Another look at WW II, but without the bias
The West, notably the US, is following in Hitler’s footsteps.
Below is our translation from Komsomolskaya Pravda with commentary by Vince Dhimos.
Victory Day was celebrated in Moscow on May 8.
The motto of the Third Reich was Deutschland über alles. America’s answer to that is the notion of the Exceptional Nation, or the Indispensable Nation. It is no accident that today’s Ukraine, with a regime made in USA, is full of Neo-Nazis and Nazi admirers.
The main two competing world views are the Asian one espousing equality for all peoples, best articulated by Russian commentators and politicians, and the extreme right view of the US insisting the US is everyone's boss. Trump is not an anomaly, he is this view taken to its logical end. The Russians have a good perspective on this, having suffered more than any other people under the fascist boot, with casualties of 27 million. The Brown Shirts came to the Russians uninvited, but by contrast, the West grew its own Brown Shirts. They thrive in our soil and go out into the world uninvited, sowing chaos and death as before. Unlike the German Brown Shirts, they pretend they are bringing humanitarian aid, freedom and democracy.
The West did not believe in the Soviet victory over Hitler, and now it’s ready to rerun the war
Publicist, historian and demographer Vladimir Timakov - on the myths that have arisen around the Great Patriotic War
ELENA KRYVYAKINA @ elenakrivyakina
Was Stalin preparing to attack Germany first? Is it true that the ratio of Nazi losses to Red Army losses was 1 to 10, and the Soviet soldiers did not spare German women? There are a lot of such myths about the Great Patriotic War. To find out how true they are - we asked the author of the book “The War that Changed the World” by historian, journalist and demographer Vladimir Timakov.
THEY WERE CONVINCED THAT THE SOVIET UNION WOULD COLLAPSE
- Vladimir Viktorovich, we increasingly hear that the decisive role in the victory in World War II does not belong to the USSR, but to the allies, and if Hitler had not started the war, it would have been started by Stalin. Why are we hearing an increasing number of such myths?
- The main goal of these myths is to deprive our people of one of the main pillars in history. That war proved that we are no worse than Western European nations and that Russian civilization is just as viable. The entire strategy of the West for the last five centuries has been based on the fact that they are a high society, and all the rest are inferior and must give way to them and submit. Hitlerism is simply an extreme form of Western snobbery, according to which there is only one path of development for all peoples, and those who deviate from it must be cured by force. Before the Second World War, our country was viewed as the backwater of the planet. When Hitler attacked us, no one doubted that in a few months nothing would be left of the USSR. The highest civilization clashed with the lowest - it was not only the Nazis who thought that way. Western democracies were convinced of this. And the fact that we did not collapse, but were able to win, was a great surprise to the whole world.
- Why would we have to collapse? After all, geographically and numerically, we surpassed Germany.
- Africa is also geographically superior to Europe, and India to England, nevertheless, before this, there were no examples in history of non-European societies successfully resisting European ones. And by the way, numerically, we are not so far superior to Germany. If we take the Reich of 1941 with all the annexed territories and satellite countries, then the difference in human resources we had was very small, and Germany’s technical, economic, and organizational advantage seemed huge.
HITLER WAS A RISK-TAKER, NOT SO STALIN
- Stalin, too, was actively preparing the country for war. Why could he not start it first?
- There are two main accusations against the Soviet prewar leadership. They are completely opposite, but often they somehow coexist schizophrenically in one head. First myth: the USSR, as it turned out, was not prepared for war, and therefore in the first few years our troops suffered a crushing defeat. Second myth: we were going to attack first. And that huge preparation for war — the country really worked under great stress, turning into a military camp — is interpreted as planning aggression. But Stalin was not a risk taker by nature; he was a very careful person and acted only when success was guaranteed. But Hitler’s whole policy was risky from the very beginning – thus, by getting involved in a war with Poland, the Nazis risked facing Britain and France, which were considered the strongest countries of Europe.
The offensive against the Soviet Union was for Hitler a campaign for resources to continue the war with the Anglo-Saxon countries. These had resources - colonies in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
- But it wasn’t by chance that the USSR called more men to the army before the war, was it?
- No, but at the same time we did not mobilize. By the beginning of the war, we had 5 million people under arms. This is just over 12% of our potential recruiting resources, which were about 40 million people. And the Germans had from 7.5 to 8.5 million people under arms, with resources of 24 million, that is, a third of the male population. This immediately shows which country was about to fight in the summer of 1941, and which was not.
