Victory Day: Soviet Liberators or Occupiers?

Posted May 13th, 2011 at 9:23 pm (UTC+0)
40 comments

In Soviet times, the day of victory over Nazi Germany was marked with a level of reverence that seemed to make May 9 the only religious holiday on the Soviet calendar.

Ukrainian nationalists burn a Soviet army red flag in riot surrounding ceremonies in Lviv celebraiting victory over Nazi Germany AP Petro Zadorozhnyy

The reason is clear.

Study the family tree of almost any Russian, and you will find branches that abruptly ended at the war years. Soviet authorities calculated that 26 million citizen perished in the war.

Fast forward to last Monday.

In Lviv, Western Ukraine, a crowd of young nationalists, enraged at the site of a red banner, attacked the Russian Consul, and trampled and stomped the memorial wreath he was carrying to the city’s Hill of Glory.

In contrast, in Kirkenes, Norway, red and white balloons floated into the Arctic air as school children, town officials, and the Russian Consul gathered with bouquets at the foot of a bronze statue of a Red Army soldier.

The difference revolves about what happened after the defeat of the Nazis.

In Northern Norway, Soviet soldiers liberated, and then went home. By the end of the summer of 1945, they had all pulled back to Murmansk.

In Western Ukraine and the Baltics, Soviet troops liberated and stayed. And stayed. And stayed.

To non-Russian populations on Russia’s western edge, liberators became occupiers.

Norwegian children and town officials in Kirkenes, Norway join local Russia consul in celebrating Victory Day in front of statue honoring Soviet soldiers who liberated Northern Norway from Nazi rule. Photo: Rune Rafaelsen BarentsObserver.com


“Russian soldiers never liberated Estonia. For us, one occupation regime was replaced by another,” the Estonian Nationalist Movement said in a statement distributed on Monday during a demonstration held in front of the Russian Embassy in Tallinn. Some picketers held photos of a Soviet-era war memorial, with the inscription: “This soldier occupied our country. He never liberated Estonia.”

In 2007, Estonian authorities moved this bronze statue of a Soviet soldier from a prominent place in the national capital to a suburban war memorial cemetery. In response, Kremlin-backed youth groups camped for two weeks outside the Estonian embassy in Moscow.

In December 2009, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili earned the undying enmity of the Kremlin by blowing up a massive Soviet era World War II monument in Kutaisi. He said the site was needed for a parliament building.

On Monday, President Medvedev pointedly sent his Victory Day congratulations to the Georgian people, omitting any mention of the nation’s president. In response, Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze said the Russian leader’s Victory Day message was unacceptable: “I don’t think that the Georgian people have accepted the Russian president’s greetings. The buffoonery has no limit.”

Faced with these Victory Day controversies, President Medvedev told young parliamentarians of the ruling United Russia party on Friday: “As for Estonia, Georgia and Ukraine, it saddens me as much as you. It was unpleasant and painful to watch that. It is an indication of the immaturity of the political systems in those countries.”

Defiant Victory Day supporters brandish a red banner, a color associated with the Soviet victory over Nazi troops in World War Two, during Victory Day celebrations in Lviv in western Ukraine on May 9, 2011.REUTERS/Andriy Polikovsky

The bad blood goes back to different perceptions of history.

To the dismay of many Russians, museums of the Soviet occupation have opened in Georgia, the Baltics and in Ukraine.

These diverging views of history remind me of Japan and Korea where I worked as a reporter in the early 2000s. Young Japanese would watch TV reports of anti-Japanese demonstrations in China and South Korea, and then complain naively: “Why do they hate us so?”

Although the Chinese and South Korean governments had their own interests in stirring up nationalism, real animosities revolved around this question: Do you know what your grandfather did to my grandfather and grandmother?

But in Japanese schools, Japanese history instruction usually stops around 1930, the time when Japanese militarism embarked on its most lethal rampages. Colonialism of Korea was treated lightly. Looking at the world through the lens of their own hierarchical society, Japanese believed the history problem could be addressed with politely worded apologies and carefully calibrated bows by a series of prime ministers.

In contrast, Germans confronted their war history head on, debating it frankly, deeply and incessantly. Here is the fruit: today, there is little animosity between Germans and Russians.

But, Russia, like Japan, takes the path of defensive denial. Stung by losing the Cold War, Russians do not want to tarnish the one undeniable victory of the Soviet era. Wary of division and discord, Russians do not do self-criticism.

