Thursday, May 7, 2009

World War 2, the Debate Goes On

It has been 64 years since the end of the Great Patriot War, better known in the West and the rest of the world as World War 2, but the debate over the victory and its debasement has never been stronger or more ruthlessly waged. It is time to set things straight.

First we will work through the favorite Myths that the West loves to use against Russia.

Myth 1: Poland was the first victim of the Nazi and Soviet regimes.

First of all, let us set the stage on Poland. Between 1918 and 1924, Poland invaded all of its neighbors with the exception of Germany. It was an aggressor before it even became a fascist state, in the military coup of 1926, which made it, after Italy, Europe's 2nd fascist state. Poland invaded Ukraine twice, first against the nationalists and then against the Soviets. It also invaded Belarus and took from it and Ukraine the western provinces that were then reoccupied by the Soviet Union post Poland's fall to Germany in 1939. Poland also invaded Lithuania capturing and holding Tallinn. It invaded Czechoslovakia but was beaten back. Finally it invaded and captured several key villages around Danzig, which were in neutral League of Nations enclaves.

During the wars in Ukraine, the Poles massacred somewhere between 500,000 and 1.5 million Russian POWs that they had taken.

Poland further ran concentration camps for Orthodox Christians, while it burned them out of its Ukrainian and Belarus provinces, since they refused to convert to Catholicism. Thus it is no surprise that Poland had no qualms about backing and allying with Hitler in 1937 and 1938 when the Nazis moved to dissect Czechoslovakia. Hitler, in the Munich Conference of 1938, represented not only Germany's claims on the Sudetenland but also land claims of Hungary and Poland. The falling out came when Hitler demanded that Poland should now join him in his crusade against the Soviets. Being sated, the Poles saw no reason to wage war on their borders and refused. Thus Hitler's drive for revenge.

It should further be noted that it was Polish nationalists who ran the concentration camps in which tens of thousands of German civilians died in 1946.


Myth 2. The War Turned On the Normandy Invasion

Easiest to disprove. By the time the Western Allies landed in Normandy, the Red Army sat on the Vistula in Poland and were 100km inside of Romania, having just destroyed the German 6th Army for a second time (first being Stalingrad).

Myth 3. The Main Fighting was on the Western Front

While not to disparage the veterans and the dead who fought at Normandy, Americans point to the 10,000 or so dead they took as a giant sacrifice. Of course this is ridiculous by the standards of the Patriot War. On Mamayev Kurgan, the hill overlooking Stalingrad (Volgograd), over which both sides fought for 2 months, had 60,000 bodies littering it, about half from each side. That is, those were the bodies that were not buried to deep by artillery, to find.

It is a simple fact that 8 out of 10 German casualties, most of the Hungarian casualties, half of the Italian casualties, all of the Spanish (yes they sent the Blue Division), Finnish, Romanian, Bulgarian and many of the Croatian casualties were on the Eastern (Russian) Front. Simply put, the West never had the stomach for the casualties that were taken by all sides of the Eastern Front, but it has no whims, especially through Hollywood, to try to steal the credit that was earned in rivers of blood.


Myth 4. The Red Army committed mass suffering upon the German population, while the West treated them well.

Of the eight million German civilians who died during World War 2 (8 million compared to 20 million Soviet civilians), 6 million died from US/UK bombs, as the two systematically incinerated each and every single German city in a drive to exterminate the population. How many additional civilians died from direct fighting and artillery bombardments, on the Western Front, is unknown. It should be noted that in 1943 there was a lively debate in America about the whole scale extermination of the German race, which was seen as to barbaric to live along side with.

Bombings would come in 3 waves, first with iron bombs, in which one in four had a variable timer detonator that could explode upto a week or month or longer later to kill returning civilians. Once lots of ruble was created, phosphate fire bombing started. A fire storm was created that would reach up to 6km into the air, sucking oxygen out of bunkers or incinerating the civilians hiding, from the heat of the fire storm. Finally a wave of anti-personal bombs to catch fleeing civilians, fire crews and medical staffs. These would continue for upto three or four days over an individual city.

