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"We will remember them." D-day, 70 years on

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  • "We will remember them." D-day, 70 years on

    Today is the 70th anniversary of D-day, when the tide turned against totalitarianism.

    As Sky News says here, we remember the appauling sacrifice on all sides especialy of very young men, barely men at all, sent to their deaths. The BBC coverage is here. There is nothing I can add to the images, except to remind you that this 70th anniversary is to be the last on this scale as all these soldiers are now in their 90s. We salute them all.

    On a lighter note, is the British fighting spirit still with us? It certainly is; read of a veterans adventure away from his care home - AWOL without permission: here
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  • #2
    Heroes

    Thank you Alan for the timely reminder. A wonderfully fitting song I will listen to this evening on my 30.1s is "Remembrance Day" by Mark Knopfler on his "Get Lucky" album.

    Though Remembrance Day is a November occasion, the song can be a beautiful and poignant hearkening back to a day both awful for its destruction and loss of precious lives, and full of awe at the selfless sacrifice of those who are nothing less than heroes.

    Comment


    • #3
      View from Canada

      Originally posted by A.S. View Post
      Today is the 70th anniversary of D-day, when the tide turned against totalitarianism.

      As Sky News says here, we remember the appauling sacrifice on all sides especialy of very young men, barely men at all, sent to their deaths. The BBC coverage is here. There is nothing I can add to the images, except to remind you that this 70th anniversary is to be the last on this scale as all these soldiers are now in their 90s. We salute them all.

      On a lighter note, is the British fighting spirit still with us? It certainly is; read of a veterans adventure away from his care home - AWOL without permission: here
      CBC (the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) has posted a very good podcast about D-Day here: http://www.cbc.ca/rewind/popupaudio....Ids=2461671320

      General overview page on the Canadian involvement here: http://www.cbc.ca/rewind/episode/2014/06/05/d-day-1/

      Comment


      • #4
        Remember Stalingrad

        Without taking away anything from this occasion, is there a similar remembrance event in the West for the Russian sacrifices in WW2? And they would argue that the tide actually turned at Stalingrad.

        Comment


        • #5
          War ruins lives

          Originally posted by Kumar Kane View Post
          Without taking away anything from this occasion, is there a similar remembrance event in the West for the Russian sacrifices in WW2? ...
          You raise a good point and one that I have some personal feelings about, as a person born in Canada whose father was an underage Wehrmacht soldier on the Russian front.

          I have no issue with D-Day ceremonies and the event, and those who fought and sacrificed in it, deserve to be remembered forever. Yet at the same time I sometimes think that commemorating it only by side (only Allied soldiers at Allied commemorations) misses the larger point, which is the the common soldiers - and civilians - on all side were victims of the war. The vast majority of Germans fought not because they were ideologues or inherently warlike; they fought because it was their duty (and they'd be shot if they didn't).

          It would be nice to see some kind of joint ceremony that recognizes that war is a horrible thing (even if sometimes necessary) - something that the men who fought don't need to have explained to them, but others sometimes might.

          Comment


          • #6
            About war and its origins

            Originally posted by EricW View Post
            You raise a good point and one that I have some personal feelings about, as a person born in Canada whose father was an underage Wehrmacht soldier on the Russian front.

            I have no issue with D-Day ceremonies and the event, and those who fought and sacrificed in it, deserve to be remembered forever. Yet at the same time I sometimes think that commemorating it only by side (only Allied soldiers at Allied commemorations) misses the larger point, which is the the common soldiers - and civilians - on all side were victims of the war. The vast majority of Germans fought not because they were ideologues or inherently warlike; they fought because it was their duty (and they'd be shot if they didn't).

            It would be nice to see some kind of joint ceremony that recognizes that war is a horrible thing (even if sometimes necessary) - something that the men who fought don't need to have explained to them, but others sometimes might.
            In case of your father as an underage Wehrmacht soldier you are very right but let's remember that every soldier, who is called by his nation to national service, is expected and ordered to fight. The point is how he himself orders others or is ordered to fight and behave in battle.

