Remember Victory in Europe Day

December 1941 is usually remembered by Americans as that fateful month when
Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, thus thrusting the United States into World War
II. However, consider an alternate scenario: Adolf Hitler appears triumphantly
before the Reichstag announcing the destruction of the Soviet Union, following
the German capture of Moscow and the "cowardly escape of that war criminal,
Joseph Stalin," to somewhere in the vast Russian hinterlands. "Just as I
predicted," the Fuhrer crows before cheering hordes in Germany’s puppet
legislature: "All we had to do was to kick down the door and the whole rotten
structure will collapse!"

And collapse it did, as Hitler points out. The Soviet Union lost four million
men; 8,000 aircraft; and 17,000 tanks; the Fuhrer boasts. The Soviet
breadbasket region of the Ukraine was quickly overrun, along with half of
Russian coal and steel output. Major Russian cities were captured, Hitler
states smugly—Minsk, Kiev, Moscow, Leningrad. The commissars capitulated, the
Russian people are cowed, and Soviet lands are open to master race colonizers.

Pausing for effect and waiting for the cheering to subside, Hitler brushes
aside his trademark lock of hair that cut across his forehead like a black
scythe and continues: "Wonder weapons!" he shouts. "Our scientists, our gallant
workers of the Reich have produced miracles of modern technology! Soon the
skies will be filled with jet aircraft, bombers and fighters, and rockets and
missiles with enough range to hit any place on earth. We can destroy those who
dare to challenge our supremacy in Europe, in Asia, in the world!" More
applause, punctuated by vigorously bobbing heads and expansive grins of triumph
in the crowd. "Our submarines patrol the Atlantic, a German lake! Britain is
crumbling, ready to surrender." Then, as an aside: "One torpedo from our new
Type XXI submarine will sink that whole miserable island." Riotous laughter and

Then out comes the map, huge, blazing with colors—black and yellow and gray.
Three vast spheres of influence, German (with a nod to the Italians), Japanese,
and the Americas, light up the background behind the Fuhrer. The audience
claps, and many begin imagining vacation junkets to Asia, Africa, and the
farthermost regions of mighty Germania’s global domain. More glances at that
huge gray area on the map; with a wink and a nod, someone in the crowd utters,
"soon, all that will be ours, too."

This is the world we avoided, one portrayed with disturbing plausibility by
such writers as Robert Harris in Fatherland and Phillip K. Dick in The Man in
the High Castle. Sound unbelievable? Consider this: After Germany invaded the
Soviet Union in June 1941, few observers expected the Russians to survive; even
Henry Stimson, President Roosevelt’s Secretary of War, was convinced that
Russia would fall within three months, leaving the United States and the
beleaguered British alone to face the monstrously powerful Third Reich. How
powerful? After two years of war, Germany produced twice as much steel as Great
Britain and the Soviet Union combined. Indeed, Richard Overy, in his superb Why
the Allies Won, declared that "on the face of things, no rational man in early
1942 would have guessed at the eventual outcome of the war."

Yet victory was achieved, as the result of the world’s other great powers
pooling their resources to defeat what likely was the most ambitious threat to
global civilization in human history. With American production genius, British
perseverance, and the Soviet Union’s recuperative powers, the Allies beat their
Axis foes in every dimension of total war—on the ground, at sea, and in the
air; in the laboratory, on the factory floor, and at the strategic planning
table; and most importantly, in the moral battle for the minds of millions of
men and women, civilians and soldiers alike.

America’s role was of course indispensable, and not just in production figures,
but in the spilt blood and sacrifices on countless battlefields in North
Africa, Italy, France and Germany. Indeed, the success of the Normandy invasion
alone created conditions for America’s longer-term victory over its second
totalitarian foe over the half century following WWII, the Soviet Union. Which
means it’s hard to overestimate the profound significance of Victory in Europe
Day, symbolizing the war that was won and the world we avoided.

Like many in my generation, I have family members who fought in that conflict,
which is why I encourage everyone to visit a WWII military cemetery in the
coming weeks, and—sometime in your life—to make a pilgrimage to that
extraordinary American military museum at Omaha Beach. Gaze with somber
appreciation at those regiments of crosses perfectly arrayed on that hallowed
ground. Ponder the sublime meaning of those silent sentinels that commemorate
freedom’s costly triumph over barbarism and tyranny. And remember May 8, 1945,
V-E Day.

— Dr. Marvin Folkertsma is a professor of political science and fellow for
American studies with [4]The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.
The author of several books, his latest release is a high-energy novel titled
[5]"The Thirteenth Commandment."

© 2012 by The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. The views &
expressed herein may, but do not necessarily, reflect the views of Grove City

[6] | [7]


mailto:[email protected]?subject=Publication%2Fcitation%20notice&body=1.%20Submission%20title%3A%0A%0A2.%20Publication%28s%29%2Fmedia%20outlet%28s%29%3A%0A%0A3.%20Tentative%20publication%2Fcitation%20date%28s%29%3A

This message was sent by: Grove City College, 100 Campus Drive, Grove City, PA 16127