The end of World War IIDid World War II in Europe end 70 years ago in May 1945? If you read my earlier two part post on the subject (Those Pesky World Wars–they just won’t go away), you’d know that on a true/false history exam or quiz show, true would be the correct answer. But outside of that context, false would also be correct. Technically, the fighting in the European Theater ended with the surrender of Germany, and then in the Pacific Theater a few months later. However, in a way, the war lived on because it left many problems unresolved and created new tensions and turmoil when the victors took or redistributed territory and drew illogical borders through former colonial possessions. The resulting troubles and unresolved issues brought about struggles that to this day show no signs of disappearing. Examples abound in the Middle East, Southern Asia, South America, and Eastern Europe.
World War metastasis
After the war, revolutions and independence movements sprang up around the world as colonial empires unraveled and divergent ideologies took root. In Europe the Western Allies watched their former ally in the war, the Soviet Union, transform into a new enemy when the latter caged most of Central and Eastern Europe behind what became known as the Iron Curtain. The new Cold War led to meddling in small countries around the world by the superpowers. The Korean War, the Vietnam Conflict, and the Middle East Wars all have a lineage going back to the disasters this power struggle spawned.
World War II alive and well
However, World War II lives on in an entirely different way too. It was by far the most significant event of the 20th century, and as a result remains alive in countless books, movies, and television shows. War-related news stories appear every day because people are still affected and have an involvement in the story. I know where my own life-long interest came from—my parents. Each had compelling stories that they seldom talked about. They, their families, and their friends had all experienced the war in Europe first hand as it went on around them. They had little choice but to move on in order to provide for their family, but it was too interesting and important a story to simply leave behind. So I took it upon myself to do the telling for them.
There are no true winners in such devastating and costly wars, but to go through one and then end up impoverished on the losing side, without a doubt, makes losing the worse experience by far. My father’s story and how he came to serve in the German military is still a work in progress, but my mother’s tale, The Secret She Carried: A Perilous Odyssey Through the Time of Hitler, has just been published as an e-book and the print version will follow shortly. In the telling, my mother’s encounter with war and what came before, make up only part of the story for such a narrative can’t be told without conveying the surrounding history and describing some of the war experiences of those around her.
For more information about the book, visit ericheipert.com.