Thursday 30th of November 2023

forgetting history.... or rewriting it according to a bad memory... or simply bad will...



Queen Elizabeth II has been joined in Portsmouth by 15 world leaders to commemorate D-Day, the Allied invasion of France in June 1944. They marked the 75th anniversary of the event that established a Second Front in the war against Nazi Germany.

But the leader of the country that bore the brunt of the fighting on the first front – the Eastern — was not invited.

READ MORE: British Soldier Drowns While Preparing For 75th Anniversary of D-Day

Neither Britain nor France invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend the commemorations that began in Portsmouth and will continue in Normandy. With the ever dwindling numbers of veterans, the 75th anniversary of D-Day will probably be the last big official celebration of this momentous event in the history of mankind. But will it do justice to the great wartime cooperation of Britain, the United States, and Russia?

We don't know what discussions the Western governments of today have been having behind closed doors regarding the guest lists, but British government papers declassified five months ago shed some light on their thinking back in 1994, during the preparations for the 50th anniversary of D-Day.

Interestingly enough, the files have just been reclaimed by the UK government, apparently for inspiration on how to deal with Russia this time around.

The 50th anniversary of D-Day was deemed to be an event of great historic significance and the British government was meticulously selecting guests of honour from among foreign heads of state and government. The list was impressive and was copied almost to the dot for the 75th commemorations:

"It is intended to invite the Heads of State or Government from: Australia; Belgium; Canada; France; Holland; Luxembourg; New Zealand; Norway; Poland and the USA. The FCO are at present actively considering this list. We are also in discussion with the FCO about the level of representation to be fielded by Germany and South Africa".

It was suggested that the commemoration arrangements "should attempt to include countries from Central and Eastern Europe as far as possible".

There was one glaring omission from the list that should have been obvious to everyone who went to secondary school. The only person who noticed the omission, though, was Prime Minister John Major (hats off to Rutlish Comprehensive, his alma mater). He scribbled on the proposed list of foreign guests a simple question: "our Russian allies?"

The Whitehall mandarins were quick off the mark: "the Russians had no role" in D-Day, so why bother inviting them? The then junior defence minister, Viscount Cranborne, sought to reassure the prime minister:

"Concerning the Russians I am rather more relaxed as to whether they are invited or not. We are commemorating D-Day, not the defeat of Germany, and the Russians had no direct hand in the former".

Had the Viscount consulted leading British historians, as John Major asked him to do, he would have learned that D-Day would have been impossible without the Russians. They tied up 228 Nazi divisions on the Eastern front, whereas only 11 divisions were defending the Normandy beaches on D-Day.

The casualty statistics are revealing:

More than 4,000 Allied soldiers and about the same number of German troops died on D-Day. Up to 20,000 French civilians were reportedly killed in the bombings.

On the Eastern front, the Red Army started its June offensive, codenamed Operation Bagration, that saw 300,000 Nazi troops destroyed.

From this perspective, D-Day looks like a diversion tactic to help the Red Army's strategic task of finishing off the largest and strongest German Army Group Centre. While the Western allies were struggling to break out of the Normandy beachheads, the Russians advanced 450 miles into the heart of Poland, smashing almost 20 German divisions and severely crippling 50 more. This was a much bigger rout than at Stalingrad a year before.

READ MORE: No More D-Days: Royal Navy Could Lose Amphibious Assault Ships Due to Cuts

At no time following D-Day did the German high command contemplate transferring forces from the East to the West to counter the Normandy landings. To the contrary, the June offensive by the Red Army forced Hitler to redeploy 46 divisions, including some from France, to the Eastern front. The decisive factor in the successful landings — Allied air superiority — was due to the fact that most German warplanes were engaged on the Russian front.

By the time the Western Allies opened the Second front, the Red Army almost didn't need it.

Double Whammy

With the Russians "out of the way" for the 50th anniversary celebrations, the British and French attention turned to the question of how to avoid offending German "sensitivities". 

Roderic Lyne, then private secretary to Prime Minister John Major, wrote:

"[W]e should find an appropriate way of handling the German angle, and of avoiding trampling on German sensitivities.

