June­–July 2015        

Remembering the Second World War

Not just the task of communists but of every human being

Alex Homich

No other European conflict was marked by the same sort of insanity and depravity as the Second World War. The madness that was wrought on the Jewish and Slavic peoples by the Hitler regime has parallels only in the Far East, where the imperial Japanese forces also treated their captives as sub-humans.
     The media and indeed the historians of the imperialist interests of the West continue to conflate commemorating the Great Patriotic War with support for the USSR and indeed for Stalin, when in reality all three are hugely separable. They have been twisted this way to make the commemoration of the war indefensible, and, to my great dissatisfaction, this tactic has largely been successful.
     Nevertheless it remains the duty of every person to commemorate the great tragedy of the Second World War and examine the myriad of strategies applied to rewriting history. The atrocities and victims of the war are a living memory for millions of people throughout what was the Soviet Union. Russia Beyond the Headlines, a journal that talks about cultural and social elements of Russian society, estimated that more than 39 million people were directly involved with the effort against Nazi Germany, either as soldiers, civilians, or partisans. This number alone ensures that the descendants of all who took part will remember; but what does it mean for the rest of the world?
     Western efforts pale in terms of numbers in comparison with those of the USSR, and this makes it considerably easier for propaganda in the West to rewrite the history of the war to their benefit. After all, it was not the United States that had millions of homes, factories, villages and people brutalised; so it goes without saying that the manipulation of information is simplified.
     It is important to note that both France and Britain did play a huge role in the defeat of Nazism; but in their ever-subservient roles to the whims of the Empire, the media and indeed political leaders behave in a way that undermines the role of the USSR and the sacrifice made to rid the world of Nazism.
     For the seventieth anniversary, which occurred on the 9th of May this year, we saw a boycott co-ordinated by Washington and supported by Western and Western-oriented governments. This action in itself only benefited the savage nationalistic rhetoric in Russia, further stoking division among the common Pan-Slavic societies in Belarus and Russia and the European people.
     However, the boycott brought a new dimension to the table. Quite recently the prime minister of Ukraine stated in a speech that the Red Army “invaded” Germany; and this vocabulary is rather important, for it marks a distinct turn in strategy. No longer is the purpose of revision confined to the media: it has now also shifted to the public sphere, where such brazen statements are made.
     So what is it that one must take away from this series of events? First and foremost, regardless of how much the Western media like to conflate the idea that commemorating the war is supporting Putin, it is not. People of all nationalities took part in the defence of their motherland, and that is what must be remembered: their brave sacrifice in the face of an extremely disciplined, organised and mechanised army that had only the objective of eradication before them.
     Secondly, you need not approve of the actions of Josef Stalin to remember the sacrifice of the Soviet people, because these again are two hugely separable elements of history, and I have no doubt that among the hundreds of thousands around the world who celebrate the 9th of May do so for the defeat of Nazism, not in a glorification of the Stalin era.
     Thirdly, there is active work committed to the rewriting of history. Here is a recent graphic showing the growing change of public opinion in France between 1945 and 2015:
“Which country do you believe made the greatest contribution to the defeat of Germany in 1945?”
Source: www.les-crises.fr
     As you can see, a gradual shift in time shows a change of opinion. The intensity of the Cold War in rewriting history will be felt for decades, as grandchildren and great-grandchildren are told that America played the most decisive role in liberating Europe.
     It is our duty not simply as activists of the international communist movement but also as human beings to ensure that history is not rewritten.

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