle like any of the ones in either theatre of WW2? The Western World would have its delicate sensibilities offended and call a halt. In addition, it seems that democracies are never willing to maintain a large standing army in "peace time". So when needed, the West is always playing catch up at great cost.

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  2. "Does VE Day, in fact, does the victory in World War II, mean anything to us today?"

    Not widely I think. My Mum, her sister and I had the place to ourselves where Mum and Aunt placed the jonquils on the cenotaph which bears the name of their brother. The Uncle I never knew except ...

    But there were clear signs some others had made the same path earlier, fewer than in years passed I reckoned. And when we'd made it back to my truck and on the way out to the highway I had to move over into the ditch to allow another truck into the other ditch. Mum and Aunt waved, spent some moments in conversation supposing who we'd met - the road only leading off the highway to the one place.

    Thank you for the post Diplomad.

    Arkie

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  3. Depends who "us" is, as usual. I wonder whether the President could even explain what the V and E stand for.

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    1. I think we will find out when the halfrican queen visits France this D-day, I hate to think how awful that day will be as he praises himself, and ignores the real achievement. Perhaps there will be a Russian aircraft carrier and battle group moored offshore at Arromanches-I would not put it past Putin.

      My mother and her sisters celebrated the original VE day at Trafalgar Square and got into a lot of trouble with Grandad for staying out too late, after that it did feature largely in our lives. Post war Britain was all about forgetting the war-"embarassed by winning" is as good a way to explain it.

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    2. Obama will bring hash tags and teleprompter. Putin will bring history. I have to give it to Vladamir, he'll easily steal the show especially if he's gracious. To think an old cold war soldier would live to see this.
      James the Lesser

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    3. Oh Cascadian?

      "Perhaps there will be a Russian aircraft carrier and battle group moored offshore at Arromanches-I would not put it past Putin."

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/10816463/Russian-aircraft-carrier-sails-into-English-Channel.html

      Ark

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    4. Yep, thats why I made the comment Arkie.

      If USA can sail a destroyer into the Black Sea, Vlad puts a battle group within a hundred miles of London, Paris, Brussels. The Europansies must be wetting their panties.

      I am actually hoping Vlad does moor his group offshore during D-day remembrance if only to ensure that the halfrican queen cannot replicate the great shots that accompanied President Reagan's visit.

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. I remember VJ Day very well. When it was announced, the taverns all had to close. My father, who was in the juke box business, knew all sorts of tavern owners and they all headed for our house, usually carrying a case of whiskey. The party went on for three days. I can remember being in bed (I was 7) with my sister (4) in bunk beds and having drunks stumble up the stairs and fall into bed with me.

    The joy was palpable. All the guys would be coming home. My parents had a party for all the servicemen as they got home and there were quite a few marriages between them and my cousins who were pretty young women. My mother stayed in touch with most of them for years.

    Some had been POWs and got out of German camps. Not so many out of Japanese camps although I knew a few.

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  6. To all the allies, thank you for that day.
    James the Lesser

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  7. At VE day, I was still in utero.
    But it's only due to the sacrifice of a whole generation, Brits, Nucks, Aussies, Kiwis, etc...and probably especially Russians -- that my native language did not turn out to be German.

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    1. Of course, I overlooked the sacrifice of those who represented every ethnicity on earth: Yanks.

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  8. "As before, it did not take long for the democracies to cut out on Iraq, and turn on the major architect of victory, General Petraeus; Iraq is now falling into the clutches of Iran and the crazies. It is being repeated in Afghanistan where we see a conscious effort to hand victory to the Taliban and its rag-tag AQ allies."

    You are a purveyor Dolchstosslegende.

    Nobody cut out on Iraq. Nobody is cutting out on Afcrapistan. Iraq and Afcrapistan have not been abandoned. Thousands of American troops died to try to bring them what we call freedom and thousands lost limbs. If a majority of them want we we call freedom they can fight for it themselves. But that's not what they want. They want Islam and that should have been obvious to any sentient being many years ago.

    Bush, then Obama, and all along the Pentagon and Petraeus abandoned their own troops by making of their lives and limbs human sacrifices to Islam chasing islamic unicorns that do not exist in reality on the alter of their "See no Islam, hear no Islam, speak no Islam, know no Islam" dereliction of duty and hubris.

    As for David "Holy Qur'an" Petraeus, he is a disgrace to the uniform as he put Islam, his career and his hubris ahead of his own troops, then those who died at Benghazi and his own country. Petraeus flat out lied to the House Intelligence Committee three days after Benghazi when he testified to them that it was a "spontaneous" protest over a YouTube video that was responsible for Benghazi. When committed knowingly, as former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy pointed out quite some time ago, such deception, otherwise known as bald/bold faced lying, which even not under oath, when before congress, is a felony.

    Blaming the YouTube video for the violence was also, in effect, blaming free speech, which was already an established Petraeus hallmark when Muslims "act out". And anyone who had been paying attention should have already known this.

    And I'll lay you odds it was not Hillary Clinton who said "Hey I know, let's blame that video!', but more likely Petraeus himself as it is his very MO, and the gun running to shariah loving and Christian kidnapping, raping, torturing and murdering was apparently know as "Operation Petraeus" named after you-know-who, that he was running with his buddies the God damn Turks.

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    1. Well, I think we disagree.

