| 1 December 2023, Friday |

The Lessons of History Should Not Be Rewritten, but Learned

The sad anniversary of the Day of Victory over Nazism in the Second World War is approaching. It has become for the civilized world a day of mourning and remembrance, and a reminder that Nazism has no right to return again and destroy this world and people’s lives. It was the greatest tragedy in human history. According to some data, more than 80 million people became victims of that war. At the same time, Russian propagandists are trying to impose the opinion that it was Russia that defeated Nazi Germany without any help, and the entire civilized world, especially the West, literally owes its existence to Russia. Therefore, the format of large-scale celebrations to mark another “Victory Day” has long become an unchanging element of Russian propaganda. And although at one time even Stalin refused such celebrations, modern Russia stubbornly defends and imposes its vision of both the holiday and its own role in the victory over Nazism.

The Kremlin is used to talking about the alleged “rewriting of history”, but Moscow is second to none here. Therefore, Russia, as the successor of the USSR, secured the victory in the Second World War. At the same time, the Kremlin tries not to mention in any way the role of the allies of the Soviet Union in the anti-Hitler coalition in the Second World War, and under the term of “Soviet people” traditionally speaks only of Russians. Although it is worth noting that there was never such a people as “Soviet”. Dozens of nations fought with Hitler’s Germany, among which, of course, there were Russians. Putin actually adopted and continued the practice of the Russian dictator Stalin, who as early as 1945, at a celebration in the Kremlin, proposed a toast “to the health of the Russian people”, calling it the “most outstanding nation” and the “leading force” of the Soviet Union in the war. Tens of years later, the current leader of the Kremlin maintains a similar position. He has repeatedly emphasized that victory would still have been Russia’s without the participation of others, including Ukrainians, who have now become victims of Russian imperial policy. As we can see, time passes, but the nature of Russian imperialism and the principles of propaganda and aggression remain unchanged.

But numbers speak for themselves, but not the words of Russian propagandists. It is worth recalling the facts of the Second World War, where, despite all Putin’s assurances and his propaganda, the situation was actually quite different. For example, Ukrainians, who are now heroically defending their land from the Russians, fought not only in the Red Army, but in other armies and military units, in particular in the American and Canadian armies, the French resistance movement. It is known that thousands of Ukrainians served in the Polish army of General Władysław Anders and took part in military actions on the side of the British in Egypt, Libya and Italy. During the Second World War, millions of Ukrainians fought in the Soviet army, and every fifth resident of this country, then the Soviet Union Republic, died. During all the years of the war, seven million Ukrainians were mobilized into the USSR army. In 1944, every third Red Army soldier was Ukrainian, and it was Ukrainian Oleksiy Berest who raised the USSR flag of victory over Reichstag. Ukrainians made an extremely important contribution to the victory over Nazism, and the recognition of this contribution was the inclusion of Ukraine in the UN founding members. And this is an undeniable fact.

Another reason for the manipulation of Russian propaganda, both in Soviet times and now, is the statement that Lend-Lease allegedly did not play a decisive role in the victory over Nazism, which is certainly not true. Without the help of Western partners, the USSR would not have gained the advantage and, as a result, victory in that bloody war. For example, just a few convincing facts about Lend-Lease. The legendary barrelless system of field rocket artilleryKatyusha” were fixed on American Studebaker trucks. The so-called “victory tank” T-34 became a successful model thanks to the gun, which was installed only after receiving special equipment from the Americans, and the United States delivered twice as many cars as the USSR produced during all the years of the war. And today, Lend-Lease and the significant support of Ukraine’s partners in the war against the Russian Federation is becoming a decisive factor of superiority on the battlefield. The Kremlin understands this. They understand, but they continue to destroy, kill, terrorize Ukrainians and at the same time blackmail the whole world.

Today, as in the years of the Second World War, Ukraine is again at war with the aggressor, and this is Russia, which claims to recognize its own exceptional role in the victory over Nazism, while praising and implementing its own Nazism, destroying all possible boundaries of the system of international relations established by country – winners of the Second World War. Back in 2021, the Russian dictator Putin, speaking at the celebrations on the occasion of the anniversary of the victory in the Second World War, actually clearly distinguished himself from the rest of the civilized world and appropriated the right to be considered the victorious country of the Russian Federation. In less than a year, in February 2022, this “victorious country”, or rather terrorist country, carried out a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which later turned into thousands of war crimes against peaceful Ukrainians. What Russia is doing today creates the cult of war. The Kremlin skillfully uses memory of the Second World War for further militarization, military mobilization of Russians and promotion of aggression in modern conditions. Therefore, it is not surprising that the “Saint George’s ribbon”, a symbol of those terrible times, has also become a symbol of the new anti-Ukrainian aggression. Modern Russian politics has so much in common with what happened in Germany in the time of Hitler.