And so Victory Day, the region’s unifying day for the last half of the 20th century, is now a source of division for the 21st.

Without a frank dialog over Soviet history, Russia and several former Soviet republics seem fated to become increasingly distant neighbors.

James Brooke
James Brooke is the Russia/CIS bureau chief for Voice of America. A lifelong journalist, he covered West Africa, Brazil, the American Rocky Mountain States, Canada, and Japan/Korea for The New York Times. A resident of Moscow since 2006, he was first Bloomberg bureau chief for the region. In 2010, he joined VOA. In addition to writing Russia Watch, his weekly blog, he also does video, radio and web reports from Russia and the former USSR.

40 responses to “Victory Day: Soviet Liberators or Occupiers?”

  1. Gennady says:

    James!
    Your phrase doesn’t reflect reality :”Stung by losing the Cold War, Russians do not want to tarnish the one undeniable victory of the Soviet era. Wary of division and discord, Russians do not do self-criticism. “

    Do try to be more specific!
    How could it be done? Under the umbrella of “Russians” you’ve implied:

    1)Georgian despotic autocrat J. Stalin, who waged the War with particular ruthlessness, not sparing lives of millions of soldiers, who hid his bloody regime and his cronies behind the slogan “For Motherland, for Stalin” , who had murdered in cold-blood many millions patriots including almost all the highest and brightest generals of the Red Army in his paranoiac “purges”,

    2) VChK-OGPU (the forerunners of KGB/FSB), Stalin’s trustworthy tool, ruling the country until now,

    3) millions of brainwashed and silenced ordinary people.

  2. saucymugwump says:

    Great post.

    Actually the situation vis-à-vis Japan and Korea is worse than you wrote. Japan officially annexed Korea in 1910, but that was hardly the start of Japan’s aggression. If Japan would not have occupied Korea, it is likely that Korea would never have been divided. The responsibility for the millions and millions of dead Koreans during WWII, the Korean Conflict, and the many starvations can be laid at Japan’s doorstep.

    As to Russia, that is a complicated story. Stalin’s air force chief asked to move his planes further east just before the start of the war so the Nazis would not destroy them on the ground during the first few hours and days of WWII. He was shot for “provocation.” Predictably, the planes were destroyed on the ground. Stalin was grossly incompetent and was the direct cause of millions of the Soviet deaths.

    You could have mentioned Finland. Stalin invaded in the Winter War of 1939 to increase the buffer zone around Leningrad. However, the Finns would never have joined the Axis without this incursion, invading the USSR later in the Continuation War. As a matter of fact, unlike the Nazis, they only advanced to their former border and stopped; all they wanted was to recover their lost territory. Leningrad would never have been involved in the Siege, with a million or so ordinary Russians paying the price for Stalin’s incompetence. Finland lost 11% of its territory as a result. And Hitler may very well have decided to invade the Soviet Union because he saw how tiny Finland was able to hold-off the Soviets for around six months starting in late 1939.

    And then there are the millions of Eastern Europeans who were deported to Siberia. I will never understand how Russians can fail to see how this behavior is not recommended for winning friends.

    I still remember an Estonian woman telling me that the very first time she saw a banana was during the 1980 Olympics when the Soviets were trying to impress the world. This is a good example of why Eastern Europeans do not share Russia’s view that the Soviet Union saved Europe. Russians had access to bananas, but Eastern Europeans did not, so it is difficult to conclude that the Soviet Union had their best interests in mind.

    Many Russians still pine for the Soviet Union. Putin is only the most visible Russian declaring that the demise of the USSR was the greatest geo-political disaster of the 20th Century. Almost every Eastern European would declare that the occupation of Eastern Europe by the Soviets was the greatest disaster, geo-political or otherwise, of the 20th Century, along with the Nazis.

  3. Jackie says:

    Soviets were occupiers……………………….SLAVA UKRAINI !!!

  4. Richard says:

    The Soviet rule was not as bad which the west portrayed as an evil empire. The Soviet era helped to check the the hegemony of the west unlike today where NATO and US can do whatever against the sovereignity of the nations. Only a revival of the Soviet union can curb such activities and restore peace and stability in the world.

