The Liberation of Europe from Nazi Fascism
Commemorative events took place across Britain from May 8-10 to mark the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day. The three days were in stark contrast to the four-year period the government has set aside for the commemoration of the First World War. Moreover, it was evident that the events organised by the government were not intended to commemorate the fact that the conclusion of the Second World War was a decisive victory over fascism. Everything has been done to obscure the nature of the war and its significance and the fact that the victory over fascism in Europe was led by the Soviet Union, which bore the brunt of the fighting. In fact the Soviet Union contributed nearly 50% of all allied expenditure on the war and, of the five major belligerents, suffered nearly 60% of all economic damage caused by the war. Above all it contributed the lives of some 27 million of its population. As if to add insult to injury the government, and many of its wartime allies headed by the US, boycotted the official Victory Day commemorative events in Moscow, allegedly in response to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine. These events were however were attended by leaders of many countries including Brazil, India, China, South Africa and Cuba, as well as the UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon.
The re-writing and falsification of the history of the Second World War has been ongoing for at least seventy years. It is not by coincidence that in Britain and several other countries VE Day is commemorated on May 8 rather than May 9, which was the date of the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany at Karlhorst, a suburb of Berlin, and is often symbolised by the photo of the Soviet flag being flown from the Reichstag building. The different dates not only reflect differences between the wartime allies, the Anglo-Americans and the Soviet Union, as to where and when the surrender should be signed but also the fact that towards the end of the war the Anglo-Americans had onseveral occasions made separate armistice agreements with Nazi Germany, which allowed the latter to hurl the full weight of its armed forces against the Soviet Union. The Anglo-American strategy of allowing the armies of Germany and the Soviet Union to annihilate each other was implemented throughout the war and led to the delay of the opening of a second front in western Europe. The 1944 D-Day landings did not take place to relieve the onslaught on the Soviet Union as its government had demanded since 1941. At that time the policy of the Anglo-Americans was perhaps best summed up by the future US president, Harry Truman who wrote: “If we see that Germany is winning, we should help Russia, and if Russia is winning, we should help Germany, so that as many as possible perish on both sides.” Instead the Anglo-Americans waited until after the decisive battle of Stalingrad, the turning point of the war in Europe in 1943, when they became concerned that the victorious Red Army might not only defeat Nazi Germany single-handed but also liberate the whole of western Europe. Such fears also help to explain the war crimes carried out by the Anglo-Americans by the bombing of Dresden and other German cities that had no military significance during the war.
The people of Britain and its colonies, as well as the people of many other countries, gave their lives to rid the world of the Nazi menace and scored a historic victory in 1945. However, it cannot be forgotten that fascism in general and Nazi Germany in particular were financed, encouraged and appeased by the government and ruling circles of Britain and its closest allies. As is well known, the government of Britain completely betrayed the people of Czechoslovakia in 1938, just as it betrayed the people of Ethiopia and Spain in previous years. Everything was done to encourage fascist aggression and in particular the expansion of Nazi Germany eastwards, so as to fulfil the wish of Churchill and others that communism might be “strangled in its cradle”.
However, communism was not strangled. Indeed it was the Soviet Union in Stalin’s time that demanded a policy of “collective security” against fascism, that time and again sought alliances with Britain and other countries in Europe against the menace of fascism, advances that were always rejected. In the same period it was the communist parties organised in the Communist International that called for a united front of the workers and all democratic people, irrespective of party affiliation, against fascism, a call initially rejected by the leaders of the Labour Party in Britain and its sister parties. Nevertheless the call of the Communists for unity in action against fascism, not only in Europe but internationally, was put into practice during the Second World War and was the basis for the victories of 1945.
The Second World War was a great tragedy in which over 60 million people lost their lives. However, it was successfully fought to prevent an even greater tragedy and fascism was defeated. The victory over fascism created the conditions for the liberation of many nations in Africa and Asia and for the working people to advance their cause for progress and social emancipation. The few years after the victory over Nazi fascism were a time of great momentum, profound changes and the creation of the socialist camp. In 1945, for example, for the first time in history the trade union centres of all countries came together to found the World Federation of Trade Unions and there was even the expectation that the workers of the world, who had sacrificed so much, would be represented in the highest bodies of the United Nations. However, history shows that these advances were not welcomed by all. They were opposed by those that had nurtured, appeased and financed fascism before the war. Once the victory over fascism seemed assured, the struggle against communism and to prevent the peoples empowering themselves recommenced.