- The Guardian
- Issue #2006
On 9th May, 1945, Hitler’s fascism was finally crushed amongst the rubble of Berlin and the “thousand-year Reich” came to a mercifully premature end. The death blows were struck, overwhelmingly by the Red Army and the ghosts of 27 million Soviet citizens who it carried on their shoulders. In the words of Winston Churchill, the Red Army “tore the guts out of the Wehrmacht,” and he was indeed unstinting in his praise of the sacrifices made by the Soviet peoples in the victory, they celebrated on 9th May this year.
By 1935, with the tacit co-operation of anti-communist Western powers (notably Britain and France), the Nazis had extended their control to Austria, which was incorporated into the German “Reich” at the point of a gun. Spain soon followed as did Czechoslovakia.
A world war was in the making, about which British and French imperialism were untroubled. They smugly thought they were the most powerful countries in Europe (perhaps in the world) and they were totally preoccupied with the possibility the war afforded for getting rid of Bolshevism once and for all.
They had no doubt that a rabble of Russian peasants and workers would be no match for the sophisticated civilised military forces of European capitalism, especially if they could persuade Germany to spearhead the assault. They had a cosy vision of Anglo-French forces mopping up after the Russians and the Germans had worn each other out (although they could also live with a German victory, just so those Bolsheviks got their comeuppance).
So, despite then Soviet Foreign Minister Litvinov’s strenuous efforts to organise collective security for Europe, Britain and France would have none of it. German occupation of Poland was an essential step before Hitler could invade the USSR, so Poland was abandoned to its fate. The Second World War was off and running.
Before it was over it would spread across the world and cause the deaths of tens of millions of people, 27 million of them in the USSR alone.
The Soviet people bore the brunt of German imperialism’s class hatred, facing Germany’s best weapons – its biggest, fastest tanks, its biggest guns, its fastest most powerful fighter planes and bombers, and of course by far the greater part of its armies.
Even against Japan, the USSR’s Special Red Banner Army of the Far East, stationed in Siberia, kept Japan’s elite Kwantung Army pinned in China for the duration, unable to be moved south to bolster Japanese forces elsewhere.
No Russian family, indeed, no Soviet family, did not lose at least one relative in the inferno. But victory was won, and the Soviet peoples’ army wrote their names in the stars and achieved immortality.
An entire generation of young communists laid down their lives for a victory that decisively transformed the course of world history.
Also, we must not forget that after Hitler’s invasion of the USSR, German troops were greeted in Western Ukraine with flowers. SS divisions there had fought against the Red Army.
Local nationalists, led by Hitler’s admirer Stephan Bandera, set about exterminating the Jewish population. In Ukraine about 1.5 million Jews were killed – one fourth of all Holocaust victims. During the “Volyn massacre” in 1944 about 100,000 Poles were brutally murdered in Western Ukraine. Banderas destroyed Soviet guerrillas and burned alive the men, women and children in hundreds of villages in Belarus.
After 2014 Nazi ideology has tried to reverse Ukraine’s history. Day of Victory over fascism on 9th May has been cancelled. Streets and squares are named after Nazis. The Communist Party of Ukraine operates underground. Intimidation and political assassinations of politicians and journalists had become constant. Monuments to Lenin and everything related to the memory of life in the USSR are being destroyed.
9th May has been celebrated every year in Russia and was celebrated again this year including the liberated areas such as Ginichesk.
Recently, everything has been drastically changed in the course of a special operation leading to the liberation of the territory of Genichesk where the acting head of the district decided to restore the monument to the forthcoming anniversary of VI Lenin as well as hanging the Victory Banner on the administration building.
As the current world capitalist depression shows, capitalism as a system is already on its way to the rubbish heap of history. It may take a while yet before it is finally discarded but be assured it will be.
This is the celebration that the West has criticised and belittled as a figment of Putin’s propaganda and chauvinism, while treating this great victory with sarcasm and contempt, missing the lessons of history that liberated Europe.
We must remember the great sacrifice and victory of the Soviet People.