*** war and social upheaval: World War II -- Liberation








World War II: Liberation

Wotrld War II libdration of the Dutch
Figure 1.--This scene was apparently taken May 5, 1945--the day the German forces north of the Rhine (the part of the Netherlands that was still occupied) surrendered. It meant after the trible Hunger Winter, liberation--bevrijding. This was a few days before the general German surrender took place at Reims (May 7). We were not sure where the photograph was taken but suspect Amsterdam. We also do not know where everyone is headed, but perhaps they have learned that Allied troops have reached the city, perhaps with food trucks. A Dutch reader tells us, "Yes, this must be Amzsterdam . The building in the far distance must be the Royal Palace. The people running all in the same direction are in Kalverstraat, one of the busiest shopping streets in Amsterdam. I doubt that there was anything in the stores for sale at that time."

The end of the World War II was received differently in the various belligerent and occupied countries. This began with the libertion of Axis occupiued countries. Ethiopia which was the first Axis victim was the first to be liberated (May 1941). This was even before the Germans invaded the Soviet Union. The Germans achieved enormous success, but were badly damaged by the Red Armn Countrr-Offensive before Moscow. The Red Army also managed to liberate areas in western Russia (December 1941). The British and Americans liberated most of North Africa (Novemnber 1942). . In North Africa the French celebrated. The Arabs were for the most part passive observers. The Red Army began the libertion of large sreas of the Soviet Union which the Stalingrad offensive made possible (November 1942). As the Red Army moved west, the celebrations in The East were muted because of the terrible discoveries of NAZI attrocities and the fact that the Eastern Europeans were exchanging one totalitarian occupier for another. In the West, the situation was different. The libration of Westernn Europe began in earnest with D-Day (June 1944). Joyous celebraions followed with Allies armies driving the Germans out of one occupied capital after another. The greatest celebration was of course the liberation of Paris (August 1944). Celebrations in the East were again more muted as the much of the populaion saw the Red Army advance as simply an exchange of occupiers. In the Pacific, the Americans in the Marianas (June 1944) and the Philippines (October 1944) were received as enthuiastically as liberators. This was different in the former European colonies (September 1945). Most were relieved to see the Japanese defeated, but they alao saw how easily the Europeans had been defeated which boosted nationalist movements throughout the area.

Africa

The liberation of Axis occupied countries began with Ethiopia. This East African country was the first Axis victim (1935) (second if you include Mnchuria (1931). And it was the first to be liberated (May 1941). This was just as the Germajns were ctivsting frommedl's Afik Korps in Libya. Ethiopia was the only Sub-Sahran African territory conuered by the Axis, in this case the Italians. Ethiopia was the only independent country in Africa. The entire continnt was divided into European colonies. The Axis did not penetrate deeper into Africa than Ethiopia, but Vichy Francce which was colaborating with the Germans did have control of many African colonies for a time. Many quickly went over the the Free French, but several maintained their allience to Vichy, including Madagascar and Senegal. Most of the change were vbsiclly coups. there was one exception. that was the balle for madagascar fought by the British. This was becused the British wanted to make sure the Kpanese did not set up a submarine base on the island and could not wait for a change of loyalties. Belgium was occupied by the Germans, but authorities in the Belgian Congo quickly announced their allegience to the Government-in-Exile in London. While Africa remained colonized, it needs to be noted that the Allies did a great service to Africa. The racism of the NAZIs usdually focuses on the Jews and the Holocaust. But the NAZIs ranked races and ethnicitis. And Africans fell at the bottom of that ranking, just above the Jews. Africans would not have fared well in a NAZI dominated Africa. YThis is not to say tht racism was not prevalent in other countries, but the NAZIs elevated the primacy of race to io new levels. In Germany there was no extemination effort, the approach was to sterrilize the country's small mumver of Africns--referred to as the https://www.histclo.com/essay/war/ww2/hol/target/black/tarb-rhine.htmlRhineland Bastards'. The NAZI appoch to governing an Aftican colony can only be imagined.

America, Latin

The Axis did not succeed in establishing a foothold in Latin America. While the Axis could not extend its reach beyond the Atlantic, there were some French colonies. French authorities in French Guiana, Guadeloupe and Martinique fter the fall of france (June 1940) declared alligence to Vichy. This is why the French aircraft carrier was moved to the Caribbean. All three eventually after the Warturned aginbst Germny went over to the Free French after the War turned aginst Germany. This might be seen as liberation. There was some support for the Axis, especially in Argentina. The country's large Italian population was a factor. Generally unknown in the region was the full extent of NAZI racial policies. NAZI anti-Semitism was well known, but not the low ranking of Amer-Indian peoples in the NAZI race rakings. o the prticular abhorence of mixed races which representd a huge part of the population of Ltin meicm especily mestizo.

America, North

North America is dominated by the United States and Canada, both of which resisted NAZI aggression. Canada joined the War from the strt when Britain declared war (September 1939). The United States strongly backed the British essentyialy waging an economic war aginst the NAZIs, but did not join the War until the Japanese carrier attack on Pearl harbor and Hitler declared war (December 1941). There were no Axis outposts in North America, although the Germans managed for a time to opeate weather stations on Greenland. The one Axis influence was tiny Vichy-dominated Saint Pierre and Miquelon, south of Newfoundland. The Free French liberation of the islands sparked an internationl incident (December 1940). The United States at the time still thought that the Vichy government could be influenced.

