No matter what inscrutable socio-biological function they may serve, all anniversaries are constructs. This is a point worth recalling as we celebrate for the 70th time the end of World War II. The death and destruction raging in the major theaters of war came to an end that year in Europe and the Pacific, and, for that reason alone, 1945 clearly marked an important caesura in myriad ways for millions of people. But if there is one thing that the innovative historiography of the past half century has taught us, it is that war and high politics are not the sole benchmark for large segments of humanity when it comes to their perceptions and experiences.

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Andrew I. Port is an AICGS Non-Resident Fellow, Editor of the journal Central European History, and a professor at Wayne State University.