From the German point of view, it would be best either not to invite he Russians, or to have them represented at an inconspicuously low level…"

Then Defence Secretary Malcolm Rifkind suggested that the best way to deal with German sensitivities would be "to take forward the spirit of reconciliation".

And herein lies the difference between Western and Soviet/Russian experience of and attitudes to the Second World War. For the West, WWII was basically a continuation of WWI — a war among old rivals to settle the scores from the Great War of 1914-1918. The Germans never planned to exterminate the British or the French. For the peoples of the Soviet Union it was a different kind of war — a mortal struggle for their very survival at the hands of the Nazis, whose ultimate goal was to eliminate or enslave every living being in the USSR.

In his account of the fighting in France in 1944, the leading light on the history of WWII, Max Hastings cites a German tank officer's reaction to a temporary ceasefire in Normandy to allow both sides to retrieve their dead and injured. In Russia, the officer said, "we would have driven straight over them".

The British and French could contemplate reconciliation with the Germans, but reconciliation with the Nazis is a different matter. Somehow these Russian sensitivities did not bother London or Paris when drawing up their guest lists for the commemoration.

No one is questioning the courage and sacrifice of Private Ryan on Normandy's, beaches but it was Private Ivan who tore the guts out of the Nazi war machine at Stalingrad, Kursk, and in Belarus. Together they delivered the double whammy that knocked out the Nazis.

Today's Western politicians, suffering from amnesia, should take their cue from Admiral Ramsay, Allied Naval Commander-in-Chief Expeditionary Force, who issued this Special Order of the Day to each officer and man departing for the Normandy beaches:

"It is to be our privilege to take part in the greatest amphibious operation in history — a necessary preliminary to the opening of the Western front in Europe, which in conjunction with the great Russian advance will crush the fighting power of Germany".

It is said that war is too serious a matter to trust it to the military. Remembering a great military alliance is too important to trust it to the politicians.


Nikolai Gorshkov

a sad death on d-day... apart from the truth...

Aserving British soldier set to take part in the D-Day 75th anniversary commemorations in Normandy has died, the army has confirmed.

Lance Corporal Darren Jones, 30, of the Royal Engineers, drowned in a canal at Bénouville near the historic Pegasus bridge, the first site to be liberated by the allies on June 6, 1944.

"It is with sadness that we must confirm the death of a service person in France. Our thoughts are with their family at this difficult time," a British army spokesperson said.   

Fire-fighters pulled LCpl Jones' body of the water early on Sunday morning and he was declared dead at the scene, according to French media reports.   

French police are investigating the incident and are said not to be looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.  

A post-mortem is yet to be carried out. 


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The truth died as well on that day in 2019...

a message from sergueï lavrov



Few people [in the West] have been concerned that in Ukraine, a country that has been rushed to "European values", the now-past Poroshenko regime proclaimed the founding of the "Ukrainian Insurrectionary Army" as an official celebratory date — while the Ukrainian Insurrectionary Army was criminal. It was guilty of the death of tens of thousands of peaceful Ukrainians, Byelorussians, Russians, Poles, Jews (in Israel itself, whose people suffered the Holocaust, May 9 is proclaimed as an official holiday, a day of the Victory). These are […] glaring examples from our neighbouring countries: torchlight marches, such as in fascist Germany, parades of Bandera heirs in the central streets of the city of Kiev, veterans and admirers of the Waffen. SS "in Riga and Tallinn. I would like to question those who resent the tears of our [Russian] veterans at the parades, and those who have criticise the "paramilitary" actions, in honour of Victory: how do you see this "demilitarisation" of the European-style conscience?

Nobody admits it, of course, but the facts are there: the United States, NATO and the EU forgive a lot in their [new] allies who continue their career with pronounced Russophobia. The goal being to use them to preserve Western alliances on anti-Russian positions. In order to give up a pragmatic dialogue on an equal footing with Moscow, everything is allowed for these guys, including the glorification of the accomplices of the fascists and pronounced chauvinism towards Russians and other national minorities.


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Ukraine joined the Nazis against Russia in WW2, but this has been forgotten by the West. Now the Nazis in Ukraine have been recruited "to fight the Russians" on behalf of the West... Hypocrites? Yes we are...