Asia

Liberation is perhaps not the best term for what happened in Asia at the end of the War. Large areas of China were liberated from the Japanese. And American food aid helped prevent starvation. The withdrawl of the Japanese, however, meant that the Chinese Civil War would resume. And the natioinalists who had born the brunt of the War had weakened their creditability wuth the Chinese peasantry. Thus the advanced of the Nationalist Army was not greeted with the same fervor that accompanied the libration of Western Europe. Korea was one of the few areas in Asia/Pacific that was actually librated, in this case by the Soviets and Americans. The situation in Southeast Asia was different. Malaya, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Burma were all European colonies. So rather than liberation as in Europe it was a return to colonial rule. The Asians were to a degree please to see the Japanese ousted as they had proven more brutal and explotive. Japanese propaganda had, however, helped to awaken nationalist feelings and also showed that European rule could be challenged. The ine indeoendent nation in Southeast Asia was Sian (Thailand) which joined the Axis, in part sensing opportunities and to avoild a Japnaese ooccupation, but the Japoanese did moveinto thailnd. The Emperor's Japanese surrender caused Japanese Army commanders to cancel a planned offensive ginst ther thi resistnce. American representatives arrived in Bangkok. Prime Minister Khuang Abhaiwongse annulled the 1942 declaration of War (August 19). Te Regent, Pridi Banomyong, prepared a Royal Declaration of Peace that invalidated the two war declarations stating they were a violation of the Thai Constitution and not truly representative of the will of the Thai people. Resistance leader Seri Thai, paraded in Bangkok (August 20). Korea in East Asia was liberated from brutal Japanese coonial rule, but very different regimes were set up by the Soviets in the north and the Americans in the south.

Europe

The Germans and their Soviet ally invaded or otherwise dominated most of Western Europe (1939-41). Only the British managed to turn back the German tide (1940). The Soviet Union was the last major German target (June 1941). The Germans achieved enormous success, but were badly damaged by the Red Armn Counter-Offensive before Moscow. The Red Army also managed to liberate areas in western Russia (December 1941). This was the first European territory liberated from the Axis. And as the snows melted in the Spring, terrible German attrocities first surfaced. The Red Army began the libertion of large areas of the Soviet Union which the Stalingrad offensive made possible (November 1942). As the Red Army moved west, the celebrations in The East were muted because of the terrible discoveries of NAZI attrocities and the fact that the Eastern Europeans were exchanging one totalitarian occupier for another. The Poles were espcially dubious, although the Soviets were less brutal than when they had earlier entered Poland. They did, however, almost unbelievably target the brave men and women of the Home Army that had resisted the Germans. In the West, the situation was radically different. The libeation of Westernn Europe actually began in Italy, one of the Axis powers (June 1944). A year earlier the Germabs had occuoied their former partner. Liberation began in began in earnest with D-Day (June 1944). Joyous celebraions followed with Allies armies driving the Germans out of one occupied capital after another. The greatest celebration was of course the liberation of Paris (August 1944). It was one of the great celebrations in all of French history. The Allies rached Brussels (September 1944) and the southern Netherlands (October 1944). Tragically it would take months to get across tg Rhine and reach Amsterdam (May 1945). Unlike the East, there was no doubt among the population in the west that the Americans and British were true liberators--and history would prove them correct.

Middle East and North Africa

The British and Americans liberated most of North Africa (Novemnber 1942). In North Africa the French celebrated when the Allies arrived (November 1942). The Arabs were for the most part passive observers. Gor the most prt the Arabs seem toitally oblivious to German racial doctrine. They knew that the Grmans hated the Jews, but had no knowledge as to how low all Semites fell in the NAZI raxial rankings. The Granhd-Mufti spent the War in Belin, evcouraging Hitler nd Himmler to kill more Jews. He shiwed no evidence what so ever that he had any knowledge of NAZI racial doctrine other than they also hated Jews. The Allied operations in Syria and Lebanon tgo replace the Vichy regime was not seen as liberatiin by the Arab popultion. And the British actions in Iraq and British-Soviet Iran replace local regimes was also not seen as libration, but as interference in local affairs. Vurtually none of the population at the time or even today understand how the defeat of the race-mad NAZIs sved them from a terrible tragedy.

Oceania

The situatiin varied in Oceania. In the Pacific, the Americans in the Marianas (June 1944) and the Philippines (October 1944) were received as enthuiastically as liberators. The brutality of Japanese rule had alienated Filipino and Chamoro opinion. And unlike Japanese propganda, at the time of the Japanese invasion, the United States was in the process of granting real independence to the Phiilippines. The Japanese invasion had delayed independence. The Americans debated rather to liberate or bypass the Philippines. Military advantage argued for bypassing the Philippines and instead seizing Formosa (Taiwan). The joy the Filipinos expressed with the American landings in retrospect (October 1944) may have been miguided. It is likely fewer Filipinos would hve neen killed if the Americans had bypassed the substantial Japanese garison there. At the time, however, they surely would have felt abandoned and large numbers of the military and civilian intenees would not have survived additional months of abuse and starvation. The situation was different in the Dutch East Indies (September 1945). Most were relieved to see the Japanese defeated, but they alao saw how easily the Europeans had been defeated which boosted nationalist movements throughout the area. The Indonesian nationalists had collaborted with the Japanese, even though Japanese policies resulted in a terrible famine. The nationalists gained enough weaponry during the Japanese occupation that they were able to resist the reimposition of Dutch control.





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Created: 7:03 PM 11/12/2014
Last updated: 8:26 AM 6/5/2015