    • Mark Hughes says:

      Not so bad? Guess you don’t know about the mass graves, the tanks, the loss of life, especially those of intellectuals, in the slave states of the Soviet Union I have spoken personally with the people who lived through that or were witnesses to the deaths. How do you define “not so bad”?. There WAS no peace during the Cold war. That’s why it was called a war. Your side lost because your own people chose democracy over Communism. Russia has great people, a very sad history, and a wonderful culture. But it also has a dark side, Russians who refuse to see the Communist system caused. when visiting one Russian school a few years ago, and a Russian student asked why Russians are not liked in many parts of Europe, I replied that maybe they didn’t like it that in many places in eastern Europe they were forced to use Russian instead of their own language, that Russian tanks enforced Soviet rule, that those who disagreed were jailed or killed, the young man said, “That’s the price to pay to protect Russia.” His classmates seemed to agree. of course, RUSSIANS did not have to pay the price: non Russians were to be enslaved to protect Mother Russia.
      I just pray that that same spark that lit the flame of revolt against Communism will rise up against the present slide back into a one party State. Otherwise, I’m afraid, you and people like you will get your wish.

  5. Sergey says:

    Eastern Europe @ the USA should belive that when the Germans occupy Europe the next time (and they like doing that from time to time) Russia will not save it. Everything will be as you like.

    I promise!

  6. Vic says:

    Let them complain. Had the Germans won the war, they never would have lived to open their mouths now, and for their ability to bitch endlessly they have the Russian army to thank.

    Schmert Fascistam; then and now.

    • saucymugwump says:

      Vic wrote: “Had the Germans won the war, they never would have lived to open their mouths now”

      If the USSR and Germany had not signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Hitler would not have felt free to invade Western Europe. In other words, Russia was equally responsible for the start of WWII, so for Russians to declare that Europe owes them anything displays a profound ignorance of history. From the signing of the M-R Pact to June 22, 1941, the USSR was sending raw materials via train to Germany, with at least one train caught between the two armies when Germany invaded, so Stalin was assisting Germany’s war effort.

      As I wrote before, if the USSR had not invaded Finland in the Winter War, the Siege of Lenigrad would never have happened because the Soviets would have been able to resupply the city from the Finnish side, not just via Lake Ladoga. Finland would have remained neutral.

      Why don’t one of the Russians posting here explain why millions of Baltic and other Eastern European people were sent to Siberian labor camps?

      • Sergey says:

        Why don’t one of the Russians posting here explain why millions of Baltic and other Eastern European people were sent to Siberian labor camps?

        Why… Why… Because Russia was ruled by the Jews, Caucasians, Poles and Latvians. Didn`t you know that? Among the Bolshevik leadership there were no ethnic Russians practically.
        The Bolsheviks who seized the power in 1917 belonged to the national minorities, were financed by the Germans and european Jews. And the revolutionary Jews hired 80000 Latvian shooters (soldiers). So the Soviet power started.

        I repeat: don`t be afraid of Russia. When somebody will start to kill you again we will not move so that not to disturb you anymore:-)

        • saucymugwump says:

          So the Jews are responsible, are they?

          According to the 1922 party census, there were 19,564 Jewish Bolsheviks: only 5.21% in total. Jews made up 7.1% of members who had joined before October 1917.

          Reference:
          Jeffrey Herf’s “The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda During World War II and the Holocaust”
          http://www.sem40.ru/anti/7820/

          Stalin was purging Jews long before 1939, when he directed Molotov to “purge the [foreign] ministry of Jews.” Most non-Russian historians accept that this was a signal to Nazi Germany that the USSR was ready to sign the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, re-drawing the map of Eastern Europe for the benefit of two totalitarian governments.

          And once again, Russians like you fail to accept that Hitler never would have invaded Poland without the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Have you forgotten that the USSR invaded Poland a short time after the Nazis?

          Stalin and Beria were the only important Georgians.

          As to Polish contribution: have you ever heard of the Polish-Soviet War, when the Poles thrashed the hapless Soviets? Stalin, who was one of the leaders, never forgot his humiliation. He got his chance for revenge in 1939.

          Have you ever heard of Katyn?

