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PHOTOS: Europe, Russia Celebrate 71st Victory Day

PHOTOS: Europe, Russia Celebrate 71st Victory Day

The Soviet Red Army captured Berlin 71 years ago, ending WWII in Europe.

Europe and Russia spent the last few days celebrating the 71st Victory in Europe Day (VE Day) to mark the end of World war II.

The German military surrendered on May 7, 1945, in Reims, France and then again on May 8 in Berlin, Germany, a week after the Red Army overtook the capital.

71 years later, French President Francois Hollande placed a wreath at the Charles de Gaulle statue.

Celebrations occurred in Israel. The Nazis murdered over six million Jews during WWII.

England:

Latvia:

But no one puts on a show like the Russians, who observe Victory Day on May 9 since the Germans signed the surrender late May 8. The Russians have used Victory Day to showcase their might and strength across Red Square in Moscow.

This year, though, President Vladimir Putin cooled the rhetoric towards the West. Relations between the two have dipped to Cold war levels after Russia invaded east Ukraine two years ago and annexed Crimea. Putin told the crowd that his country “is ready to work on the creation of a modern system of international security, outside of alliance blocs.”

The Soviet Union lost over 27 million citizens in WWII, more than any other country involved in the conflict.

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My dad escaped from Stalag IIIA after the Russians “liberated” it. He and a Frenchman, hid during the day and moved at nite, making their way west to meet up with an American unit in E. Germany. Daddy had been forced marched from Oflag 64 in Szubin Poland as the Russians advanced. Many books recount the American servicemen in German prison camps that were not released and were moved to Russia/Siberia etc. Daddy made an instantaneous fateful decision to run for the fence.

And three years later Stalin would blockade West Berlin, beginning the Cold War. My dad flew 186 missions in the Berlin Airlift.

Russians suffered greatly under leftists, atheist regimes. However, without an Eastern front, the burden would have shifted to Americans et al. None of the Allied powers were virtuous in war or its immediate aftermath.

    sdharms in reply to n.n. | May 10, 2016 at 11:36 am

    While I agree the Russian people have suffered, it is up to them to understand what is wrong and try to remedy the situation. There is no moral equivalency between what Stalin did and what U.S. Generals did. PERIOD.
    And BTW, war is hell.

American Human | May 10, 2016 at 11:43 am

The vast majority of the 27 million Russians lost during the war were civilians.
I’ve read several well-written books on the eastern front including the battle of Stalingrad. I’ve no sympathy for the Nazis but neither do I have any for the Russians either.
Marshall Zhukov and the others had no regard for soldiers or civilians at all. They were simply pawns in a great chess game to be discarded when necessary because there were always more where they came from.
The as the Nazis drove into Stalingrad, they had Russians trapped in ruins and such and would not allow them to re-supply or get water from the river. Russians send children to the river to fetch water for them. The Nazis shot the children.
Later as the Russians surrounded the Nazis within the city, the Nazis then sent the children to the river to fetch water. The Russians shot the children.
Whom does one root for?

    I have Red Army soldiers in my family. I root for them. I root for civilians trapped in the Nazi-occupied territory. I root for the prisoners of concentration camps liberated by Red Army (and yes, I know, Stalin wasn’t in it for the Jews – and neither was anyone else with the exception of Jewish partisans). I root for over half a century of freedom and prosperity in Western Europe that would not happen had Stalin not taken the eastern part.

    Ragspierre in reply to American Human. | May 10, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    I up-thumbed both these comments.

    I found the opening sequence of “Enemy At The Gates” a powerful retelling of Soviet history. Thousands of Soviet conscripts were herded off boats into withering fire with nothing in their hands than a MAYBE a pike…or a sharp stick. No training. No arms. No nothing BUT a well armed political commissar ready, willing, and very able to shoot you in the back if you flagged in the advance.

    It WAS a perfect juxtaposition of the two Collectivist “scientific” government expressions of the day. Millions of people were made corpses in the clash. One was defeated by the Allied combination of Western SUPPLY and the overwhelming use of Soviet massed slaves on the Eastern front, followed by decades of MORE grinding slavery under the Collective.

    I’m glad BOTH are now consigned to the loathing of free-thinking people everywhere.

      Russians sneer at American WWII films. Great Partiotic war cinema is a genre of its own in Russia. They made some great movies, including Ladies Talor about the Holocaust, something Hollywood always tries but never can achieve. There are many lists of WWII Russian films to google.
      And by the way, the Nazis did wonderful things in Russia, like putting an entire village in a barn and setting it on fire. If you are interested in being depressed for a week, there is a movie called Come and See about that particular tactic.

I’m curious about the Latvian festivities. They have a habit of commemorating both sides.

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