John Rosenthal's writings on international politics have appeared in Policy Review, the Opinion Journal, Les Temps Modernes and Merkur. He is the editor of the Transatlantic Intelligencer (www.trans-int.com).]
On June 6, 2004, the 60th anniversary of D-Day, French President Jacques Chirac stood before hundreds of American veterans of the Allied invasion of Normandy at the American Cemetery at Colleville-Sur-Mer, where their fallen comrades are buried. Chirac pledged to the veterans that France had not forgotten their sacrifices. "To the entire American nation," he said, "...to all those men and women who paid the heavy price of those heroic days, I want to address the message of France: a message of friendship and brotherhood, of recognition and gratitude."
And he continued: "Having experienced the long ordeal of war and occupation, France is aware of all it owes to the United States of America, to the commitment of President Roosevelt, to the actions of General Eisenhower. Each of us, every family in France, cherishes the memory of those moments of joy that followed the D-Day landings."
Next up at the podium was President George W. Bush, who, recounting the course of events 60 years before, added a characteristic touch of levity to the ceremony:
"Near the village of Colleville, a young woman on a bicycle raced to her parents' farmhouse. She was worried for their safety. Seeing the shattered windows and partially caved-in roof, Anne Marie Broeckx called for her parents. As they came out of the damaged house, her father shouted, 'My daughter, this is a great day for France.' As it turned out, it was a great day for Anne Marie, as well. The liberating force of D-Day included the young American soldier she would marry, an Army private who was fighting a half a mile away on Omaha Beach. It was another fine moment in Franco-American relations."
The reassuring words of the French head of state and the good cheer of the American chief executive were well-suited to the occasion. But they covered up a grimmer, more troubling reality: namely, a creeping historical revisionism that is part and parcel of the wave of anti-Americanism that has swept across Europe over the last five years. The Europe-wide dissemination of a book titled The Myth of the Good War: America and the Second World War provides some measure of the extent of the phenomenon. It has thus far been translated -- and always with the same title -- into German, English, Spanish, Italian, and French, apart from the original Dutch edition.
Whereas such open revisionism concerning the role of the US in the liberation of Europe has hitherto been largely limited to "leftist" intellectual circles -- as well, of course, as neo-Nazi ones (who on this, like so many other points, are essentially indistinguishable from the former) -- in France it has now decidedly hit the mainstream. On Friday evening, March 24, French public television channel France 3 broadcast an hour-long documentary titled "The Dark Side of the Liberators." Morbidly turning the cheerfulness of George Bush's anecdote to derision, "The Dark Side" is about what it presents as the mass rape of French women by American troops in the aftermath of the Normandy operation. Rapes of English women by American soldiers stationed in the UK prior to the launch and then of German women, following the American crossing of the Rhine, are added into the mix -- seemingly in order to arrive at a more impressive number of cases -- as preamble and coda. ...
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John Rosenthal: D-Day for Revisionists watch
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- 09-04-2006 23:22
- 10-04-2006 23:30
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