    • Mark Hughes says:

      This is typical Russian Communist prattle that was taught in the schools (and still taught in many places) that Russia won the war.Notice how Russia didn’t fight Japan until it was obvious Japan would lose, then claimed Japanese territory. Did Russia keep America from speaking Japanese? Russia’s loss to Japan during Nicolas’s time is not discussed in Russian schools either, by the way. Neither is the secret agreement between Stalin and Germany that led Hitler to believe that he could attack Poland with impunity. Hitler broke the deal later because of his hatred for the Slavic people. IF Hitler had thought Russia would attack WITH the West after an invasion of Poland, he may have stayed his hand. Rather than teaching how Russia single-handedly saved the West, maybe you should teach how Russia, with Stalin at the helm, helped begin the war in the first place.
      And to say that Russians had no part in this is just a complete fabrication. IF non Russians led the country, and Russians are the majority, why did they follow? Did Germany make regular Russians follow? Are Russians that weak? On the contrary, Russians are a great, strong people who will follow to the death leaders they believe in. So don’t blame your country’s history on others. The Russian love for a strong leader led them down this path.

  7. CEM says:

    Good article. Very well writen, clear and to the point. It is also the kind of analysis that we normally do not see in the mainstream american media.

    Most of my fellow Americans probably could not find the Baltic States in a map, let alone know they were forced into the Soviet Union after they declared independence from the Russian Empire and after the Soviets pushed the Nazis out. Or that Ukraine had been a part of the Russian Empire and then the Soviet Union, but not wilingly.

    We are, in my opinion too busy looking at our navel.

  8. saucymugwump says:

    From my blog at http://saucymugwump.blogspot.com/2010/08/soviet-humor.html:

    During the early 1980s, the Soviets believed they had thoroughly indoctrinated the people of the Baltic States in the ways of Communism. So one day the Soviets challenged the Baltic people to an American football game. The Soviets thought that beating them at a game loved by the country they admired would completely erase any traces of independence.

    The game started. The Soviets marched down the field, but could not score. The Baltic people marched down the field, but could not score. This went on, back-and-forth, until a ship in the nearby harbor blew its whistle. The downtrodden Baltic people had been so completely indoctrinated that they thought this was the factory whistle signaling a lunch break. So they walked to the side of the field to eat lunch.

    Three plays later, the Soviets scored.

  9. Pyotr says:

    “To the dismay of many Russians, museums of the Soviet occupation have opened in Georgia, the Baltics and in Ukraine.” – I would like to see such museums opened in every Russian town.
    “there are the millions of Eastern Europeans who were deported to Siberia” Do you know how many millions of Russians were deported to Siberia? Even those who had been living in Siberia. The family of my granddad lived in Siberia for quite a while before 1917. They were evicted from their house, robbed by soviet powers and were deported to Vasyugan swamps in nothern part of Siberia during the summer and fall of 1931. It took so long because they had to go their on foot with small children and old people. When they arrived it was late autumn. They had to build mudhouses and build it quick before the winter’s cold struck. Half of them died during the winter. Almost every child under 2 years old died. The house of my gragrandad had become a village club. But many houses of other families bacame new homes for baltic people and germans and ukrainians who were deported from the West. So which deportation was worse? Please, dont blame those russians who gave you homes in Siberia, blame those who had power, the communists – these people didnt have nationality. My grandad then had to go to the Red army to free Moscow, western russia. and eastern europe, he was killed in Hungary two weeks before the Victory day. I wonder whether he went to atack Nazis with the slogan “For Stalin!”? I really doubt that. He is burried there somewhere near Pech town. I don’t even know where exactly, never been there. Only after his death on the battle field his family was allowed to move back to their village, but not to their house. They didn’t come back to their village, they couldnt live with people who betrayed them.
    The communists made such a mess! Should I feel sorry for what communists have done to the people of Eastern Europe. yes, I should. But should I apologize? Why? my family suffered during Stalin’s rule no less than them. I want that all those communists who were responsible for the sufferings were found and convicted even if they are dead now. But RF government is afraid to investigate because many of those people who served to the soviet regime, those who betrayed their neighbours, their progenies are numerous and they still admire Stalin and Soviet era, and many of them have got the power now.

  10. saucymugwump says:

    pyotr wrote: “I would like to see [Soviet occupation] museums opened in every Russian town.”

    I’d settle for one in Piter and Moscow. And Putin should be forced to ceremoniously open them.

    pyotr wrote: “So which deportation was worse?”

    No one is disputing that more Russians were deported. We are disputing the popular Russian attitude that the world should be grateful for the Red Army’s work during WWII, so grateful that we overlook the fact that the Soviets stayed as occupiers until as late as 1994.

    Here’s an analogy for you, a tale of two countries.

