What are some of the sacrifices soldiers make
Robert Capa is responsible for some of the most haunting photos of the war, almost iconic reminders: from the Spanish Civil War, for example, from D-Day 1944, a shaky shot of soldiers taking cover on the beach where there is none. The photographer Capa was always at the forefront, "close enough", as he put it, even on April 18, 1945 in street fights in Leipzig-Lindenau. Life published the photo series "The Last Man to Die", the last dead man. A dead US soldier lies at the window of a bourgeois living room while mild spring light shimmers in; it looks like he's asleep, but a German sniper hit him. A pool of blood can be seen on the well-tended parquet.
The picture became the epitome of tragedy in the midst of the victory over the Nazis. But of course the young GI, Raymond J. Bowman, was not the last dead of the war. The three weeks in which the falling dictatorship continued the struggle claimed countless other victims: soldiers from all armies (the Red Army and the Wehrmacht lost tens of thousands of soldiers in the Battle of Berlin by May 2nd); concentration camp inmates murdered on death marches; Victims of the "flying stand meals", many more.
The last American to fall in the European theater of war, at least, is documented. Charles Havlat was ambushed by Germany in his jeep on Czech soil and was fatally hit by fragments from a bazooka and a bullet. The armistice was already in force, which German unity apparently did not know, as the American investigations showed.
Wehrmacht generals signed documents in Reims and Berlin-Karlshorst
In the first week of May 1945, the German sphere of influence consisted of a patchwork of areas in northern Germany, Holland, Norway, northern Italy, the Baltic States and Yugoslavia. In the early morning of May 7th, Hitler's paladin, Colonel General Alfred Jodl, signed the unconditional surrender in Reims, which came into effect on May 8th at 11:01 p.m. On May 9th at 0.16 am the act in Berlin-Karlshorst was repeated against the Red Army, called "Lakeitel" by Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, because of his lack of Hitlerism. So it is to be explained that in Russia the anniversary of Victory is not celebrated until May 9th.
But the maelstrom of the war unleashed by Nazi Germany claimed many more victims. Not only in the Pacific, where Japan only surrendered after the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, on September 2nd. In China, the civil war between nationalists and communists raged on until Mao's victory in 1949. In Europe, too, death continued: liberated concentration camp prisoners who could not be saved; Polish insurgents and Soviet soldiers; the dead of the civil war in Greece; German expellees who fell victim to acts of revenge or the hardships of fleeing; traumatized Nazi victims who took their own lives; raped women in Berlin or Korea; Jewish victims of the Kielce pogrom in Poland in 1946 or the anti-Semitic trials of the late Stalin era.
From Stalin's point of view, the officers' self-confidence was too great
A particularly dark and lesser-known chapter is the inconceivable injustice that the Soviet government did to many of its own soldiers. No armed forces had made greater sacrifices than the Red Army. But the officers' self-confidence had grown dangerously from Stalin's point of view, and so the tyrant ordered new "purges". The British historian Antony Beevor writes of 135,000 soldiers who were arrested by the NKVD in 1945 for "counterrevolutionary offenses". Many were killed.
Robert Capa stepped on a mine in 1954 in Vietnam, whose resistance movement under Ho Chi Minh rebelled against the return of the French colonial rulers humiliated by the Japanese, and died. No, the American soldier in Leipzig wasn't what Life had written under the photo: "The Last Man to Die."
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