Posts Tagged ‘says’

Leaders’ snub of Moscow victory parade ‘insult to soldiers’, says Russia

March 24th, 2015

Veterans during the 60th anniversary parade through Red Square in 2005 (Getty Images)

Downing Street announced earlier this month that Mr Cameron would not go to Moscow.

A spokesman for David Cameron said at the time: “We will be considering our representation in light of our ongoing discussions with Russia, and our concerns about their activity. We don’t have plans for the Prime Minister to attend, and I’m sure we will set out who will represent the government in due course.”

He and other European leaders are thought to be boycotting the event in protest at Russia’s alleged aggression in Ukraine. Barack Obama, the US president, has also refused to go, citing a tight schedule.

Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, said last week that he had received an invitation but would not attend because his “presence at a military parade beside the current aggressors and the person who uses weapons against civilians eastern in Ukraine would be, for me to put it mildly, too ambiguous”.

Ironically, Mr Chizhov’s scolding of EU leaders was uttered as Russian authorities said they would be taking measures to intercept any of their own Second World War veterans who tried to get on to Red Square on May 9 without being officially invited to the ceremonies.

The Kommersant newspaper said that only one veteran and a companion from each Russian region would be allowed on to the tribune.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will attend an event a day later (AFP)

Veterans who turn up in Moscow without invitations to the parade will be able to take part in other events to mark the occasion and will be helped to find cheap accommodation, city officials said.

Milos Zeman, the Czech president, is thought to be the only EU leader who has so far confirmed he will be at the May 9 parade.

Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minster, said last week that 26 world leaders had confirmed their attendance. Among them are leaders from China, India, Cuba and North Korea.

Last week, Mr Putin said that May 9 was a “day of glory, a day of pride for our entire nation, a day of supreme veneration of the victorious generation”.

The president said there were now “attempts at distorting the events of that war”, some of them “downright ravings”, in order “to undermine Russia’s power and moral authority”. He did not give details.

German forces surrendered to the Allies on May 7, 1945, with all hostilities scheduled to cease at 23.01 Central European Time the next day. That was already the early hours of May 9 to the east in Moscow, which marks Victory Day on that date, rather than the May 8 V-E Day celebrated in the US, Britain and other parts of Europe.


World War Two

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Germans are ‘bewildered’ by British obsession with the Second World War, director of British Museum says

September 27th, 2014

In an interview with the Radio Times, MacGregor disclosed the aim of the series is to examine “what else” happened in Germany, detailing the “new country” which has emerged since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Speaking of the German people, he said: “They have huge admiration for the political traditions, the political stability, huge admiration for the way Britain fought the Second World War, fascinated and delighted by the sport…

“But very dismayed that when they come to Britain, they’re greeted with Nazi salutes!

“Bewildered that Britain doesn’t want to appear to know about Germany now, but wants to freeze the relationship as it was 70 years ago.”

He added the image of German history being centred on the Second World War is “constantly reinforced” in Britain “in a way that it isn’t in other countries”, including those which have “far more reason to be obsessed with German evil, having been occupied”.

“It’s one of the tragic things of the 20th century that 100 years ago everybody like us would have known so much about German culture and history,” he said. “We’d all have read German at school or university, we’d expect people to read German, we would know about Germany – and all that stopped after 1945.”

Speaking of the current political and cultural situation, he told the magazine: “Germany wants allies. One of the things they’ve learnt from the past is not only that power is dangerous, but acting alone is also dangerous.

“So they want counsel and friends and they would be very happy for Britain to play that role. Whether Britain wants to play that role, and whether Britain sees itself as wanting to be Germany’s friend, I don’t know.”

The new BBC Radio 4 series follows a successful partnership with the British Museum for A History of the World in 100 Objects.

The Germany series will now be told in 30 episodes, focusing on around 70 objects from the VW Beetle, Meissen porcelain, and the art of Richter, Durer and Holbein, to the Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate. An accompanying exhibition opens at the British Museum in October.

MacGregor said: “The point of the series is not so much to put the history of the 20th century in a bigger context, but it’s also saying, ‘What has Germany done since 1990?’ This is a new country, and a new country needs a new history.”


World War Two

Dambusters deserve proper medals not a brass clasp, says wartime bomber hero

April 20th, 2014

There is even a specially commissioned Bomber Command Memorial at Hyde Park Corner, opened by the Queen, to commemorate the 55,573 Allied air men who died during WW2.

Arctic convoy veterans have recently been awarded the Arctic Star medal after a 70 year fight in recognition of what Churchill called the worst journey in the world. Nearly 3,000 perished in the freezing waters supplying the troops on the front.

“A medal was produced for the Arctic survivors. If a medal is good enough for them it’s good enough for us,” said Mr Johnson from Bristol.

“We deserve a medal not a clasp. The 55,000 doesn’t include the injured or those taken prisoner and the sacrifices they made.

“If that’s the last thing I do it will be to get a medal for us.”

Mr Johnson, who flew 50 missions during his 22 years service was the bomb aimer on the night of May 17, 1943, as part of Operation Chastise to cripple the Nazi war effort.

He dropped the bomb on Sorpe dam and was awarded a raft of medals including the Distinguished Flying Medal for his part in the daring 617 Squadron raid.

He is still considering whether to wear his clasp he describes as an “insult.”

“I have got, much to my disgust, one of the clasps but still not made up my mind whether to wear it,” he said.

“All those people died and we get that. To get that little copper job instead of a medal, no, I’m sorry I am not sure I’ll bother to wear it.

“Although I am Conservative through and through I am not quite happy with our present Prime Minister. He should have done more for this medal business. It is the politicians who make the final decision.

“There was all the hassle with politicians to get the Memorial then they had front row seats. It’s hypocrisy.”

Next week, Mr Johnson will be at the London unveiling of his portrait by artist Richard Stone dedicated to the whole squadron and will make a speech about their huge sacrifice.

“I didn’t want to do it but my family told me to!” he added.

“It is amazing to think there is still all this interest in the Dambusters. I have insisted on a dedication to the whole squadron. It will go on the portrait as it is for everyone who took part, not just me.”

In May he will again renew the call for a medal with the release of his life story The Last British Dambuster released to mark the 71st anniversary of the raid on May 16, 1943. He worked on the book published by Ebury Press with a ghost writer.

“I am pleased people still want to know what we did,” said Mr Johnson.

“I go to schools and talk to children about the raid, they are fascinated. It is a part of our history and they really listen to my stories that are real, not like something off the television.

“I can still remember it all quite clearly after all these years. That raid was a turning point in the war.”

Mr Johnson is also an adviser to Hobbit director Peter Jackson who is working on a remake of the classic black and white Dambuster movie that starred Richard Todd and Michael Redgrave.

The widower has gone deaf because of his valiant service in the RAF from the noise of the planes. For his sacrifice he gets a £140 a month war pension in recognition of his service.

“I call it Lancaster Ear, I’m deaf in both ears and have got hearing aids,” he said.

“The noise from all those aircraft didn’t help. They didn’t give us any warnings just blow your nose as you come in so your ears don’t pop.”


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