We have heard much about D-Day this weekend. I am not here to question the bravery of U.S. soldiers or the evils of the Nazis. But I do want to point out two things that we don't hear much about this time of year.
We are continually told that the D-Day invasion helped to liberate Europe from the Nazis. True. But rarely do we hear that after Europe was liberated from Hitler, much of it was turned over to Stalin.
And then there is the effect of the D-Day invasion on civilians. According to an article about Antony Beevor's new book, D-Day, 20,000 French civilians were killed within three months of the D-Day landing. Some villages in Normandy only recently began having D-Day celebrations. What? How ungrateful these people were for the "hundreds of tons of bombs destroying entire cities and wiping out families." Or perhaps it was because of the "theft and looting of Normandy households and farmsteads by liberating soldiers" that "began on June 6 and never stopped during the entire summer." Or perhaps it was the "3,500 rapes by American servicemen in France between June 1944 and the end of the war."
Please don't write and tell me how brave your father or grandfather was on D-Day. I am not disputing that for a minute. It is the horrors of war for civilians that is my point. I don't want there to have to be another D-Day.
And Bill Anderson has a nice follow-up post:
Laurence's post and the articles on D-Day on this page are a reminder that there is much more to D-Day than what comes from the near-religious annual celebrations that always occur each year on June 6. This date is treated as thought it were sanctified and we are "celebrating" the "victory" of the Legions of God over the Legions of Satan.
Now, like Laurence, I believe the record of the Nazis speaks for itself, but what occurred in Europe during those sad years did not happen in a vacuum. Furthermore, the message that it was D-Day that ultimately resulted in the defeat of Nazi Germany does violence to the fact that the Russians already were pushing the Germans backwards in the horrible fighting on the Eastern Front.
Likewise, we forget such things as Operation Keelhaul in which the "liberating Americans" took part in a cynical, murderous plot in which thousands of innocents were executed or sent off to prison camps to die by our "Russian allies." Nikolai Tolstoy writes about the aftermath of one of these incidents:The Americans returned to Plattling (where they had delivered Russian expatriates to the Russian troops) visibly shamefaced. Before their departure from the rendezvous in the forest, many had seen rows of bodies already hanging from the branches of nearby trees. On their return, even the SS men in a neighboring compound lined the wire fence and railed at them for their behavior. The Americans were too ashamed to reply.
Winners have the privilege of writing history, and a lot of whoppers have been written into the history of World War II. As Laurence said, those of us critical of U.S. policy and the D-Day celebrations are not taking the sides of the Nazis and are not promoting some obscure or imaginary set of events.
Instead, we are pointing out that war itself is evil, and that people -- even good people -- do horrible and evil things when acting in warfare. Americans are told in their history books that war is glorious, and that people prove their "worth" only on the field of battle. Well, some of us believe that is a lie, and we want to expose that lie for what it is.
And also see this great article by Hugh Schofield on the horrors of D-Day and war in general.