War not over

22nd April 2005 at 01:00
May 1945 was, as Thomas Hardy had said of an end to an earlier war, "a time of the breaking of nations". All hostilities should have stopped after 11pm (Central European Time) on May 8, but the killing continued.

In France, some 20,000 collaborators were put to death. In Yugoslavia, 30,000 German sympathisers were shot. Throughout eastern Europe German prisoners of war were killed in cold blood, while the fate of thousands of Cossacks and Russian forced labourers handed over to the Red Army is unknown. The surrender of German forces in the Netherlands was agreed on May 5, but it wasn't until VE Day that an Allied authority in Amsterdam was established. Rejoicing ended when German marines fired into a crowd in the Dam square and killed at least 20 Dutch. Victory over Japan Day came only on August 15 after atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9.

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