Friday, January 28, 2011

How WWII Ended in 1990

War is hell, and hard to end apparently. Eleven years later we're still mucking about in Afghanistan. Sure, that's a hazy one to really define, but it's still a long time. The Korean War is the more obvious example. Because hostilities ended with an armistice in 1953 not a peace treaty, North and South Korea remain technically at war almost 60 years later.

Those technicalities can be a bitch. World War I, or The Great War as it was known at the time (no one anticipated a sequel), ended with an armistice in 1918, but it took the controversial Treaty of Versailles to really end the war in 1919. Except of course the US Senate rejected that treaty, so we stayed technically at war with Germany until the separate Treaty of Berlin in 1921.

World War II (as it was known at the time and now) proved even more complicated to finally put to rest. Congress passed numerous declarations of war during the conflict against such countries as Japan, Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania. War with the latter 4 countries was wrapped up nicely in the Paris Peace Treaties of 1947, nearly 2 years after V-E Day. Japan had to wait until the The Treaty of San Francisco was inked just down the road at the War Memorial Opera House in 1951, almost 6 years to the day after V-J Day.

Germany was another matter. The Treaty of Vienna in 1955 returned Austria to the map, but that still leaves us with remainder of the old Reich to deal with. The Potsdam Agreement in 1945 established how the Allies would govern post-war Germany, but it was considered a provisional agreement to be finalized by "a peace settlement for Germany to be accepted by the Government of Germany when a government adequate for the purpose is established." The problem was, of course, you had two governments in Germany for the next 45 some odd years. As a result officially the Soviets continued to occupy East Germany and the US, France, and Britain occupied West Germany right up until the reunification in 1990 when the eloquently titled Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany finally ended the war. Then later that year the German-Polish Border Treaty answered once and for all (or until the next large European conflict) a question that had been burning in all our hearts and minds for hundreds of year: just where the hell exactly does Germany end and Poland begin?

All of this could have been avoided if Jeanette Rankin had had her way. Not only was she the first woman in Congress (a Republican from Montana no less), but she not only voted against war with Germany in WWI but cast the only "no" vote against war with Japan on December 8, 1941. She voted "present" for all the other war declarations in WWII. That's one devoted pacifist.

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In 1789, the governor of Australia granted land and some animals to James Ruse in an experiment to see how long it would take him to support himself. Within 15 months he had become self sufficient. The area is still known as Experiment Farm. This is my Experiment Farm to see how long it will take me to support myself by writing.