Sunday, May 08, 2022

May 8: Victory in Europe, 1945


On May 8, 1945, Germany surrendered to Allied forces in Europe, and for some years thereafter "VE Day" was a national holiday in the United States and elsewhere, though it's not much remembered now. After all, the War continued for another three months and more millions of death in Asia. 

As it happened, the surrender instrument was signed just after 11 p.m. in Berlin, when it was already May 9 in Moscow, so of course Soviet Russia stayed defiantly out of step with the rest of the world, and required its satellites to do the same. Most of the latter have since joined the West in this and other respects, but Moscow has ever been the site of a monster display of Russian military might and national self-congratulation, as if it alone had slayed the Nazi dragon in Berlin. The photo above was taken on a rehearsal last week; I believe that's a BMP-4 infantry fighting vehicle, the equivalent of the US M-2 Bradley. I'm not sure about the women in the propaganda poster, but perhaps they're a nod to the wives and mothers of the men who have died in Putin's "special military operation" next door.

When Putin ordered his troops into Ukraine on February 24, he no doubt had May 9 in mind. He fully expected (and most of us in the West thought the same) and Kyiv would fall in a few days, giving him two months to absorb the breakaway country back into Mother Russia. How differently things have turned out! It's hard not to think of tomorrow's celebration in Moscow as a hollow joke on Russia's latest dictator.


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