            Famous von Clausevitz wrote in his most notable “Vom Kriege” that "War is the continuation of Politik by other means". Still painfully actual. Even in our very to-days.

            For me the most curious fact is that after almost 70 years since the end of WWII I have not found any thorough historical treatise written by German historians themselves (probably there is not still common agreement about that in German society) or an international group of scientists together with German historians about factual reasons how it was possible that one of the most culturally, socially, scientifically and technically advanced European nations was so easily and so quickly maneuvered into the lethal path of intolerance, racial and ethnical discrimination, disdain for disabled and handicapped ones, social acquiescence for un-democracy and national socialism, abandonment of natural and human values; for internal and international political brutality and war.

            As I can remember Mrs. Angela Merkel was present at official meeting in Normandy for commemmorating the D-Day, moreover it was very busy time for her as a prolific political negotiator. Ambitions for totalitarism still exist in the world.

            Comment


            • #7
              Learning or not from history

              Originally posted by pkwba View Post
              For me the most curious fact is that after almost 70 years since the end of WWII I have not found any thorough historical treatise written by German historians themselves (probably there is not still common agreement about that in German society) or an international group of scientists together with German historians about factual reasons how it was possible that one of the most culturally, socially, scientifically and technically advanced European nations was so easily and so quickly maneuvered into the lethal path of intolerance, racial and ethnical discrimination, disdain for disabled and handicapped ones, social acquiescence for un-democracy and national socialism, abandonment of natural and human values; for internal and international political brutality and war.

              Ambitions for totalitarism still exist in the world.
              As to the first part quoted above, there are many books that deal with precisely that question. I don't know if any German has written such a book, but there are plenty of well regarded works on this subject. Saying more here would not be appropriate, it is best to read those works for a pretty good understanding of how things happened in Germany.

              As to second part about the ambitions, yes they very much do. And I remember reading that in the months before WW1, there was agreement in many wise places that there would never be any war again in Europe. There had been too much progress in human values, the sciences, culture and the knowledge of the damage that industrialised warfare would do. And yet, the same cultured and most civilised nations in the world ended up starting WW1, the most horrifying war the world had seen till then.

              Similar things are often said today about war of that kind being not possible anymore. I disagree, there is enough potential for global large scale conflicts today, that will only increase as time goes by. And there are enough localised flash points that have the potential of being detonators of a much larger conflict.

              History has a knack of repeating itself because over a longer term, people forget lesson learnt from it.

              Comment


              • #8
                The Russian input

                Originally posted by Kumar Kane View Post
                Without taking away anything from this occasion, is there a similar remembrance event in the West for the Russian sacrifices in WW2? And they would argue that the tide actually turned at Stalingrad.
                I think the battle over Stalingrad and its results are very well known in the world, not only among historians. There are much less known battles in WW2 that also turned the tide of the events, like Monte Cassino on the Western front or Kursk on the Eastern front. They also need to be and - fortunately - are remembered and commemorated.

                Also, is there a similar remembrance event in Russia for the Western sacrifices in WW2? It's a rhetorical question.

                Originally posted by EricW View Post
                You raise a good point and one that I have some personal feelings about, as a person born in Canada whose father was an underage Wehrmacht soldier on the Russian front.

                I have no issue with D-Day ceremonies and the event, and those who fought and sacrificed in it, deserve to be remembered forever. Yet at the same time I sometimes think that commemorating it only by side (only Allied soldiers at Allied commemorations) misses the larger point, which is the the common soldiers - and civilians - on all side were victims of the war. The vast majority of Germans fought not because they were ideologues or inherently warlike; they fought because it was their duty (and they'd be shot if they didn't).

                It would be nice to see some kind of joint ceremony that recognizes that war is a horrible thing (even if sometimes necessary) -something that the men who fought don't need to have explained to them, but others sometimes might.
                I am not sure what you mean by the joint ceremony. This was the ceremony to commemorate specifically D-Day, but representatives of all allies were present there. Mr Putin was there as well, even though the Red Army was not involved in the Normandy landings in 1944 and his presence was highly controversial due to the current situation in Ukraine. I am sure that Russian, as well as German representatives were also participating in past D-Day ceremonies, even though (or due to the fact that) the two countries started the war hand in hand in September of 1939.

