In May 1945, the Second World War in Europe can to an end. Nazi Germany surrendered unconditional to the Allied forces. Adolf Hitler had committed suicide in his Berlin bunker, leaving the remnants of this ”1000 year empire” in the hands of Admiral Karl Donitz. The surrender came into effect on May 8/9, but the Nazi government would live until its members were arrested by the British on 23 May 1945 at Flensburg. With their arrest came an end to a nightmare that began on 30 January 1933. German and Japanese imperialism caused the death of over 60 million people across the world. 58% of all deaths were civilian in nature, with the USSR and China taking the lion share of the civilian deaths. In May 2015, the people of Europe remember the end of the Second World War!
For many western European nations, the liberation from Nazism is celebrated with great joy. But in many eastern European nations, celebrations are more problematic. Anticommunist stigma’s and hatred dominate the political lives and many right-wing governments have tried to equal the symbols of the Soviet-Union with that of Nazi Germany. In the Baltic states, there are ethnic confrontations between Russians and the people of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. The Nazi occupation and Soviet occupation are viewed as equals, which is not supported by history. The Soviet invasion and occupation was undemocratic and not justified. But unlike the German occupation, the USSR never tried to eliminate the Baltic nations. Hitler wanted Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia removed from the face of the earth. Had he won the Second World War, then the Baltic would be part of his ”1000 year empire”. Still the right-wing governments have allowed veterans of the Waffen SS to remember their fallen comrades. In Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, these SS veterans are regarded by many as ”hero’s” for their fight against the Soviet-Union. War veterans of the USSR consider them collaborators and are deeply offended when the SS veterans are honoured!
While symbols of communism are hated by many east Europeans, in former Yugoslavia these symbols are seen as ”symbols of liberation”. Unlike eastern Europe, Yugoslavia was liberated by its own partisans with very little support from the Soviet Army. Although the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia collapsed in 1992, many of the older generation look up to the brave partisans who fought the Nazi occupation forces with great courage. Stjepan Filipović has become the Che Guevara of the Yugoslav partisans. In April 1942, Filipović was hanged by the Germans for his partisan activities. Before he died Filipović raised his hands and scouted ”Death to Fascism, Freedom to the People”. The young man became a national hero, until ethnic nationalism destroyed his legacy. In 1991, Croatian nationalists destroyed his statue, seeing in him a ”Serbian” symbol. After the Yugoslav wars, the Croatian government rebuild the monument to Stjepan Filipović. Today the Yugoslav veterans are the last remnants of Yugoslavia. While their children and grand children embrace nationalism and capitalism, they are nostalgic to the times when benevolent dictator Tito, ruled the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia!
In Russia, war veterans are honoured only during the Victory Parade in Red Square. Many of these veterans are living on very low pensions and nobody seems to care about them. Since the collapse of the USSR, the Russian government has done little to aid the elderly veterans. Many are forced to rely on their children and grand children for financial aid. Many of them remain fully loyal to Joseph Stalin and still carry his picture around. For Soviet veterans, Stalin is seen as their ”Great Leader”, the man who led them to victory in 1945. This lie has been produced by the Stalinist propaganda and was used until 1956, when Stalin was exposed. Since many veterans were indoctrinated with the cult of Stalin, most refused to see the true picture, even after it became clear that Stalin hide inside the Kremlin for over two weeks following the German invasion of 1941. It was not ”the Great Marshal” who made the victory over Nazism possible. Soviet soldiers and partisans did the work, not the one man hiding in his Kremlin office!
The liberation of western Europe began on 6 June 1944, called D-Day. More then 150.000 allied troops invaded the Normandy beaches in France. They faced 50.000 Germans, mostly young teenagers and older men as most elite units were fighting on the Eastern Front. In the French capital, resistance fighters rose up against the occupation force. After many skirmishes, the Germans were only able to hold the government buildings as the resistance took control of the city. Soon after, Free French Forces entered Paris and the Germans surrendered. They ignored an order from Hitler to burn the city to the ground. In a wave of euphoria many hoped to end the war by Christmas 1944. But the failed campaign in the Netherlands and the Battle of the Bulge, showed that it would take many months before Nazi Germany would be defeated!
