Sunday, March 05, 2023

Stalin's Death at 70: Some Mind-Boggling Revelations About Stalin, World War II, and a Century of Russian History

As the 70th anniversary of Stalin's death is commemorated (celebrated?), it is far from inappropriate to tackle a growing narrative, the fact that in the past few years, we hear more and more the simplistic phrase that Russia was the true victor of the Second World War.

And more than that: In Europe, this has become especially egregious, not least in France, where it has become routine to hear that "Russia defeated Hitler" and even — with anti-Americanism never lurking far from the surface — that "the Soviets bled and died for us" and "the Red Army (were the ones who truly) liberated Europe" from Nazism. (Notice how they never — should I replace that with "they no longer"? — say that "Stalin liberated Europe" — probably because that sounds too ridiculous.)

So it's far from inappropriate not only to recollect not only how the Soviets "won", or helped to win World War II, but how they behaved after the Germans surrendered, i.e., during "peacetime."

In Quelques remarques sur la russolâtrie (A Few Remarks on Russia-Idolatry), Evelyne Joslain takes on "the chorus of new useful idiots"

Because the French are in despair due to the malfeasance of our political class and the lack of a credible saving successor, some are taking the easy way out, that is to say, aiming for utopia. Thus, we happily swallow the myths built by Putin in the tradition of his late USSR and with all the humor of his late KGB.

All these myths are perfect inversions of factual reality, starting with this example of historical revisionism: « It was the Russians who defeated Hitler and who died en masse for us French people. »  

  … Communism, Nazism, and now Islamism and Eurasianism… Evils and perils always come from the East!

Max Hastings:

Although the leaders of the western states quickly understood the threat posed by the new Soviet Empire to freedom and democracy, many of their citizens did not. Between 1941 and 1945 so much praise had been heaped upon Uncle Joe, the defenders of Stalingrad, heroic factory workers of the Volga and suchlike, that thereafter it proved a hard task to disabuse many people of their illusions about Mother Russia.

… the supply of useful idiots — western apologists for the Soviet Union — seemed limitless

We have already seen how, contrary to common belief, The Imperial Japanese Army was every bit as evil as the Nazi SS, and more lethal. Let us see about the Soviets… (Спасибо Gail Heriot за the Insta-link.)

After a brief introduction underneath the photo below, the following post is divided into the following seven chapters:

1) How Did World War II Start Anyway,
and by Whom Was It Started?

2) Paranoia? The Red Scare? Witch Hunts?

3) The Red Army's Huge Losses

4) Was Soviet Victory Possible Without Yankee Can-Do?

5) The Red Army Under World War II and
the Treatment of Veterans in the Aftermath

6) 3 Mind-Boggling Revelations
About a Century of Russian History

7) Conclusion

"You celebrated the liberation in 1945" said one Estonian to a West European. "But for us, the liberation was the beginning of an occupation of 45 years."

Indeed, Tallinn's museum on the 20th century is called the Museum of OccupationS and Freedom (in the plural). Likewise, the Museum of the Occupation in Riga (see its History of KGB Operations in Latvia exhibit) speaks not of the occupation in the singular, but of three occupations, from 1940 to 1991: first that of Russia (the Soviet Union), then Germany's (the Third Reich's), and then again Russia's (the USSR's).

First, the occupation by the Vozhd, then by der Führer, then by the Vozhd again. 

"We survived the Germans" said a Polish woman after leaving Auschwitz; "But we won't be escaping the Russians" (The Nazis and the Final Solution, RMC Découverte). Antony Beevor:

The Poles had no illusions in either direction, trapped as they were [in Warsaw in 1944] between the two pitiless totalitarian systems which fed off each other.  [One] Home Army poet wrote:

'We await you red plague / to deliver us from the black death.'

In 2019, National Review published a journalist’s recollection of the Fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years earlier. A couple of years after the wall came down, John Fund

visited [Peter Janz, who was the energetic first secretary of the East German Embassy in Washington during the 1980s, and] asked him when he first realized that he was working for a regime that didn’t serve its people and was built on untruths.

He explained that as the son of Communist Party insiders, he had gone to high school in Moscow and been trained for a career as a top government official. But a school vacation trip he and four fellow East German classmates earned to the Baltic States changed his perspective.

He explained that he and his friends had been taught that Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania had all been liberated by Stalin from Nazi rule during World War II. They were now proud, loyal republics of the Soviet Union. But when he and his friends spoke Russian on the streets, they were met with hostile glares and suspicion by the local population. When they switched to German, they were approached by curious passersby and greeted warmly. “I suddenly realized my world was upside down. Nazis had indeed brutalized the Baltic States, but the Soviets had been at least as bad and stayed far longer”

Indeed, a few years back, a Lithuanian testified that his father had said if he had the choice, he would rather live under 10 years of Nazi occupation than under one single year of communist occupation.

Today, when people extol the Soviet soldiers dying for our freedom, I invariably reply by saying that I would love to take a vacation with them. Oh? What? Why? Yes, we could travel together through the countries of Eastern Europe, and every time you feel like saying the Red Army liberated the continent, I will put my hand over your mouth so you don't end up in an insane asylum.


This brings up a critical issue of foremost importance: that the German invasion, the Wehrmacht's juggernaut, and the Nazi whole or partial occupation of countries throughout Europe, whether the Balts or the Scandinavians or Holland or France (not to mention eventually the… Soviet Union itself), could only have occurred and only did in fact come about because of one thing and one thing only: the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Which also unleashed Stalin's Red Army, and at roughly the same time.

At The Daily Chrenk,

the signing in Moscow of the infamous Ribbentrop-Molotov non-aggression pact between … Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union and the accompanying secret protocols on cooperation in dividing between them “the bloodlands” in the middle.  Not surprisingly, the state legatee of one of the original signatories is getting quite defensive about it

 … The [Kremlin's] message is loud and clear: don’t single out Russia (or the Soviet Union) because you all cosied up to Hitler just as bad.

There are, however, a few reasons why the Ribbentrop-Molotov (or the Molotov-Ribbentrop, as Russians seem to prefer it) pact stands out:

1. While the shameful Western appeasement of Hitler, culminating in the infamy of Munich, allowed the Reich to bloodlessly dismember the sovereign and democratic Czechoslovakia, neither Great Britain nor France participated in or benefited from Germany’s cannibalism of this “faraway country of which we know little”. The difference is that while the West remains ashamed of Munich (a name which quickly become synonymous with a craven sell-out), a few years back, Russia’s culture minister Vladimir Medinsky called the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact “a great achievement of Soviet diplomacy”.

2. Unlike all the other agreements signed with Germany during the 1930s, it was the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact that green-lit the armed German aggression and led to the outbreak of the deadliest war in human history. It’s difficult to blame Germany’s neighbours or countries threatened by the Soviet Union (like Poland, Romania and the Baltic states) for trying to stay on Germany’s good side. It was naive and in any case it didn’t work in the end, as they all later found out to their detriment and downfall. [The] Soviet Union, on the other hand, not only climbed into bed with Nazi Germany but it fully and enthusiastically consummated this marriage of convenience.