Then there are the million or so German troops who died in open fields, under the elements, after surrendering to US and French forces. Instead of POW camps, they were taken to open fields, surrounded by wire and left to freeze. Others were worked to death. This continued well into 1946.

Besides this, there are the issues of mass rapes of Italian civilians by British colonial troops, who decided to sow their seed anywhere they landed in Europe.

Myth 5: America won the war against the Japanese almost single handedly.

Outside of the fact that British, Australian, French, Danish and Indian forces tied down over a third of the Japanese army both on the islands and throughout SE Asia, through out the duration of the war, an accomplishment, without which the US victories on the islands would have been impossible.

The Chinese also tied down a huge amount of Japanese forces, as well as various local tribal contingents, who did their part.

However, Japan's biggest defeats were from the Russian army. That's right, these were no Iwo Jimas where some 30 or 40 thousands Japanese were holed up on an island and surrounded from all sides. The battles in 1939 and again in 1945 defeated two full Japanese armies in Manchuka (Manchuria) and paved first for the Japanese southern drive in 1939, thus allowing for the halting of Hitler's drive on Moscow in 1941 and then collapsed the Japanese mainland war effort with the defeat of some 500,000 Japanese forces in Manchuria.


Though these myths are insulting and invasive upon the real history of that great tragedy, it is the total revisionism of the war by several EU nations that is most disturbing. In the Baltics, there is absolute revisionism, creating heroes out of the murderers of the Nazi regime. This is not some fringe movement, but one financed and backed by the local governments.

Then there is the US/EU puppet in Ukraine, Yushinko, who openly praises the western Ukrainian SS auxiliaries as national heroes. There must be some Jews and Orthodox Christians left in Lvov some where, getting Yushinko's blood into a rage.

Similar issues have come up in Croatia, Hungary and recently in Moldova, with Romanian support.

It is time to take the many excellent Russian movies about the Patriotic War and translate them into English, German and French and launch them into the West. Maybe the knowledge will help the West avoid the same mistakes as of 64 years ago.

29 comments:

Sublime Oblivion said...

Agreed with everything except Myth 4.

Actually, there were only 2mn German civilian deaths compared to 20mn Soviet AFAIK.

But this is all the more reason to stop the Cold War propaganda-inspired emphasis on German suffering and focus more on the price paid by the USSR to save the world from Nazi tyranny.

Stanislav said...

Actually, that was 2 million from Red Army/Aviation. The Western allies really did massacre over 6 million German civilians.

I have spoken with elderly Germans who lived through the fire bombings. Berlin was fire bombed 6 times before Hitler responded on London.

One woman told me, how she was 6 years old in Wurzberg and could see Schweinfurt, a city 60km away and over a small mountain range, she could see it burn and then one week later, Wurzeburg burned.

If you go into the castle in Wurzeburg, there is a model, built from photos, of the city the day after the Americans finished exterminating it. Not one building higher then one story left.

Hell, in Tokyo, in only one raid, the Americans burnt 500,000 civilians to death.

Actually, this emphasizes the fact that all the emphasis the West puts on Russian autrocities is shadowed compared to what the West itself did.

As a Christian, an Orthodox Christian, all the sufferring was evil regardless of the side.

Matthew Saroff said...

I generally agree with your post, but think that you should have given some more ink (electrons) to the battle of Khalkin-Gol.

In addition to tying up the Japanese army for the next 6 years, it was perhaps the most important formative experience for one Georgi Konstantinovich Zhukov.

vonbach said...

Sorry I'm a supporter of Russia on most things but not this. If you want to take credit for Soviet victories you'll need to accept their atrocities as well. The way the western allies treated the Germans was bad the way the Soviets treated them was simply far worse.
In particular the way you treated their women. To this day the tomb of the unknown Russian soldier is called the "tomb of the unknown rapist" by some Germans. Your right about the Morganthau plan, that was an abomination.
It wasn't just Germans that suffered either. The reason you have statues to the nazi's in some places in eastern europe is because they were less cruel than the NKVD.All the Soviet victory meant was a crueler tyrant had taken over. A testimony to Russian survival I can honor, honoring a Soviet victory never.

