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Impact of the War on European Memory

By: Alexa Davidson

The European memory of D-Day, and World War 2, is very different from the American one. While everyone in the course, I think, inherently knew that, seeing it and person and watching the war play out from the perspective of those who lived through and with the direct consequences of it make it much harder hitting and impactful.

The memory of World War 2 in Europe is engrained in everyday life, the horrors and victories. Especially now, as we approach the 75th Anniversary of the landings and then next year of the end of the war, its hard to turn and not see remnants and memories and memorials. Even after the official Normandy trip ended and I moved on to a vacation in Europe, I ended up in a place that had suffered through bombings during the war, evidence of it clear when you spot the anti-air craft gun that is in proximity to the campus. You can’t escape the war and its impact in Europe, you are constantly confronted with imagery and fragments of a war the tore the continent apart.

It’s something I think Americans tend to forget, as they celebrate the upcoming dates, that people, millions and millions of people, innocents, civilians, soldiers, conspirators, and drafted were killed. That countries were left with massive gaps in their populations, entire generations left almost non-existent. In America, recovering from World War 2 was left to the soldiers and we moved to the next conflict within the decade. For Europe, the recovery process is ongoing, the scars deep and memory stark.

In America, you get the glory and the victory, in Europe, pain and destruction and joyous relief that came too many years too late for upwards of 50 million people.