3. Unlike other agreements cited above, thanks to the “secret protocols” attached to the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact, the Soviet Union was both a co-aggressor in and a co-beneficiary of the start of World War Two. Stalin has relatively bloodlessly acquired the by-then (mid-September) almost defenseless eastern Poland (subsequently incorporated into Belarussian and Ukrainian Soviet Republics; these historically Polish areas remain today parts of Belarus and Ukraine), Bessarabia from Romania (incorporated into the Moldovan Soviet Republic), the Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as being given a free hand in the invasion of Finland, a country which otherwise might have counted on German friendship and support. All these aggressive territorial gains were the consequence of the Ribbentrop-Molotov division of Eastern Europe between the Reich and the Soviet Union into the respective spheres of interest, soon confirmed as the “facts on the ground” by Wehrmacht and Red Army.

4. While Britain and France, their empires and their allies, fought Germany for almost two years after September 1939, first through the period of the “phony war”, then through the Blitzkrieg in the West and the Battle of Britain, the Soviet Union remained a de facto Nazi ally, continuing to cooperate in security matters and supplying Germany with food and raw materials. Grain trains were still rolling west across the border with the Reich as Wehrmacht was launching Operation Barbarossa in the morning of 22 June 1941. During the period of Nazi-Soviet cooperation, Germany conquered Poland, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Yugoslavia and Greece.  Soviet exports helped to feed and build up the German war machine before it was unleashed against the West in 1940; German troops surging into the Low Countries walked on their stomachs (to borrow from Napoleon) full of bread baked from Russian wheat or were carried on the tanks and trucks made with Russian coal and ores. Never forget that for Russia, World War Two – or the Great Patriotic War as it is called there – begins only in June 1941, not September 1939, as it does it all Western history books. [See Jeff Jacoby's argument below for arguing that WWII did not actually start in September (September 1, but in August (on August 23).]

5. It’s true that the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact was partly defensive in nature as far as the Soviet Union was concerned, aiming to postpone the inevitable armed clash between the two rival totalitarianisms and in the meantime give Russia some essential breathing space to build up its army and strategic reserves (the top leadership of the Soviet armed forces was decapitated by Stalin during the purges in 1937-8, leaving them even more unprepared to face Germany than would have otherwise been the case). But as I pointed out above, it was also offensive and directly benefited Stalin’s territorial ambitions while it lasted. In some ways, the legacy of the pact lives on in the shape of Poland’s post-war borders, which have nothing to do with its thousand-year history. This is the real #TruthAboutWWII and this is why the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact remains singled out in the infamy of the interwar European democracy.

As mentioned, Jeff Jacoby is just as, if not even more, explicit: World War II may not actually have started on September 1, 1939, as is traditionally written, but nine days earlier. And the rapprochement of Nazis and communists is not surprising when it is remembered, as Jeff Jacoby writes, that

for the first two years of World War II, Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia were allies. They secretly planned and jointly began the war that inflicted such horror and destruction. Later, of course, Hitler double-crossed Stalin and ordered the Wehrmacht to invade the Soviet Union in June 1941. But before that turning point, the two totalitarian powers cooperated closely. 

…  From 1939 through mid-1941, Soviet Russia collaborated with the Nazis in wreaking slaughter and savagery on the nations of Europe.

 … There is no denying that a vast number of Soviet citizens lost their lives in World War II. Without the Russian people’s appalling suffering and sacrifice, the Allies might not have triumphed in the end.

But there is also no denying that Moscow was Nazi Germany’s partner in unleashing the war, the deadliest in human history, in the first place. Victory Day is a good opportunity to review the record of Russian culpability in plunging the world into war — a record the Kremlin’s propagandists have been trying to obscure for decades.

World War II is commonly said to have started on Sept. 1, 1939 , when German forces invaded Poland. But it would perhaps be more accurate to date the start of the war nine days earlier. On Aug. 23, 1939, German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov signed a treaty of non-aggression, whereby their governments agreed to conquer and divide Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe. It was under the terms of this pact that the Nazi Wehrmacht moved into western Poland on Sept. 1 and Josef Stalin’s Red Army invaded Poland from the east 16 days later

 … In the months that followed the Nazi-Soviet takeover of Poland, as Hitler’s troops conquered Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Holland, and France and bombed much of London into rubble, Stalin’s forces continued their illegal war of aggression and conquest [the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), the formerly Romanian territories of Bessarabia and northern Bukovina, and Finland]

Lest anyone would like to reiterate the myth that the Nazi-Soviet pact was borne of necessity, to give the USSR breathing space, FEE's Benjamin Williams writes that 

Stalin’s first gift after the pact was awarding Germany around 600 German Communists, most of whom were Jews. He had them extradited to the Gestapo in Brest-Litovsk, a symbolic location steeped in historical implications. 

 … Margarete Buber-Neumann, a former communist turned staunch anti-communist, was one such individual transferred from Soviet imprisonment to the hands of the Gestapo in 1940. Surviving the brutal conditions of both a Soviet prison and a Nazi concentration camp, Buber-Neumann later penned the memoir "Under Two Dictators," detailing the harsh realities of life under the totalitarian regimes of Stalin and Hitler.

 … We should resist the call to ignore the sobering reality of the Soviet Union's complicity. One cannot forget that the initial alliance forged between Stalin and Hitler was rooted not in necessity but sprouted from the soil of Stalin's socialist ideology.

As it happens, "history has long held that Stalin spent the two intervening years building up his defenses against a Nazi attack." It seems much more logical that "Soviet warplanning reflected its expansionist orientation" and that Koba was simply preparing his own attacks on the USSR's own neighbors. Indeed, in his book about Soviet Grand Strategy, 1939-1941, Albert L Weeks goes even further:  

With the gradual declassifying of former Soviet documents, though, historians are learning more and more about Stalin's grand plan during the years 1939-1941. Longtime Soviet expert Albert L. Weeks has studied the newly-released information and come to a different conclusion about the Soviet Union's pre-war buildup_it was not precaution against German invasion at all. In fact, Weeks argues, the evidence now suggests Soviet mobilization was aimed at an eventual invasion of Nazi Germany. The Soviets were quietly biding their time between 1939 and 1941, allowing the capitalist powers to destroy one another, all the while preparing for their own Westward march. Stalin, Weeks shows, wasn't waiting for a Nazi attack—Hitler simply beat him to the punch.

In Modern Times (The World From the Twenties to the Nineties), Paul Johnson concludes that

There was scarcely a crime the Nazis or the knights of Bushido had committed, or even imagined, which the Soviet regime hand not also perpetrated, usually on an even larger scale.  It ran precisely the type of system which had produced the war and its horrors.  More specifically, the Nazi-Soviet Pact of September 1939 and the Japanese-Soviet Pact of April 1941 had made the Axis aggressions possible.


Shouldn't "McCarthyism" be a term which should be abolished? (Just like all the other words made up by leftists — racism, sexism, misogyny, transphobia, etc, etc, etc, should be declared non grata, certainly by conservatives.) No matter what sins and private demons the Wisconsin senator might have (or might not have) been obsessed about, let us ask a question: who was the head of the Soviet Union when the Grand Chute native entered the Senate and during most of his career?

Joseph Stalin. 

Wasn't Tail-Gunner Joe right to be wary of the Red Tyrant?