                This time Putin even had an occasion to meet some Russian veterans while being in Normandy. During that meeting he announced that he's currently contemplating the idea of changing the name of the city of Volgograd back to Stalingrad. As the name was changed to Volgograd by Mr Khrushchev in 1961 as part of de-Stalinization process, I understand that reinstatement of the former name would form part of the current correcting of Khrushchev's mistakes (some would even say: re-Stalinization), together with the annexation of Crimea that Khrushchev gave to Ukraine in 1954.

                It is very true that the history has a knack of repeating itself over a longer term, and it sometimes scares me...

                What we all can and should always do is to remember and convey that memory to the future generations.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Humans and conflict

                  Originally posted by Kumar Kane View Post
                  As to the first part quoted above, there are many books that deal with precisely that question. I don't know if any German has written such a book, but there are plenty of well regarded works on this subject. Saying more here would not be appropriate, it is best to read those works for a pretty good understanding of how things happened in Germany.

                  As to second part about the ambitions, yes they very much do. And I remember reading that in the months before WW1, there was agreement in many wise places that there would never be any war again in Europe. There had been too much progress in human values, the sciences, culture and the knowledge of the damage that industrialised warfare would do. And yet, the same cultured and most civilised nations in the world ended up starting WW1, the most horrifying war the world had seen till then.

                  Similar things are often said today about war of that kind being not possible anymore. I disagree, there is enough potential for global large scale conflicts today, that will only increase as time goes by. And there are enough localised flash points that have the potential of being detonators of a much larger conflict.

                  History has a knack of repeating itself because over a longer term, people forget lesson learnt from it.
                  Having an advanced degree in History, specifically "War Studies" (not something you bring up in a peacenik meeting), I can comment that it is not that they forget, but rather Hubris makes them believe that they can do better, as they "know better"...There are numerous examples of failures, they are much more interesting to read about, but success, well, as noted, 70 years ago we succeeded.

                  Is there a likelihood of a major conflict exploding from a series of regional flash points, perhaps, but the greater question is, should we allow what is going on in a localised "flashpoint" to avoid a larger conflict, or should we step in to try and halt it...Rwanda, DR Congo, Biafra, Sudan...?

                  As long as there are humans on this planet, there will be conflict...
                  Last edited by Macjager; 09-06-2014, 04:01 PM. Reason: spelling

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    History (and culture) teaches nothing?

                    Originally posted by Macjager View Post
                    Having an advanced degree in History, specifically "War Studies" (not something you bring up in a peacenik meeting), I can comment that it is not that they forget, but rather Hubris makes them believe that they can do better, as they "know better"...There are numerous examples of failures, they are much more interesting to read about, but success, well, as noted, 70 years ago we succeeded.
                    Is there a likelihood of a major conflict exploding from a series of regional flash points, perhaps, but the greater question is, should we allow what is going on in a localised "flashpoint" to avoid a larger conflict, or should we step in to try and halt it...Rwanda, DR Congo, Biafra, Sudan...?
                    As long as there are humans on this planet, there will be conflict...
                    Thanks that you reminded about Hubris.

                    From Encyclopaedia of Ancient Terms:
                    Hubris - concept in the culture of ancient Greece, meaning pride, the pride of lineage or the majesty of the ruler, making him unable properly recognize the situation in which he found himself. Pride is an act of exceeding a measure, which the gods have appointed a man (see the “dike”), therefore it is a challenge to the gods and incurs the penalty. The concept of "hubris" was reflected especially in Greek tragedy, and often is a major factor leading to the crash of a hero. The ancients also identified Hubris with excessive attachment to the development of “techne”.

