Saturday 1 October 2016

Letters: War poisons everyone who participates, including us

Published 09/06/2014 | 02:30

Winston Churchill: was against D-Day and voted down by Allies. PA
Winston Churchill: was against D-Day and voted down by Allies. PA

One minute it's the continuing World War I commemorations, the next it's the anniversary of D-Day, and World War II. When will it stop? To celebrate heroic fighting is one thing, but war itself should never be celebrated. Neither should those who took us there.

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It is interesting to see how certain people are trying to re-write history, especially World War I. And, after all, history is written by the victors. So let me just fill your readers in on a few facts about D-Day that they might not have seen in the recent coverage.

Winston Churchill was against D-Day. He was far more interested in holding on to the empire, and especially trade routes to India via the Mediterranean Sea. That's why between Dunkirk (1940) and D-Day (1944), the British barely engaged the German military on land at all. Russia, in effect, won World War II by sacrificing millions of troops and gutting Hitler's forces. Stalin urged the allies to open a Western front years earlier, and it was only when President Roosevelt agreed, and Churchill was outvoted, that D-Day went ahead.

In World War II, Germany's leaders let loose a military that created havoc throughout much of Europe, but then Britain and her allies committed atrocities of our own. We bombed many thousands of innocent civilians in Germany and other occupied countries. The US dropped two unnecessary atomic bombs, and on another occasion, in a single night, killed 100,000 people by bombing Tokyo. War poisons everyone who participates, including us.

Lastly, I heard that D-Day led to decades of peace. Tell that to the Vietnamese, Koreans, Iraqis, Afghans, Libyans, Panamanians, Palestinians and Nicaraguans. I'm sure there's more.





This week has seen some remarkable claims. That the Normandy landings comprised the greatest amphibious assault ever conducted. That this assault in 1944 broke through "Hitler's wall" (Barack Obama). That this "Allied invasion" secured freedom for us all from the yoke of Nazi tyranny.

In 1941, the largest invasion force ever assembled was unleashed. This horror machine comprised three million highly trained German soldiers (that's about the size of the entire population of Ireland at the time), 2,500 aircraft (put them side to side and you could walk across their wings for over 150 miles), 3,000 battle tanks and 7,000 artillery batteries, all spanning an invasion front of 1,000 miles. That's the distance from the Canadian border to the middle of Texas.

In three years, this juggernaut was gone. Chewed up by the people and Red Army of Russia. Twelve weeks of further horror saw the prestigious Wehrmacht Sixth Army, along with 22 German generals, surrender at Stalingrad. The Russian death toll: over 20 million.

And yet we are expected to believe that American forces, who comprised a mere 30pc of the Normandy invasion, have saved us all from Nazism, a shattered and destroyed imperial project that was wrecked by Russia long before June 6, 1944. A Russia which doesn't even get a mention as an 'ally' in the European bloodbath of the 1940s.

Russia defeated Hitler and freed Europe. . . and nobody else. And while a few skirmishes, heroic as they were insignificant in the outcome of this debacle, 100,000 Russians died per week for four years as opposed to a paltry 9,000 who died on D-Day and the weeks following. . . about a third who died on the roads of America in the same year.

From Paris to Brandenburg to St Petersburg, European soil covers rivers of blood and the skulls of millions, and most of them are Russian.





Martina Devlin is right to conclude that, despite the harrowing discovery of human remains in religious institutions, we must guard against the scourge of absolutism. Perhaps before we pour our disgruntlement on blameless religions, or governments who had shown spinelessness and professional immaturity in dealing with such tragedies, we should blame societies who at times condemned unmarried mothers or children born out of wedlock to neglect, ostracism and abandonment.

No religion has a monopoly on ethical, moral and noble mores. Religions espouse compassion, peace, justice and love. The more we distance ourselves from religious doctrines, the more we become ruthless, indifferent and void. And while it's true that the recent European elections have propelled parties of racist agendas (disguised under the anorak of free speech) to the European parliament, such results should not be seen as a change of discourse in European societies towards minorities. Europe, which witnessed the most horrendous massacre in contemporary history, the Holocaust, has become defined by its religious and cultural diversity, peaceful coexistence and tolerance. It has always been a shelter for thousands of persecuted people, be they Jews, Muslims, gypsies et cetera and will continue to remain so.





Many are jumping on the bandwagon of condemnation of nuns for the alleged scandals of mother and child homes from the comfortable Irish society of 2014.

Ireland in 1925 and for many subsequent years was more akin to a third world country, a very impoverished state still suffering from a devastating civil war. A grateful cash-strapped government was happy to have a corps of willing Irishwomen called 'nuns' willing to work for free, taking over the dreaded workhouses and doing the 'dirty' work of the nation. Single forced adoptions? Adoptions were forced on unfortunate single mothers because there were no social services for them and Christian (?) families would not bear the public shame of caring for a daughter who had a child born out of wedlock.





What a benign title, 'mother and baby home', conjuring warmth and love. However, those homes were essentially stores for warehousing what was seen as a problem.

Irish society from the foundation of the State onwards can now be seen as sick and tortured, angst- and guilt-ridden, played out on a Catholic-driven alliance between State and church.

The mothers, babies and nuns have become the lightning rod for our compassion and anger. But to remove the stain on the Irish psyche, the focus needs to be broadened. Ireland and its citizens had massive issues around sexuality.

Why the furtiveness? Who set the agenda: church, State, men, patriarchy? This blackness around sexuality and women has manifested itself time and time again. Twinned with child sexual abuse, it's clear that a massive problem existed and continues to blister.

Domestically it has sundered the nation. Internationally and principally, in Australia, Britain and the US, the number of Irish names that have surfaced regarding sexual abuse is frightening. Unless a broad and transparent inquiry is undertaken on what put the nation on this path, incidents like Tuam will arise ad finitum as the blame game continues.



Irish Independent

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