Was it, is it, truly a good description of someone who is wary about communists, local or foreign, as being "paranoid"?

Was it a scare, a "Red Scare," to be wary of people, domestically and internationally (Westerners outright on Moscow's payroll — whether overtly communist or not — or useful idiots), who praised the great Guide (the Vozhd) of the Peoples, indeed participated in what Gail Heriot calls a cult of Stalin?

When accused of being a traitor whose testimony before Congress encouraged HUAC's "witch hunt", Elia Kazan made the movie On the Waterfront and said later, Witches do not exist, but Stalin's spies certainly did so. David Horowitz:

there is no secret anymore that virtually all the victims of the blacklist were also defenders of a monster regime that was America's sworn enemy

It's amazing how people still smirk about American "paranoia" and "Red Scares" and "witch hunts", although the USSR's crimes have been known for a long time.

As Monty Python or the Protest Warriors would say, tongue firmly in cheek, 

Communism Has Only Killed 100 Million People…
Let's give it another chance!

The West's useful idiots, its Drama Queens, and the Russians themselves have forgotten that the Stalinist USSR in 1939 was "a totalitarian state characterized by repression, deportation, and massive executions" (…If they ever knew it… ) with an apparatus including psychopaths such as Lavrentiy Beria and Vasily Blokhin, the Red Tyrant's chief executioner of the NKVD.

We need not spend time on the Soviet atrocities of Stalin's time or any earlier or later period, but here are quickly a few: How can you say (indeed snicker) that the communists were harmless when the KGB or its predecessors were responsible for the Holodomor (Ukrainian: Голодомо́р — Guillaume Ribot : "In 1933 Ukraine, 4,5 million people are killed in silence and alone by the weapon of hunger"); the building of the White Sea-Baltic Canal; Stalin's purges, including of the Soviet Military; Order 00447, the code of terror; the photos that Stalin hid or doctored; the Novocherkassk killings of 1962; and, of course, the gulag.

As David Satter wrote in the Wall Street Journal at the time of the centennial of the Bolshevik Revolution:

 … the stage for decades of murder on an industrial scale [led in total to] no fewer than 20 million Soviet citizens were put to death by the regime or died as a direct result of its repressive policies. This does not include the millions who died in the wars, epidemics and famines that were predictable consequences of Bolshevik policies, if not directly caused by them.

To this list should be added nearly a million Gulag prisoners released during World War II into Red Army penal battalions, where they faced almost certain death; the partisans and civilians killed in the postwar revolts against Soviet rule in Ukraine and the Baltics; and dying Gulag inmates freed so that their deaths would not count in official statistics.

… The effect of murder on this scale was to create a “new man” supposedly influenced by nothing but the good of the Soviet cause. The meaning of this was demonstrated during the battle of Stalingrad, when Red Army blocking units shot thousands of their fellow soldiers who tried to flee. Soviet forces also shot civilians who sought shelter on the German side, children who filled German water bottles in the Volga, and civilians forced at gunpoint to recover the bodies of German soldiers. Gen. Vasily Chuikov, the army commander in Stalingrad, justified these tactics in his memoirs by saying “a Soviet citizen cannot conceive of his life apart from his Soviet country.” 

Notice that (rightly) nobody snickers, rolls their eyes, or lets out deep sighs about American "paranoia" regarding Nazis or the Brown scare or the witch hunt by (yes) HUAC — which was founded in 1938, before World War II (this is something you probably did not learn in school) — and whose targets were originally not just communists but… Nazis, at a time when the two dictatorships were soon to become allies (!), allied (as seen above) by the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

Regarding Stalin and his informers:

Stalin set about building a new universe, in which every old loyalty to kin, friends, colleagues was extinguished and replaced by one fealty alone - to "The People", of whose interests he was sole arbiter.

… The victims often had no clue what "crime" they had committed.

They were merely shipped to the Gulag, where they slaved until hunger, disease or execution ended their sufferings.

In 1942, the death rate in Russia's camps reached 25 per cent - in that one year, a quarter of the vast prison population died.

 … This is the society which historian Orlando Figes chronicles in terrifying detail in his new book, The Whisperers. 

 … Yet the war brought scant relief to the inmates of the Gulag.

While some ordinary criminals, mere thieves and cutthroats, were released to fight, political prisoners remained enslaved.

When the war ended, the Gulag population actually expanded.

A million new prisoners were admitted between 1945 and 1950.

As for the Soviet Union's policies and tactics during World War II compared to those of Germany's, try reading Timothy Snyder's Bloodlands.  The statistics of the Soviet hecatomb and of the Kremlin's repressions have been published in the French monthly Géo, as has the article Five episodes of the Second World War II That Still Feed Tensions with Russia, such as the Katyn massacre.


It is common to mention the Russian Army's huge losses in winning the war after Operation Barbarossa was launched and thus the Soviet Union's "great sacrifice", especially at Stalingrad, in attaining victory.

And yet: this is one of the rare times that I disagree with Instapundit's Stephen Green over at PJMedia:

the Soviet Union did most of the bleeding and dying destroying Nazi Germany. Their losses were so staggering that to this day nobody know exactly how many died fighting the Great Patriotic War. Hell, not even Moscow is certain how many divisions the country raised during the war -- some estimates go as high as 600 or more.

You want perspective? The U.S. didn't raise even 100 divisions, from a population base comparable to the U.S.S.R.'s. American combat and combat-related deaths totaled 407,300, with a further 12,000 or so civilians killed. The Soviets lost between 9 and 12 million soldiers, with 8 million civilians lost to "military activity and crimes against humanity," plus a further 5-10 million dead due to war-related famine and disease.

Those losses are beyond staggering. Somewhere between 23 million and 30 million Soviets lost their lives between June 22, 1941 and May 7, 1945. That's roughly 18,000 people per day.

After 17 years of hard fighting against Islamic terrorism, our total losses don't even approach the Soviet's daily average.

In fact, the three nations with the most soldier deaths — not to mention the most civilian deaths — were communist Russia along with (wait for it)… Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

Does that tell us all those nations were the most patriotic and should be praised to the heavens?  Or — simply — that those nations were all of 'em dictatorships? Dictatorships who have little need of valuing the lives of their soldiery/citizenry and have little compunction of sacrificing them on the battlefield.

Indeed, Stephen Green himself adds that

This is not to excuse Communism, Joseph Stalin, or the Red Army's notorious war crimes -- including the officially winked-at rape of some two million German women in the war's last months.

As it happens, Stephen's Vodkapundit has penned a lengthy post against leftists trying to replace the Yanks as the good guys of the war with the Soviet communists.

With regards to dictatorships, the greatest aces during World War II were Germany's pilots, not those of the allies (40 enemy planes shot down by America's top ace compared with close to 300 shot down by Germany's!). Why? Because while the democracy's pilots were rotated and transferred back to their offices, the German pilots flew until their deaths.

So,  to a certain extent, it can be said that — at least in military matters —  dictatorship has certain upsides.

