Back to index
Last updated: Sunday, May 8, 2016 (71st Anniversary of VE Day)

It is hard to say whether it is coincidental that I have updated this on the 71st Anniversary of VE Day. I think it is most likely that it being the day reminded me of this essay and I recalled that I was inadvertently a bit vague and very possibly misleading when it comes to the Japanese involvement of WWII. I didn't really talk about the attack on Pearl Harbor but I feel it is important to note that the attack was the result of conflicts involving Japan, China and the United States of America (and in particular the United States of America's policy on the two sides and their conflicts). I guess what I'm trying to stress is that there is more to it (Japan's involvement in WWII) than just the end of The Great War; it's a more complicated issue.

I wrote the following piece on May 2 of 2015 which was the 70 year anniversary of the fall of Berlin in World War II leading to what ultimately became the beginning of the surrender of Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler committed suicide on April 30 of 1945, at the age of 56 years and 10 days (April 20, 1889 - April 30 1945). Two days following Berlin fell and on the 8th of May Nazi Germany ultimately surrendered.

This is clearly an off topic post but when I looked at the calendar today, it occurred to me that on this day in 1945, Berlin unconditionally surrendered to the Allies. It was a significant moment in the second world war, and it wasn't long before all of Germany surrendered. This is something I felt inspired to write in light of such a dark chapter known to mankind.

70 Years Ago Today at the Battle in Berlin: A look in to the heart of mankind, its past, present and future

The Battle in Berlin ended on 1945 May 2. It was a glimmer of hope for many, and would be a day that would begin the ultimate surrender of Germany in World War II. Hitler (20 April 1889 - 30 April 1945), along with his newly wed wife Eva Braun, had committed suicide 10 days after Hitler's 56th birthday - April 30, 1945; he knew the end was approaching and he was not one to surrender: he made sure he was not captured. Joseph Goebbels, who stayed with Hitler to the very end, had also committed suicide (although not the same day) - and forced his family, including his kids (the mother assured the kids everyone was using morphine - the drug of choice - and to not worry, therefore allowing them to be sedated while they're poisoned; to be sure she was very upset at the thought herself and had to give into her husband's demands because what else could she do in the bunker?) to do the same. Goebbels was, of course, the master propagandist of Nazi Germany, and this combined with Hitler being a very powerful speaker (so too was Goebbels, of course) is a very dangerous combination (yet they weren't the only powerful variables - or people involved). Hitler of course was concerned that the cyanamide was not sufficiently potent, and despite him being close to his German Shepherd Blondi, a day before he committed suicide, he tested a dose of cyanamide[1] on Blondi; she would be buried and later excavated by the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, Hitler ordered that his remains as well as Eva's remains, to be burnt. I'll return to the liberation of Berlin towards the end of this essay.

The fact Hitler was never one to surrender is quite obvious when you consider the end of the first world war - the war to end all wars: he felt it was an utter betrayal to surrender and was in disbelief that the war was finished; he truly wanted to continue after recovering from temporary blindness (from a mustard gas attack). The Germans (Hitler was born in Austria and was very much Austrian: indeed, over the years, as I recall more than once, many cities in Austria have rushed to make sure that he was not still an honorary citizen, after it was made known that a city still declared him exactly that) told him they no longer needed his service. This of course, really was not the end: The Treaty of Versailles left Germany a disaster.

Germany lost a lot of land; the Rhineland was to be demilitarised; their military was limited to no more than 100,000 men; they were not allowed an air force; were to give up military aircraft; they were not allowed to import or build air power for six months amongst other air warfare restrictions (yet ironically, despite all this, the Luftwaffe would later literally flatten areas in the UK during The Blitz, which caused many in England to use the tube stations as bombing shelters and led to utter devastation in areas - like North Ireland - that did not prepare if not outright ignore warnings); prohibition in the arms trade; limitations as to what the navy was allowed (battleships as well as number of men); they were to pay billions (marks) in reparations, something I believe they've yet to pay off (I would be surprised if they ever do, assuming that indeed they have not yet); and much more. Germany was not invited to the discussions but were required to sign the treaty. All of this paved the way for Hitler to eventually take over what would later become the National Socialist German Workers Party - or Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (abbreviated as NSDAP), more commonly known as the Nazi Party. It was originally the National Socialists party. It was Hitler who decided to rename it to what it is known as today. His idea was it would appease to the masses, essentially everyone but the communists and the Jews[2]. In addition, the victors also largely ignored the Japanese, despite Japan being a victor. In actuality, a long series of conflict involving Japan, China and the United States of America is more relevant to the attack on Pearl Harbor; but nevertheless Japan signed the Tripartite Pact along with Germany and Italy, and so when Japan bombed Pear Harbor Germany was forced to declare war on the United States of America. This would be a significant change for the war but I will only briefly mention Japan once more.

