The commemoration of D-Day never fails to rankle the Russians. They like to downplay the Normandy invasion and emphasize the sacrifice made by the Soviet Union. Someone should remind them that westerners do not trivialize their commemoration of Stalingrad.
The Great Patriotic War, as it was known in the former Soviet Union and still is by the citizens of today’s Russia – has been used by both the Communist and current leaders of Russia as a means to stoke nationalistic fervor. It is this fervor that has been behind their desire to expand power and influence throughout the world. Russian separatists and their sympathizers in Ukraine routinely parade images of Joseph Stalin and justify their actions as a continuation of the war against fascism.
Russian losses in World War 2 were estimated at 20,000,000 – as large a sacrifice as any nation ever made. One should note the casualty figure includes at least 3,000,000 Ukrainians, Georgians, Armenians and those from other republics that were under Soviet subjection.
The victims should be honored and respected, but the past and present governments and leaders of Russia, along with the nationalists who use the war to wave the bloody shirt, do not deserve any recognition. Vladimir Putin strutted around like a peacock at the very solemn gathering in France last week marking the 70th anniversary of the riskiest military venture ever attempted in modern times.
Perhaps Putin should be reminded that Stalin’s Non Aggression Pact with Germany gave the green light for Hitler to invade Poland and start the war. The agreement also partitioned Poland. Stalin invaded days after German forces attacked to secure his share of the spoils. The Soviet occupation of Poland was as brutal as Germany’s. Besides atrocities committed against the civilian population, the Russian government authorized the execution of 4,300 Polish officers held as prisoners.
In 1944, the Red Army did noting to provide relief to the valiant Polish resistance who rose up against the Nazi occupiers of Warsaw. There was more than ample time to intervene, instead the Russians sat outside the Polish capital with a massive force and provided little assistance despite pleas from Churchill and Roosevelt. There was so much disgust with Stalin that Churchill’s cabinet considered stopping the danger-ridden Arctic convoys that ferried 4 million tons of military aid to Russia.
Stalin repeatedly criticized the western allies for taking so long to open a second front in Europe. However, the Anglo-American forces were involved in the war against Imperial Japan, one in which Russia sat out until just days before the Emperor surrendered. Stalin’s sole motivation in those last day of the Pacific War was to gobble up as much land as possible in Asia.
The Americans, British and their Commonwealth allies were also heavily engaged in North Africa and later Italy. Their Navies were simultaneously fighting Germany’s deadly U-Boat threat to life-sustaining convoys crossing the Atlantic to England.
Stalin and his regime perverted the victory over Hitler by enslaving half of Europe. Stalin also installed Kim Il-Sung as his puppet in North Korea…and you know how that played out.
With Putin, it is all about Russia. He, his cronies and the 80% of Russian citizens who support them want to create a power the Czars and Stalin would be proud of.
The Great Patriotic War is their marketing tool.