VE Day - Victory for Most of Europe

WWII ended in Europe seventy years ago when, on May 8, 1945, the Allies accepted Germany’s unconditional surrender. Since then the day, known as Victory Day, V-Day or VE Day is marked with somber salutes, wreath laying ceremonies and speeches across Europe and in the United States. Look for vintage WWII craft to fly over Washington DC in honor of the occasion. Yet for Poland, then and now, the concept of “victory” rang hollow.

Hitler and Stalin were allies. Roosevelt and Stalin were allies.
Poland still had Stalin after WWII.
After six years of occupation, the death of six million Poles, and a long list of other sufferings, the Allies (Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt) had already predestined Poland would fall under Russian communism following World War II. The Russian oppression would last for more than forty more years. Freedom came in gradations for different countries; for Poland it came decades later than others.

In the same vein, lately, I’ve been shocked at the blatant misunderstanding or Poland’s role as both victim and occupied country, by a toy company, the director of the FBI, and mentions in other worldwide press that refer to “Polish crematoriums”, “collective Polish guilt” and “Polish concentration camps.” Whether the references are bias, ignorance or both, these statements are inaccurate, wrong and extremely offensive.

Recall sought for board game that refers to “Nazi Poland”
The Polish government has demanded that toy producer Mattel recall a party game and correct a card that refers to “Nazi Poland,” officials said Friday. The disputed card is entitled “Schindler’s List” and says: “1993 Steven Spielberg film. Powerful, real-life story of a Catholic businessman who eventually saved over 1,000 Jews in Nazi Poland.”  Poland was never “Nazi.” (couldn’t they have at least inserted the word “occupied” in that statement?)

FBI Director James Comey refers to Poles as murderers and accomplices
On April 16, FBI Director James Comey’s penned a letter to the editor of the Washington Post “Why I require FBI agents to visit the Holocaust Museum.” In part he stated “In their minds, the murderers and accomplices of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many other places, didn’t do something evil. They convinced themselves it was the right thing to do, the thing they had to do.” His insensitivity and historical inaccuracy, made even worse by the high position he holds in the United States government, justifiably angered Poles around the world. I sat in front of my computer stunned and embarrassed for my country.

On an interesting note. Russia has always celebrated their Victory Day on May 9 – due to a time zoneFred and Betty 1944 difference as the surrender took place at 10:30 pm in Germany. This year, Poland has chosen to move their Victory Day to May 8 and celebrate with the rest of Europe. Russia will celebrate alone on May 9.

For the United States and Japan of course, war would not end for three more months until Japan surrendered to the United States in August 1945.

For fun, I include a picture of my parents from 1944.

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Tags: Poland, World War II - Europe

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