Sunday, November 29, 2020
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A question of history

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PRINCE Charles and his wife Camilla will be in Germany on Sunday to take part in its National Day of Mourning, the equivalent of Britain’s Remembrance Sunday.  

Their historic visit is described as indicative of the friendship between the former wartime enemies.  

However, the announcement of the trip on the royal couple’s Clarence House website includes what to many will seem an ambiguous turn of phrase. 

It says of Sunday’s ceremony in Berlin: ‘The event pays tribute to the Allied commitment to the liberation from Nazi occupation and to the reconstruction, re-democratisation and subsequent reunification of Germany. It remembers all victims of war and tyranny.’    

The wording is confusing. Does ‘the liberation from Nazi occupation’ refer to France, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg, which were indeed freed by the Allies from German control? Or does it refer to the ‘occupation’ of Germany itself by the Nazis?  

If so, it’s a rather dubious way of putting it. Germany was not ‘occupied’ by the Nazis – they were not a foreign power. However monstrous they were, Hitler and his cohorts took over the country in 1933 by technically legitimate means. And if Germany was ‘liberated from Nazi occupation’ in 1945, it certainly fought hard enough against that liberation.  

So was the Clarence House announcement written by someone with a flawed grasp of history, or someone given to awkward sentence construction? It surely needs clarification.

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Henry Getley
Henry Getley is a freelance journalist.

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