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Victory Day – or Continued Struggle Day?

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Berlin in ruins after WWII

75 years have passed since Naziism continued to live on in Europe – while today could be used to celebrate the fall of an oppressive regime killing its own people those regimes are hardly non-existent in today’s world, while we could celebrate the end of the concentration camps we could also remember that camps imprisoning entire populations still exist today. While we could celebrate the end of the last hot war here in western Europe we could remember the wars raging around the world – wars in which western Europe take part.

The war did not end Naziism or the idea that some of us have rights above others. We have had far too many terrorist attacks, openly nazi-organizations, political movements building on supremacy and phobias, and even genocides, both in Europe and beyond to be able to claim that without looking like fools.

We could have faced the reality, and dealt with the demons of hatred that underpins many of our societies – such as the systemic mistreatment both of native, migrant, religious and sexual minorities both in Europe and beyond – instead we focused on our own victimhood while strengthening our nation-states and national narratives of moral superiority – repeating the fallacies of the enemies we proclaimed victory over. As a result the suffering continues, even in the backyards of the victors who “defeated the Nazis”.

In war, whichever side may call itself the victor, there are no winners, but all are losers.

Neville Chamberlain

We should remember the immense suffering caused by the second world war. The thousands of shattered families, the millions living with trauma. IT should have been the war to end all wars – like the previous war to end all wars it failed. In war, whichever side may call itself the victor, there are no winners, but all are losers, as Neville Chamberlain remarked.

Today is thus not a day to remember victory. It’s a day to remember the continued struggle, the new standards we set and cemented after the war – in how we wanted our world to be after the pain and suffering it had caused.

With the 2nd world war as a backdrop, we established the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Europeans established the EU to secure peace and the global community eventually came to establish the International Criminal Court and the international laws against genocide and crimes against humanity. We designed the world we wanted to live in, then failed to follow through.

And so the struggle continues.

Today is a day to remember, and to fight on, for justice, for dignity, for peace, and for humankind!

  • Bjørn Ihler is the founding Editor in Chief of Activism Academy and co-founder of The Khalifa-Ihler Institute, the organization behind the academy. Ihler has a long track record as a contributor to multiple international publications and is a well renowned activist working among others with the Kofi Annan Foundation to counter violent extremism.