History
Martin Sieff
May 12, 2019
© Photo: Public domain

Victory Day – May 9 – just came and went. As always it was a huge and proud holiday across Russia and in many other former Soviet republics such as Muslim Kazakhstan: But throughout Europe and North America – silence.

Not one American or Briton in 100,000 today realizes or remembers that 90 percent of all Nazi soldiers killed in World War II were killed by the Red Army. Instead, as Tim Kirby noted in these pages, in Latvia today the wearing of SS uniforms is freely permitted by the government while the wearing of Red Army uniforms is heavily fined. Yet 320 million Americans live in heightened danger of needless nuclear war to defend such Nazi-lovers and Holocaust-deniers eager to exploit and pervert the protections of their NATO shield throughout Eastern Europe.

One would never guess from the relentless barrage of sneering and contempt towards Russia today that throughout World War II, Russians and the Soviet Union were vastly more popular in embattled Britain than the United States and the American people were.

Yet opinion polls from the beginning of 1942 through the war showed far more Briton admiring the victories and sacrifices of the Russian people and resenting the prosperity, ease, confidence and – to their eyes – arrogance of the US soldiers flooding into their country.

For the year of war from D-Day to victory, millions of US soldiers fought bravely and well across Continental Europe, but strategically even their greatest victories were no more than a sideshow compared to the titanic struggles in the East.

Ironically, today British historians remain far more balanced than US ones. Such excellent scholarly and popular historians as Richard Overy, Andrew Roberts and Max Hastings freely and repeatedly stress that the colossal struggle on the Eastern Front was the strategic pivot of the entire war and that everything else paled by comparison.

Yet in the United States, even supposedly acclaimed popular historians continue to have myopic vision and childishly reject the most self-evident of facts. Excellent specialist scholars write first class studies, but among popular historians and on television documentaries, the ignorance is embarrassing.

This is shameful and it has the gravest implications for world peace. Communism is long gone and the Russian people under President Vladimir Putin continue to work hard and impressively to rebuild their society. Yet every year, when Victory Day comes round, the leaders, scholars and opinion shapers in the West continue to steadfastly ignore it.

By doing so, they are not only dishonoring the memories of the millions of Red Army soldiers who died in the fight against the Nazis. They are also rejecting an opportunity to ease East/West tensions.

Yet, the Red Army stood virtually alone in the European fight against the Nazis from June 22, 1941 until the Normandy invasion, and the Soviet role in D-Day itself was enormous. The success of D-Day was only made possible by the extraordinary drive of the Red Army from Stalingrad to the Elbe River in the two years following victory at Stalingrad on February 2, 1943.

Only 11 Wehrmacht divisions fought the Allied armies in Normandy, yet at the same time 228 Nazi divisions were fighting the Red Army in the east. Simultaneous with the Battle of Normandy, the Red Army won the far greater victory of Operation Bagration, when Hitler’s last great concentration of armies Army Group Center was annihilated in what is now Belarus.

It was also the Red Army that liberated the greatest and worst of the  Nazi extermination camps, including Auschwitz, Majdanek, Treblinka, and Sobibor. But Western leaders and NATO allies now remain unanimously silent about this crucial fact.

Acknowledging Historical Memory: Why the West Needs to Honor Russia’s Victory Day

Victory Day – May 9 – just came and went. As always it was a huge and proud holiday across Russia and in many other former Soviet republics such as Muslim Kazakhstan: But throughout Europe and North America – silence.

Not one American or Briton in 100,000 today realizes or remembers that 90 percent of all Nazi soldiers killed in World War II were killed by the Red Army. Instead, as Tim Kirby noted in these pages, in Latvia today the wearing of SS uniforms is freely permitted by the government while the wearing of Red Army uniforms is heavily fined. Yet 320 million Americans live in heightened danger of needless nuclear war to defend such Nazi-lovers and Holocaust-deniers eager to exploit and pervert the protections of their NATO shield throughout Eastern Europe.

One would never guess from the relentless barrage of sneering and contempt towards Russia today that throughout World War II, Russians and the Soviet Union were vastly more popular in embattled Britain than the United States and the American people were.

