EDITORIAL: Unlearned war lessons in 76 years of peace
On May 9, in Moscow, Putin paraded his troops and war equipment to show his muscles. And, in fact, not so much to show his muscles and claws (I don’t think there is anyone that doubts Russia’s military capacity), but to show off in front of the Russians and the whole world the pride of a new Stalin of Russia.
The show was for the “victory in the Great War for the Defense of the Fatherland” – a war that we find nowhere in world historiography and which, in fact, appears only in the Soviet historiography and in the imagination of Kremlin idols. The “Great War for the Defense of the Fatherland” (June 22, 1941-May 9, 1945) is rather a myth. Soviet Russia invented its own war with Germany, which it arbitrarily (not without reason, obviously) separated from the rest of World War II, trying to attribute themselves, for 76 years, the exclusive merit of the victory over fascism – even if with the opening of the archives, after the disappearance of the USSR, this became less and less credible.
What happened there really? Moscow avoids talking about the Second World War and insists, every time on May 9, on its own war of “defense of the Fatherland.” It avoids talking about it because it’s not convenient because the truth about Soviet Russia and its involvement is different from what the Kremlin spokesmen claim in World War II. On August 23, 1939, Germany and the USSR signed the Moscow Non-Aggression Pact and share areas of influence in Europe (Secret Additional Ribbentrop-Molotov Protocol). One week later, on September 1, Germany attacks Poland, and two weeks later the USSR does the same. Hitler and Stalin divided Poland between them. World War II begins, in which the USSR becomes an undeclared ally of Nazi Germany and remains, as such, until June 22, 1941 – a period in which Hitler turns all of Europe into hell, and Russia attacks Finland, occupies the Baltic States, and Bessarabia and collaborates, in full, on the line of war, with fascist Germany. In other words, Moscow becomes Berlin’s accomplice in World War II. But nothing was written about it in the Soviet history textbooks, there were not organized lectures at the history faculties in universities, no scientific conferences, no doctoral theses were written. Things came to light after the declassification of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact in the early 1990s, a pact that was condemned internationally, including by Putin’s Russia, and labeled as a criminal. Moreover, let us not forget that, at the PACE level, Russia was reproached that if it had not signed the pact with Hitler, the war might not have happened.
On June 22, 1941, Germany attacked the USSR without declaring war on it. But this was by no means another war, separate from World War II, a “war for the defense of the Fatherland,” as Moscow puts it. What happened on June 22, 1941, was the continuation of World War II, in which the USSR was (hiddenly) involved, on the German side, since the beginning of the war (September 17, 1939) and which had managed to commit several crimes in occupied territories, including Bessarabia. In conclusion: Moscow has invented its own “war for the defense of the Fatherland”, separate from World War II, in order to be able to victimize and relieve itself of accusations of what was agreed with Berlin regarding the Second World War. And the allegations are growing. The more accessible the state archives in Russia become, the more evidence there is that both Moscow and Berlin were interested in starting a world war. Stalin wanted to communize Europe and expand his spheres of influence, which happened in Central and Eastern Europe in the early years after the war, while Hitler wanted to turn Europe into a colony of the Third Reich. So, there are not so many differences between Hitler and Stalin. It’s just that post-Hitler Germany is no longer a threat, but a factor of stability for Europe, while post-Stalin Russia threatens the former Soviet space.
On July 11, we have early parliamentary elections. Everyone is talking about change. Both those who have been in Parliament for years and haven’t changed anything, and those who have been in politics just for several months. The expectations from these elections are enormously high. What are the stakes? On Sunday, May 9, while Vladimir Putin, in Moscow, admired his troops on the Red Square, Igor Dodon (one of Putin’s lead soldiers) marched his electoral troops in Chișinău, under the same slogans, with the same props (Soviet flags, military robes, improvised vintage weapons) and on the same occasion: “the victory of the Soviet army in the Great War for the Defense of the Fatherland”. Whose fatherland? Neither Russia, nor pre-Soviet, Soviet, or post-Soviet was the fatherland of Bessarabia and the Bessarabians.
For those involved in the march, Sunday’s procession was a euphoric experience of a distorted and highly speculated historical event, and for Dodon and the Socialists – a review of a possible electorate, manipulated and politically prepared from the summer parliamentary elections. According to the data announced by the organizers, about 10,000 people would have participated in the march. I wonder: how many of them know that the war killed about 100 million people and only a fifth were Soviets. Or that more than 60 states were involved in the war and they celebrate victory in World War II while Russia claims that victory belongs to it and that the war was for the defense of the Fatherland.
Almost 30 years have passed since the fall of the USSR. Borders have been opened, archives have been opened, access to information has become much freer, how long can we remain trapped in outdated theories? Especially regarding History.