Translation and comment by Jules Letambour


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d-day mythology...

It was the Soviet army that broke Hitler's back at Stalingrad, but the myth that the American army liberated Europe, serves aggressive U.S. policy, including Trump targeting Iran - historian Peter Kuznick joins Paul Jay


PAUL JAY Welcome back to The Real News Network. We’re continuing our discussion with Peter Kuznick about the 75th anniversary of D-Day, and ask him whether or not D-Day really was the day the battle that broke the back of German militarism, German fascism.

Peter joins us again. Peter is a professor of history and the director of Nuclear Studies Institute at American University. He’s the author of The Untold History of the United States, co-written with Oliver Stone, as well as Rethinking the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So, Peter, let’s pick up the conversation.

So so the narrative we all mostly learn in schools is D-Day was this heroic battle fought by tens of thousands of Canadian, British, American soldiers, and I started with Canadian because that’s where I was. But was it? No doubt it was a tremendous battle, and no doubt thousands of people died. But was it the battle that broke the back of Naziism?

PETER KUZNICK No. It was a tremendous battle. I’m surprised that you say you learned that the Canadians were actually there on that day.

PAUL JAY That’s because I grew up in Canada.

PETER KUZNICK The Americans don’t know that the Canadians were there. The Americans don’t even know that the British were there. And if you look at the films like Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers, the Canadians and the British still weren’t there. This was the United States fighting singlehandedly to defeat Germany in the war.

So I’m not sure what your father was doing there that day, but as we know, the reality is that this was very much a joint operation; that the British and the Canadians in some ways played a greater role at Normandy than the Americans did, in terms of the number of troops, in terms of the landing craft, in terms of the number of beaches hit.

So it’s part of the American mythology. It’s a crucial element of American mythology. And I’m sorry you’re trampling on it by bringing the British and the Canadians into this.

PAUL JAY Sorry to let a historical fact get in the way of a good narrative.

PETER KUZNICK And it’s a great narrative, and it’s a heroic narrative. At least the United States is intervening in an aggressive way to stop fascism. That’s a good thing. I wish the Americans would do more of that now rather than coddle many of the fascist forces around the globe today.

But it was a very important day, and a very important turning point. But it was not the decisive turning point in World War II.

PAUL JAY So what was?

PETER KUZNICK What we have to remember is that throughout most of World War II, the U.S. and the British faced 10 German divisions combined. The Soviets were facing more than 200 German divisions. The Germans lost approximately 1 million men on the Western front. They lost 6 million on the Eastern front. There is reason why Churchill said the Red Army tore the guts out of the German war machine. However, that’s not what Americans learn. But the reality is that the Soviets defeated the Nazis with aid from the Americans and the British and the Canadians and others. It was a vast coalition. But the ones who did most of the fighting and most of the dying were the Soviets. The Americans lost about little more than 300,000 in combat and 400,000 total in World War II. The Soviets lost 27 million. 27 million. Even now in the public opinion surveys, Americans are asked who won the war in Europe. 11 percent said the Soviets won the war in Europe. The Europeans have come in a little bit better. Maybe 15 percent understand that the Soviets won the war in Europe. In France, in a survey taken in May of 1945, when they were asked who won the war in Europe, 57 percent said the Soviets did. Now it’s under 15 percent who say the Soviets did.

So what’s happened is history has fallen into this deep black hole, and that’s been reinforced by the patriotic drivel in the post-war period. Again not to diminish the tremendous achievement and the heroism and the sacrifice at D-Day or in Europe in World War II. But again, we’ve got to go back to this history. As you said before, the Soviets were asking the West to intervene to stop Hitler repeatedly. They finally gave up and signed the Hitler-Stalin pact in 1939. And then Stalin fell into this delusion–Stalin, who never trusts anybody, seemed to trust Hitler that the Germans were not going to invade. And Stalin was caught with his pants down in June of 1941 when the Germans finally did invade. And they almost succeeded. But the Soviets resisted. And then the big battles occur.

