Eberhardt Alexander Gauland who has served as leader of the German political party Alternative for Germany (AfD) in the Bundestag since September 2017, said on Wednesday that May 8, VE Day, marking the 75th anniversary of the Allied Forces’ Victory over Nazi Germany, should not be celebrated as a national holiday in today’s Germany.
“You can’t make May 8 a happy day for Germany,” Gauland, who is 79, told RND radio. “For the concentration camp inmates it was a day of liberation. But it was also a day of absolute defeat, a day of the loss of large parts of Germany and the loss of national autonomy.”
But 80,000 Germans have signed a petition which was initiated by Esther Bejarano, a Holocaust survivor, who wrote in an open letter to German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Chancellor Angela Merkel that May 8 “is the day of German liberation and the defeat of the Nazi regime,” and should thus be celebrated with great cheer by all Germans.
The German city-state of Berlin has already declared May 8 a public holiday this year, but not every year, so Germans can have a special day off, which in the current coronavirus reality is also known as Friday.
A recent study by German historian Rüdiger Overmans found that the German military casualties in WW2 were 5.3 million, including 900,000 men conscripted from outside of Germany’s 1937 borders, in Austria and in east-central Europe. The German government reported that its records list 4.3 million dead and missing military personnel.
German civilian deaths during the war include air raid deaths, estimated at between 350,000 and 500,000. Civilian deaths, due to the flight and expulsion of Germans, Soviet war crimes and the forced labor of Germans in the Soviet Union range from 500,000 to more than 2 million.
Gauland was born in 1941 in Chemnitz, a city that became part of East Germany in 1949 and was renamed Karl-Marx-Stadt. So it stands to reason that he has not been overjoyed for being liberated by the Soviet Union for most of his life.
Karma is… well, it rhymes with rich.