In a must-read article about whether Russians worship war and death ("Geography is not just physical but spiritual, so any place where Russians fought a heroic battle—in Belarus, in Crimea, in Kiev—belongs to Russia …/… Russia as the savior, the suffering hero, the eternally betrayed victim"), Commentary's puts it this way:

The Soviet government had already grown used to squandering millions of lives in class warfare, industrialization, the collectivization of agriculture, slave labor, and the frozen camps of Siberia, and it could hardly have been more profligate with human life during the war. There is no doubt that much loss of life was self-inflicted. Even in besieged and starving Leningrad, the secret police continued their relentless arrests. Soldiers were treated as an infinite, essentially inanimate resource, so mine fields were cleared by having soldiers walk over them. To prevent men from retreating, “blocking detachments” of machine gunners were placed behind them. … Some soldiers received adequate food only in 1945 from captured German food stocks. Officers stole soldiers’ food and treated their underlings with shocking brutality. Soldiers recalled fearing their own superiors more than the Germans.
As Antony Beevor says about The Soviet Role in World War II about "heartless sacrifices" and the "blood debt to the Red Army": regarding the "staggering disregard for human life on the part of Stalin",

One can never expect the army of a liberal democracy to fight as ruthlessly as that of a dictatorship

It was not always propaganda (whether for external or internal use); it was also fear of punishment. In his monumental The Second World War (almost 1,000 pages), Antony Beevor mentions that

The Stakhanovite mentality was deeply ingrained in the Red Army, and officers felt compelled to inflate and even invent accounts, as a junior officer explained.

"A report had to be sent in every morning and evening on the losses inflicted on the enemy and on the heroism of the men in the regiment.  I had to carry these reports because I had been appointed liaison officer  since our battery had no guns left …  One morning just out of curiosity I read a paper marked 'SECRET' sent by the regimental commander. It said that troops of the regiment had repulsed the enemy's attack and damaged two tanks, suppressed the fire of four batteries, and killed a dozen of Hitler's soldiers and officers with artillery, rifle, and machine-gun fire.  And yet I knew perfectly well that the Germans had been sitting peacefully all day in their trenches and that our 75 mm guns did not fire a single shell.  I cannot really say that this report surprised me.  By that time we were already used to  following the example of the Sovinform Bureau [an official news agency]." 

Furthermore, adds Beevor, a large number of deaths were Gulag prisoners

On 28 July [1942], Stalin issued his Order No. 227 entitled 'Ni shagu nazad ' — 'Not one step back' — … The retreat mentality must be decisively eliminated.  …

 … Blocking groups were to be set up in each army to gun down those who retreated.  Punishment battalions were strengthened that month with 30,000 Gulag prisoners up to the age of forty, however weak and under-nourished.  In that year [1942], 352,560 prisoners of the Gulag, a quarter of its whole population, died.

So: how many of the USSR's wartime deaths were due to Soviet troops ordered to gun down fellow comrades trying (probably for good reason, most of the time) to retreat?

As for executions, an incredible 300.000 Soviet soldiers seem to have been executed by their countrymen, a number — another number — that never seems to be added to that of the USSR's "sacrifices."

Many Red Army troops who weren't executed were again persecuted, but this time by their liberators and countrymen, convinced that all Soviet prisoners were potential traitors. “I was always hungry” remembered one who was released from prison in 1953 at the death of Stalin.

Responding to a Quora question, a former infantry marine replies that Churchill and Stalin both discussed which army was superior, the British Army or the Red Army?

Churchill, somewhat appalled at the enormous blood sacrifice being made by the Red Army suggested that the troops would be of a higher quality of they received more than two weeks training. I believe British soldiers were receiving 12–20 weeks of training before shipping out. For comparison the US Army was 12–13 weeks.

Stalin replies to Churchill with the infamous line, “quantity has its own quality”, meaning of course that he was going to continue to pour untrained conscripted recruits into battle at huge cost because they kept on winning and he had many more.

 … in the final months of the war, the Germans were killing as many Russians EVERY month as the British lost in the entire five+ years of the war.
Needless to say, tony Winkler feels it necessary to add that he 
mentioned the war losses not to belittle the Russian forces but rather to point out their great sacrifice



As they stand in awe of the rapid advances of the Red Army, a number of people and Drama Queens are fond of declaring, hardly wrongly, that the Allies would never have won without the Soviets. (Hardly wrong, but to those who nonetheless want to voice their gratitude to comrade Stalin's USSR, don't forget this post's initial point, that there would have been no war to speak of in the first place, had not the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (les coulisses de l'accord secret entre Hitler et Staline) been signed.

In any case, what people rarely mention is one simple truth:
that the Soviets would not have won without the Americans;
they would have lost.

Indeed, in The Second World War, Antony Beevor points out that

Roosevelt's decision to aid the Soviet Union was genuinely altruistic as well as munificent. Soviet Lend-Lease took time to get under way, much to the president's exasperation, but in scale and scope would play a major part in the eventual Soviet victory (a fact which most Russian historians are still loath to acknowledge). Apart from high-quality steel, anti-aircraft guns, aircraft, and huge consignments of food which saved the Soviet Union from famine in the winter of 1942-3, the greatest contribution was to the mobility of the Red Army. Its dramatic advances later in the war were possible thanks only to American Jeeps and trucks.

 … [The] greatest problem [of Zhukov's armies] was not German resistance but the difficulties of their supply service, desperately trying to keep up with them on bad winter roads and without any rail line functioning.  Had it not been for the American trucks provided under Lend-lease, the Red Army would never have made it to Berlin before the Americans.
Quite correct. There is a lot of evidence that the USA was instrumental in the victory of the Red Army, not least through the very own testimony of none other than… the Vozhd (!) himself:

The United States is a country of machines
Josef Stalin is quoted as saying in 1943 in W. Averell Harriman and Elie Abel's Special Envoy to Churchill and Stalin, 1941-1946 (Random House, N.Y., 1975, p. 277 );

Without the use of these machines through Lend-Lease, we would lose this war.

In Khrushchev's memoirs, the Vozhd's successor quotes Stalin as saying the same thing. According to the Albert L Weeks book Russia's Life Saver (Lend-Lease Aid to the U.S.S.R. in World War II),

The United States shipped more than $12 billion in Lend-Lease aid to Stalin's Russia during World War II. Materials lent, beginning in late 1941 before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, included airplanes and tanks, locomotives and rails, construction materials, entire military production assembly lines, food and clothing, aviation fuel, and much else. Lend-Lease is now recognized by post-Soviet Russian historians as essential to the Soviet war effort. Wielding many facts and statistics never before published in the U.S., author Albert L. Weeks keenly analyzes the diplomatic rationale for and results of this assistance. Russia's Life-Saver is a brilliant contribution to the study of U.S.-Soviet relations and its role in World War II.
Indeed, in Stalin's War (A New History of World War II), this comes up for criticism by Sean McMeekin, who
reveals the extent to which Soviet Communism was rescued by the US and Britain’s self-defeating strategic moves, beginning with Lend-Lease aid, as American and British supply boards agreed almost blindly to every Soviet demand. Stalin’s war machine, McMeekin shows, was substantially reliant on American materiél from warplanes, tanks, trucks, jeeps, motorcycles, fuel, ammunition, and explosives, to industrial inputs and technology transfer, to the foodstuffs which fed the Red Army.
This unreciprocated American generosity gave Stalin’s armies the mobile striking power to conquer most of Eurasia, from Berlin to Beijing, for Communism.
And we will see, in the second of the "3 Mind-Boggling Revelations About a Century of Russian History", exactly how Stalin proposed to repay the Anglo-Americans for that generous aid. The Economist adds that
Aside from the chief villain, Western leaders too come in for quiet but deserved scorn. Both Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman failed to grasp their counterpart’s malevolence. Winston Churchill made casual deals that consigned millions of people to slavery and torment. The foreigners thought Stalin was a curmudgeonly ally to be coaxed and cajoled. He treated them as enemies to be outwitted. Far from provoking Stalin into unnecessary hostility, the Western powers were not nearly tough enough.

