The Socialist Unity Network

D-Day commemorations sweep Europe

Jim Jepps


It would be difficult to avoid the D-Day commemorations this weekend. The coverage of those remembering their fallen comrades has been at times moving and at times infuriating.


Radio Four has been running some incredibly powerful platys on the subject of D-Day and had some wonderful interviews with survivors. They also marred the day with a special edition of Any Questions for instance which seemed to be an opportunity for a bunch of nobodies to use this occasion to say how right war is under any circumstances. They then had a special edition of 'what if' asking what if the D-Day landings had failed. Now the smug pedantry of most of the commentators aside they seemed to think the soldiers at D-Day's main contribution to world history was the defeat of communism - well, that's Radio Four for you.


As we try to dodge those who justify today's occupation on the back of yesterday's war of liberation one letter in the Independent is really worth re-printing in full


"Remember D-Day, but my medals are staying in a drawer

"Sir: I'm tired of old men with medals. What a shocking sentiment, many will say. But hold on, I am an old man, and I fought and survived two tanks, and somewhere in a drawer I have some medals.

"I think there was a right and wrong in that war, more so than in most. I think Hitler was wrong and resisting him was right. But the war was fought, as all are, by young men with little chance of critically evaluating "their" side's virtue. They went because they where told to, because it was their "duty", because their mates where going and because to stand against the tide was too lonely and to scary to contemplate. And so millions of young Brits , young Germans, Russians and Americans went off to foreign fields, there to kill each other.

"Let us remember their bravery and their loss with sadness. But put the medals away and silence the drums, for these are all part of the apparatus of seduction by which our leaders lead us into such follies. If pictures of the Nazi rallies send shivers down our spines, then so should the annual solemn military theatre of the Cenotaph, which in the guise of regret for the last war glories in the military ethos. Still appalled by the Nazi regime, I have to remember that just as Hitler was telling the German young that they were a master race, destined to rule the world, that is exactly what I was being taught about being a Brit in the British Empire.

"Taunton, Somerset"



June 2004

A selection of the great number of stories from the main stream media
The Independent
The Guardian
Some left wing thoughts on D-Day and the second world war
The People's War
Chris Lyneham
Socialist Review 1994
The Guilty Men
Chris Bambery
Socialist Review 2003
Green Left Review
Behind the D-Day story
Chris Bambery
Socialist Worker 2004
Please feel free to recommend other articles
by e-mail

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