Italy turned on their German ally in 1943, after Benito Mussolini was removed. He fled to the north of Italy were he founded the Italian Social Republic, a puppet state of Nazi Germany as this new fascist state lacked everything and relied on German forces. The Independent State of Croatia, founded in 1941 as a puppet state also collapsed. The Croatian fascists were overrun by the Yugoslav partisans and many were trailed and executed. Albanian partisans under Enver Hoxha created the People’s Republic of Albania, who would become a major enemy of Tito’s Yugoslavia. Enver Hoxha ruled as a iron dictator and was a huge supporter of Mao Zedong. This Stalinist leader led the Chinese Communist Party since 1935 and worked together with the anticommunist nationalists against the Japanese. But as the war came to and end, Mao Zedong and nationalist leader; Chiang-Kai-Shek resumed hostilities. Mao would win the Civil War and established the People’s Republic of China in 1949!
Adolf Hitler killed himself on 30 April 1945 in Berlin. The next German leader was Karl Donitz, an admiral of the Kriegsmarine. Donitz created the Flensburg government and tried to make a separate peace with the western allies. But they demanded full and unconditional surrender of all German troops. By 5 May, Germany only controlled some parts in Central Europe, Norway and a tiny pocket in Latvia. On 8 May, the German High Command signed the instrument of surrender, the next day they signed it again for Soviet officials. Although the war then ended, the Nazi government was still alive. They would remain active until British forces entered Flensburg on 23 May 1945. With their arrest, Nazi Germany finally ceased to exist!
6 million Jews murdered, 13 million Soviet workers, peasants slaughtered by the racial hatred of the Nazi”s and their collaborators. The Soviet-Union made sure that their captured German soldiers were used to rebuild the USSR. Over 300.000 died in the forced labour camps of the NKVD ( secret police ) as reported by Soviet authorities. Modern day historians believe that out of 3 million captured German soldiers, more the 1/3 died in captivity. This would indicate that over 1 million Germans did not survive the Soviet labour camps between 1941 and 1951. The last prisoners of war were returned to West-Germany before 1956, meaning that some spend over 11 years in the USSR!
Most German soldiers captured by western allied forces were released after one or two years. High officers and generals who were suspected of committing war crimes were kept longer in jail. Admiral Donitz was sentenced to spend 20 years in prison. But many lower ranking Nazi officials were out of jail by 1950. In post-war Germany, these ex-Nazi’s were tolerated and even respected. The anticommunist government of Konrad Adenauer even used former Nazi judges who work under Roland Freisler, the chief of the ”People’s Tribunal”. It was not until the social democrats came to power in the late 1960’s, that West-Germany was confronted with its criminal past. In East-Germany most high ranking officials were purged and replaced with supporters of stalinism, although the Ministry for State Security ( Stasi ) would employ many ex-GESTAPO spies. Western agencies such as the CIA and the West-German; Federal Intelligence Service & Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, did the same thing!
70 years after the end of the war, Europe is again divided. Ukraine is the battleground between pro-European conservatives and pro-Russian chauvinists. In East Ukraine, ethnic Russians are fighting a war of separation. The European Union supports the government in Kiev, while Russia supports ( unofficially ) the separatists. Although the Second World War and Cold War have ended, Europe is again divided between supporters of European imperialism and Russian imperialism. Some leftists and many anti-imperialists choose to support the Russian separatists, while many bourgeois ideologies support the Kiev government. Revolutionary socialists refuse to pick side, we stand for a united socialist Ukraine. We reject the imperialist EU and we reject the chauvinist regime of Vladimir Putin in Russia. 70 years after ethnic nationalism caused the death of 60 million people, capitalist governments are once again at each other. Proofing the Lenin was right 100 years ago, IMPERIALISM IS THE HIGHEST STAGE OF CAPITALISM!