Incidentally, the magazine Géo and the All That's Interesting website have several stories on Stalin's last secrets, 21 Astounding Joseph Stalin Facts, the 6 indispensable biographies, Koba's sons Yakov (or the curse of the son) and Vasily Dzhugashvili, and — last but not least — the Russian Alphabet (Cyrillic), Why Napoleon has become an icon in Russia, and Why film enthusiast Stalin wanted John Wayne assassinated.  (The Géo stories are in French, so you will need to copy'n'paste in Google Translate.)  Also, Dick Morris on What Makes Russia Tick.


In his article on Remembering Solzhenitsyn, Lawrence W. Reed writes that

Soviet communism had just marked its first birthday when Solzhenitsyn was born. He grew up knowing nothing else. During World War II, while in his mid-20s, he fought in the Red Army against the Nazi German invasion—for which he was twice decorated. His war-time service, when he witnessed Soviet atrocities against both soldiers and civilians, led him to start questioning the moral legitimacy of the Soviet regime and the Marxist ideology upon which it rested. Recalling this time many years later, he wrote:

There is nothing that so assists the awakening of omniscience within us as insistent thoughts about one’s own transgressions, errors, mistakes. After the difficult cycles of such ponderings over many years, whenever I mentioned the heartlessness of our highest-ranking bureaucrats, the cruelty of our executioners, I remember myself in my Captain’s shoulder boards and the forward march of my battery through East Prussia, enshrouded in fire, and I say: So were we any better?

 … All of his books, short stories, and poems are literary gems and/or historical masterpieces, but none surpasses The Gulag Archipelago in importance to the world. It remains a gripping account of life in the vast network of Soviet prison camps where people were enslaved, overworked, tortured, and killed for—in many cases—nothing more than opposing socialism, communism, Stalin, the Party, or some other aspect of the vaunted “workers’ paradise.” It’s been described as “an unrelenting indictment of communist ideology.” Terror was the modus operandi from its founding philosophical father Karl Marx to his acolytes in Russia, Lenin and Stalin.

Regarding the translation of Ivan's War (The Red Army at War 1939-45) by Catherine MerridaleLes Guerriers du froid (Vie et mort des soldats de l'armée rouge, 1939-1945) de Catherine Merridale — Le Monde's Raphaëlle Branche writes that :

Once the reconquest of the national territory was completed, another chapter opened: in Romania first, in Hungary, then in West Prussia, the Soviet soldiers indulged in "an orgy of war crimes", in the forefront of which were a massive wave of rapes.
… The total impunity they enjoyed then preceded the silence that covered their crimes in the history of the war later told inside the USSR.
Much has been said recently about the instances of rape. For instance, in The Second World War, Antony Beevor reports on refugees from the capital of Königsberg:
Leonid Rabichev, a signals lieutenant with the 31st Army, described the scenes beyond Goldap. 'All the roads were filled with old people, women and children, large families moving slowly on carts, on vehicles or on foot towards the west.  Our tank troops, infantry, artillery, signals caught up with them and cleared the way for themselves by pushing their horses and carts and belongings into the ditches on either side of the road.  Then thousands of them forced the old women and children aside.  Forgetting their honour and duty and forgetting about the retreating German units, they pounced on the women and girls.

'Women, mothers and their daughters, lie to the right and the left of the highway and in front of each stands a laughing gang of men with their trousers down.  Those already covered in blood and losing consciousness are dragged to the side.  Children trying to help them have been shot.  There is laughter and roaring and jeering, screams and moans.  And the soldiers' commanders — majors and lieutenant colonels‚ are standing there on the highway.  Some are laughing, but some are also conducting the event so that all their soldiers without exception could take part. 
'This is not an initiation rite, and it has nothing to so with revenge against the accursed occupiers, this is just hellish diabolical group sex.  This represents a complete lack of control and the brutal logic of a crowd gone mad.  I was sitting in the cabin of our one-and-a-half-ton truck, shaken, while my driver Demidov was standing in one of the queues.  I was thinking of Flaubert's Carthage.  The colonel, who had only just been conducting proceedings, could not resist the temptation and joined one of the queues, while the major was shooting the witnesses, the children and old men who were having hysterics'

At last the soldiers were told to finish quickly and and get back on their vehicles, because another unit was blocked behind them.  Later, when they overtook another refugee column, Rabichev saw similar scenes repeated.  'As far as the eye can see, there are corpses of women, old people and children, among piles of clothing and overturned carts …'

'Russian soldiers were raping every German female from eight to eighty,' observed the Soviet war correspondent Natalya Gesse, a close friend of Sakharov.  'It was an army of rapists. Not only because they were crazed with lust, this was also a form of vengeance.'
Incredibly, leftists are willing to forgive this, because vengeance demanded that the Nazis/the Germans/the Fascists be punished — even though the wives, sisters, and daughters at home were hardly engaged in (or even aware of?) the blood-letting. (These are the same leftists who went berserk over Guantanamo and over male prisoners [the Ba'ath party was founded quite consciously as the Iraqi/Syrian equivalent of Germany's Nazi Party] humiliated — but neither raped nor tortured in any way — at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison in 2004.) Similarly, during the Bush years (scandals always seem to work their way into Europe's news outlets when a Republican is in the White House), a scandal erupted in France about G.I. rapes of French women after D-Day — although the numbers were minuscule compared to the Red Army (nothing like we have just read about the Soviet campaign of rape and pillage) and the G.I.s, when guilty, were punished — including with the death penalty.
The only problem with the vengeance on Germany narrative is that the girls and women raped were not all German nor all Nazi — indeed, a number of them were… Russian and/or members of the… communist party.
Soviet troops … showed no pity to Hungarian women when Malinovsky gave them free reign of the capital in celebration of victory.  'In many places they are raping women,' a fifteen-year-old boy wrote in his diary.  'Women are being hidden everywhere.'  Nurses in the improvised hospitals were raped and stabbed afterwards.  Students at the university were among the first victims.  According to some accounts, the most attractive women were held for up to two weeks and forced to act as prostitutes.  Bishop József Grosz heard that '70 percent of women, from girls of twelve to mothers in the ninth month of pregnancy, [were] raped.'  Other more reliable reports put the proportion at 10 per cent.

