V-E Day, 1945, was the occasion for the greatest outburst of joy in human history. Indeed, except for the Japanese and a few fanatic Nazis, everyone in the world was overjoyed. The end of the war was the single best thing that could happen to every person alive in 1945.
Yet this great occasion brought on recrimination, division, and bitterness among the governments and people of the Western Alliance. The reason for this development was the failure of the Anglo-American armies to take Berlin. Many people at the time, from Prime Minister Winston Churchill on down, and including General Bernard Montgomery and General George Patton, urged Allied Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower to make an all-out effort to take the German capital before the Red Army got there, but he refused.
As time passed, the issue grew rather than receded in importance and divisiveness, because in the first two decades of the Cold War Berlin was the centerpiece in the struggle between East and West. Senator Joe McCarthy and his friends charged that President Franklin Roosevelt had committed treason at Yalta in early 1945 when he gave Berlin and central Europe to the Soviet Union. Less partisan critics charged that Eisenhower had been naive. Most everyone agreed that at a minimum a great mistake had been made.
To say that Eisenhower made a mistake implies that he could have gotten Anglo-American troops into the city before the Red Army got there, and that