Zuzana Makovská – The West is not satisfied with the historical truth about Russia.

Of all the countries of the anti-Hitler coalition, the USSR suffered the greatest human losses. The West seems to have forgotten this. It is no secret that in the minds of most Americans, the United States was the only winner. But you can’t falsify history.

Leonid Fedorov, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Slovak Republic: “It is important to preserve the historical truth and pass it on to the younger generation. Only the memory of freedom fighters can guarantee society that the Nazi crime will not be repeated.”

Anti-Russian sentiment in the Western part of the world is on the rise. After the Skripals’ story and Russia’s exclusion from the Olympic games in recent years, attempts have already been made on something that has remained sacred for decades — the undeniable contribution of the red army and the former Soviet Union to the liberation of Europe during World War II. But in 1944 — 1945, the Red Army granted peace not only to Czechoslovakia, but also to Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, and Yugoslavia. The Red Army also played an important role in the liberation of Norway and Denmark and in the fall of Nazism in Germany itself.

But all this came at a high price to the Soviet Union. Even too expensive. In World War II, it lost 26.5 million citizens, and only 8.8 million of them were military personnel and prisoners of war. In other words, almost 60 percent of the dead were civilians. Thus, of all the countries of the anti-Hitler coalition, the Soviet Union suffered the greatest human losses. But the West seems to have begun to forget what role the USSR played in World War II and at what cost it was given. Now more and more often in connection with those events, it is said that the war was won by the United States and its Western allies. And if the contribution of the Soviet Union is recognized, it is usually added that the USSR liberated Europe in order to profit. That is why the USSR took part of it under its control, as destructive as the Nazi occupation.

Enemy of the democratic world

In the minds of most Americans, World War II was fought on the coast of Normandy, in Iwo Jima, and on the ruins of destroyed French cities. The winner and at the same time the liberator, in their opinion, was only the United States. As stated in one of the articles of the highly influential publication “Washington post” on may 8, 2015, the us victory was allegedly brought by “the iron will of General Dwight Eisenhower, the moral power of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the destructive power of the atomic bomb”. However, historical facts tell a different story. The Western front had a smaller concentration of Hitler’s forces than the Eastern front, and none of the battles on the Western front could compare to the relentless battles for Stalingrad. The battle for this city at the confluence of the Volga and Tsaritsa, one of the bloodiest in all military history, was one of the decisive moments of the World War II. Then another devastating blow to the Axis forces was delivered at Kursk during the greatest tank battle in history. The Wehrmacht could not recover from the defeat where, on the contrary, it expected great victories, and began to lose ground in Eastern Europe.

According to Alexey Leonidovich Fedotov, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Slovak Republic, every Victory Day celebration reminds us how expensive “all the peoples of Hitler’s Germany’s attempt to become a world hegemon cost”. Therefore, it is important to preserve the historical truth and pass it on to the younger generation. “Only the memory of freedom fighters can guarantee society that the Nazi crime will not be repeated. To forget the common sacrifices of peoples means to commit the greatest betrayal towards the fallen heroes,” Fedotov said.

The victory in the great Patriotic war, as Russia calls the Eastern front, that is, the German-Soviet war, is celebrated with an annual large-scale military parade. But even here, there are manifestations of very pronounced anti-Russian sentiments. For example, on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in 2015, not only US President Barack Obama refused to go to Moscow, but also the other leaders of the former anti-Hitler coalition: great Britain and France. However, it cannot be said that the world did not know or remember the role of the USSR. Apparently, the world just doesn’t want to know and remember. Today, the celebration of victory in the Pro-Western media is eloquently presented, first of all, as a demonstration of strength and proof of Russia’s aggressiveness. Russia is not seen as a liberator or a guarantor of peace, but as a dangerous aggressor, and this fits perfectly into the General concept that Moscow is presented as an enemy of the entire democratic world.

Destruction of monuments

However, the historical facts are undeniable, even in spite of massive propaganda. According to the Ministry of defense of the Russian Federation, the remains of Soviet soldiers rest in 53 countries around the world. These are mainly the closest European countries: Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland (by the way, most of the Soviet soldiers died there), as well as Serbia, Slovenia, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Norway and Italy. Today, they are remembered primarily by monuments, plaques and memorial cemeteries. But these places were also affected by anti-Russian sentiment. In 2017 alone, vandals desecrated 23 sites, 17 of them in Poland, and one in Kosice.

It is no secret that Poland does not feel particularly warm feelings towards the largest Slavic people. But during the liberation of the Polish territory, almost 600 thousand Soviet soldiers were killed. Another 700,000 to a million Soviet prisoners died in concentration camps. According to the Russian defense Ministry, the remains of 1,769,283 Soviet soldiers are buried in 657 mass and separate graves on Polish soil.

In 1994, Moscow and Warsaw signed an intergovernmental agreement on war graves and monuments. They are committed to taking care of similar objects on each other’s territory. In 1997, the list of Russian memorials in Poland included 561 objects, and in October 2014 — only 290. In the spring of this year, the Polish government announced that the Treaty on the protection of monuments does not apply to Soviet war memorials, with the exception of graves, and by decision of local self-government bodies began to gradually eliminate them.