    Germany admitted its role in WWII and moved on. Today Berlin is the third most popular tourist destination in Europe. German autos are desired throughout the world, as are German industrial products. Germany is the world’s second largest exporter. German beer is popular throughout the civilized world. To publicly admire Hitler is a crime. Angela Merkel has her problems, but is still admired as one of the most powerful and intelligent women on the planet. No one cares that Nazis ruled Germany in the 1930-40s because Germany long ago admitted its guilt.

    Compare that to Russia. Russia whines that the world will not recognize its role in WWII, while ignoring its own complicity in the origins of the war: Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Winter War, the killings of Polish Army officers, etc. The Kremlin is indirectly, perhaps directly, responsible for many deaths of reporters. Russia, via Gazprom, uses its natural resources as a club. Russia is only the 12th largest exporter, with much of that oil and natural gas (not much value added). Baltika Beer is about as rare as honest politicians in the USA. Russia refuses to acknowledge that Stalin was a savage bastard, responsible for more deaths than anyone else in recorded history, except for Mao; Stalin is openly admired throughout the country, with Russian textbooks stating that he was a great and efficient leader. Putin, in the rare time he wore a shirt, declared that the demise of the USSR was the greatest geo-political disaster of the 20th Century. Not surprisingly, tourists avoid Russia for the most part, even though Piter is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

    • Sergey says:

      “Stalin is openly admired throughout the country, with Russian textbooks stating that he was a great and efficient”.

      Are you assured of that?
      I am 44. And in all my life I met only one very old man who adored Stalin.
      If some very old people believe in his greatness we just don`t want to offend them.
      They are not many.
      Where do you find your primitive information? In the toilet?

      By the way, do you know how many africans the western europeans @ americans killed during 200 years of slave trade? From 90 to 100 million people. I found that in the demographic reference book. The realistic data.

      Did you repent or prefer to forget that?

    • Pyotr says:

      I agree with you completely. I really wish all the crimes of soviet regime would be investigated and people responsible for them found and convicted. Russia needs its own Nurnberg. Red Army shouldn’t stayed in Eastern Europe more than it was needed. One cannot make friends by force. And besides Red Army consisted not of angels of course. As well as germans committed atrocious acts during the ocupation of Russia, our soldiers also took revenge when they were “freeing” eastern germany. I feel seek when I see the Putin’s regimes is trying to cling to the Soviet myth of “Saint” Red Army that would have saved the world. We saved ourselves first and UK and USA were actively helping us. This was our common Victory. The fact that we lost more lives of soldiers and even more covilians doesn’t make us superior, because it was due to mistakes of unproffessional and unadequate communist leadership. I hate Victory day parades on Red Square on Victory days, never watch them on TV. This should be the day of remembering of the dead and mourning, and now it is like marching on the graveyard. Disgusting to see when Putin once again tries to intimidate the world demostrating tanks and rockets and so on. It means the contrary, that Russia’s military forces are weak, I think. Our young people don’t want to serve in the army. The army is demoralized, to serve in the army is like to be in jail now. Long ago a reform of the military was declared by Putin, but it failed. I still cannot understand why people of Russia dont see the lies of Putin’s regime and continue to believe it.

  11. Andrey says:

    Both my grandfathers died in that war.
    It’s not celebration day (with fireworks, parades etc…..)
    My soul is crying in this day…….

  12. saucymugwump says:

    pyotr wrote: “Red Army consisted not of angels of course”

    Germany reaped what it sowed. The atrocities committed by the Nazis could not be forgotten so easily. My country only seems to remember the Holocaust, but there were 12 million slave laborers, many of whom were Soviet POWs. But the Soviet Army needed to go home after eliminating the Nazi threat.

    pyotr wrote: “Victory day parades on Red Square [are] like marching on the graveyard.”

    This is brilliant, almost poetic, what one expects from the land of Pushkin and Gogol (okay, he was Ukrainian-born).

    I agree: Soviet politicians, and now Putin, use the imagery of the 26 million or so Soviet citizens who died in WWII as a political tool to further their agenda. Politicians in my country do the same kind of thing.

    pyotr wrote: “Long ago a reform of the military was declared by Putin, but it failed”

    This is tragic for so many reasons. You know better than I the story of the young soldier who was beaten so badly by his superiors that his legs and genitals had to be amputated. Russia’s current army is pathetic, but not because Russians make poor soldiers or are stupid. All Putin needs to do is declare that all hazing will be punished by long jail terms, including the officers in command. Then he needs to eliminate corruption all over Russia. I do not believe this would be so difficult, but it would involve jailing many of his friends, especially the oligarchs.