Sublime Oblivion said...

http://www.sublimeoblivion.com/2009/05/09/victory-day-special-myths-of-eastern-front/

Gregor said...

‘But this is all the more reason to stop the Cold War propaganda-inspired emphasis on German suffering and focus more on the price paid by the USSR to save the world from Nazi tyranny.’

I am a regular visitor to your sublimeoblivion website which is very interesting, but I disagree with this because I think civilian bombing anywhere is evil, whether Berlin, Dresden, Moscow, Poland, Grozny, Georgia, Ossetia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Serbia or anywhere else.

It seems by contrast to the general view that people are becoming less barbaric that massacring civilians is more acceptable than anytime else. I think that through documentary evidence of attacks on a Western Country, it has encouraged many to think about what this means.

For example I heard that the Americans bombed Fallujah with White Phosphorus. I would not know what this meant from the newspapers, had I not read about the bombing of Dresden, and how people went into water to escape from burning and then it reignited as soon as it was exposed to air. I think any British person who’d read about what White Phsophorus is would automatically want to stop supporting the Americans in Iraq (though then most of my compatriots were probably more interested in who got evicted from the Big Brother house that weekend).

However I also disagree with this:

‘The way the western allies treated the Germans was bad the way the Soviets treated them was simply far worse.
In particular the way you treated their women. To this day the tomb of the unknown Russian soldier is called the "tomb of the unknown rapist" by some Germans.’

Worse than the West was still a lot better than how the Germans treated them. You should watch the greatest war film (in fact possibly the only war film with any accuracy) 'Come and See'. This shows just how the Germans treated the people who came under their control. I certainly do not condone how the USSR treated German civilians. But I find hints of moral superiority quite unpleasant.

Sublime Oblivion said...

@Gregor,

Though Allied bombing of Germany may have been "evil", sometimes evil is necessary. In particular the Americans concentrated on industrial targets and fuel depots, destroying which significantly shortened the war as well as Allied ground casualties. The British focused more on bombing residential areas, which was considered not quite as effective - the effects on morale weren't deleterious as expected. But nonetheless that too helped wreck the German economy and consequently military effectiveness.

@vonbach,

Agreed with Gregor - film added to viewing list. Basically, when comparing Soviet to Nazi atrocities, I take into account the fact being killed is quite a lot worse than being raped (in most countries, the former would bring 20 years - death penalty, the latter brings 2-10 years). Even if the highest estimates are right and 20% of the East German population was raped, that is in no way comparable to the 20% of the population who were murdered in the Eastern occupation zones.

vonbach said...

The Soviets killed what 40-60 million people? Hitler was small potatoes by any stretch of the imagination.
Lazar Kagonovitch killed something like 14 million people and most people don't even know who he is.
The usual excuses for the actions of the Soviets run something like this "the germans were evil they deserved it" and "the allies were doing it too." Neither argument holds any water. There simply isn't anyway too justify the mass rape of every German female they could find. Millions more were simply killed. I honestly feel sorry for what the Russian and East European people went through during those years. It doesn't change the fact that the Soviet Union killed more people than the Germans ever did. The Germans also had people tried as war criminals while no one else ever has.
Before you ask yes I'd have bomber pilots in those trials too. The mass bombing of civilians was simply
wrong as was the mass rape and murder of civilians.
Two books I'd recommend would be "Nina's Journey" and "A Woman in Berlin" one is by a Russian the other a german.

Sublime Oblivion said...

40-60mn people!? Give me a break. Only hardcore anti-Communist ideologues quote them or indeed believe in them.

And wanting to try your own soldiers who paid with their blood for your freedom is pretty despicable, and semi-treasonous. (Assuming you're from one of the Allied nations. Ignore this second part if you're German).

Cathal said...

This article could have been a really useful if sources were provided and if it was written in a respectful academic tone. Filling the article with aggressive and questionable language to me has ruined it. As a westerner it is hard to look at the facts when they are clouded by aggression. I am very pro-Russia and by that I dont mean the leaders, I means the people. The people are what matters and they have suffered. Your article doesnt do them any favours.

Recently I watched Idi i Smotri, I would recommend it for anyone to have a graphic realistic glimpse of the atrocities of the German Army.

vonbach said...