Hungarian Communists addressed an appeal to the Red Army, describing the 'rampant, demented hatred', which even their own comrades had suffered.  'Mothers were raped by drunken soldiers in front of their own children and husbands.  Girls as young as 12 were dragged from their fathers and mothers to be violated by 10-15 soldiers and often infected with venereal diseases.  After the first group, others came who followed their example … Several comrades lost their lives trying to protect their wives and daughters'

 … 'they seized houses and the women there who had failed to flee or hide.  They were given one hour for that.  And then the next group followed.  They would use women from the ages of fourteen to fifty'

 … Vasily Grossman … noted the 'horror in the eyes of women and girls.  Terrible things are happening to German women … Soviet girls who have been liberated from camps are suffering greatly too.'

 … A very detailed report from the 1st Ukrainian Front subsequently revealed that young women and girls taken from the Soviet Union for forced labour were also suffering from gangrape.  Having longed for liberation, they were shattered to find themselves so abused by men they had thought of as comrades and brothers.  'All this', concluded Gernal Tsygankov, 'provides fertile ground for unhealthy, negative mood to grow among liberated Soviet citizens; it causes discontent and mistrust before their return to the mother country.'  But his recommendations did not mention tightening Red Army discipline
I don't think there is much controversy in the West that a great debt of gratitude is owed to the Red Army.

But how much gratitude was there for the Russian soldiers in the USSR proper after the war?

If the common narrative were true, after all, you might think that there was a deep sense of love and respect for the Soviet troops in Eastern Europe not to mention in the USSR itself.

However: as the Great Patriotic War came to a close, this was not the end of the danger for the Kremlin. According to Solzhenitsyn, the danger that the NKVD (the KGB) feared most were veterans, Russian and other-Soviet citizens who now knew how to handle weapons. (Reminder — Registration, confiscation, extermination: in Europe, Hitler and Stalin used registration lists to confiscate guns, create gun-free zones, and then perpetrate mass shootings.)

In fact, already during the war, the NKVD was surprised by anger swelling in the Red Army — as much towards Germany as towards the Soviet Union itself. Antony Beevor:
Most of the incoherent anger came from encountering a standard of living, even in farmworkers' houses, which was unimaginable in the Soviet Union.  The bitter thought was almost universal:  So why did they invade us and loot our country if they were so much richer? Field censorship, alarmed by the letters home which described what soldiers had discovered, passed them to the NKVD.  The Soviet authorities became nervous about the widespread perception that all the propaganda about their 'workers' paradise' as opposed to the terrible conditions in capitalist coeltries was a lie.  They were all too conscious of the way that the Decembrist revolt of 1825 had been influenced by the better way of life which Russian armies had seen in western Europe in 1814.
Many troops would end in the gulag:
The longing for political change in the ranks of the Red Army had made the Soviet leadership very suspicious.  Soldiers and officers alike had become outspoken in their criticisms of the Communist system.  The Soviet authorities also feared foreign influences, after their soldiers had seen far better living conditions in Germany.  SMERSh again referred to the threat of a 'Decembrist' mood, a reference to the young officers who returned from Paris after the defeat of Napoleon, recognizing that Russia remained politically primitive.  'A merciless fight is necessary against these attitudes,' the SMERSh report concluded.  Arrests for 'systematic anti-Soviet talk and terroristic intentions' rose dramatically.  In that year of victory, which saw little more than four months of fighting, 135,056 Red Army officers and soldiers and 273 senior officers were arrested for 'counter-revolutionary crimes'.  Back in the Soviet Union, informers were at work and NKVD arrests in the early morning had become a re-established pattern.

 … The population of the Gulag and of forced-labour battalions swelled to its largest level.  The new convicts included both civilians and an estimated three million Red Army soldiers, sentenced for having collaborated as Hiwis, or simply for having surrendered.  Large numbers of others, including eleven generals, were executed after brutal interrogations at the screening centres run by SMERSh and the NKVD.
 … The bloody revolts which took place in Gulag camps in the years after the war were almost all led by former Red Army officers and men.
After the end of World War II, the first president elected in the USA was America's top general of the war (And not by automatism, but through a presidential campaign duly led against the opposing party).

What about the Soviet Army's top general? One detail stands out:

Stalin, afraid of [Georgy] Zhukov's immense popularity both in the Soviet Union and abroad, began to torment him in minor ways.  He blamed him for not having found Hitler, when SMERSh had already confirmed the identity of his corpse.

 … Zhukov did not discover that the body had been found until twenty years later.  Stalin also used the deliberate mystery to suggest that Hitler had fled to Bavaria, which was occupied by the Americans.  It was part of his campaign to insinuate that the Americans had a secret pact with the Nazis.
War History Online has more details:

 … the most decorated general officer in the history of the Soviet Union and Russia … who, in the course of World War II, played the most pivotal role in leading the Red Army drive through much of Eastern Europe

 … He then commanded the Leningrad front (front: roughly equivalent to an army group) and prepared the city for defense, took over the southwestern front to defend Stalingrad and was involved operation Uranus, the Stalingrad counteroffensive that trapped and later destroyed the German 6th Army.

 … he then commanded the forces that took Berlin which drove Adolf Hitler to suicide

 … However Stalin was getting paranoid because Zhukov established good relationships with the other commanders-in-chief, Dwight David Eisenhower (US), Bernard Law Montgomery (UK) and Jean de Lattre de Tassigny (France).

 … Being [a] famous war hero, hugely popular with the military, Zhukov was viewed by Stalin as a potential threat to his leadership. He replaced Zhukov with Vasily Sokolovsky on 10 April 1946. After an unpleasant session of the Main Military Council—in which Zhukov was bitterly attacked and accused of political unreliability and hostility to the Party Central Committee—he was stripped of his position as Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Ground Forces. He was assigned command of the Odessa Military District, far from Moscow and lacking in strategic significance and troops.

Turning to the present, Max Hastings writes that

President Putin has made unlawful all published mention of the unspeakable cruelties the Soviet regime inflicted on its own citizens — shooting an estimated 300,000 soldiers for alleged desertion or cowardice — in order to prevail. Antony Beevor’s books, and for that matter my own, are nowadays banned because they describe the Red Army’s 1945 campaign of rape and pillage in Germany 

(not to mention "dissidents … executed by hundreds and thousands in state prisons… or in the forests of Katyn.")

Likewise, a Russian general (of all people), Dmitri Volkogonov, who, after biographies of Lenin and Stalin, was preparing a 10-volume official Soviet history of the Great Patriotic War during glasnost in the 1980s and 1990s, was forced to resign when the army discovered that the general had unearthed facts that contradicted the official version of events.

In the perspective of the current war with Ukraine,
Ellis Mishulovich wrote five years ago that

The Soviets’ crushing defeat in the Cold War aggravated Russia’s security problems. From the standpoint of most Russian foreign-policy observers, NATO’s main goal since 1991 has been to capitalize on the collapse of the Soviet Union by permanently advancing its frontiers into the Slavic heartland. The Russians also see an unprecedented new strategic challenge in the rise of the European Union. If fully successful, European integration would create a massive new superpower on Russia’s doorstep, with a population of more than half a billion and an economy of comparable size to that of the United States. Accordingly, Russia’s principal objectives since the turn of the century have been the weakening and eventual dismemberment of NATO and the derailment of the European “ever-closer union” project.
system, which we called the “Dead Hand” (Mertvaia Ruka),


Three critical things about the Russia's history of the last century which is unknown, both by people on the left and on the right — and presumably even by Russians — the revelation of which turns out to be quite mind-boggling.