                    I think we could find similar definitions for this kind of human madness in every other great old culture in the world so why some rulers and politicians are so blind ...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      "The object of power is power"

                      Originally posted by pkwba View Post

                      I think we could find similar definitions for this kind of human madness in every other great old culture in the world so why some rulers and politicians are so blind ...
                      Not just "rulers and politicians", though one of the things that my experience in organizations has taught me is that those in positions of power are often exactly those who should not be wielding it - not always, by any means, but often enough for it to be a problem.

                      As human beings, we all have the (evolutionarily-endowed) capacity for violence, and as social animals we have an instinct for hierarchy and for the exercise of power. Most of the time this is controlled or balanced by "higher" values - law, ethics, religion, social relations, community, and so on. But there are those who truly love power for its own sake, and for that very reason perhaps, are also quite adept at acquiring it - they know how to manipulate, what buttons to push, and they're very highly motivated.

                      I re-read Orwell's 1984 recently and was interested to note that this is really (in my opinion) the core message of the book:
                      “Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know what no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.”

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        More about power.

                        Originally posted by EricW View Post
                        Not just "rulers and politicians", though one of the things that my experience in organizations has taught me is that those in positions of power are often exactly those who should not be wielding it - not always, by any means, but often enough for it to be a problem.

                        As human beings, we all have the (evolutionarily-endowed) capacity for violence, and as social animals we have an instinct for hierarchy and for the exercise of power. Most of the time this is controlled or balanced by "higher" values - law, ethics, religion, social relations, community, and so on. But there are those who truly love power for its own sake, and for that very reason perhaps, are also quite adept at acquiring it - they know how to manipulate, what buttons to push, and they're very highly motivated.

                        I re-read Orwell's 1984 recently and was interested to note that this is really (in my opinion) the core message of the book:
                        “Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know what no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.”
                        The same Orwell, then very socialist writer (in today standards we would say social - democrat), thus lethal oponent to all communists, when our fathers / grandpas were fighting for defending / collapsing The Third Reich, wrote in 1944 what follows:

                        "The Russians are powerful in eastern Europe, we are not: therefore we must not oppose them. This involves the principle, of its nature alien to Socialism, that you must not protest against an evil which you cannot prevent.

                        I cannot discuss here why it is that the British intelligentsia, with few exceptions, have developed a nationalistic loyalty towards the U.S.S.R. and are dishonestly uncritical of its policies. In any case, I have discussed it elsewhere. But I would like to close with two considerations which are worth thinking over.

                        First of all, a message to English left-wing journalists and intellectuals generally: ‘Do remember that dishonesty and cowardice always have to be paid for. Don’t imagine that for years on end you can make yourself the boot-licking propagandist of the Soviet régime, or any other régime, and then suddenly return to mental decency. Once a whore, always a whore.

                        Secondly, a wider consideration. Nothing is more important in the world today than Anglo-Russian friendship and co-operation, and that will not be attained without plain speaking. The best way to come to an agreement with a foreign nation is not to refrain from criticizing its policies, even to the extent of leaving your own people in the dark about them. At present, so slavish is the attitude of nearly the whole British press that ordinary people have very little idea of what is happening, and may well be committed to policies which they will repudiate in five years’ time. In a shadowy sort of way we have been told that the Russian peace terms are a super-Versailles, with partition of Germany, astronomical reparations, and forced labour on a huge scale. These proposals go practically uncriticized, while in much of the left-wing press hack writers are even hired to extol them. The result is that the average man has no notion of the enormity of what is proposed.

                        I don’t know whether, when the time comes, the Russians will really want to put such terms into operation. My guess is that they won’t (They did - pkwba). But what I do know is that if any such thing were done, the British and probably the American public would never support it when the passion of war had died down. Any flagrantly unjust peace settlement will simply have the result, as it did last time, of making the British people unreasonably sympathetic with the victims
                        . Anglo-Russian friendship depends upon there being a policy which both countries can agree upon, and this is impossible without free discussion and genuine criticism now. There can be no real alliance on the basis of ‘Stalin is always right’. The first step towards a real alliance is the dropping of illusions.

