75 years after the Nazis surrendered, all sides agree: War is hell

As veterans and survivors of World World II mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, they speak with one voice about the suffering they experienced—and inflicted.

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These women helped win WWII. What's their advice for us today?

In their own words...

‘We wandered around a bit, and then we saw the ovens. And we realized where that smell was coming from.’

America’s oldest living WWII veteran faced hostility abroad—and at home

‘I wanted to do something more for the war effort than bake sausage rolls.’

‘If you feel nothing, you’re not human. And in the end we’re all human.’

‘The poor guys who had to be up on the deck in the North Atlantic, they were mighty cold.’

‘We did not bury dead bodies in the winter in Stalingrad. Corpses were piled up. There was no place to bury them.’

‘They transferred us to a prison in Dresden and told us we were to be shot the next morning.’

‘I just want them to be remembered as good citizens’ who helped protect their country ‘even in the face of discrimination.’

‘You were an old man if you were still there at 23. If we let it bother us, it would destroy us. You just had to go on.’

‘I have had, in my life, whole squadrons of guardian angels looking after me. There’s no other way.’

‘We were in striped pajamas, lice infested. But we were polite, spoke the truth, and discussed what the world should be like.’

‘They discriminated against us, cursed at us, just because we were refugees … I was nine—the war wasn’t my fault.’

‘I am 80 years old, and I still cry.’

Mallie hadn't heard of Rosie the Riveter—the term used to describe women who worked in defense plants—until five years ago.

‘I looked at my mom—it still hurts to this day. She had these big tears running down her face like streams, and I felt in my soul this was the last time I’d see her.’

‘I suppose they figured if I could understand economic theory, I could crack code.’

‘That was the beginning of our missions. We’d go door to door to look for orphaned children.’

‘All those burning cities made me a pacifist. And I’ve only become more of one as the years have gone by.’

‘I felt scared because I lost my emotions for a time.’

‘We were rushing at them screaming; they were laughing and waving their hats. My friends were falling down all around me.’

‘The nets were swaying from side to side. If you missed your jump, you were into the sea and gone.’

‘We wandered around a bit, and then we saw the ovens. And we realized where that smell was coming from.’

America’s oldest living WWII veteran faced hostility abroad—and at home

‘I wanted to do something more for the war effort than bake sausage rolls.’

‘If you feel nothing, you’re not human. And in the end we’re all human.’

‘The poor guys who had to be up on the deck in the North Atlantic, they were mighty cold.’

‘We did not bury dead bodies in the winter in Stalingrad. Corpses were piled up. There was no place to bury them.’

‘They transferred us to a prison in Dresden and told us we were to be shot the next morning.’

‘I just want them to be remembered as good citizens’ who helped protect their country ‘even in the face of discrimination.’

‘You were an old man if you were still there at 23. If we let it bother us, it would destroy us. You just had to go on.’

‘I have had, in my life, whole squadrons of guardian angels looking after me. There’s no other way.’

‘We were in striped pajamas, lice infested. But we were polite, spoke the truth, and discussed what the world should be like.’

‘They discriminated against us, cursed at us, just because we were refugees … I was nine—the war wasn’t my fault.’

‘I am 80 years old, and I still cry.’

Mallie hadn't heard of Rosie the Riveter—the term used to describe women who worked in defense plants—until five years ago.

‘I looked at my mom—it still hurts to this day. She had these big tears running down her face like streams, and I felt in my soul this was the last time I’d see her.’

‘I suppose they figured if I could understand economic theory, I could crack code.’

‘That was the beginning of our missions. We’d go door to door to look for orphaned children.’

‘All those burning cities made me a pacifist. And I’ve only become more of one as the years have gone by.’

‘I felt scared because I lost my emotions for a time.’

‘We were rushing at them screaming; they were laughing and waving their hats. My friends were falling down all around me.’

‘The nets were swaying from side to side. If you missed your jump, you were into the sea and gone.’

‘We wandered around a bit, and then we saw the ovens. And we realized where that smell was coming from.’

America’s oldest living WWII veteran faced hostility abroad—and at home

‘I wanted to do something more for the war effort than bake sausage rolls.’

‘If you feel nothing, you’re not human. And in the end we’re all human.’

‘The poor guys who had to be up on the deck in the North Atlantic, they were mighty cold.’

‘We did not bury dead bodies in the winter in Stalingrad. Corpses were piled up. There was no place to bury them.’

‘They transferred us to a prison in Dresden and told us we were to be shot the next morning.’

‘I just want them to be remembered as good citizens’ who helped protect their country ‘even in the face of discrimination.’

‘You were an old man if you were still there at 23. If we let it bother us, it would destroy us. You just had to go on.’

‘I have had, in my life, whole squadrons of guardian angels looking after me. There’s no other way.’

‘We were in striped pajamas, lice infested. But we were polite, spoke the truth, and discussed what the world should be like.’

‘They discriminated against us, cursed at us, just because we were refugees … I was nine—the war wasn’t my fault.’

‘I am 80 years old, and I still cry.’

Mallie hadn't heard of Rosie the Riveter—the term used to describe women who worked in defense plants—until five years ago.

‘I looked at my mom—it still hurts to this day. She had these big tears running down her face like streams, and I felt in my soul this was the last time I’d see her.’

‘I suppose they figured if I could understand economic theory, I could crack code.’

‘That was the beginning of our missions. We’d go door to door to look for orphaned children.’

‘All those burning cities made me a pacifist. And I’ve only become more of one as the years have gone by.’

‘I felt scared because I lost my emotions for a time.’

‘We were rushing at them screaming; they were laughing and waving their hats. My friends were falling down all around me.’

‘The nets were swaying from side to side. If you missed your jump, you were into the sea and gone.’

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