Yet opinion polls from the beginning of 1942 through the war showed far more Briton admiring the victories and sacrifices of the Russian people and resenting the prosperity, ease, confidence and – to their eyes – arrogance of the US soldiers flooding into their country.

For the year of war from D-Day to victory, millions of US soldiers fought bravely and well across Continental Europe, but strategically even their greatest victories were no more than a sideshow compared to the titanic struggles in the East.

Ironically, today British historians remain far more balanced than US ones. Such excellent scholarly and popular historians as Richard Overy, Andrew Roberts and Max Hastings freely and repeatedly stress that the colossal struggle on the Eastern Front was the strategic pivot of the entire war and that everything else paled by comparison.

Yet in the United States, even supposedly acclaimed popular historians continue to have myopic vision and childishly reject the most self-evident of facts. Excellent specialist scholars write first class studies, but among popular historians and on television documentaries, the ignorance is embarrassing.

This is shameful and it has the gravest implications for world peace. Communism is long gone and the Russian people under President Vladimir Putin continue to work hard and impressively to rebuild their society. Yet every year, when Victory Day comes round, the leaders, scholars and opinion shapers in the West continue to steadfastly ignore it.

By doing so, they are not only dishonoring the memories of the millions of Red Army soldiers who died in the fight against the Nazis. They are also rejecting an opportunity to ease East/West tensions.

Yet, the Red Army stood virtually alone in the European fight against the Nazis from June 22, 1941 until the Normandy invasion, and the Soviet role in D-Day itself was enormous. The success of D-Day was only made possible by the extraordinary drive of the Red Army from Stalingrad to the Elbe River in the two years following victory at Stalingrad on February 2, 1943.

Only 11 Wehrmacht divisions fought the Allied armies in Normandy, yet at the same time 228 Nazi divisions were fighting the Red Army in the east. Simultaneous with the Battle of Normandy, the Red Army won the far greater victory of Operation Bagration, when Hitler’s last great concentration of armies Army Group Center was annihilated in what is now Belarus.

It was also the Red Army that liberated the greatest and worst of the  Nazi extermination camps, including Auschwitz, Majdanek, Treblinka, and Sobibor. But Western leaders and NATO allies now remain unanimously silent about this crucial fact.

In 2015, the Polish government shamefully excluded President Putin from the 70th anniversary ceremony in Auschwitz. Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk even once claimed that both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany invaded Ukraine (in fact, the Red Army liberated Kiev) and that Ukrainian forces liberated the death camps on their own. This was a Big Lie worthy of George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth.

These spiteful and petty acts, enthusiastically embraced by American neoliberals and neoconservatives alike, have only served to further embitter Russians against the West.

A truthful and generous acknowledgement of the leading Soviet role in the victory of 1945 would serve as a reminder of how much the United States and the Soviet Union were able to accomplish together in their joint triumph over fascism. It would remind Americans and Russians how vital it is for the two nations to again be partners against terrorism, transnational crime, drug trafficking, sexual slavery, climate change and nuclear proliferation.

To honor the great and solemn anniversary of Victory Day is simply the right thing to do—historically, morally and politically. The Russian people and their allies paid the colossal price in lives and blood that victory in World War II required. To dishonor their memory is disgraceful.

Victory Day – May 9 – just came and went. As always it was a huge and proud holiday across Russia and in many other former Soviet republics such as Muslim Kazakhstan: But throughout Europe and North America – silence.

Not one American or Briton in 100,000 today realizes or remembers that 90 percent of all Nazi soldiers killed in World War II were killed by the Red Army. Instead, as Tim Kirby noted in these pages, in Latvia today the wearing of SS uniforms is freely permitted by the government while the wearing of Red Army uniforms is heavily fined. Yet 320 million Americans live in heightened danger of needless nuclear war to defend such Nazi-lovers and Holocaust-deniers eager to exploit and pervert the protections of their NATO shield throughout Eastern Europe.

One would never guess from the relentless barrage of sneering and contempt towards Russia today that throughout World War II, Russians and the Soviet Union were vastly more popular in embattled Britain than the United States and the American people were.