A) Moscow and its foreign defenders never fail to mention the massive amount of deaths, 20 million souls, lost during the Great Patriotic War. How many people are aware that Russia lost just as many people during the Russian Revolution?!

B) Stalin was determined not to stop at Germany but to betray his erstwhile allies and let his 400 divisions continue their march West and seize all of Western Europe. Only when the Vozhd heard of America's atomic bomb, did the NKVD and SMERSh decide to drop those plans.

C) At the time of his death, the Vozhd was planning a holocaust of his country's Jews, showing beyond any doubt that Stalin and his communists were quite the very equals of Hitler and his Nazis.

Here are more details:

A) Awe over the Russia's losses during the Great Patriotic War are far from inappropriate but they should be tempered by the fact that during the five years of the Russian Revolutionfollowing Russia's exit from the Great War, allegedly the bloodshed that warranted a revolution in the first place — far more were killed than during said World War I while as many were killed as during World War II two decades later. Indeed, writes Sean McMeekin in his The Russian Revolution

By the time the Bolsheviks had snuffed out the last resistance five years later, over twenty million people had died.

The first time you hear this, it sounds totally mind-boggling. 

The more or less openly admitted point behind the whole idea of focusing again and again and again on the sky-high numbers of Russia's devastating losses during the Great Patriotic War is to shame Westerners and get them to tone down any criticism of the Kremlin during as well as after World War II.

If, however, it were to become well-known that the hardly believable numbers of victims is similar to another event in the same country ("the modern Soviet nation — essentially a renamed Russian Empire") only two decades prior (then under Vladimir Lenin) — and the whites and reds during the Russian Revolution presumably did not use such war weapons, even if less modern equivalents, as heavy bombers and Stalin's Organs aka Katysha rockets — some skepticism might (rightfully or otherwise) arise in those shamed to silence.

Indeed, it is somewhat reminiscent of China's opium wars which we are regularly told (by Chinese and Westerners alike) are shameful and something that Britain, if not the entire West or the entire white race, must atone for. In June 2001, after the death of a Chinese pilot in a collision with an American Air Force plane, I wrote one of my very first online posts, called Chinese Outrage: Humiliations' Hidden Agenda

I … fully understand why Chinese authorities speak of the necessity to restore national pride and repair past humiliations. Remembering, for instance, the (admittedly shameful) Opium War of the 1840s allows the Chinese to forget the 20 million people slaughtered during the Taiping Rebellion 10 years later at the hands of their fellow Chinese countrymen. Remembering with bitterness periods of foreign domination and the attendant "national humiliation" covers up the fact that for much of their history, recent and otherwise, the Chinese have suffered far more at the hands of their fellow citizens and of their leaders in Beijing

Coupled with calls for the need for patriotism and national pride, the claims of victimization, past and present, at the hands of mischievous foreigners — along with the vilification of same foreigners as well as any Chinese citizen who might be "manipulated" by foreign influence — induces the populace to: discount the horrendous sufferings imposed on occupied Tibet by the People's Liberation Army; condone Beijing's saber-rattling over Taiwan (even though war, if it comes to that, and the attendant hardships for Chinese people, both on the mainland and on the island, will come as a result entirely of Beijing's aggressive policies); and, perhaps most importantly, frown on dissidents and forgo their calls for democratization. 

In that perspective, if asked who lost the greatest numbers of people during WWII, most people (pro- or anti-Soviet or neutral) would say the USSR. Actually, it was China. (Something which, incidentally, people around the globe do not know about, precisely because Beijing has refrained from advertising China's sacrifices, since the fighting was mainly conducted by the Kuomintang's nationalist army and not by Mao's communists.)

B) The Vozhd planned on betraying his allies, have his armies keep marching westwards, and conquer the rest of Europe. Antony Beevor's The Second World War:

'It must be very pleasant for you', [Averell] Harriman said, making conversation, 'to be in Berlin after all your country has suffered.'  The Soviet leader eyed him. 'Tsar Alexander went all the way to Paris,' he replied.

That was not entirely a joke.  Well before Churchill's fantasy of Unthinkable, a meeting of the Politburo in 1944 had decided to order the Stavka to plan for the invasion of France and Italy, a General Shtemenko later told Beria's son.  The Red Army offensive was to be combined with a seizure of power by the local Communist Parties.  In addition, Shtemenko explained, 'a landing in Norway was provided for, as well as the seizure of the straits [with Denmark].  A substantial budget was allocated for the realization of these plans.  It was expected that the Americans would abandon a Europe fallen into chaos, while Britain and France would be paralysed by their colonial problems.  The Soviet Union possessed 400 experienced divisions, ready to bound forward like tigers.  It was calculated that the whole operation would take no more than a month … All these plans were aborted when Stalin learned from [Beria] that the Americans had the atom bomb and were putting it into mass production.'

 … Stalin had achieved everything he wanted at Potsdam, even though he had been forced to cancel the invasion of western Europe out of fear of the atom bomb

This brings up another issue: when a leftist like Brian T. Brown at The Daily Beast writes a book called “9 Reasons to Thank the USSR: How We Got the Cold War Wrong”, Steven Vodkapundit Green (correctly) debunks every single one of his nine points.

Brown starts off with a claim that “we fired the first shot” in the Cold War, during the final days of World War Two. He says President Truman “rushed” to drop the atom bomb on Japan, not just to achieve final victory over Japan, but to “prevent the Soviets from joining the battle in the Pacific.”

Besides Steven's points, we have that of The Economist — "Far from provoking Stalin into unnecessary hostility, the Western powers were not nearly tough enough" — and now there is now the additional point of Antony Beevor's The Second World War debunking the Left's wailing over Hiroshima. Not only did it end the war in the Pacific, but — probably even more importantly — it turns out that it straight out prevented Stalin's Evil Empire from overrunning the entire European continent. 

In any case, this is how Stalin prepared to show his gratitude for America's Lend-Lease aid, including "airplanes and tanks, locomotives and rails, construction materials, entire military production assembly lines, food and clothing, aviation fuel, and much else."

While leftists praise the triumphs of the Red Army, they ignore the communist troops' exactions, while they have no bone criticizing such Western allies as Bomber Harris. And of course, they ignore the fact that, as Paul Johnson writes in his History of the American People,

These horrifying raids [that] culminated in the destruction of Dresden on the night of February 13-14, 1945 [were] a blow agreed upon at Yalta by FDR and Churchill to please Stalin

This echoes the words of Glenn Reynolds who wrote that 

the fact is that hand-wringing over Hiroshima is just so much virtue-signaling by people who probably never said a bad word about Stalin or Mao’s mass murders.

C) As the French weekly Le Point reveals, the Vozhd was preparing his own "final solution" when he died 70 years ago (a death, incidentally, that was quite murky). After the war, Stalin opened some of the Nazi concentration camps again (notably Ravensbrück) and

What [Joshua Rubenstein's book, The Last Days of Stalin] recalls is... how death prevented the Soviets' top honcho from once again rivaling Hitler in horror. Everything was ready, in fact, to deport two and a half million Russian Jews to Siberia and Kazakhstan. Camps near the Arctic Circle had been built and others enlarged. Wardens had been hired. Trains planned for convoys of deportees. In the last weeks of his life, Stalin, who had already sent two and a half million people to the gulag, including 35,000 children, was preparing to double the total, with the roundups of Jews, the number of men and women promised to a more or less slow death. 