Late 1931, the Battle of Moscow, the Germans came very close to taking Moscow. But the Soviets resisted. But the big battle, the real turning point, is the Battle of Stalingrad. And that begins in August 1942, and ends in February of 1943. And the casualties there were horrific. We’re talking about over a million Soviet casualties, perhaps half a million Soviet dead, several hundred thousand Germans dead. And after the Soviets defeat the German army and Paulus surrenders his 91,000 remaining troops in February 14 of 1943, Hitler says the gods of war have gone over to the other side. And that battle is followed by the Kursk battle. The big tank battle at Kursk. And from there the Soviets were on the offensive, and they were marching through Eastern Europe and Central Europe, and making their way to Berlin.

But the American narrative and the Russian narratives are totally different in World War II. For the Americans, the war begins at Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. And then there’s some battling in North Africa and the underbelly, and Italy. But the real war for the Americans begins June 6, 1944, with the invasion of Normandy with D-Day. Then the Americans singlehandedly defeat the Germans and marched straight into Berlin. And the Americans win the war in Europe. That’s a very, very unfortunate and dangerous myth that has been perpetrated. And if you listen to Trump’s words, again, in England, again he’s reinforcing that myth about the Americans leading the way to the liberation of Europe. That’s not the reality. The reality was the success at Normandy is largely due to the fact that the Germans were already weakened badly by that point, because they had been taking a pummeling, and they were in retreat across Europe ahead of the Russian Army, ahead of the vast Red Army, which was then liberating the concentration camps. And part of the reason why the Russians were so full of rage and committed the atrocities they did against the Germans when they took Berlin was because they had seen the German atrocities in the concentration camps, because they had seen what the Germans had done to the Russians throughout that, before the Russians turned the tide.

So what I tell my students, what the Soviets lost in World War II, the loss of 27 million people in World War II is the equivalent of one 9/11 a day, every day, for 24 years that’s what the Soviets suffered in World War 2 the equivalent of one 9/11 a day every day for 24 years, in terms of the number of deaths suffered by the Soviet Union. As John Kennedy says in his tremendous commencement address at American University in June of 1963, he says what the Soviets suffered was the equivalent of the entire United States east of Chicago having been wiped out and destroyed.

PAUL JAY Some people argue that the reason the United States and Britain didn’t open up a second front earlier was because, as we said in part one of this interview, there’s a lot of people within the political and military elites and others that wanted the Germans and the Russians just to fight the hell out of each other. And then, too, the sections of the elites and military, especially in the United States, but even in the UK, that could kind of live with a German occupation of Europe, but they would not live with the possibility–and this is what happened in Stalingrad, in Kursk, as you mentioned. When the Russians start to have the upper hand against the Germans and start marching towards Berlin, there’s people in Washington and in London who do not want the Russians to be coming, the Soviets to be coming. One quote is that they were afraid they might meet them at the English Channel. So they actually open up the second front because they’re concerned more about what would happen with the Soviet Union rather than trying to actually be the one that is the final defeat of the Germans. What do you make of the argument?

PETER KUZNICK I would give more credit to the American leaders than that. This is the 1940s. Americans are on the right side of a war against fascism. We would like to project the kind of mindset of the post-war period back to then. And I don’t think it works. You have to remember that in May of ’42, Roosevelt took the initiative to ask Stalin to send Molotov and a trusted general to Washington D.C. He met there with them. And during that meeting he turns to General Marshall, and he says, can the United States open up the second front before the end of 1942, open up the second front in Europe? And Marshall says yes. And then they issue a proclamation committing the United States to open up a second front.

PAUL JAY So why don’t they?

PETER KUZNICK [Crosstalk] the end of 1942. Churchill initially said he approved of it, but he did not want to have any hand in this at all. He says we don’t have enough transports. We’re not ready, we’re not strong enough. And Churchill drags his feet. Roosevelt decides to go along with the British plan to invade North Africa in early 1943. But the American leaders, military leaders, were furious. Marshall dismissed this as periphery pecking. Eisenhower, who led the operation, said this will go down as the blackest day in history, when we invade North Africa instead of opening up the second front in Europe. There were second front rallies throughout the United States. Bumper stickers, signs. The American people wanted to open up the second front in Europe. Roosevelt I think sincerely did, also, but he calculated we have to get the U.S. involved militarily somewhere in 1943. And if the British won’t go along, we’re not in a position to do what we want to do. So I think-

PAUL JAY Let me interrupt for a second. Do you buy the idea that if Roosevelt and the American military leaders really wanted the second front, I don’t know the history well enough to question it, but they couldn’t force this on Churchill?