                        Finally, a word to the people who will write me letters about this. May I once again draw attention to the title of this column and remind everyone that the Editors of Tribune are not necessarily in agreement with all that l say, but are putting into practice their belief in freedom of speech?"


                        George Orwell , Tribune, 1st September 1944

                        link http://www.telelib.com/authors/O/Orw...e19440901.html


                        Now let's travel back in time around 10 and half century from 1944. The words below would be very wisdom for all those who strive for, or as you described, love power (nevertheless these words origin from religious or philosophic ground as you mentioned accurately):

                        On power.
                        “Power is never a good, unless he be good that has it; and that is the good of the man, not of the power. If power be goodness, why then is it that no man by his dominion can come to the virtues, and to merit? but by his virtues and merit he comes to dominion and power. Thus no man is better for his power; but if he be good, it is from his virtues that he is good. From his virtues he becomes worthy of power, if he be worthy of it.

                        Learn therefore wisdom; and when you have learned it, do not neglect it. I tell you then without any doubt, that you may come to power, though you should not desire the power. You need not be solicitous about power, nor strive after it. If you be wise and good, it will follow you, though you should not wish it”.


                        On mankind.
                        “What! All the men had alike beginning, because they all came from one father and one mother. They all are yet born alike. This is no wonder; because God alone is the father of all creatures. He made them all, and governs all. He gave us the sun’s light, and the moon, and placed all the stars. He created men on the earth. He has connected together the soul and the body by his power, and made all men equally noble in their first nature.
                        Why then do ye arrogate over other men for your birth without works? Now you can find none unnoble. But all are equally noble, if you will think of your first creation and the Creator , and afterwards of your own nativity. Yet the right nobility is in the mind. It is not in the flesh, as we said before. But every man that is at all subjected to his vices, forsakes his Creator and his first creation, and his nobility; and thence becomes more ignoble than if he were not nobly born.”


                        Alfred the Great (King of Wessex) after “Consolatio Philosophiae” of Boethius, translated by Alfred between 871 – 899.
                        (In the translation of Boethius, king Alfred has so much enlarged upon the text of his author, and added so many of his own thoughts and feelings , that various parts of his Saxon translation may be considered as short essays upon the different subjects introduced by Boethius; the following extracts are, therefore, generally ascribed to Alfred. – J.B)

                        Citation from “The Elements of Anlo-Saxon Grammar” by Rev. J. Bosworth, M.A. F.A.S., London 1823.

                        My remarks:

                        On power - what is the fate of all those who lost the common sense and only strive for power ?
                        On mankind - Alfred the Great, King of Wessex, more radical in his views on human equity (modern genetics confirms his views quite well) than hordes of Parteigenossen, Comrades or Tovarischs. How is it possible?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Remebrance Parade, November 2015

                          Remembrance Day, 8 November 2015.

                          Queen Elizabeth II, our eighty nine year old queen was joined by the Dutch King Willem-Alexander at the London annual Remembrance Parade, here.

                          Video of the Royal British Legion (a charity that supports ex-service men and women and their families) annual Service in The Royal Albert Hall, attended by the Queen, the Royal Family and the Prime Minister. Here. If you have not seen this before and are only mildly interested in the subject, may I suggest that you spin forward to about 1 hour 25 mins in, the essence of the Service.
                          Alan A. Shaw
                          Designer, owner
                          Harbeth Audio UK

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            thanks for sharing this.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Suffering everywhere

                              Britain and the Netherlands do indeed have common memories. My grandfather was at sea when the war broke out, so he sailed convoys for the rest of it (leaving behind his family in a bombed Rotterdam, and later on his two sons in a German labour camp).

                              A few years ago, and like my father did with me, I took my children to the Normandy beaches to see where he had landed with his supply ship, and to give them a sense of the horrors. More recently, I took my son to the last sea worthy Liberty ship, in San Francisco harbour. That was the kind of ship my grandfather sailed during the last years of the war. We should not forget, and we should pass it on to the next generation.

                              When I was working in Germany last year, I also used the occasion to show them the suffering the war had brought to the German population.

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