A Few Thoughts on the 75th Anniversary of Victory in Europe Day

By Niagara At Large publisher Doug Draper, followed by a Statement issued on this milestone Anniversary by Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau

Posted May 8th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

“Is this really the beginning of the long-awaited liberation? The liberation we’ve all talked so much about, which still seems too good, too much of a fairy tale ever to come true? …

“Oh, Kitty, the best part about the invasion is that I have the feeling that friends are on the way. Those terrible Germans have oppressed and threatened us for so long that the thought of friends and salvation means everything to us! Now it’s not just the Jews, but Holland and all of occupied Europe. Maybe, Margot says, I can even go back to school in October or September.”

Anne Frank. More than almost anyone else, Anne Frank, through the words in her enduring diary, put a human face on the terrible loss of human life during the nightmare years of Nazis occupation in Europe.

The author of the above words was Anne Frank and ‘Kitty’ was the name she gave the immortalized diary she wrote them in. Margot was her older sister.

Anne Frank penned those words on June 6th, 1944, after she heard on a BBC radio broadcast about the D-Day invasion of allied troops along the cost of France – an event that  marked the beginning of the end of the War in Europe against the then German Nazi occupiers.

Tragically, Anne Frank would not go back to school the following September, nor did she live long enough to see victory achieved in Europe 75 years ago this May 8th. She and her sister Margot died, apparently of typhus, in a Nazi concentration camp in late March 1945, just week before that camp was liberated.

When she died, Anne Frank was only 15 years ago, and might still be alive today in a world that was more sane.

As the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day approached this year, I could not think of members of her immediate family and others (all Jewish) living and hiding in the attic of a warehouse in Amsterdam for two years before the Nazis found them and shipped them off to the death camps.

Thinking of her, hiding indoors for all that time, seems to make sense with all of the staying in our houses most of us have had to do during the pandemic we are facing now.

An old chestnut tree Anne Frank enjoyed looking out of the window of her family’s attic hideout. It fell in 2010, but saplings from it have been planted at sites around the world.

Yet while so many of us, myself included, have caught ourselves going through bouts of stress and depression, and going a bit stir crazy after only a couple of months of this, I could not help but feel inspired, as I read through Anne Frank’s diary, by the hope and optimism that came through in so much of her writing.

“I’ve found that there is always some beauty left — in nature, sunshine, freedom, in yourself; these can all help you,” she wrote in one notation. “I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains,” she wrote in another. “Where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.”

Anyone out there who is feeling a bit of the quarantine blues and is looking for something to read, I highly recommend ‘The Diary of Ann Frank’.

Two years ago this past February, someone painted a swastika, on a sidewalk near Harriet Tubman Elementary School in St. Catharines/Niagara. Unfortunately, acts like this are not that uncommon.

Reading the words in her diary also puts a human face on the millions of lives that were forever destroyed in the Second World War which is why I have never been able to bring myself to feel the same sense of celebration others do at marking the anniversary of this war’s end. I can understand why so many people do celebrate the end of this terrible war, but I can’t.

Instead, I feel a mixture of sadness and anger at a fascist ideology fueled by enough hate to do the most horrid things to other human beings.

It should serve as a reminder and a warning to all of us that something like this could happen again and, indeed, there are is the scent of it around.

We certainly saw it a couple of years ago when neo Nazis marched in the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, with lit torches and chanting; “Jews will not replace us.” There have been the odd whiffs of it here too with someone painting a Nazi swastika on a sidewalk in front of a school in St. Catharines named after the 19th century black abolitionist and underground railroad heroine Harriet Tubman.

White supremicists and neo-Nazis marching in the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017. At lleast some were “very fine people,” Trump said later.

The murderous nightmare that the Nazis put the people of Europe, Russia and north Africa through in the 1930s and 40s happened after years of the world not taking those who held their poisonous views as seriously as they should have.

So as we observe anniversaries like this and we hear and read the words ‘Lest We Forget’, we must remind ourselves never to let are guard down either.

I don’t know how much sense any of what I’ve tried to say here makes, so I will leave it there.

Now here is the Statement issued by Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau –

May 8, 2020, Ottawa, Ontario

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, issued the following statement today on the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day:

“Today, on the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, we pause to reflect and honour all those who fought, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend freedom and democracy.