PETER KUZNICK You know, I’m not a military historian, so I probably can’t give you the definitive answer to that. But the British were terrified at the thought of confronting the German armies on the land. The British were desperate to preserve the British Empire. That was one of Churchill’s war goals, was preservation of the British Empire. So the effort through the Mediterranean to protect–they wanted to protect the oil interests. They wanted to protect India. And that was clearly what the British were willing to do. Roosevelt and Churchill did not agree on a lot of things during the war. And Roosevelt felt that he needed the British support. Even on D-Day, Paul, it was much more–more British planning and British operation logistically and in terms of troops and transport then it was an American operation. So I think the Americans were still dependent on the British at that point, certainly in 1942. We were gearing up our tremendous vast industrial machine. And by ’43-’44, maybe we could have done this on our own. But we needed the British support early on in ’42 and early ’43 to pull this off.

PAUL JAY So Trump goes to London, makes a point of making this speech we played in part one. What does he make such an issue out of D-Day now? You don’t think it has something to do with all the machinations against Iran, and his attempt, his hope that Britain and Europe will get on board with those plans? Because right now that doesn’t seem to be happening for him.

PETER KUZNICK No, I don’t think Trump cares. Trump will bully them into going along with U.S. policy. He’s going to use trade. He’s going to use sanctions. He’s going to use his bullying to try to cram, ram this down the throats of the Europeans. Europeans are furious with Trump over his Iran policy. Even the British have failed to go along with this. But Trump is still able to achieve much of what he wants to even without the direct support of the Europeans on this.

So I mean, clearly, as you and I have discussed, what the Trump foreign policy people really are concerned about is Iran. From the very beginning they’ve been Islamophobes and Iranophobes, and they wanted to get Korea off the table so they could focus much more on Iran. And that’s the most pressing, immediate danger, is the danger of military confrontation between the U.S. and Iran. We know that there are people, not just Bolton and Pompeo, but many others who see this as a much easier target militarily than would–than was Korea. But as our friend Larry Wilkerson has warned, that military action against Iran will be 10 to 15 times as costly as the invasion of Iraq was in terms of the financial cost and in terms of the military cost to the United States. So people better be well aware of what this would actually mean if the U.S. does provoke a military confrontation with Iran.

PAUL JAY Thanks for joining us, Peter.

PETER KUZNICK Thank you, Paul.

PAUL JAY Thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.


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D-Day helped in the defeat of Germany. Thank you to all the brave soldiers who were part of it.... But the D-Day landing was rushed to prevent Russia taking over the entire Germanic Empire. 



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See also:

trudeau is loose with the truth...

On August 23rd the Canadian Prime Minister’s office issued a statement to remember the so-called “black ribbon day,” a bogus holiday established in 2008-2009 by the European Parliament to commemorate the victims of fascist and communist “totalitarianism” and the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact in 1939. Various centre-right political groupings inside the European Parliament, along with the NATO (read US) Parliamentary Assembly initiated or backed the idea. In 2009, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, meeting in Lithuania, also passed a resolution “equating the roles of the USSR and Nazi Germany in starting World War II.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement follows along similar lines. Here is an excerpt: “Black Ribbon Day marks the sombre anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Signed between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany in 1939 to divide Central and Eastern Europe, the infamous pact set the stage for the appalling atrocities these regimes would commit. In its wake, they stripped countries of their autonomy, forced families to flee their homes, and tore communities apart, including Jewish and Romani communities, and others. The Soviet and Nazi regimes brought untold suffering upon people across Europe, as millions were senselessly murdered and denied their rights, freedoms, and dignity [italics added].”

As a statement purporting to summarise the origins and unfolding of the Second World War, it is a parody of the actual events of the 1930s and war years. It is politically motivated “fake history”; it is in fact a whole cloth of lies.