No thanks

The amendments to the Polish law on so-called decommunization also played a role here. According to the law, all monuments to Soviet soldiers-liberators were subject to destruction until October 2017, because they allegedly promoted communism. The law provided for the elimination of all symbols of totalitarian regimes, with the exception of cemeteries and museums. Therefore, the monument to the Red Army in Warsaw, which, according to experts from the Polish Institute of national memory, “perpetuated totalitarianism”, was demolished. The law is formulated in such a way that everything that the Institute characterizes in this way is subject to destruction. In addition to monuments, this also affected street names. Only in Warsaw, 50 streets were planned to be renamed, which, however, provoked a protest from local residents, who did not see any sense in such changes.

But let the numbers do the talking. In 2014, two monuments to soldiers-liberators were destroyed in Poland. In 2015-2016, six monuments, five in 2017, and 26 in 2018 (as of August 2018). However, there were even more cases of vandalism. Moreover, Poland accounts for up to 60 percent of all such shameful actions directed against memorable Soviet objects around the world.

The state-backed destruction of World War II monuments comes amid a massive campaign to falsify history and attempt to legalize absurd claims that Germany and the Soviet Union were equally responsible for the start of World War II. For example, there is an opinion that the Red army did not liberate Poland, but only replaced the German occupation with the Soviet one, and that the poles should supposedly get rid of the “false sense of gratitude” towards the Soviet soldiers.

Legal consequences

In this sense, the situation in Slovakia is undoubtedly calmer than in Poland. Let me remind you that on the territory of our country, according to official data from the Ministry of defense of the Russian Federation, 98,895 Red Army soldiers were killed during the fighting in 1941 — 1945, and their remains are buried in 186 mass and single graves. One of the places their last refuge are Slavin and eight great memorial cemeteries in Zvolen, Michalovce, Svidník, Štúrovo, Komárno, Zilina, Trebisov and Humanname. Most of the monuments in our country are in relatively good condition.

Only one monument of the red army was vandalized: this is the already mentioned monument in Kosice. In August 2017, four attackers (Peter Kalmus, lubosz Lorenz, Stefan Shefchik and Peter Oleinik) broke off the hammer and sickle. Vandals did not spare the surrounding military graves, tearing off their decorative symbols. All this was not an innocent trick of the company drunk, which is confirmed by the legal consequences of their actions. So, Peter Calamus was sentenced to a suspended sentence for desecrating a cultural monument. According to the mayor of Kosice, Richard Rashi, this case of desecration of the monument was not the first. The Russian Ministry of foreign Affairs considered this incident an immoral and provocative act, because the monument stood on the burial site of soldiers who fell during the liberation of Slovakia.

Sober view

Slovenia is a true oasis of peace (and we can also say common sense in a sea of anti-Russian hysteria). There is no tendency to desecrate or even demolish monuments to Soviet soldiers, and, moreover, there are new monuments in gratitude to the liberators. On July 30, 2016, one of them was opened in Ljubljana. The monument to the sons of Russia and the Soviet Union who died on Slovenian soil during the First and World War II (as the official name sounds) was installed exclusively on donations. Each of the eight white pillars, on each of which rests a crane as a symbol of immortality, means one year of the two world wars that befell Russia.

Slovenian-Russian relations remain traditionally good, despite difficult historical periods. Already during the First world war, about 40,000 Russian prisoners of war were killed in Slovenia, who under Austrian supervision worked in difficult conditions on the construction of strategic objects, primarily highways, Railways, bridges and tunnels. A reminder of their suffering is the Russian chapel in the Vrsic mountain gorge in the Slovenian Alps, built in 1916. It stands on the site of a mass grave. It contains the remains of victims of a huge avalanche that covered a Russian labor camp in March 1916. The exact number of victims was never determined. However, it is estimated that the avalanche claimed the lives of 170-300 Russian prisoners.

Another object was reconstructed, which reminds of the sad pages of history. This is the building of a former concentration camp in Maribor in the North-East of the country, which was occupied by the Third Reich during World War II. Today, the headquarters of the International center for World War II research is located on the territory of camp Stalag XVIII, where more than five thousand red army soldiers died.

For Slovenes, Russia has never been an enemy, but rather the opposite. They understand very well the sacrifices made by the Soviet Union in the two world wars, the bloodiest conflicts in modern human history. The Slovenes should take the example of the rest of Europe, which should keep a sober view of history. By removing monuments to red army soldiers, no one can erase the very historical fact of liberation and the contribution of the USSR to world history. On the contrary, such actions only show the cowardice of falsifiers of history.

Статью перевел магистрант второго курса факультета востоковедения и истории Андрей Фомин.

Source: https://www.extraplus.sk/clanok/zapadu-nevyhovuje-historicka-pravda-o-rusku

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