D-Day 60

60 years ago yesterday, the Allies landed in Normandy. This year, Russia’s president was at last invited to join the festivities. Let’s hope this will bring all the former Allies one step closer to recognizing the true significance of the last stage of the Allied effort in Europe. Herein lies a paradox: it was a fight for freedom, yet its strategic importance was limited. Germany was doomed; the Red Army was almost at the Reich’s 1941 borders; the Soviet war machine would have undoubtedly crushed Germany, assuming continued support from the US. But D-Day made sure Stalin’s tanks did not roll over all the way to the Channel. Speaking non-technically, the Allies did not free Paris from Hitler–for Hitler would have fallen without their direct interference–but they certainly kept Stalin away from Paris. Therefore it would be correct to say that the Allies fought for freedom with Hitler, in appearance, and with Stalin, in essence.

But we descendants of those who fought in that war and lived through it–we should always be grateful for D-Day, which saved so many lives on the Eastern Front. Likewise, we hope our former coalition partners will be grateful for our ancestors’ contribution, too. It was the Eastern Front that drained Germany of the blood, the resources and the willpower it needed to win the war. That Stalin was an evil tyrant and the USSR was once–briefly–Nazi Germany’s friend, does not change this fact.

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