    Contrary to the opinion of Sergey, I am not anti-Russia. The two countries I have visited the most are Germany and Russia. Russia should be in the top three countries with respect to industrial production, exporting, and economic power, but the politicians and oligarchs are parasites.

    It must be something in the water in the region. Lukashenka in Belarus is a typical dictator. Every politician in Ukraine is greedy, incompetent, and power-mad; Timashenka is just like Putin, only instead of taking her shirt off at every opportunity, she dyed her black hair and arranged it in braids to fool the voters into thinking she is some kind of Ukrainian fairy princess. Bulgaria is easily the most corrupt country in the European Union, followed by Romania.

  13. Mikhail says:

    The USSR and Nazi Germany have in common their desire to establish a new world order. Despite the number and atrocity of casualties.
    Nevertheless, they differ greatly in respect of national matters.
    Nazis were building the world for the germans, or for what they called “aryans”, more precisely.
    Communists pretended they build the world where the matter of one’s nationality doesn’t matter at all.
    We could celebrate the 9th of may at least as a victory day of the latter idea. This is a positive approach. That’s pitiful, that some nationalist rednecks across the globe do spoil the party.
    History is history. It collects facts, not opinions.

  14. XTRMNTR says:

    The Feat of the RUSSIAN SOLDIER is unprecedented.

  15. David Bird says:

    The Russian didn’t liberate these countries. They invaded them as an ally of Nazi Germany, were then invaded by their German ally, and, once they had liberated themselves from Germany, they re-occupied the lands they had originally invaded only five years before and pushed west to take much of Middle Europe as well. For much of Europe the Second World War did not end in 1945, but with the collaspe of the Soviet Union.

    • saucymugwump says:

      David Bird wrote: “They invaded them as an ally of Nazi Germany”

      Don’t you know? Russian nationalists do not believe in the existence of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.

      David Bird wrote: “[for] Europe the Second World War did not end in 1945”

      Even though I am fairly conversant with the history of Eastern Europe over the past hundred years, I was still a little surprised to see photos in a Budapest museum of the Soviet army finally leaving Hungary after the end of the USSR — in 1994! I am convinced that Soviet troops would never have left Eastern Europe if the USSR’s economy had not collapsed.

      • Sergey says:

        To saucymugwump :
        The Hungarians participated in the World War II on the side of Hitler just as the Romanians did. They killed the peaceful citizens in the Soviet Union, raped the womens, girls.
        If you don`t want to know, we haven`t forgotten and we remember.
        From my point of view, everybody is responsible for his own crimes: Stalin for his deeds, the Hungarians for their evil-doings against the defenceless people.
        Your comments is a part of your personal ideology which was cultivated by the western mass media. To support your opinion you select only those facts which you like.
        For you the Hungarians are the victims and sufferers. For us they are the agressor on whose hands the blood of my people.
        Don`t offend at me, but if you have lived in Germany in 1939 you would have been a Hitler supporter because you can`t be independent from the official propanda. The western propaganda in this case.

        • saucymugwump says:

          Sergey wrote: “The Hungarians participated in the World War II on the side of Hitler just as the Romanians did”

          I agree. So did Slovakia. I think it is a valid question as to whether those countries should have been divided as were Germany and Austria.

          But here’s where your blinders remain on. What about Poland, the Czech half of Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, countries which did NOT collaborate with the Nazis? Why did the Soviet Union occupy them, especially given that the USSR invaded Poland 16 days after the Nazis? And you have never addressed my original question of why the USSR invaded Finland when it was not a threat to anyone.

          Sergey wrote: “if you have lived in Germany in 1939 you would have been a Hitler supporter because you can`t be independent from the official propanda”

          Maybe this is true of most people, but it is certainly not true of all people. Even during WWII, there were Germans willing to die in an attempt to eliminate Hitler. Google on “Operation Valkyrie” to see just one example.

          Even in USSR 2.0, aka Russia, there are people who will not swallow the Putin Kool-Aid, for example, Anna Politkovskaya. Putin, or one of his friends, had her killed.

