Letter: D-Day: a benchmark of barbarity and intransigence

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Sir: Together with other relatively simplistic reminiscences accompanying the current D-Day commemorations, the often poignant 'worm's eye view' stories of old soldiers must never be allowed to obscure the wider, more sombre background of this dramatic military undertaking.

The Allied invasion of Normandy in 1944 took place approximately half way through an exceptionally unstable and violent era of political misunderstanding between the principal nations of Eurasia about how best to accommodate the exceptional forces unleashed by the worldwide processes of mature industrialisation during the early 20th century.

The structure of the D-Day campaign is a good example of how, by means of technical advances and the increasing politicisation of ordinary working people, an enhanced legitimisation of the moral authority of the state could ensure the total mobilisation of the human and physical resources of combatant countries by the 1940s.

This achievement also enabled the leaders of large European states to wage war with an ideological intensity that, in the efficiency of its destruction and disruption of huge swaths of civilised life in many countries, far outstripped the more pragmatic, diplomatic aims of earlier conflicts.

Irrespective of received morality about the liberation of occupied sovereign territory, D-Day was the benchmark for a terrible increase of an already appalling level of sustained barbarity and worldwide fossilisation of intransigent political attitudes that continued long after the bloody end of the Second World War until well into the 1980s.

As the veterans of D-Day retell their experiences to what hopefully is a better-educated generation, perhaps they should also ponder whether the breaching of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989 - which signalled an end to the cultural, political and economic desolation of the European continent, 45 years after the 'liberation' of the Normandy campaign - is a more fitting anniversary to celebrate in years to come.

Yours faithfully,


University of Birmingham


3 June

(Photograph omitted)