Yet opinion polls from the beginning of 1942 through the war showed far more Briton admiring the victories and sacrifices of the Russian people and resenting the prosperity, ease, confidence and – to their eyes – arrogance of the US soldiers flooding into their country.

For the year of war from D-Day to victory, millions of US soldiers fought bravely and well across Continental Europe, but strategically even their greatest victories were no more than a sideshow compared to the titanic struggles in the East.

Ironically, today British historians remain far more balanced than US ones. Such excellent scholarly and popular historians as Richard Overy, Andrew Roberts and Max Hastings freely and repeatedly stress that the colossal struggle on the Eastern Front was the strategic pivot of the entire war and that everything else paled by comparison.

Yet in the United States, even supposedly acclaimed popular historians continue to have myopic vision and childishly reject the most self-evident of facts. Excellent specialist scholars write first class studies, but among popular historians and on television documentaries, the ignorance is embarrassing.

This is shameful and it has the gravest implications for world peace. Communism is long gone and the Russian people under President Vladimir Putin continue to work hard and impressively to rebuild their society. Yet every year, when Victory Day comes round, the leaders, scholars and opinion shapers in the West continue to steadfastly ignore it.

By doing so, they are not only dishonoring the memories of the millions of Red Army soldiers who died in the fight against the Nazis. They are also rejecting an opportunity to ease East/West tensions.

Yet, the Red Army stood virtually alone in the European fight against the Nazis from June 22, 1941 until the Normandy invasion, and the Soviet role in D-Day itself was enormous. The success of D-Day was only made possible by the extraordinary drive of the Red Army from Stalingrad to the Elbe River in the two years following victory at Stalingrad on February 2, 1943.

Only 11 Wehrmacht divisions fought the Allied armies in Normandy, yet at the same time 228 Nazi divisions were fighting the Red Army in the east. Simultaneous with the Battle of Normandy, the Red Army won the far greater victory of Operation Bagration, when Hitler’s last great concentration of armies Army Group Center was annihilated in what is now Belarus.

It was also the Red Army that liberated the greatest and worst of the  Nazi extermination camps, including Auschwitz, Majdanek, Treblinka, and Sobibor. But Western leaders and NATO allies now remain unanimously silent about this crucial fact.

In 2015, the Polish government shamefully excluded President Putin from the 70th anniversary ceremony in Auschwitz. Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk even once claimed that both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany invaded Ukraine (in fact, the Red Army liberated Kiev) and that Ukrainian forces liberated the death camps on their own. This was a Big Lie worthy of George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth.

These spiteful and petty acts, enthusiastically embraced by American neoliberals and neoconservatives alike, have only served to further embitter Russians against the West.

A truthful and generous acknowledgement of the leading Soviet role in the victory of 1945 would serve as a reminder of how much the United States and the Soviet Union were able to accomplish together in their joint triumph over fascism. It would remind Americans and Russians how vital it is for the two nations to again be partners against terrorism, transnational crime, drug trafficking, sexual slavery, climate change and nuclear proliferation.

To honor the great and solemn anniversary of Victory Day is simply the right thing to do—historically, morally and politically. The Russian people and their allies paid the colossal price in lives and blood that victory in World War II required. To dishonor their memory is disgraceful.

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

In 2015, the Polish government shamefully excluded President Putin from the 70th anniversary ceremony in Auschwitz. Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk even once claimed that both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany invaded Ukraine (in fact, the Red Army liberated Kiev) and that Ukrainian forces liberated the death camps on their own. This was a Big Lie worthy of George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth.

These spiteful and petty acts, enthusiastically embraced by American neoliberals and neoconservatives alike, have only served to further embitter Russians against the West.

A truthful and generous acknowledgement of the leading Soviet role in the victory of 1945 would serve as a reminder of how much the United States and the Soviet Union were able to accomplish together in their joint triumph over fascism. It would remind Americans and Russians how vital it is for the two nations to again be partners against terrorism, transnational crime, drug trafficking, sexual slavery, climate change and nuclear proliferation.

To honor the great and solemn anniversary of Victory Day is simply the right thing to do—historically, morally and politically. The Russian people and their allies paid the colossal price in lives and blood that victory in World War II required. To dishonor their memory is disgraceful.

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.