Lessons for Germany on 70th Anniversary of V-E Day

06 May, 2015

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked in all but one European country this week. Germany lost the war, and has no plans to hold a special observance.

VOA recently went to the German capital Berlin to report on how the conflict is considered and the effect it still has.

In central Berlin, there is a huge memorial to the six million Jews killed during World War II. Their deaths were the work of Germany's Nazi Party.

The memorial was built just 10 years ago, after much public debate. Two hundred meters away was the place from where German leader Adolf Hitler directed the war effort. It is the place where it is believed he took his own life.

The area is now a parking lot, filled with cars.

Visitors to the area -- like a woman named Tina, a retired journalist from Britain -- say there are things to be learned from the war.

"Even today, in our own country, there are extremist groups cropping up. And I am thinking that if ordinary, decent people do not do anything, there is always a chance of history repeating itself."

Gerd Appenzeller is the former publisher of the Berlin newspaper Tagesspiegel. He worries that the alliances that formed after the World War II are weakening. He says younger Germans do not know what life was like during the war.

He says, "The vast majority have gotten comfortable with freedom. They give little thought to the fact that this freedom is constantly in danger. America is changing, global relations are changing, and the Germans and Europeans have to unite and stay together, just to remain a relevant partner for the United States."

I'm Bob Doughty.

VOA Correspondent Al Pessin reported this story from Berlin. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted it into Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

cropping up – idiomatic to happen or appear, often unexpectedly

vast majority – idiomatic this phrase is often used to emphasize the size, relevance or importance of a statistic or statement

What lessons do you believe Germany and Europe should learn from World War II? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the comments section.