“Why didn't we mobilize ahead of time?”
- World War I broke out when Russia began mobilization, which turned out to be sufficient reason for Germany, Austria and Hungary to accuse us of aggressive aspirations and to declare war on us. Therefore, Stalin did not want to give Hitler the same kind of trump card.
But on the one hand, the lack of mobilization is proof that we were not prepared to attack first. On the other hand, our army had tripled in the two pre-war years compared to peacetime.
That we could not withstand the first blow was predictable. Countries that attacked first, whether Poland in the 1939, France in 1940, the British troops in Malaya or the US in the Philippines in 1941, all suffered terrible defeats from the very beginning. They were not prepared to conduct modern mobile wars. Therefore, having entered the war with the best army in the world, we too suffered very heavy losses. Our army was mostly conscription, and these were young guys, 18-21 years old, while the backbone of the German army were 30-year old experienced military men.
At the same time, no one was better prepared for long-term military actions than Stalin. In terms of their ability to shift the economy onto a war-time footing (all factories could produce products both for peace-time and war-time) no one could compare with us.
- The USSR is often called a quasi-ally of Hitler because of the non-aggression pact signed with Germany in 1939.
“On the other hand, they forget that at that time the USSR was already waging a war in the east against Japan.” At Khalkhin Gol, Japan lost more soldiers than Germany in Poland. We waited for a large-scale war to begin in the east. And when we signed a non-aggression pact with Germany, we were insuring ourselves against war on two fronts and putting off the deadline for the future inevitable clash with Germany.
“WE TREATED GERMAN POW’S BETTER THAN THEY DID OURS”
- Did we really cover the roads with corpses so that Hitler would not pass?
- According to official figures, the USSR lost 27 million people in the war. But that also included civilian casualties, not only those who were shot or died in concentration camps and in captivity, but also losses from excess mortality in the rear - from hunger and disease. The numbers of dead at the front are too difficult to estimate accurately. Losses at the front can be estimated at up to 10 million people – of those who wore overcoats – and this is quite comparable with the enemy’s losses. If we compare the conscript resources of the Wehrmacht against ours, then we lost no more than 170 soldiers per 100 enemy. If, as some say, we gave up 10 of our soldiers for 1 Fritz, by the end of the war the balance sheets would not tally. Such catastrophic losses as 10 to 1 could only be in the very first months of the war. By the middle - they were assumed to be equal, and by the end - they were already shaping up in our favour.
At the same time, most of the Soviet losses were our dead prisoners. The mortality of German soldiers in our captivity was much less. Although we could not provide the German soldiers even theoretically with the kind of content that Germany could give our prisoners. But Germany did not make any effort to give at least a minimum of calories to our soldiers. It was believed that we were an inferior race, so even if all the prisoners died, that was ok.
- Do you disagree with the view that Red Army men were just cannon fodder?
“IF SOLDIERS HAD BEEN SPARED, LOSSES WOULD HAVE TRIPLED”
- I had a debate with an Israeli colleague who said that the Soviet commanders did not take care of the soldiers, but the British commanders did so very humanely when they evacuated their army from Dunkirk. I answered that it was necessary to defend Dunkirk, as we defended Odessa and Sevastopol, and that if the British had not spared their soldiers, and had stayed in Dunkirk in 1940 and stopped Hitler, maybe there would have been no Holocaust. My Israeli colleague was shocked by this argument. But it is one thing when soldiers are killed, whose duty is to fight, and another thing when there is mass destruction of children, the elderly and women.
On average, every day of the war for 1 soldier who died in battle, there were 3 deaths of unarmed people in the rear and in captivity. It would have been possible, of course, to take care of the soldiers, and then the military losses would have been less. But a delay in the war meant increased mortality of the civilian population. So sorry for the soldiers in this case - humanism was conditional. We won partly because we were not afraid to take casualties. But there was more at stake than the death of soldiers. The death of an entire people was at stake.
- The Soviet soldier is often represented as a cruel rapist who did not spare German women. Is this so?
