What more can be said on such a magnificent anniversary? No current topic is equal to it – victory over a monstrous power, preservation of our nation and many others. 75 years of freedom for half the continent – it was another 44 years before Eastern Europe was liberated.
In Berlin, left in ruins in 1945, they are celebrating the day for the first time, as a moment of liberation, but the eastern half of the city and the eastern lands of Germany went straight from one bloody tyranny to another.
It is impossible for the upcoming generation to understand the moment. There those who remember it, but most of us were born long afterwards. We have been brought up all our lives with all the easy assumptions of a free country and those Millennials, born after the Socialist tyrannies of the east were swept away, can have no imagination of anything but the way the world lives today. Talk of life in Nazi Germany, or the Communist East, washes over them because things cannot really have been like that, can they – the world doesn’t work like that does it? It did, and more so that can every be described.
The evil comes from the essence of man. It is not unusual across the world or history – it is our free, benevolent society which is unusual. It cannot be taken for granted.
Churchill warned, when we stood alone:
The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.
We were buoyed up by song, and while it cheered, there was no doubt about what the effort entailed, rewards to be won and the peril if failure should befall:
I’ll never forget the people I met
Braving those angry skies
I remember well as the shadows fell
The light of hope in their eyes
And though I’m far away
I still can hear them say
For when the dawn comes up
There’ll be bluebirds over
The white cliffs of Dover
Tomorrow, just you wait and see
There’ll be love and laughter
And peace ever after
Tomorrow, when the world is free
The world is free, and has been for 75 years, because of that intense effort and sacrifice of six, long years or blood, sweat, toil and tears. Today is really Churchill’s day, so his words can speak for themselves:
Yesterday morning at 2:41 a.m. at Headquarters, General Jodl, the representative of the German High Command, and Grand Admiral Doenitz, the designated head of the German State, signed the act of unconditional surrender of all German land, sea, and air forces in Europe to the Allied Expeditionary Force, and simultaneously to the Soviet High Command.
General Bedell Smith, Chief of Staff of the United States Army, and General Francois Sevez signed the document on behalf of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, and General Susloparov signed on behalf of the Russian High Command.
Today this agreement will be ratified and confirmed at Berlin, where Air Chief Marshal Tedder, Deputy Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, and General de Lattre de Tassigny will sign on behalf of General Eisenhower. General Zhukov will sign on behalf of the Soviet High Command. The German representatives will be Field-Marshal Keitel, Chief of the High Command, and the Commanders-in-Chief of the German Army, Navy, and Air Forces.
Hostilities will end officially at one minute after midnight to-night (Tuesday, May 8), but in the interests of saving lives the “Cease fire” began yesterday to be sounded all along the front, and our dear Channel Islands are also to be freed today.
The Germans are still in places resisting the Russian troops, but should they continue to do so after midnight they will, of course, deprive themselves of the protection of the laws of war, and will be attacked from all quarters by the Allied troops. It is not surprising that on such long fronts and in the existing disorder of the enemy the commands of the German High Command should not in every case be obeyed immediately. This does not, in our opinion, with the best military advice at our disposal, constitute any reason for withholding from the nation the facts communicated to us by General Eisenhower of the unconditional surrender already signed at Rheims, nor should it prevent us from celebrating today and tomorrow (Wednesday) as Victory in Europe days.
Today, perhaps, we shall think mostly of ourselves. Tomorrow we shall pay a particular tribute to our heroic Russian comrades, whose prowess in the field has been one of the grand contributions to the general victory.
The German war is therefore at an end. After years of intense preparation, Germany hurled herself on Poland at the beginning of September, 1939; and, in pursuance of our guarantee to Poland and in agreement with the French Republic, Great Britain, the British Empire and Commonwealth of Nations, declared war upon this foul aggression. After gallant France had been struck down we, from this Island and from our united Empire, maintained the struggle single-handed for a whole year until we were joined by the military might of Soviet Russia, and later by the overwhelming power and resources of the United States of America.
Finally almost the whole world was combined against the evil-doers, who are now prostrate before us. Our gratitude to all our splendid allies goes forth from all our hearts in this island and throughout the British Empire.
We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing; but let us not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead. Japan, with all her treachery and greed, remains unsubdued. The injury she has inflicted upon Great Britain, the United States, and other countries, and her detestable cruelties, call for justice and retribution. We must now devote all our strength and resources to the completion of our task, both at home and abroad. Advance, Britannia! Long live the cause of freedom! God save the King!
- Family, faith, flag, freedom
- Never again.
- In a sentence, Her Majesty defines us
- Warre of Every One Against Every One
- The fearsome state of manhood
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