This still-new year has just welcomed the first of many 70-year anniversaries, most of which are related to the Second World War.
It was 70 years ago this week that the Red Army, which was storming across eastern Europe on its way to Berlin, liberated the Auschwitz death camp, where the Nazi monsters exterminated thousands of prisoners, mostly Jews, while pursuing what Adolf Hitler called “the final solution.”
Other death camps would be liberated by the Soviets — and by American, British and Allied forces rolling toward Berlin from the west. They would uncover horrors never imagined.
The world will spend a good bit of time this year looking back on the final chapter of the world’s most destructive conflict.
Seventy years ago this year:
* Hitler died, taking his own life to avoid being captured by the Soviet army. Good riddance to that hideous monster.
* Franklin D. Roosevelt died. For many Americans alive at the time, he was the only president they knew. He helped rescue the nation from the depths of depression and then led it into battle against tyranny.
* The Manhattan Project brought us the atomic bomb, which FDR’s successor, President Truman, ordered dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We’ll have much more to say about that at a later time.
* The Allies declared Victory in Europe, and the world celebrated VE Day, as Nazi Germany surrendered.
* The Japanese surrendered later and General of the Army Douglas MacArthur accepted their surrender aboard the USS Missouri.
* The United Nations was founded in San Francisco.
Nineteen forty-five was a monumental year, yes?
World War II ended and the world began picking up the pieces of its shattered existence.