- This opinion is repeated by many Western media. They even provide a number - 2 million German women raped by Soviet soldiers. But all this propaganda is based only on a book published in the mid-90s by two German feminists, Helke Sander and Barbara Johr. They took data from the registration logs of two Berlin clinics from September 1945 to August 1946 and looked at how many newborns had Russian fathers. For these journals, they made calculations, and came to the figure of 2 million.
I conducted a parallel study based on the same data. And I got numbers that differ by a factor of 200! The fact is, Sander and Johr retained the racial thinking typical of Hitler's Reich. They basically denied the fact that German and Russian soldiers could enter into a relationship by mutual consent: for love, for commercial reasons, from longing for the opposite sex. In addition, these "researchers" suggested that Russian soldiers raped German women of all ages, indiscriminately.
- The same was said about the German soldiers, that they raped both young and old women.
- In any nation there are people with deviant behaviour, but we cannot judge a whole people based on them. But Sander and Johr decided that this was the norm for the Russians - and they made this the basis of the calculation. Then they considered that Germans raped by Russians absolutely must have had an abortion, although at that time abortions were very rare. According to the same clinics, only 34% of those who became pregnant through violence, particular by Americans and the Germans themselves, have an abortion. But these two "researchers" considered that the Russians were such vile animals, that all Germans would definitely have had abortions following such contact. Such racist assumptions inflated the number of raped women to an unprecedented degree.
- How much could it really be?
- Without racial "amendments" about 10 thousand rapes are calculated. This is the same level of violence that exists in modern Germany. That is, there were no more rapists among our soldiers who had gone through a terrible war, who had lost their loved ones, who had all the motives for revenge, than among modern burghers. And according to Berlin hospitals, there are no racial prejudices in German women: in 1947, when Berlin was already divided into four equal zones, the number of children born to Americans, Russians, British and French was about the same.
AFTER ACCESSION TO THE USSR MORTALITY IN THE BALTIC DECREASED BY A FACTOR OF 1.5
- In the liberal environment, a parallel is often drawn between Stalin and Hitler, referring to the fact that the USSR also pursued an aggressive policy, occupying the Baltic states and part of Poland.
- First, the USSR occupied only those territories that previously belonged to the Russian Empire, and the legitimacy of whose secession was controversial.
Secondly, during this “occupation” no blood was shed. The local population did not offer any resistance, but when the Germans entered, say, Yugoslavia, Greece and Poland - the resistance was fierce.
Thirdly, in contrast to Hitler's Germany, the USSR did not conduct any genocide of peoples in the annexed territories. They joined as equals. Yes, there were political repressions in the USSR, but not ethnic ones.
On the other hand, in the first 15 years after the war, compared with the pre-war level, mortality decreased by one and a half times in the Baltics, and even more in Moldova. If Estonia was the first country in Europe with a negative population growth before the war, then in the USSR it showed a positive spontaneous increase higher than in Sweden or Denmark. And in the territories occupied by Germany, there was real genocide. The Polish population decreased by 20% and the Belarusian by 25%.
The Soviet empire was very different from Hitler’s Reich and many other empires of the West in that all nations were equal. But democratic France, England and Holland did not allow any democracy in their colonies, and the discrimination there was fantastic. The standard of living of the Dutchman and the Indonesian differed by a factor of 50! These were, in fact, democratic Reichs, in keeping with Hitler’s — with superior and inferior nations.
"The US earned good money off the war"
- There is a point of view that the USA won the most in the Second World War, although it was the USSR that won it.
- All the nations that depended on the West before 1945 won. China won, which after the opium wars spent a half-century in deep depression. India won, ceasing to be a poor colony. Despite the enormous sacrifices, the Jewish people won, creating their own state - Israel. The Koreans won, freeing themselves from Japan and creating nuclear power on one hand and super-technology on the other. And many Western countries lost, despite the fact that they were in the winners’ camp. If you look at the long-term dynamics of GDP, the main “state-downshifter” was not Russia at all, but England. Before the war, it was above all the rest, and now it is getting closer to the average level.
Of the Western countries the USA got the best part of the bargain. With a minimum of human casualties, they made very good money off this war. The war-torn Western civilization rallied around it, and it became their leader. And it still receive dividends from it.
- And what benefit does the West derive from belittling our victory, from reassessing the results of the Second World War?
- This is another attempt to prove that Western civilization is still much better and higher. The same policy that gave Hitler the rationale for attacking our country.
I don’t think they’ll be as lucky this time around.