When you think of all this, it would be absurd to even dream of there not being another major conflict. As far as I am aware, the Americans tried to some time later (and in fact didn't want these measurements imposed on Germany in the first place) get some of these limitations removed, because of this fear (that turned to reality because France was childishly obstinate in that Germany should be punished). But they were too late and/or not successful. Essentially, the treaty would be to the peril of the victors - and the entire world.

Yet despite the terror of the time, despite the atrocities, mankind has not taken to heart all the lessons. There is no such thing as tolerance if it is not respected and considered 100%; therefore, tolerance is a dangerous lie: selective tolerance still discriminates and that is exactly what happened so many years ago and to this day still occurs. It is true that there were horrible atrocities with terrible consequences and to this day there still is. But war is war. While that does not justify what was done, it should always be kept in mind. The last remaining body guard of Hitler once said something that should be remembered because it is completely honest and 100% valid: there's never been a war without war crime. I would extend this, and perhaps he meant this too, by adding: war itself is a crime.

Yet despite the Soviet Union liberating Berlin (and other Nazi occupied land), they were not above being horrendous, either. The Red Army looted, committed mass rape and mass murder. This affected many more people: rape and in general sexual - which is also physical, mental and emotional - abuse ruins lives (and a close friend of mine can attest to that, even though it should be obvious). Then there are the murders. Is that better than the Nazis? No, it's not. The effect would not happen if it wasn't for the cause; the cause is the lack of tolerance, the hate, vengeful, discriminatory and oppressive behaviour and mentality. Yet many Soviets earned medals for liberating Berlin. One hopes that none that participated in the deplorable actions were also rewarded, but as I've already noted - war is a criminal act, and it is inevitable that these things will happen, and in all likelihood many perpetrators were indeed rewarded. It's sad to note, however, that it isn't like Russia is the only to do stupid things after the VE Day. My grandfather served as a military police in the Allies Occupation in Germany (can't recall where exactly) and he saw some stupid, drunk Americans pushing a grand piano outside the second storey of a building. Why the needless destruction? Didn't Germany suffer enough? Didn't the world suffer enough? That they were drunk isn't an excuse because they were the ones who decided to drink - it is their fault just as much as a drunk driver who kills someone is at fault for the death of the victims (or what should be murder to the most severe degree) and so too is it the fault of these Americans that destroyed a grand piano; none of it is excusable.

It is interesting to note that two very significant things changed the war outlook (of course there are others, including some that are because of these). First, Hitler regretted his pact with the Soviet Union, and he decided to break it by invasion. With the Soviet's scorched earth tactic, combined with the climate and temperatures there, the German army suffered terribly. This also meant that the Soviets would fight the Nazis and ultimately would liberate much of Europe (it is also worth noting that other neutral countries - Sweden, for example - would not only remain unoccupied but also gain the Nazis trust and as such, many Jews were able to flee to Sweden). The other is that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and this, combined with Hitler shortly thereafter declaring war (because of the Tripartite Pact between Germany, Italy and Japan) on the United States of America, would bring the US in to the war. The Americans were an important part of the victory on both the European front (e.g. D-Day, June 6, 1944) and the Pacific.

70 years ago today began the first part of a transition to the end of a very dark chapter in mankind. Never forget what happened, how many lives were lost, how many lost family, how many suffered. Never forget it could have been worse. But do not forget either that it could have been better if only there was tolerance, more peaceful cooperation (instead of aggressive competition) and if only more people remembered how their actions affect others. Ultimately, World War II could have been avoided as could many other wars, including wars after World War II. But they aren't avoided. 70 years have gone by and mankind has still not acknowledged these things; there is nothing darker than this realisation.