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Readers’ comments special: Is this what they fought for?


OUR articles on the 75th anniversary of D-Day yesterday brought in many comments, some moving, others pointed. First here is a selection on Ollie Wright’s post, ‘The debt owed by the whole of Europe’.

ibnezraster wrote:
I’m afraid that Mrs May’s speech today thanking the servicemen rings very hollow indeed: she has consented to a foreign power controlling our economy, imposing laws on us, taking a vast ransom payment, threatening annexation of a region and our fisheries – a Treaty for a defeated nation. Is that what our military fought for, or its very reverse?

Anna wrote:
There is a move by historians to ‘shift the narrative’. A recent history speaks of the ‘liberation’ of Germany, thereby making the German people victims rather than agents of Hitler. I think the wartime Germans were in denial about their part, whereas young Germans often express guilt which is not theirs to shoulder.
Yes: the Germans as a whole were guilty; but I often wonder how brave I would have been had I been a citizen of Nazi Germany, but felt what was happening was wrong. Courage is rare, and should always be honoured.

212 wrote:
I wonder whether the very same ‘historians’ or the media would be so eager to absolve the people of Britain for the supposed terrible sins of the British Empire? Or to free every American from the guilt of 18th century slavery? Or to pardon every living Australian for their ancestors having gone to and made something of a near-empty land?

Colonel Mustard wrote:
It was an amazing achievement, the more so in the context of the technology available at that time. And its planning and organisation within little more than a year stands in stark contrast to the three years spent faffing about by our political wasters and pygmies to try to agree to leave the EU.

Evan Thomas wrote:
Their efforts and sacrifices have been dishonoured ever more completely for 75 years by those who have systematically destroyed almost every aspect of the Britain that we thought we were fighting to protect and preserve.
It is difficult today to feel anything other than great sadness and anger at a sacrifice and victory betrayed.

Audre Myers wrote:This article makes me weep in humility. I get to live the way I do because ‘all gave some and some gave all’.
We often refer to them as men – but the biggest number were boys – 18, 19, 20 years old. Our best and brightest, our hopes for the future. I am overwhelmed by their courage. They were boys, working and dying shoulder to shoulder with men and every bit their equal. When they came home – the lucky ones – they were children no longer; trial-hardened men absorbed the boys they once were. I owe them my life – and the lives of my children and grandchildren.

Margaret Curtis wrote:Having read the rest of this discussion, I’m joining in not to make a point either way, but because I was reminded of A E Housman’s poem:
Here dead we lie
Because we did not choose
To live and shame the land
From which we sprung.
Life, to be sure,
Is nothing much to lose,
But young men think it is,
And we were young.

In response to Laura Perrins: Americans’ D-Day heroism still takes the breath away,

JewishKuffar wrote: I holidayed in Normandy last year. My two young children got to build sandcastles on the beaches where those brave young men shed their blood. I can barely conceive of the courage and fortitude it must have taken to walk towards near-certain death.
I do wonder what those surviving veterans must think as they watch our ongoing struggle to leave the EU. Were their sacrifices really worth it?

Owen_Morgan wrote: My father was in a Royal Marine unit on Gold Beach. He was a 23-year-old lieutenant. He was quite sure, in later years, that he must have commanded lads who should never have been there: boys who had volunteered before being eligible, including some, perhaps sixteen on D-Day, who were still too young to be in the front line.
By the way, not one of the beaches was easy. Omaha was the worst, although Sword, at the eastern end of the assault, was expected to be. Once ashore, all of the survivors, with those who landed during the days and weeks afterwards, Poles and Czechs included among the Americans, British and Canadians, had an utterly horrific fight through Normandy: in many ways different from the fighting on the Western Front in 1918, but every bit as terrifying and almost as lethal.
My father hardly ever discussed any experience from that campaign. It was too terrible for him to summon up the memories. He finally did so, very reluctantly and not to me, nearly four decades later, after seeing a young man lose control of his car. It was the first time he had seen someone die since 1945. I think that poor boy reminded my father of all those underage warriors who didn’t make it to VE Day.

In response to Adrian Hill: What the EU elites still don’t get about battling Britain

LordOfMisrule wrote: I think this article raises points that are not emphasised enough or sufficiently understood in our increasingly uneducated country which is becoming more ignorant of its history by the day.

Part of the reason for the Leave vote is our very different historical experience. The other big European countries – Germany, Italy, Spain and France – were all fascist dictatorships or invaded by one within living memory. All their current political institutions are recent creations. It was not certain that democracy would survive in them. Consequently, it is understandable that they may feel the need for an independent supra-national guarantor.

No such thing happened in Britain. Despite the difficulties caused by the war, our political system (some of which dates back to the Middle Ages) still functioned. We may not like some of the politicians today but the institutions are still formally respected. There is an attachment to them. Consequently, a lot of British people have struggled to see the point of the EU and feel no affection towards it. This was understood by the great Charles De Gaulle who vetoed our entry to the EEC (he was not that enthusiastic about it himself). Britain’s century of greatness from 1815 to 1914 was when we had relatively little to do with Europe. It could be so again if we turn away from a declining part of the world and think in more global terms but unfortunately we are cursed with a timid political class who do not have the imagination or courage.

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