A victory parade in Toronto at the end of the War in Europe in the spring of 1945. There were scenes like this in cities and towns across Canada and the United States

“On this day in 1945, Canadians joined the chorus of millions around the world to celebrate the end of the Second World War in Europe. With the unconditional surrender of the Nazi regime, the devastation, fear, and misery caused by more than five-and-a-half years of fighting gave way to feelings of relief, hope, and optimism. Although the war in Asia and the Pacific continued, parades were held and people sang in the streets as Canada and its Allies celebrated the end of a struggle that had tested our resilience and humanity.

“While this year’s commemorative ceremonies will move online due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, I invite all Canadians to pay tribute to the courage and sacrifice of those who fought in Europe, and supported the war effort at home, during the Second World War. We remain forever in the debt of all those who answered the call to serve, and for the people in uniform who gave everything so that their children and grandchildren could live in freedom and peace.

“Lest we forget.”

To watch a brief document on Canada’s role in the Second World War and bringing victory to Europe, click on the screen below –

 NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space following the Bernie Sanders quote below.

“A Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders

3 responses to “A Few Thoughts on the 75th Anniversary of Victory in Europe Day

  1. Gary Screaton Page

    WWII was a tragedy on so many fronts, on so many levels: the human cost incalculable! So, too, the cost to our humanity. Little understood is how a nation that once birthed great music, art, writing, theology, and philosophy could so crumble to the point of raising a Hitler.
    We must be vigilant. Democracy is fragile. In spite of our pride in our nation, we are not immune in Canada to what happened in Germany in 1933, after the Reichstag adopted the Enabling Act of 1933 in March that year giving expanded authority, Hindenburg had previously appointed Hitler as Chancellor on 30 January 1933 after parliamentary elections and much backroom intrigue.
    Look South. See how Donald Trump is disregarding Congressional oversight. See how Trump, through his crony, William Barr, United States Attorney General, maneuvered to free the likes of Mike Flynn despite two guilty pleas that sent him to prison. Note how Trump lies consistently to the American public. Note how so many of his un-American antics continue to receive the full support of nearly 40% of Americans. Then also note how our own Prime Minister was implicated in an apparent attempt to try to pressure Jody Wilson-Raybould when she was attorney general to step in and resolve the corruption and fraud case against SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. in an effort to spare the Montreal-based engineering giant from criminal prosecution. Note, too, how many black Americans have died at the hands of white police officers, how much more affected black and Hispanic Americans are to Covid-19 due to their socio-economic status, and further note how the U.S. White House is testing daily everyone there, while Trump diminishes the need for testing for the rest of the nation, and you will see more clearly my point.
    Then, you may become more aware of just how readily a nation can turn from democracy and high ideals to being mean and adopt a fascist ideology. Our freedom is fragile. Honour those who served, and the many who died to save it, by being vigilant so it does not happen again. Beware my fellow Canadians, “The Mean-ing of America!™” is becoming clearer every day. Is Canada getting meaner, too?
    Remember: lest we forget!

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  2. That you equate Trudeau’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair to Hitler and Trump reveals either a profound lack comprehension or a deeply political motive. Too bad, the rest of your response was quite good. For the record, I did not vote for Mr Trudeau in either of his elections, but to suggest that the type of political-corporate gamesmanship is in any way akin to Trump’s destruction of America’s democratic institutions is folly of the highest order.

    Like

    • Gary Screaton Page

      Lex, I am sorry I gave that impression. Trudeau and Trump do not equate to Hitler, nor do I suggest they do. I regret I did not make that clear. All were apparently involved in corrupt activity, and backroom shenanigans as precursors to a further downgrade of the political environment. Their behavior showed a contempt for justice and democratic process: precursors to more sinister conduct and the further erosion of freedom. Many in society either ignored their conduct or failed to challenge it. Not getting involved in calling out such behavior made the way for Hitler to rise to cruel heights and we do see a deterioration in American society, too. However, the latter is beginning to resist the rantings of Trump, and Trudeau is no dictator. No, we are a long way from Hitler’s Germany, but we are not immune! Complacency is a slippery slope on which tyrants can rise to power.

      Like

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