Spare a thought for those who self-isolated from fighting tyranny

Spare a thought for those who self-isolated from fighting tyranny

by Jonathan Stanley
article from Friday 8, May, 2020

TODAY we all* celebrate the defeat of the National Socialists who took over Germany, and most of Europe. The rise of Nazism was a combination of nationalist fervour coupled with the promise of economic recovery by borrowing heavily, funding corporatists to invest in induced industrial demand, and by blaming targeted groups or nations for Germany's ills. What followed was intolerance to opposition, intimidation of free press and an obsession in controlling everyday life in Germany, right down to how children are raised and purity laws. It's a good job nothing like that exists in its eary phases anywhere in the UK today...

What followed was the closest Western civilization has come to Armageddon. Millions were slaughtered, countless treasures and libraries were destroyed, ethnic cleansing was the norm and total war brought central Europe to ruins.

Many resisted, both within Germany and without. Some nations fought from the beginning, well almost from the beginning. We were all too tolerant of Hitler's remilitarisation of the Rhine, of Anschluss with Austria and the lamentable Munich response that led to the rape of Czechoslovakia.

Poland, France and Britain fought from day 1. Poland fell early, France later. The Benelux countries lasted barely beyond a week. Much of Europe was under the yoke of fascism, with Hungary, Finland and Romania joining the Nazis and Mussolini, while Falangist Spain remained silent, watching and waiting for easy prizes.

In July 1940, with the fall of France, four countries in Europe were capable of resisting the Nazis. The United Kingdom commanded a navy and an Empire but the air force was incapable of projecting power beyond our borders and without a beachhead the most we could do was resist invasion, and restrict imports to Germany while protecting our own supply lines from Canada and the USA.

Ireland could have offered access to many landing sites on its Western coast, that would have made shipping routes to supply the UK a little less predictable. It had huge lobbying power in the United States and airstrips to help protect the Eastern Atlantic shipping lanes. But none of this was on offer, Ireland remained 'neutral'. De Valera even went as far sending a delegate to Hitler's funeral and to offer condolences to the German ambassador in Dublin. With the horrors of the Holocaust already unveiled to the world earlier in 1945 this remains a uniquely unforgiveable and ultimately Anglophobic gesture, to grieve Hitler as an enemy of the UK.

Sweden was the major iron ore producer in Europe. Exceptionally rich and pure iron ore supplied to the Nazis built the Wehrmacht, rebuilt bombed-out factories and maintained the rail network of the Third Reich. Alongside oil which the Nazis made synthetically, iron was the key raw material in the Nazi war machine – and Sweden happily sold as much as Hitler could buy. Likewise it's timber helped maintain mines and railway sleepers in Germany. Southern Sweden, known as Skane, is a very short distance to northern Germany and as late as 1943-4 would have made the bombing of the V2 rocket sites at Pennamunde and the capital, Berlin, practical for the Allies. But again, none of this was part of teh allied war effort, even at the end.

Switzerland had had a neutrality culture since the revolutionary era of 1848 and was faced with the impossible position of being hemmed in by Germany, Italy and Vichy France. Nontheless as Italy switched sides in 1943, and France was liberated, if offered a way into southern Germany and Austria and would have helped shorten the war even if by a few weeks. Its role in being a willing mule for stolen gold and artworks is infamous and well documented.

Some of countries in Europe fell early in the fight and happily and luckily some of us never fell. Some of us were there from day 1 while others took their time in joinging the fight. Men from modern day Pakistan, India, South Africa and Australia and New Zealand fought hard. Canada joined the DD landings in Normandy. Polish and Czech pilots defended the skies of Britain in British planes, with their sights long into the future on the goal of defending their homelands.

Some progressive Europeans never came to Europe's defence, happy to let others die by the million. Sweden and Ireland who chose the disgrace of amorality will, like 75 years ago, passively look on today's VE Day. Their Prime Ministers will no doubt tweet about domestic trivia or some lame and contrived statement on Covid-19.  Switzerland's position was more precarious but again precious weeks could have been won had they joined later. We remember all those who fought the Nazis, including the German resistance. We must never forget those who didn't. This remains as always a solemn day but these countries went on to pride themselves on not fighting during the Cold War and remain 'neutral' today. Their smug sense of superiority contributed to the deaths of millions and to maintain a Cold War that terrified hundreds of millions. Where the rest of us gave Europe a band of brothers to defend it through NATO they remain content to supply us with vapid boy bands.

We should remember this Europe too, with the traditional emblem of the white feather in their flags. That is the right reward and memorial for those who self isolated from the human race and appeased tyranny when it counted most.

*Except Sandra White MSP and others nationalists that have a problem with the UK helping to defeat the Nazis.

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