40-60 million are from Russian estimates look it up yourself. Communism killed something like 100 million people worldwide. Russians remind me of Americans really especially the blind patriotism. The reason I take such a interest in Russia is because it more closely the country I grew up in that what America has become.
No wanting to try your troops for war crimes isn't treasonous its patriotic. If you commit a war crime your supposed to go to jail.

Stanislav said...

@ Vonbach

Lenin & Stalin did put to death some 30-36 million people over a period from 1918 to 1954, when Stalin died and Krushchev shut down the gulags. That's over a 30 year period.

Hitler is small potatoes? Lets see what Hitler did in a period of just 11 years from 1936 to 1945:

I am counting only civilian dead:

1 million Germans
20 million Soviets
12 million Jews, Poles, Gypsies
1 million Serbs
1 million Czeckoslavakians
500K Greeks
1 million Italians
1 to 1.5 million French
50K Britians

Also questionable how many Danes, Belgians, Dutch and other small peoples he murdered. But from the numbers above: 38 million people in less then a third the time of the Soviets. So really, small potatoes? I would hate to see what you consider a large watermelon.

Gregor said...

@Anatoly

Whilst the bombing of Dresden may have had a ‘utilitarian’ function, I think that killing children was wicked and it would have been best to stick to military targets. Some even think that Britain’s bombing campaign made the Nazis more likely to bomb British cities.

However my main point was that the recent research into Dresden is very valuable because our media will say (e.g.) ‘fifty Iraqis killed in bombing raid’. But this phrase is largely meaningless unless we read accounts of what bombing is like, which the German accounts give us. Whilst much of our media was opposed to war in Iraq, the coverage is largely narcissistic.

In other ways, I think that pro-Nazi accounts are less fashionable now. I remember when I was younger, I read books that were aimed at a teenage boy audience written from the Nazi viewpoint, which were bestsellers. The most famous of these was Sven Hassel, about salt-of-the-earth Wehrmacht soldiers killing NKVD officers. Even more shocking were the Leo Kessler books. These portrayed sturdy Teutons slaughtering Commonwealth Asians, African Americans and Algerians. As if that were not sickening enough Mr Kessler (who I believe was actually a Brit with a pseudonym) also describes a naked Adolph Hitler, but let’s not go there.

The question of Stalin’s evil against Hitler’s evil is a difficult one. I do not think a sane person could see Hitler as ‘small potatoes’ even by comparison. Yet Britain and France did indeed show very poor diplomacy between 1918 and 1939 (and on that note, I am often amused by how many Americans speak of ‘Chamberlain in Munich’ when they weren’t even interested in Fascism at that time). The lack of support that the West gave to White Russia was very notable. As was the strong support they gave to unstable, badly defined Central European states. In Britain it is taken for granted that Poland and Czechoslovakia were viable, stable democracies, when in fact they were anything but that.

Given that all three main political parties in Britain came to the conclusion that Saakashvilli should be rewarded for bombing an ethnic minority and precipitating war (which he lost), I sadly do not think that we have learnt much.

One last point to Vonbach, killing and raping civilians was a capital crime in both the West and Soviet armies. Did the Nazis execute even one soldier for these crimes?

Bandera said...

Your journalistic skills are quite entertaining. Where did you buy your journalism degree? I ask this question due to the obvious pro-Kremlin, pro-KGB, and anti-West comments as well as your glaring historical and spelling errors.

You forgot to mention that Russia killed more than 60 million people mostly Ukrainians and other minorities or sent them to concentration camps in Siberia. Russia signed the Molotov-Ribbetrop agreement which was the precursor to WW II. The NKVD was more ruthless and efficient in exterminating the local minorities of every country Russia invaded such as Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic states.

You also spelled the name of the Ukrainian president Yeshenko and the city of Lviv (not Lvov). even though you may not agree or like it as most Russians think, Ukraine is an independant country.

Stanislav said...