  16. Sergey says:

    Dear saucymugwump!
    With great pleasure I can inform you that 99,99999% of the Russians don`t believe that Putin killed Politkovskaya. More than that, those who claim that are considered to be the victims of the anti-russian propaganda, if not worse 🙂 For us it`s an anecdote. You can continue to be the part of that anecdote , if you like it.
    About Poland…
    In 1930s Poland hoped to be the partner of Germany, to attack the USSR together with it. The idea of that was that Poland wanted to annex Belarus @ Ukraine which were its colonies formerly. And Germany would have got Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia.
    Also they occupied the part of Czekoslovakia`s territory.
    Tell me more fairy-tales about the innocent Poles and their great human dignity.
    Dear saucymugwump!
    Have you forgotten that at that time all world was divided between the european powers. All Africa was one great colony, all India (with Pakistan and Bangladesh).
    It was the time of Empires when the logics of empires dominated.
    It is easy to get the information about Russia, now that there are many open sources. But you will never repent for the crimes of your own countries against the other nations and here in Russia we know about that.
    So kill more in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Serbia, Pakistan and everywhere. You are good at it.
    Now you are “the Liberator” #1.

  17. Mikhail says:

    Dear friends!
    I believe this discussion is not a place to exhibit your profound knowledge of history.
    The question is what form should the holiday event of 9th of may take in this new situation, when almost all of the war veterans are gone.
    I really dislike this buffonade pseudo-grandeur which is the disgustingly prevailing aesthetics of ruling class in modern Russia. Nevertheless, victory over fascism is certainly a great historical event to be marked, and though every war has its war crimes, in my opinion this is not that central point that should be discussed on this day.
    What would you americans say if someone talked exclusively about the fate of mohawk people on thanksgiving?

  18. Sergey says:

    In Russia on the 9th of May we feel ourself one nation.
    On this day I pray for the souls of my compatriots who perished in the World War II.
    My grandfather perished like many others.
    Not Stalin killed him but the Germans. Not the communists but the fascists.
    We`ll remember that war even in 5000 years.
    We`ll celebrate that day even in 5000 years.

    No Russian need this discussion.
    We know what we celebrate on the Day of Great Victory.

    • saucymugwump says:

      Sergey wrote: “My grandfather perished like many others. Not Stalin killed him”

      The Nazis fired the bullet that killed him, but Stalin neglected to give him the tools to defend himself.

      • Sergey says:

        To saucymugwump.

        Do you suffer that not Germany won in 1945?
        Keep up your spirit!
        Try to kill us in the next war 🙂
        If the Arabs won`t stop you earlier…

  19. Mikhail says:

    Sergey, what is the date of victory over mongols? over Napoleon?
    No, be realistic. Next generations will have their own troubles.
    But the attempt to pervert the day of glory into the day of shame is almost offending, of course.

    • Sergey says:

      Mikhail, your point of view is not charachteristic of Russia.
      Your thoughts are something not russian.
      The Jews remember the Pesakh (pass-over) the same time.
      Why we should be worse than they?

      As for the afore-mentioned dates look for the information about the “Borodino” and the battle against Mamay in the Internet.

      And learn to differentiate between “the state” and “the Motherland” if you want to have the Light in your life. Otherwise the Darkness will swallow 🙂

      “The Light will be with the one who searches for it” (Agni Yoga).

  20. Pyotr says:

    To saucymugwump. Excuse me but I would advise you what many other people advised before. Among them are Pushkin and Goethe. Do not argue with people like Sergey. All russian speaking forums are full with their hate. Do not let him pour his bile all over the place. We all have got your point and Sergey’s. It doesn’t matter whose word will be the last, does it?

  21. James Brooke jbrooke says:

    Ok everyone — let’s lighten up — it’s one month since Victory Day — so let’s move on!
    Take a look at my latest column: a look at Russia from Brazil.
    I covered Brazil for The New York Times, from 1989-1995.
    After a 16 year absence, I returned in late May to take a look — and to enjoy an Ipanema vacation with my three university student sons.
    Enjoy the column — and tell me what you think (sticking to the point)
    cheers
    Jim
    Moscow

About

About

James Brooke is VOA Moscow bureau chief, covering Russia and the former USSR. With The New York Times, he worked as a foreign correspondent in Africa, Latin America, Canada and Japan/Koreas. He studied Russian in college during the Brezhnev years, first visited Moscow as a reporter during the final months of Gorbachev, and then came back for reporting forays during the Yeltsin and early Putin years. In 2006, he moved to Moscow to report for Bloomberg. He joined VOA in Moscow in 2010. Follow Jim on Twitter @VOA_Moscow.

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