Before I voice my grievances and challenge conventional thinking on this, let me make the disclaimer that I believe Hitler was evil, and he deserved to be crushed. Also, my family fought WW2. I had a grandfather in the Royal Navy and a grandfather in the RAF. I have even alienated friends by arguing that we were right to drop “the bomb” on Japan, and should have used it on Germany.
However, as the world has celebrated VE Day this week, some things have really bothered me. (If you’re wondering “what’s VE Day”, you won’t get this blog.) Firstly, the image of George Bush standing shoulder to shoulder with Putin in Red Square reviewing troops carrying Soviet flags, and giving defacto praise to unrepentant Stalinists is disheartening. I swear, if I ever hear Mr. Bush say, “freedom is on the march” again, I’ll scream! I wonder, when he looked into “Vladimir’s eyes, and saw the man’s soul,” were Putin’s eyes saying, “you’re no Reagan”? You can’t fight a war to liberate Iraqis from a Stalinist (Saddam), while claiming Putin as your “buddy.” Defending Russia's record in the "Great Patriotic War," Putin declared, “Our people not only defended their homeland, they liberated 11 European countries.” Those countries were Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Finland.
The true story of WW2, east of the Elbe, was not freedom; it was Stalin, the most odious tyrant of the century. Where Hitler killed his millions, Stalin murdered his tens of millions. The summit at Yalta was a betrayal of small nations as immoral as the Munich Pact. So why do we venerate Churchill and FDR? At Yalta, this pair secretly ceded those small nations to Stalin, co-signing a “Declaration on Liberated Europe” that was a monstrous lie. As FDR and Churchill consigned these peoples to a Stalinist hell run by a monster whom FDR affectionately called “Uncle Joe” why are they not in the history books alongside Neville Chamberlain, who sold out the Czechs at Munich by handing their country over to Germany?
Aside from the Holocaust, there are other questions, relating to the actual reasons the war was fought. If Britain endured six years of war and hundreds of thousands of dead in a war she declared to defend Polish freedom, and Polish freedom was lost to communism, how can we say Britain won the war? If the West went to war to stop Hitler from dominating Eastern and Central Europe, and Eastern and Central Europe ended up under a tyranny many times worse, did the West really win the war? It is true that Allied troops liberated France, Holland and Belgium from Nazi occupation. But before Britain declared war on Germany, those countries did not need to be liberated. They were free. They were only invaded and occupied after Britain and France declared war on Germany – on behalf of Poland, whose freedom was lost at the end of the war! Again, why go to war to defend Polish freedom, just to give Poland to Stalin?
The war Britain and France declared to defend Polish freedom ended up making Poland and all of Eastern and Central Europe safe for Stalinism. And at the festivities in Moscow, Americans and Russians were front and center, smiling – not the British and French. The legacy of WW2 is that the British and the French lost their empires, while the U.S. and the Russians emerged as Superpowers. Maybe that’s why we’re so nostalgic about the war. And, are there lessons we can learn relating to our current war of “liberation” ???