D Day for Germans

 D-Day. 80 years since Juno Beach near Normandy became famous. Canada lost 381 men on the first day of the invasion … a battle that lasted 77 days with many more lives lost. 

1944. My dad in a hurry to nowhere.
My parents didn’t immigrate to Canada until 1953, didn’t meet each other until 1951. So where were they in June, 1944?  My mom would have been working in an artillery factory in Stablach, East Prussia … present-day Stablawki in the Kaliningrad Oblast. She lived in the barracks, next door to a prisoner of war camp known as Stalag. As a civilian, I assume she had time to enjoy the beautiful June weather during her breaks. Maybe she went on a bike ride and picked some linden blossoms. East Prussia has beautiful linden, beech and chestnut trees. 

And where was my dad, the Luftwaffe pilot in 1944? As a crash survivor, he would have been in Poland's Stubendorf (Izbicko) and Posen (now Poznań) training new pilots in a “Blindflugschule.” Which means, training pilots to fly via instrument panels, not visuals.  My dad would have still been with his first wife, who got pregnant that summer with their second son. Maybe he had some spare time to play with his older boy. He’d always been good with kids. 

However, with the arrival of the D-Day troops on Juno Beach, that would be the last beautiful June for my parents. By June of the following year, the European war was over. The D-Day assault had been the beginning of the end for,the Nazis. Within a year, both my parents would be in Soviet custody. D-Day marked the end.

Would the Germans of June, 1944 be aware of the change coming at them? Certainly, the average German family had been affected by the true cost of war ever since the Stalingrad winter of 1941/42. But was the Nazi propaganda machine, run by Goebbels, still masking the inevitable doom that was in store?  Without a doubt.

I haven’t been to Normandy, but I’ve visited nearby Calais and sleepy little Fécamp. It’s hard to imagine fishing villages turned into slaughtering grounds. Why can’t sleepy villages be left to sleep?

June 6th … D-Day in Canada … a very different day for Germany. Of course, modern Germany is not the Third Reich and the men and women who experienced the Second World War are mostly gone. We have new wars grabbing headlines, new young men being called up to fight, new fronts being created.  It’s ironic that Germany’s leader, Olaf Scholz, stands with the Allies at these remembrance ceremonies, with Russia now the aggressor state. What will the next generation be commemorating 80 years from now?  

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