@Bandera

You forgot to mention that Russia killed more than 60 million people mostly Ukrainians and other minorities or sent them to concentration camps in Siberia. Russia signed the Molotov-Ribbetrop agreement which was the precursor to WW II. The NKVD was more ruthless and efficient in exterminating the local minorities of every country Russia invaded such as Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic states.60 million? Wow, so they killed the entire population of Ukraine? Today's Ukraine has 40 million in it...60 wow, so with whom did they repopulate it? While we're on totally picking numbers out of our arses, why not say 100 million?

There were only 140 million people in all of the Soviet Union at that time, so if they killed 60, one out of 3, how were there anyone left to stop the Germans? Hell, after the Germans killed 20 million civilians and 8 million soldiers, there would have been only 40 million people left in all of the Soviet Union. Oh, wait, I'm doing real math, that might confuse you.

By the way, if they exterminated the Poles and Baltics so ruthlessly well, why were both full of Poles and various Baltic groups when I last visited the areas? Or haven't you thought that through either?

As for Ribbenthorp-Molotov, that had a lot to do with the fact that Britian and France rejected the Soviet stand on stopping and blocking Hitler when he moved on Czeckoslavakia, which instead they allowed to be dissected between Germany, Hungary and Poland.

Lviv/Lvov, we'll see how the Poles spell it when they retake it back and rekick the western "Ukrainians" out, that is when they annex the Western Ukraine substate after the eastern Ukraine returns to Russia. Like it or not, admit it or not, but most people in Eastern/Southern Ukraine, my relatives included, want reunfication and an end to the failed Ukrainian state, a state that never existed for more then 10-20 years at a time, the two times it did "exist".

Stanislav said...

@Gregor

Dresdon was just the last. Every major German city was fire bombed.

yes the British hit Berlin 6 times before Hitler had to respond, to save face. In turn, this gave the RAF breathing room to rebuild.

vonbach said...

I'm not going to bother playing the numbers game.
Fact is Stalin killed way more people than Hitler ever did. Given a choice between Hitler and Stalin lots of slavs chose Hitler. He had people from all over Russia and eastern europe fighting with the Germans because
they felt they were fighting to liberate Russia from Stalin. When the allies started forcibly repatriating Russian civilians back to the Soviet Union most had to be dragged literally kicking and screaming.
About Germans punishing their own for crimes I believe this quote from a german says it best. Talking about some villages he's been too
"I've seen a few things. And we shouldn't pretend we are better than they are."
"But I want someone to show me the German soldier who ever did this sort of thing. And I want somebody to show me the German soldier who raped a woman. You can count them on your fingers, and they did not have to wait long for punishment!"

vonbach said...

Missed part of that quote sorry "I fought partisans too.
We burned villages down, and shot people, simply because we didn't know how else to get on top of the partisans--it was them or us"

Stanislav said...

He had people from all over Russia and eastern europe fighting with the Germans because
they felt they were fighting to liberate Russia from Stalin.
The Russians who surrendered, and there were 3 million, did so because they had no idea what they were surrendering to, as there was a full media black out as part of the Molotov-Rubentrop pact.

As for the Russian SS "division" it never got above a brigade. The Western Ukrainians formed an SS division and a few Cossak regiments were in German service, but considering 20 million people were murdered by the German army, I hardly find it realistic that to many were punished by high command, especially when Einzatsgruppen were active on every army group: North, Central and South and they were backed up by SS groupings.

The German standard, in Russia, Serbia, Greece, etc was 10 civilians for every German soldier killed. Equally there were massacres in Rome and other central Italian areas as well as throughout France. Train loads of German civilians were rolled around Germany till they froze, so that there would be no evidence of refugess fleeing.

Stanislav said...

We burned villages down, and shot people, simply because we didn't know how else to get on top of the partisans--it was them or us"

Hardly, hardly, considering Jews, Intellectuals, Commisars and other key leaders were to be shot out right, and that was the standing order going in, before any partisan activity even started.

Since the Nazi plan was to reduce the population west of the Urals to less then 20 million slaves, I some how doubt anyone was punished by a regime that ran concentration camps and boiled human bones into soap.

Sublime Oblivion said...

