Those VE Day celebrations? Please call me when they are over
ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT. IT WILL BE a splendid affair. The VE day celebrations, we learn, will be the biggest celebrations since the Coronation. There will be street festivals, flower festivals,m firework displays, thanksgiving services, specially commissioned postage stamps, Dame vera Lynn in excelsis.
Personally, I hope to be elsewhere. Maybe Albania. I feel, somehow in the Balkans that the paen of praise to British fortitude and Soviet indomitability will be a little muted.
Of course, those who lived through those events will want to recall the end of an awful six years, the time when all their sacrifices paid off. And for all the bloodiness of the world since 1945, the accounts of the nature of German fascism still have an abiding horror.
It's not the self-congratulation of those who fought in the war that is so off-putting. It is the associated complacency of everyone else, from the papers with their special VE supplements a riot of black and white photographs and jolly features abut cooking ng on wartime rations to the heads of state who will with a straights face be standing to attention in London and in Moscow, as the bands march past, as though there is some kind of seamless continuity between Russia than and now, the Britain of Churchill and that of John Major.
It is the present state of the world that makes a mockery of every single bunting. The inescapable implication of all these celebrations is that those sacrifices were not in vain, that the dead died in order to give us the brave world that we now inhabit.
But we know, all of us, that this is a lie, hat the new world order is a slogan that no politician with any claim to self-respect would even utter now. You don't need to look terribly far to see why it is the phrase Never Again can it only be uttered unblushingly by a morally autistic prime minister or president.
A number of examples spring unbidden to mind. The one with which I am personally most familiar is Yugoslavia. you want to see a country which most strongly resembles Germany in the 1930s?
Well, a trip to Kosova, the area that used to be an autonomous region in ex-Yugoslavia, will do nicely for those to see what that period was like.
There, you find almost no-one among the two million odd Kosova Albanians in public jobs, in jobs that lie in the gift of the state, over which public bodies have control. No university professors, no judges, no policemen, no miners, no nurses in public hospitals among 90 per cent of the population.
Why? Because they were all sacked five years ago. Everyone. The only reason was that those workers arc Albanians, a people who had the impertinence to ask for a greater degree of autonomy from the Belgrade regime of Mr Slobodan Milosevic.
The trouble doesn't stop at jobs. You didn't talk openly in English on the streets of Prishtine, the capital. There are too many police, in uniform and in police clothes, who are alert to any sign of dissent among the subject population, anything that makes people stand out.
To enforce the feeling of being at bay, you get low-flying MIGs over the capital every morning, tanks moving through the city every night. You get random arrests, frequent police beatings. Just to let people know who is in charge. If you want to see fascism live and well, it's not hard to find, south of Serbia.
Bosnia is an even more obvious example. In Tuzla over Easter I met some of the hundred-odd Moslems who were cleansed from their homes on holy Thursday from Bijelina, a town in Serb-controlled territory. It was the usual, dreary story: masked, unformed men came to their hoses at night and told them they had five minutes to leave. It was because they were Moslems. Nothing else.
One young man was rather lucky to be cleansed in fact. He had to carry his physically handicapped brother across the front line to the Bosnian side. If it hadn't been for this fortunate circumstance, he would still be employed, day after long day, digging trenches for the Serbian Army, under fire.
He wasn't alone of course; many of the Moslems from the town will tell you about the detention camp in Bijeljina where several hundred young men are kept as a slave labour force, doing the heavy, dirty work on the front. I can tell you where the camp is. So many of the refugees can. The UNCHR and the humanitarian organisations could probably tell you too. But no-one is going to shut that camp unless it's the Bosnian army and they will have to do it by force.
I don't mind what other people do on VE day. I just don't want any part of it.