Let’s start at the beginning. In late January 1933 President Paul von Hindenburg, appointed Adolf Hitler as German chancellor. Within months Hitler’s government declared illegal the German Communist and Socialist parties and commenced to establish a one party Nazi state. The Soviet government had heretofore maintained tolerable or correct relations with Weimar Germany, established through the treaty of Rapallo in 1922. The new Nazi government however abandoned that policy and launched a propaganda campaign against the Soviet Union and against its diplomatic, trade, and business representatives working in Germany. Soviet business offices were sometimes trashed and their personnel roughed up by Nazi hooligans.

Alarm bells went off in Moscow. Soviet diplomats and notably the Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Maksim M. Litvinov, had read Hitler’s Mein Kampf, his blueprint for the German domination of Europe, published in the mid-1920s. The book became a bestseller in Germany and was a necessary addition to the mantel piece or the living room table in any German home. For those of you who may not know, Mein Kampf identified Jews and Slavs as Untermenschen, sub humans, good only for slavery or death. The Jews were not to be the only targets of Nazi genocide. Soviet territories eastward to the Ural Mountains were to become German. France was also named as a habitual enemy which had to be eliminated.

“What about Hitler’s book?” Litvinov often asked German diplomats in Moscow. Oh that, they said, don’t pay it any mind. Hitler doesn’t really mean what he wrote. Litvinov smiled politely in reaction to such statements, but did not believe a word of what he heard from his German interlocutors.

In December 1933 the Soviet government established officially a new policy of collective security and mutual assistance against Nazi Germany. What did this new policy mean exactly? The Soviet idea was to re-establish the World War I anti-German entente, to be composed of France, Britain, the United States, and yes, even fascist Italy. Although not stated publically, it was a policy of containment and preparation for war against Nazi Germany should containment fail.

In October 1933 Litvinov went to Washington to settle the terms of US diplomatic recognition of the USSR. He had discussions with the new US president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, about collective security against Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany. Iosif Stalin, Litvinov’s boss in Moscow, gave his approval to these discussions. Soviet-US relations were off to a good start, but in 1934 the State Department—almost to a man, anti-communists—sabotaged the rapprochement launched by Roosevelt and Litvinov.

At the same time Soviet diplomats in Paris were discussing collective security with the French foreign minister, Joseph Paul-Boncour. In 1933 and 1934 Paul-Boncour and his successor Louis Barthou strengthened ties with the USSR. The reason was simple: both governments felt threatened by Hitlerite Germany. Here too promising Franco-Soviet relations were sabotaged by Pierre Laval, who succeeded Barthou after the latter was killed in Marseilles during the assassination of the Yugoslav King Alexander I in October 1934. Laval was an anti-communist who preferred a rapprochement with Nazi Germany to collective security with the USSR. He gutted a Franco-Soviet mutual assistance pact which was finally signed in May 1935 only to delay its ratification in the French National Assembly. I call the pact the coquille vide, or empty shell. Laval lost power in January 1936 but the damage had been done. After the fall of France in 1940, Laval became a Nazi collaborator and was shot for treason in the autumn of 1945.

In Britain too Soviet diplomats were active and sought to launch an Anglo-Soviet rapprochement. Its aim was to establish the base for collective security against Nazi Germany. Here too the policy was sabotaged, first by the conclusion of the Anglo-German naval agreement in June 1935. This was a bilateral pact on German naval rearmament. The Soviet and French governments were stunned and considered the British deal with Germany to be a betrayal. In early 1936 a new British Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, put a stop to the rapprochement because of communist “propaganda”. Soviet diplomats thought Eden was a “friend”. He was nothing of the sort.

In each case, the United States, France, and Britain halted promising discussions with the Soviet Union. Why would these governments do something so seemingly incomprehensive in hindsight? Because anti-communism and Sovietophobia were stronger motives amongst the US, French, and British governing elites than the perception of danger from Nazi Germany. On the contrary, these elites in large measure were sympathetic to Hitler. Fascism was a bulwark mounted in defence of capitalism, against the spread of communism and against the extension of Soviet influence into Europe. The great question of the 1930s was “who is enemy no. 1”, Nazi Germany or the USSR? All too often these elites, not all, but the majority, got the answer to that question wrong. They preferred a rapprochement with Nazi Germany to collective security and mutual assistance with the USSR. Fascism represented force, power, and masculinity for European elites who often doubted themselves and feared communism. Leather uniforms, the odor of sweat from tens of thousands of marching fascists with their drums, banners, and torches were like aphrodisiacs for elites unsure of their own virility and of their security against the growth of Soviet influence. The Spanish civil war, which erupted in July 1936, polarised European politics between right and left and rendered impossible mutual assistance against Germany.