I don't want get into a flame-fest over the numbers of the victims of Stalinism here, and will simple note that according to the archives, from 1921-53:
799,455 we're sentenced to death, out of a total 4,060,306 who were either sentenced to death / sent to Gulag / exiled for political crimes (i.e. "repressed").
Furthermore, the mortality rate was typically at 5% a month or less, with the only exceptions years when there were food shortages. The total number of Gulag inmates never exceeded 2mn, and was typically at 0.5-1.5mn.
The other significant source of deaths was the Holodomor, in which around 4mn died (inc. 2mn in Ukraine) according to latest research. And it is still debatable to what extent it constituted a "genocide".
So adding everything up, I do not see how Stalinism could have been responsible for more than 10mn genocide deaths at the very max.
As for genocide deaths Hitler: 6mn Jews, 3.3 Soviet POW's, 0.5-1mn Sinti, 14mn in Soviet occupied territories, a few more millions in Poland and Baltics. Around 30mn, well more than Stalin.

Given a choice between Hitler and Stalin lots of slavs chose Hitler.Only in like...the first few weeks of Barbarossa.

"But I want someone to show me the German soldier who ever did this sort of thing. And I want somebody to show me the German soldier who raped a woman. You can count them on your fingers, and they did not have to wait long for punishment!"Considering that the Jurisdictional Order specifically freed all Wehrmacht soldiers from commitment to normal rules of war, I don't see how that is true.

That said I actually agree that the normal Wehrmacht was reasonably well-behaved during Barbarossa, and only turned violent during the retreat from Moscow and later. That didn't go for other units like the Waffen-SEE, anti-partisan, Einsatzgruppen, etc.

@Gregor,
Let's agree to disagree.
I think that in a total war if one side decides to attack the other's civilians, the other side has the right to equivalent retaliation.
In fact that's one of the most important points of the MAD concept. If a nuclear first strike destroys your centers of population and industry, you (well, your military and most of your surviving compatriots anyway) will want to retaliate in kind. Ironically it is this kind of (ostensibly callous) thinking that (probably) averted a US-Soviet nuclear war.

vonbach said...

The 40-60 million figures are Russian figures not western ones. Stalin killed way more Russian victim's than anyone else. My favorite line from Nina's Journey
goes something like this "Russia died the moment the Soviet Union was born." It really sums up my feelings on the matter. I regard the Russian people as the Soviet Unions primary victims. I am unabashedly anti-communist. Largely for its two primary methods: shameless propaganda and brute force.

Sublime Oblivion said...

"Furthermore, the mortality rate was typically at 5% a month or less, with the only exceptions years when there were food shortages." - myself in previous post

Correction - typically mortality was at 5% a year or less in the Gulag system.

This is in contrast to Solzhenitsyn's claimed figure of 10% a month.

------

@vonbach,

No-one is claiming that the Soviet Union was nice. But that's quite different from fantasizing up propaganda of your own against it.

Michael_Kuznetsov said...

I shake your manly hand Sublime Oblivion!
And yours, too, Stanislav.

Down with all those dirty fascists and nazists!

Long live Russia, disregarding whatever name she bears: Kievan Rus, Muscovite Principality, Russian Tsardom, the Russian Empire, the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics, or the present-day Russian Federation.

No difference.
Russia remains always one and the same Holy Russia -- our beloved Motherland.

Our cause is right!
The enemy will be smashed!
Victory will be ours!

Cheers!

Michael Kuznetsov
http://www.russian-victories.ru

lichotek said...

This tripe is what only blind (or manipulative) fanatical nationalism can produce.

Michael_Kuznetsov said...

The pathogenic bacteria would always normally "regard" the vital principle of their habitat (the human organism) as "tripe."

No wonder: you are born to do harm.
Not to build, but to destroy.

Ducky's here said...

We'll remember Katyn you stinking Muscovite.

Michael_Kuznetsov said...

Yes, we Russians do always remember your Katyn hoax, too, you ignoble polska psia krew!

The truth about KATYN is here: http://www.geocities.com/redcomrades/katyn.html

Michael_Kuznetsov said...

Yes, we do remember your Katyn hoax, too, you ignoble polska psia krew.
The truth about Katyn is HERE: http://www.geocities.com/redcomrades/katyn.html