Last Friday marked the 70th anniversary of VE Day. It was a day marked by multiple commemorations across Europe. But the idiots at The Nation were not happy:
Unfortunately, this opportunity has been squandered by President Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and other Western leaders who have refused to participate in the May 9 celebrations in Moscow. Rather than acknowledge and honor the Soviet role in the great victory of 1945, these leaders are deliberately distorting the historical record and treating the anniversary as yet another occasion to spurn Russia over the Ukraine crisis. By doing so, they are not only dishonoring the memories of the millions of Red Army soldiers who died in the fight against the Nazis. They are also rejecting an opportunity to ease East/West tensions in favor of raising them even further.
This behavior is consistent with a troubling pattern. The period from June 6, 2014, to May 9, 2015, contained the 70th anniversaries of the “year of victories” that led to the defeat of the Third Reich. Americans remember D-Day as the moment the tide of the war turned, when Allies landed at Normandy and began the long struggle to liberate Europe. Judging by the chilly reception Obama and Cameron gave to Vladimir Putin at the D-Day commemoration last June, one might have inferred that the Russian president had no business attending the ceremony—or, worse, that he was somehow representative of the defeated Axis powers.
There are a lot of good reasons why no respectable person would have attended Vladimir Putin’s victory celebration. But let’s look at the big ones.
Russia was not a combatant in World War II
The Soviet Union was a combatant and the Soviet Union, much to the chagrin of The Nation which spent decades apologizing for all manner of Soviet genocides and monstrosities, no longer exists. Russia was merely a constituent state of the USSR. If Obama is expected to attend the Russian celebration then Putin should have to attend the VE Day celebration in Bismark, North Dakota. We owe Russia’s continued presence on the UN Security Council to George H. W. Bush who, for reasons that seemed fanciful at the time and positively dangerous in retrospect,
The Soviet Union was not led by a Russian
If we are honoring the Soviet Union’s contributions to victory then Obama and other should have gone to the victory celebration in Tblisi, Georgia (yes, there was one). Stalin was not a Russian, he was Georgian. Reliable demographic data on the Red Army is virtually impossible to come by (there are some numbers on the internet but the sources have huge problems) but a significant plurality, if not out right majority, of the Red Army came from Soviet republics other than Russia.
The Soviet Union was a German ally
If we decided, against all reason, to assume that Russia = USSR for purposes of commemorating World War II’s end, then we must look askance at Soviet-German military cooperation before and during World War II.
Between 1918 and 1933, there was extensive military cooperation between the USSR and pre-Nazi Germany. This cooperation allowed Germany to develop equipment and doctrine that would be used to great effect during World War II and to skirt the military limitations imposed by the Versailles Treaty. German armor trained at bases inside the Soviet Union. The Luftwaffe formed there. A military academy was run in Moscow that graduated Keitel, Mannstein, and Model. Even after military cooperation ended there was extensive political and economic cooperation. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939 was a direct prerequisite for the beginning of World War II. In fact, the Red Army invaded Poland at the same time as the Wehrmacht. Two additional commercial treaties were signed after the Fall of France (here | here), so it isn’t like the USSR was appalled by German actions. Vladimir Putin in undeterred by mere facts, to celebrate V-E Day he defended the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact:
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday defended the infamous pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union that agreed to divide up eastern Europe during a visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
On August 23, 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union agreed to carve up eastern Europe between them in a secret clause of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact on non-aggression.
“When the USSR realised that it was left facing Hitler’s Germany alone, it took steps so as to not permit a direct collision and this Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed,” Putin said at a news conference in response to a question from a journalist.
This, of course, is a blatant lie as any calendar of 1939 will show you.
Unsatisfied with the nastiness of the Germans, the Soviets had to one-up them. In the Katyn Forest some 22,000 Polish officers, intellectuals, and political leaders were executed by the NKVD. If you are into this type of thing, NKVD executioner Vasiliy Blokhin personally killed some 7,000 of them. The abandonment of the Polish Home Army to allow them to be finally slaughtered by the Germans in October 1944 has to remain one of the most duplicitous acts in the annals of modern warfare.
According to The Nation:
A generous acknowledgement of the leading Soviet role in the victory of 1945 should have served as a reminder of how much the United States and the Soviet Union were able to accomplish together in their joint triumph over fascism. And it would have reminded us how vital it is for the two nations to continue to work together as partners in the fight against terrorism, transnational crime, drug trafficking, sexual slavery, climate change and nuclear proliferation.
In short, acknowledging the contribution of the USSR in winning World War II (Soviet troops, eating American SPAM, traveling in American Studebaker trucks, that arrived in Murmansk and Archangel on American ships) rings rather hollow. Stalin and Hitler cooperated before and after the outbreak of World War II. After the war, the USSR required the expenditure of untold billions of dollars to defend Western Europe from Soviet depredations. The record of post-Soviet Russia has been equally problematic. I don’t see a single area in the laundry list from the Nation, where we are on the same side of the struggle as Russia. As it exists today, Russia is merely an ongoing RICO violation and mischief maker. Attending a victory dance by Vladimir Putin would have demeaned the memory of all those Allied soldiers who died in Europe.