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    2. Iraq was worth a try as it had been pretty well secularized by Saddam. We did not understand how deep the tribal structure goes in Arab countries. Afghanistan was not worth the effort to bring it to the 18th century, let alone the 20th. It should have been a punishment raid as it began. Petraeus was marginalized by the scandal but this was not revealed until he needed to be shut up.

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    3. I actually saw some pictures from Afghanistan in the 50's and 60's prior to the Soviet invasion. Admittedly I don't know the backstory but the pictures looked as if the could have come from rural America or Europe at the time pretty easily. In fact I suspect Europe would have looked much worse given how close to the end of the war it really was. I think once again we have our Russian friends to thank for making Afghanistan what it is today.

      -Rax

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    4. Diplomad, how I admire your self-restraint!

      Anonymous ... there is much I am tempted to say, but I will not lower myself to saying it. Good choice of pseudonym, though.

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    5. Yes, of course. I'm sure you are both just so overflowing with decisive counter arguments that you don't know where to start.

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  9. Ark,
    Those guys in the channel are on their way home. Still for photo ops they are there for VE Day and any intel they can pick up in passing. I don't expect all of them back for the DDay ceremony, but if Putin does speak there I bet you there will be the newest shiniest ship in the Russian navy off shore.
    James the Lesser

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  10. I grew up with VE and VJ day, both experienced by my parents. My mom, being British, had a different perspective (having lived through the Blitz as a child) than my dad who grew up in the Bay Area of CA during the war.

    My mom's family lost an uncle in Burma (Chindit). My son is named after him. I taught WW2 history in grad school and it was rather startling how many students knew basically nothing about WW2--there were a significant number who at least knew something, but that was about it.

    The endless PC re-writing of history, typified by the nonsensical atomic bomb debates that are heard from time to time, continues apace. Eventually there will be no people alive who experienced the war, thus making it easier for the lying revisionists to challenge facts. It's already happening.

    Something seems to have changed in the 60s, perhaps. The generation of Cold Warriors I knew (ranging from my dad to some of my contemporaries) "get it." The 90s generation, for the most part, does not.

    Now we are reaping what the leftards of the 60s and 70s have sowed. It's exhausting and depressing.

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  11. We are good at defeating and piss poor at conquering.

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  12. I remember VE day.
    Most of the men in my family died in that war.
    They fell in the best company possible.
    "If it is peace you seek , prepare for war"

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  13. Let's not forget the sufferings China went through while keeping roughly a million Japanese troops busy. We tend to forget China's role in WWII largely because the Chinese narrative is highly contested as a result of the Chinese Civil War.

    As for VE Day, the uncle for whom I was named fought across North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. He was even involved in bringing supplies to the Soviets through Iran, where he was shot at by our supposed "allies". In Italy, he got blown up, recovered in a field hospital, and returned to the front. After VE Day, he came back to the States, waited for orders to the Pacific, and while waiting, heard the news of Okinawa, with its frightful casualties lists. This Uncle figured his luck was out, but then Truman ordered the Atomic bombs dropped, the war ended, and my uncle given his discharge without seeing the Pacific. This story is why my mother, dear, unreconstructed Social Democrat that she was, never felt bad about Truman's use of the A-bomb.

    As for my Uncle? He'd had it with the military, foreigners, war, and the rest. He returned to the Midwest, dug a hole, threw in his uniform and medals, doused it with gasoline, and threw in the cigarette he had been smoking, then buried it all. Most of his stories we heard from our parents, who'd caught them when my uncle was in a rare mood to discuss his experiences.

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  14. I remember VE day and particularly night very well. I was 9 years old, and had lived with my parents in Mayfair, London since 1942. By early 1944 London was the most exciting place in the world to be. The air was electric with anticipation, we all knew that we were winning the war, and every nationality under the sun (with the obvious exceptions) seemed to be in London. Our home, which had escaped being bombed, was close to the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square. We small boys loved looking through the windows of the Buicks Packards and Lincolns at their speedometers showing 140mph. Wow!

    Fast forward to VE night. Our apartment overlooked Hanover Square and a crowd had ripped the wooden seats out of the Air raidshelters and turned them into a large bonfire. That was exciting but then my father said to me "let us go to Piccadilly Circus and see what is happening there. You will remember it all your life".

    I have, The Circus was packed with celebrating servicemen and women of all nationalities, singing, drinking, dancing, and kissing. At the end of Regent Street a large building was occupied by US forces as a recreation centre, it was known as Rainbow Corner. The American troops threw firecrackers down into the crowd which added to the joy of nations.

    My father was very good at things like this. In 1940 before moving to London we lived in Bristol. It was a high priority Luftwaffe target because Spitfires were built there. It had more AA guns around the city than did London. During the raids my brother and I were put in a wooden packing case in the cellar. Of course this seemed quite natural, we knew nothing but war and that others wished to kill us seemed perfectly normal. Anyway my father said to me (I would have been 6 or so)
    "come and have a look outside" and took me out. There were searchlights criss crossing the sky and then, and then, 2 searchlights caught a German Bomber, and because it was in two beams it could not escape from them. I know not what happened to it, hopefully one of our night fighters downed it.

    It was a very exciting time to live.

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  15. Mick wrote:

    My mother was a young teacher at a girls high school when the unconditional surrender of Germany was announced at a special assembly. Church bells rung, school was dismissed and most of the girls headed shrieking for the gate. She said the relief that it was over was tempered by the fact there were individuals and clumps of girls who just sat down and cried. It was their elder brothers, fathers and uncles who would stay in graves in Greece, Crete, the Western Desert, Tunisia and Italy.

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