This V-E Day, Be Sure You Know Why the Allies Won the War
Tomorrow is V-E Day—the 75th anniversary of the Allies’ victory in Europe.
Here in the United Kingdom, celebrations and pageantry have been planned. The government proclaimed a national holiday. Even with the coronavirus lockdown in place, “self-distancing street parties,” where neighbors picnic in their front lawns and driveways, are planned up and down the country.
A big anniversary like V-E Day is one of the few times that we pause as a nation and remember our history. And it is critical that we remember it.
There is a lesson in V-E Day that would save our nations today and shows us how to have victory in our individual lives.
When we look back at World War ii, we tend to see it as an inevitable victory. Germany, Japan and Italy—three relatively small nations—went up against the entire world. They were bound to lose.
But that’s not how people saw it at the time; nor how many great historians see it now. “There was nothing inevitable about the Allies’ victory in the conflict of 1939–1945,” writes historian Andrew Roberts. Another historian, Bevin Alexander, wrote a book titled How Hitler Could Have Won World War II.
The Axis powers could have taken over the world. No wonder there was such relief and rejoicing when V-E Day finally came on May 8, 1945.
Why did the Allies win and the Axis lose? Bad decisions by Adolf Hitler? Stubborn resistance from Winston Churchill’s Britain? Endurance from Russia? The massive industrial might of the United States?
All of these factors played their role. But the most critical reason is airbrushed out of the history books.
Britain held a total of seven days of prayer during World War ii. The first came days after Winston Churchill became prime minister, and the last on April 23, 1944, in anticipation of D-Day.
These days of prayer were a big deal. On the first, May 26, 1940, shops closed as the Church of England, the Catholic Church, Jews and other religions appealed to God for help. The Times described how the King and Queen attended services at Westminster Abby, with Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, along with the prime minister and all the leaders of Britain. “In the cities and towns, leaders of civic life attended church on this Day of National Prayer at the head of their people,” the Times wrote. “From peaceful village churches in the remote countryside the same prayers were offered, just as in these fateful hours the same thoughts are in people’s minds.” Afterward, the archbishop of Canterbury called on everyone to pause at noon every day and pray for deliverance. Newspapers even gave advice on how to pray!
Going through the old newspapers about these days of prayer was shocking for me. They describe a totally different country from the Britain I know, where religion plays little-to-no role in the lives of most people.
Right now, we’re in the midst of the coronavirus lockdown. Many people, including the Queen, have been calling it a World War ii-level crisis. Yet I haven’t seen a single person, not even the most insignificant journalist, call for a day of prayer.
America responded to the war in the same way. On D-Day, the president exhorted the whole nation to join him in prayer. Stores closed early. One department store chain, Lord & Taylor, closed completely: Its president sent his 3,000 employees home to pray.
In its lead editorial, the New York Times wrote: “We pray for the boys we know and for millions of unknown boys who are equally a part of us. … We pray for our country. … The cause prays for itself, for it is the cause of the God who created man free and equal.”
American historian Stephen E. Ambrose wrote in his book D-Day: “The impulse to pray was overwhelming. Many people got their first word of the invasion as they began their daily routines; after they recovered their breath, they said a silent prayer. Others heard the news broadcast on loudspeakers during their night shifts on assembly lines around the country. Men and women paused over their machines, prayed, and returned to work with renewed dedication. Across the United States and Canada, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the Arctic to the Gulf Coast, the church bells rang. Not in triumph or celebration but as a solemn reminder of national unity and a call to formal prayer. Special services were held in every church and synagogue in the land. Pews were jammed with worshipers.”
What was the result of these prayers? Don’t take my word for it; let’s be good historians and look at the firsthand sources.
After the prayers for Dunkirk, 335,000 men were rescued from the shores of France; the government expected only up to 45,000 to be saved. The Daily Telegraph wrote on July 8, 1940, “Those who are accustomed to the Channel testify to the strangeness of this calm; they are deeply impressed by the phenomenon of nature by which it became possible for tiny craft to go back and forth in safety.” People at the time could see that this “strangeness” was nothing short of a miracle from God.
“The fortitude displayed and the success achieved are to me, at least, miracles and an answer to the prayers which rose up from the Empire, and from millions outside it on May 26. Let us not forget to return thanks,” read one letter to the Times.
“Surely our prayers have been answered in the merciful deliverance of our Expeditionary Force from complete destruction?” another letter said. “Thanksgiving is surely as important as supplication, and there must be many who feel, like myself, that we ought to have a special day of thanksgiving to God for His wonderful answer to our prayers.”
The Times wrote that these letters “are two out of a very large number addressed to the Times in the same sense.”