Italy was a peculiar case. The Soviet government maintained tolerable relations with Rome even though Italy was fascist and Russia, a communist state. Italy had fought on the side of the Entente during World War I and Litvinov wanted to keep it on side in the new coalition he was trying to build. Benito Mussolini had colonial ambitions in East Africa, however, launching a war of aggression against Abyssinia, the last parcel of African territory which had not been colonised by the European powers. To make a long story short, the Abyssinian crisis was the beginning of the end of Litvinov’s hopes to keep Italy on side.

In Romania too Soviet diplomats had some early successes. The Romanian foreign minister, Nicolae Titulescu, favoured collective security and worked closely with Litvinov to improve Soviet-Romanian relations. It was Titulescu who backed Litvinov in trying to obtain agreement with France in 1935 for a pact of mutual assistance in spite of Laval’s conniving and bad faith. Between Titulescu and Litvinov there were discussions about mutual assistance. These too came to nothing. Romania was dominated by a far right elite which disapproved of better Soviet relations. In August 1936 Titulescu found himself politically isolated and was compelled to resign. He spent much of his time abroad because he feared for his life in Bucharest.

In Czechoslovakia, Eduard Beneš, like Titulescu, favoured collective security against the Nazi menace. In May 1935 Beneš, the Czechoslovak president, signed a mutual assistance pact with the USSR, but he weakened it to avoid going beyond the scope of the Soviet pact with France, sabotaged by Laval. The Czechoslovaks feared Nazi Germany, and rightly so, but they would not ally closely with the USSR without the full backing of Britain and France, and this they would never obtain.

Czechoslovakia and Romania looked to a strong France and would not go beyond French commitments to the USSR. France looked to Britain. The British were the key, if they were ready to march, ready to ally themselves with the USSR, everyone else would fall into line. Without the British—who would not march—everything fell apart.

The Soviet Union also tried to improve relations with Poland. Here too Soviet diplomats failed when the Polish government signed a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany in January 1934. The Polish elite never hid its preference for a rapprochement with Germany rather than for better relations with the USSR. The Poles became spoilers of collective security sabotaging Soviet attempts to organise an anti-German entente. They were at their worst in 1938 as Nazi accomplices in the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia before they became victims of Nazi aggression in 1939. Soviet diplomats repeatedly warned their Polish counterparts that Poland was headed to its doom if it did not change policy. Germany would turn on them and crush them when the time was right. The Poles laughed at such warnings, dismissed them out of hand. Russians are “barbarians”, they said, the Germans, a “civilised” people. The choice between the two was easy to make.

Let me be clear here. The archival evidence leaves no doubts, the Soviet government offered collective security and mutual assistance to France, Britain, Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia, even fascist Italy, and in every case their offers were rejected, indeed spurned contemptuously in the case of Poland, the great spoiler of collective security in the lead-up to war in 1939. In the United States, the State Department sabotaged improving relations with Moscow. In the autumn of 1936, all Soviet efforts for mutual assistance had failed, and the USSR found itself isolated. No one wanted to ally with Moscow against Nazi Germany; all the above mentioned European powers conducted negotiations with Berlin to lure the wolf away from their doors. Yes, even the Czechoslovaks. The idea, both stated and unstated, was to turn Hitler’s ambitions eastward against the USSR.

Then came the Munich betrayal in September 1938. Britain and France sold out the Czechoslovaks to Germany. “Peace in our time,” Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister, declared. Czechoslovakia was dismembered to buy “peace” for France and Britain. Poland got a modest share of the booty as part of the dirty deal. “Jackals,” Winston Churchill called the Poles. In February 1939 the Manchester Guardian called Munich, selling out your friends to buy off your enemies. That description is apt.

