Ziua Victoriei

Astăzi se împlinesc 70 de ani de la capitularea Germaniei Naziste. Trecerea timpului dar și prefacerile ideologice ale deceniilor anterioare au făcut ca acest moment să nu mai aibă însemnătatea istorică pe care o avea cândva – cu excepția Rusiei unde memoria Marelui Război Patriotic este încă intactă și celebrată ca atare. În restul Europei Ziua Victoriei a fost edulcorată ca Ziua Europei – o sărbătoare birocratică, iar în zonele anti-comuniste ale continentului (țările Baltice, Ucraina) patologia anti-comunistă face ca Ziua Victoriei să fie sărbătorită pe 8 mai. Dincolo de aceste amănunte contemporane ale politicii comemorării, rămâne faptul că înfrângerea Nazismului a fost un element definitoriu al istoriei mondiale, originea lumii noastre europene (cel puțin) de astăzi. Pentru a ne reaminti cum arăta lumea acum 70 de ani am selectat câteva fragmente din cartea lui Tony Judt Postwar. A History of Europe since 1945, (apărută și în limba română).

Estimates of civilian losses on the territory of the Soviet Union vary greatly, though the likeliest figure is in excess of 16 million people (roughly double the number of Soviet military losses, of whom 78,000 fell in the battle for Berlin alone. Civilian deaths on the territory of pre-war Poland approached 5 million; in Yugoslavia 1.4 million; in Greece 430,000; in France 350,000; in Hungary 270,000; in the Netherlands 204,000; in Romania 200,000. Among these, and especially prominent in the Polish, Dutch and Hungarian figures, were some 5.7 million Jews, to whom should be added 221,000 gypsies (Roma)…

 

Taking all deaths – civilian and military alike – into account, Poland, Yugoslavia, the USSR and Greece were the most affected. Poland lost about one in five of her pre-war population, including a far higher percentage of the educated population, deliberately targeted for destruction by the Nazis. Yugoslavia lost one person in eight of the country’s pre-war population, the USSR one in 11, Greece one in 14. To point out the contrast, Germany suffered a rate of loss of 1/15; France 1/77; Britain 1/125…

 

The Germans captured some 5.5 million Soviet soldiers in the course of the war, three quarters of them in the first seven months following the attack on the USSR in June 1941. Of these, 3.3 million died from starvation, exposure and mistreatment in German camps – more Russians died in German prisoner-of-war camps in the years 1941-45 than in all of World War One. Of the 750,000 Soviet soldiers captured when the Germans took Kiev in September 1941, just 22,000 lived to see Germany defeated. The Soviets in their turn took 3.5 million prisoners of war (German, Austrian, Romanian and Hungarian for the most part); most of them returned home after the war…

 

87,000 women in Vienna were reported by clinics and doctors to have been raped by Soviet soldiers in the three weeks following the Red Army’s arrival in the city. A slightly larger number of women in Berlin were raped in the Soviet march on the city, most of them in the week of May 2nd-7th, immediately preceding the German surrender…Between 150,000 and 200,000 Russian babies were born in the Soviet-occupied zone of Germany in 1945-1946, and these figures make no allowance for untold numbers of abortions, as a result of which many women died along with their unwanted fetuses.

 

For much of the 1945 the population of Vienna subsisted on a ration of 800 calories per day; in Budapest in December 1945 the officially provided ration was just 556 calories. During the Dutch “hunger winter” of 1944-45 (when parts of the country had already been liberated) the weekly calorie ration in some regions fell below the daily allocation recommended by the Allied Expeditionary Force for its soldiers; 16,000 Dutch citizens died, mostly old people and children.

 

One third of the population of Piraeus, in Greece, suffered from trachoma in 1945 due to acute vitamin deficiency. During an outbreak of dysentery in Berlin during July 1945 there were 66 infant deaths for every 100 live births. Robert Murphy, the US political adviser for Germany, reported in October 1945 that an average of ten people daily were dying at the Lehrter railway station in Berlin from exhaustion, malnutrition and illness…For many weeks after the end of the war, in the summer of 1945, there was a serious risk, in Berlin especially, of disease from rotting corpses. In Warsaw, one person in 5 suffered from tuberculosis. The Czechoslovak authorities in January 1946 reported that half of the 700,000 needy children in the country were infected with the disease…for the 90,000 children of liberated Warsaw there was just one hospital with 50 beds…

 

Few Jews remained. Of those who were liberated 4 out of 10 died within a few weeks of the arrival of Allied armies – their condition was beyond the experience of Western medicine. But the surviving Jews, like most of Europe’s other homeless millions, found their way into Germany. Germany was where the Allied agencies and camps were to be situated – and anyway, eastern Europe was still not safe for Jews. After a series of post-war pogroms in Poland many of the surviving Jews left for good: 63,387 Jews arrived in Germany from Poland just between July and September 1946…

 

Bulgaria transferred 160,000 Turks to Turkey; Czechoslovakia, under a February 1946 agreement with Hungary, exchanged the 120,000 Slovaks living in Hungary for an equivalent number of Hungarians from communities north of the Danube, in Slovakia. Other transfers of this kind took place between Poland and Lithuania and between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union; 400,000 people from southern Yugoslavia were moved to land in the north to take the place of the 600,000 departed Germans and Italians… (pp. 18-25)

 

The most obvious economic impact of the war was on housing stock. The damage to London, where three and a half million homes in the metropolitan area were destroyed, was greater than that wrought by the Great Fire of 1666. Ninety percent of all homes in Warsaw were destroyed. Only 27% of the residential buildings in Budapest in 1945 were habitable. 40% of German housing stock was gone, 30% British, 20% of the French. In Italy 1.2 million homes were destroyed. (pp. 82)

 

 

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