In fact, as so often in his ruthless conduct of the vast people of the Soviet Empire, Stalin needed a new enemy within to rekindle the fighting spirit of his followers.

 The death of Stalin will undoubtedly have made it possible to avoid a Soviet Holocaust. But we will had to wait another forty years before the system that could have implemented this other final solution collapsed. The one that Ronald Reagan rightly called "the evil empire".

Solzhenitsyn famously said that there was no difference between the Nazis and the communists, except that the Germans used gas for their killings while the communists used hunger.    


As No Pasarán wrote almost 20 years ago (about what is really an old theory),

it turns out that there's a new "theory" out: this one concerns too few Americans dying! Too few Americans dying in World War II! That's the new self-serving "opinion" coming from "the peace camp" (mainly Germany, so far, but we can expect this "lucid" viewpoint to spread to other "peace camp" countries soon). As Tyranno testifies on David's Medienkritik, "A growing conversation I hear more and more often about how the 'Soviets really won the war' because they lost more men."

Actually, this "rewriting of history" really isn't that new. It's not really about too many or too few Americans dying, or whatever, and it's not about one people's irrational thinking or their attraction to violence and war, either. It's always, always, always, about handing America the "you can't win" card: "Heads I win, tails you lose", goes the Europeans' self-serving opinions, so that, in every case, they can look down their noses at those hopeless and hapless Yanks.

… some readers may wonder about the expression "rewriting of history": "Surely, the Soviets did lose 20 million people during World War II, and who are you to sneer at that?!" Well, obviously I do not wish to totally undermine the true sacrifices undertaken by the Red Army and Soviet civilians. And anybody who would downplay the role of the Red Army in winning the war would be a fool. But still, a few comments need to be made.

  • The figure of 20 million lives lost comes mainly from the authorities of a one-party régime, the same government whose information ministry fed us (and its own people) year in and year out with facts such as those that poverty had been eradicated and that, every year, industrial and farm production had gone up by so many exact percentage points [whether it's counting the country's wheat harvests or the number of campus chapters of the Young Democratic Socialists of America]. Still, I see no reason to doubt the fact that the USSR lost more people during the Great Patriotic War than any other country [except, as we have seen and as we have since learned, China].

  • You cannot mention the extra-large losses suffered by Soviet troops during World War II without also factoring in the fact that the country was led by a régime and a mass murderer for whom human life held little meaning. By means of comparison, Iraq suffered hundreds of thousands of deaths during its war with Iran (as did Iran). Is this supposed to be subscribed only to sense of duty and sacrifice of the Iraqi and Iranian soldiers, or should Saddam Hussein's dictatorship (and that of the Ayatollahs) be factored in?

  • In this perspective, more than a few Soviet deaths were at the hands of their comrades, who were ordered to fire on their own should they retreat. For Stalin — as for Hitler, Saddam (the man who openly admired the Soviet dictator), and the Ayatollahs mentioned above — sound military policy was hardly alone at the top of his concerns. Other topics (related amongst each other) included patriotic pride, the search for material worthy of propaganda, and a lack of concern for the individual's life, which in turn meant fighting unnecessary fights and lost battles to the last man, when retreat would have been wiser.

  • I remember reading about a respected former Soviet general having written the first volume of what was supposed to be the Russian army's official history of the Great Patriotic War, and the project being canceled in the 1990s, because [Dmitri Volkogonov] had insisted on including the good, the bad, and the ugly; meaning the mistakes, grievous and other, committed by Stalin and the Soviet high command.

  • As far as the relatively lower casualty rates of American troops is concerned, a democracy can hardly expect to fight a war with citizen soldiers, if those free individuals don't think the elected leaders are doing their utmost to support them and, as far as is possible, to keep them out of harm's way.

Here's the clincher of this posting: the people who leap to the defense of, and laud, the USSR's actions during WWII are the same who are always ready to castigate America and mock Americans' bravery, losses, sacrifices, and martial reasoning and war plans, while ridiculing anybody, American or other, who seems to accept Washington's claims at face value.

There's an expression for this: it's called double standards. Of the self-serving kind.

For several generations, Americans (and their friends abroad) have (not wrongly, far from it) responded to foreign critics of Uncle Sam, "if it wasn't for the U.S. Army, you would all be speaking German."
It sounds like it's more true to respond to critics of the United States and it's people, "if it wasn't for the U.S. Army, you would all be speaking Russian" (which, needless to say, is just as bad or, in the words of at least one Lithuanian [see this post's intro], far worse — ten times worse).

Let me end with a personal experience:

In the North of Copenhagen is a graveyard and mausoleum for all the Danes killed during the war (most of them resistance fighters executed outright or sent as prisoners to concentration camps and murdered there by the Nazis, including my great-uncle). And every May 4, on the day of liberation, there is a commemoration at Mindelunden i Ryvangen with a speaker. Every year, the crowds are immense.

The speaker a couple of years back not only spoke of the years of darkness but thanked the Anglo-Americans for coming up swiftly to Denmark and preventing the country from suffering "a second occupation". Indeed, Montgomery's British forces rushed to the North of Germany, beating the Red Army in forcing the surrender of the German forces in Northern Germany and occupied Denmark (that will be the content of a future post), and thus avoiding the fate of Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, and all the other Eastern countries — for 40-something years.

You praise the Russians for winning World War II. If it hadn't been for the Anglo-Americans, wouldn't the Russians, wouldn't Stalin, have continued all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, taking all of Western Europe (or at least the mainland) as well?

If you will allow me:
God bless Montgomery. God bless Eisenhower. God bless Patton.
Thank God for the Anglo-American armies.
I doubt there were many in the crowd who disagreed with Uffe Ellemann-Jensen. Indeed, the perennial popularity of figures like Montgomery and Sir Winston Churchill is due at least as much to the fact that they prevented a post-war Russian occupation as to the fact that, instead of surrendering, they kept fighting the Nazis.
Following the Nazi surrender, Marshall Montgomery paid a visit to Copenhagen and drove through its streets. From May to July 1945, British ships accosted and RAF planes landed in droves. Normally, with a disciplined army having surrendered, such a show of force would be unnecessary. But they weren't there for the surrendering German prisoners; they were there to guard against the Red Army

Accompanied by his uncle, my father went to Copenhagen and visited the city's harbor and airfields to see the British armada at the harbor and the planes landing in the airfields. He was all of 12 years old.
Montgomery driving through Copenhagen on May 12, 1945 (my father's photo at age 12)
HMS Birmingham docks on May 10, 1945 (photo by Eskil Svane, 12)
HMS Birmingham in København Harbor on May 10

HMS Birmingham was quite popular with the Danish people

Mosquitoes at Kastrup airfield, July1, 1945

A Spitfire on Kastrup airfield as the RAF holds on airshow (and
probably not just for the Danes, but for any Soviet diplomat present)

Douglas Dakota DC3s on show at Denmark's largest airfield

After the German occupiers' surrender, my father and his
younger brother Lennart attach Danish flags to their trusty bicycles