On June 9, Britain went back to church for a national day of thanksgiving. “One thing can be certain about tomorrow’s thanksgiving in our churches,” wrote the Telegraph. “From none will the thanks ascend with greater sincerity or deeper fervor than from the officers and men who have seen the hand of God, powerful to save, delivering them from the hands of a mighty foe, who, humanly speaking, had them utterly at his mercy.”
Britain’s second and third day of prayer came during the Battle of Britain, when the German Air Force tried to clear the way for a Nazi invasion. Britain won the battle, and Air Chief Marshall Hugh Dowding said: “I will say with absolute conviction that I can trace the intervention of God. … Humanly speaking, victory was impossible!”
After D-Day, the senior allied commanders all gave thanks to God. “If there were nothing else in my life to prove the existence of an almighty and merciful God, the events of the next 24 hours did it,” said Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower.
“Such a historic march of events can seldom have taken place in such a short space of time,” wrote Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery. “Let us say to each other, This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”
Lt. Gen. Sir Frederick Morgan, who did most of the planning for D-Day as chief of staff to the supreme Allied commander, wrote an article for the Telegraph after the war titled “The Miracle of D-Day.” In it, he listed miracles that occurred over and again during the course of the war.
In response to this deliverance, the British government even took steps to make the nation more religious. The 1944 Education Act required all schools to hold a daily act of collective worship—a requirement that is still technically in place, though ignored by the vast majority, today.
On V-E Day, King George vi told the nation, “We give thanks to God for a great deliverance.” U.S. President Harry Truman appointed May 13 as a day of prayer, saying: “I call upon the people of the United States, whatever their faith, to unite in offering joyful thanks to God for the victory we have won and to pray that He will support us to the end of our present struggle and guide us into the way of peace.”
These are not insignificant individuals calling for prayer and then acknowledging the results. Just about all of the top British and American leaders were involved. Yet you hear nothing about this when World War ii is taught.
“By what authority have historians left God and the Bible out of history?” Dr. Herman Hoeh asked at the beginning of one of his history books. Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry focused on this question in his Key of David program last weekend, “The Modern Interpretation of History.” In that program, Mr. Flurry powerfully criticized modern historians for rejecting God in their history. Looking back at World War ii, you can see why that rejection is so dangerous.
You would have thought that even an atheist would have recorded some details of these days of prayers. From a purely academic, historical point of view, it would be important to know that Allied leaders believed that God was on their side, sought His help, and credited Him with their victories. But instead, they’re almost never mentioned; God and the Bible are left out.
“Many authorities call history our most effective teacher,” writes Mr. Flurry in his book The Former Prophets. “British and American leaders have been utterly contemptuous of World War ii history that cost 50 million lives!” he wrote. “Our nations will pay dearly for such dangerous contempt of history.”
What would we be reminded of if the full history of World War ii was reviewed tomorrow during our national holiday?
We’d be reminded that we live in a dangerous world, where evil dictators plot and scheme. That there are men who will take advantage of the West’s desire for peace and its reluctance to confront evil to build its own power. We’d be reminded that we must not take freedom and prosperity for granted.
But we’d also be taught how to react to this dangerous world! That the key to safety is to turn to God. That He does intervene powerfully in world affairs.
With a full account of this history, V-E Day could be an annual reminder of our need for God—nationally and individually. Even without cracking open your Bible, an honest look at history gives you a profound education.
Romans 1:18 states, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (New King James Version). Studying this history, you can see why. The true history of World War ii gives nation-saving lessons—and it has been suppressed.
Historians “suppress the truth!” said Mr. Flurry. “They omit it! They interpret it! They really do some terrible things to get God out of the picture! Man has always done that, anciently and in modern times, but it’s worse now in the modern times. They just eliminate God and the Bible from their history.”
Suppressing the truth supresses the life-saving solution to our problems. We still need to turn to the Bible, rather than to our own ideas, to know how to seek God’s help and intervention in our lives. But that history is inspiring proof of God’s power to intervene.
There is much to celebrate on V-E Day tomorrow. There are many fantastic lessons we can learn from the bravery and sacrifice of the men who fought in that war. And we can be reminded of God’s very real power in this world.
Putting God back into history makes it interesting, uplifting and inspiring. Too often, as Mr. Flurry said, modern history becomes “boring” and uninteresting. “They’ve taken God out, and it’s confusing!” Mr. Flurry said. “And the students are bored.” Put God in, and it comes alive.
A great place to see God’s role in history is in our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy, by Herbert W. Armstrong. It shows you God’s plan in world events. It explains what God has been doing throughout man’s history, and what He will do today. It will show you specific prophecies that were fulfilled during World War ii. This book brings history and the Bible together, and makes them both come alive.