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Monday, November 27, 2023

Commemorating victory in Europe day

Europe Day – celebrated on May 9 every year – commemorates the day on which the building of the European Union is said to have begun. It was also the day on which the historic 'Schuman declaration' was presented by French foreign minister Robert Schuman to make war between historic rivals France and Germany "not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible". The day, thus, celebrates peace and unity in Europe.

On May 8, 1945, The German Military High Command (Oberkommando der Wehrmact) (OKW) and Army High Command (Oberkommando des Heeres) surrendered before the invading Allied Forces and effectively put an end to the German war effort in Europe during the Second World War. Nazi Germany’s OKW Chief Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel and General Alfred Jodl signed the instrument of surrender before their Allied counterparts. Earlier, following the massive Soviet attack on Berlin from the East, on April 30, 1945, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler committed suicide along with his newlywed bride Eva Braun, whom he married just a day earlier.

The German surrender brought an end to the catastrophic war that was started on September 1, 1939, following the Invasion of Poland. However factually arguing, besides the German Military’s surrender, Hitler nominated Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz Chief of the German Navy (Kriegsmarine) as his successor, and he served as the President of Germany till May 23, 1945. From that time onwards, Germany became the primary victim and epicenter of the power struggle between the West and Soviet Union and regardless of the Re-unification of Germany in October 1990, Germany is still under military threat and continues to rely on North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for its security and survival.

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The collapse of Nazi Germany was a substantial change in the history of the world

Its armies occupied almost the entire European continent in a remarkable period of time by using the Blitzkrieg tactics. Before the outbreak of the war, Hitler aided General Franco in the Spanish Civil War. Later, while still fighting on the Western Front, German Afrika Korps assisted Italians in Northern Africa and in the Balkans region and lastly launched Operation Barbarossa by invading the Soviet Union in June 1941. The AntiComintern Pact, Pact of Steel, and Tripartite Pact brought the Third Reich, the Empire of Japan and the Kingdom of Italy on one page. Nonetheless, the maximization of power and the states’ actions with hegemonic aspirations triggered a balancing coalition and ultimately resulted in punishment from the system itself and Nazi Germany witnessed its untimely collapse in May 1945.

Contemporarily, the nations of Europe commemorate May 8 every year as the Victory in Europe Day(V-E Day) and celebrate the downfall of Nazism and Hitler. It is understandable that the military operations started by Hitler brought Europe and the entire world to a point of no return in terms of hatred and violence and consumed numerous cities and millions of innocent lives. Nonetheless, it is a unique celebration that is observed by the West and Russians (former Soviets) alike, the only difference is that Russians hold Victory Day Military Parade on May 9 and honour the sacrifices made during the Great Patriotic War.

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Rashtriya Swayamsavek Sangh: Nazism in India

It is quite worrisome that Nazism and Hitler’s philosophy keeps on resonating time and again, almost globally. Today’s India under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his political party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)and its ideological linchpin RashtriyaSwayamsavek Sangh (RSS)is presenting a resurrection of Nazism and the politics of hatred and violence. The BJP and RSS along with many Hindu extremist organizations continue to carry the legacy of Nazism and call for the genocide of minorities including Muslims.

Also, contemporary India is the perfect manifestation of an apartheid state, where systematic extermination of Muslims is observable and Hindu extremists are calling openly for a Muslim genocide.

Why Victory in Europe Day is Important for Pakistan

On August 14, 1941 (exactly 6 years before the independence of Pakistan), the United States and the United Kingdom announced the Atlantic Charter and outlined their post-war aims of ensuring the overriding principle of self-determination. Later, the latter served as the basis for establishing the United Nations Organization. However, the Atlantic Charter was nothing more than a smokescreen or a military necessity to win the support of the colonies in fighting the Axis Powers. It is observable that many British colonies could not get independence even twenty years after the end of the Second World War.

It is to be remembered here that despite the countless services rendered by the people of British India in defeating the Central Powers, they were denied the promises made during the First World War and unfortunate events like the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre took place in India on April 13, 1919, when more than a thousand Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs were indiscriminately killed by the British Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer.

In retrospect, the Second World War significantly weakened the United Kingdom and paved the way for the creation of Pakistan in many ways. It is unfortunate, yet true that the Pakistan Freedom Movement greatly benefitted from the Second World War in realizing independence. Also, present-day India equally gained from the war and its leaders were quick to mount pressure on the British colonists.

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Concluding Remarks

The European nations deserve to celebrate the V-E Day; nevertheless, it is equally important for them to think beyond the NATO for their security and survival. In contemporary times, revisionist or resurging powers like Russia continue to pose a serious threat to the overall security and survival or even the very existence of European nations, especially Germany.

The world must honor the vow they took exactly 77 years before, as the V-E Day will be a hollow one if the world, especially the European nations continue to keep a blind eye on the Nazism-driven hate and violence in today’s India. The real essence of V-E Day is to eliminate communal violence and the politics of hatred that are dominating Modi’s (un)democratic India.


The author is a Research Associate at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI), Pakistan. He co-authored the book Realism and Exceptionalism in U.S. Foreign Policy: From Kissinger to Kerry (2020). He can be reached at mmab11@gmail.com. The views in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.