In 1939 there was one last chance to conclude an Anglo-Franco-Soviet pact of mutual assistance against Nazi Germany. I call it the “alliance that never was”. In April 1939 the Soviet government offered France and Britain a political and military alliance against Nazi Germany. The terms of the alliance proposal were submitted on paper to Paris and London. In the spring of 1939 war looked inevitable. Rump Czechoslovakia had disappeared in March, gobbled up by the Wehrmacht without a shot fired. Later that month Hitler claimed the German populated Lithuanian city of Memel. In April a Gallup poll in Britain showed massive popular support for a Soviet alliance. In France too public opinion backed an alliance with Moscow. Churchill, then a Conservative backbencher, declared in the House of Commons that without the USSR there could be no successful resistance against Nazi aggression.

Logically, you would think that the French and British governments would have seized Soviet offers with both hands. It did not happen. The Foreign Office rejected the Soviet alliance proposal with the French grudgingly trailing behind. Litvinov was sacked as commissar and replaced by Viacheslav M. Molotov, Stalin’s right arm. For a time Soviet policy continued unchanged. In May Molotov sent a message to Warsaw that the Soviet government would support Poland against German aggression if so desired. Incredible as it may seem, on the very next day, the Poles declined Molotov’s proffered hand.

In spite of the initial British rejection of Soviet proposals, Anglo-Franco-Soviet negotiations continued through the summer months of 1939. At the same time however British officials got caught negotiating with the Germans in search of a détente of the last hour with Hitler. It became public news in the British papers at the end of July as the British and French were preparing to send military missions to Moscow to conclude an alliance. The news caused a scandal in London and raised understandable Soviet doubts about Anglo-French good faith. It was then that Molotov began to show an interest in German overtures for an agreement.

There was more scandal to come. The Anglo-French military missions traveled to Moscow on a slow chartered merchantman making a top speed of thirteen knots. One Foreign Office official had proposed sending the missions in a fleet of fast British cruisers to make a point. The Foreign Secretary, Edward Lord Halifax, thought that idea was too provocative. So the French and British delegations went on a chartered merchantman and took five days to get to the USSR. Five days mattered when war could break out at any moment.

Could the situation become any more tragic, any more a farce? Indeed it could. The British chief negotiator, Admiral Sir Reginald Drax, had no written powers to sign an agreement with the Soviet side. His French counterpart, General Joseph Doumenc, had a vague letter of authority from the French président du Conseil. He could negotiate but not sign an agreement. Doumenc and Drax were supernumeraries. On the other hand, the Soviet side was represented by its commissar for war with full plenipotentiary powers. “All indications so far go to show,” advised the British ambassador in Moscow, “that Soviet military negotiators are really out for business.” In contrast, formal British instructions were to “go very slowly”. When Drax met the Foreign Secretary Halifax before leaving for Moscow, he asked about the “possibility of failure” in the negotiations. “There was a short but impressive silence,” according to Drax, “and the Foreign Secretary then remarked that on the whole it would be preferable to draw out the negotiations as long as possible.” Doumenc remarked that he had been sent to Moscow with “empty hands.” They had nothing to offer their Soviet interlocutors. The British could send two divisions to France at the outset of a European war. The Red Army could immediately mobilise one hundred divisions, and Soviet forces had just thrashed the Japanese in heavy fighting on the Manchurian frontier. What the hell? “They are not serious,” Stalin concluded. And he was right. The French and British governments thought they could play Stalin for a fool. That was a mistake.

After the bad faith, after all the conniving, what would you have done in Stalin’s boots, or any Russian leader’s boots? Take the Poles, for example, they worked against Soviet diplomacy in London, Paris, Bucharest, Berlin, even Tokyo… anywhere they could put a spoke in the Soviet wheel. They shared with Hitler in the spoils of Czechoslovak dismemberment. In 1939 they attempted until the last moment to sidetrack an anti-Nazi alliance in which the USSR was a signatory. I know, it is all too incredible to believe, like an implausible story line in a bad novel, but it was true. And then the Poles had the temerity to accuse the Soviet side of stabbing them in the back. It was Satan rebuking sin. The Polish governing elite brought ruin upon itself and its people. Even today it is the same old Poland. The Polish government is marking the beginning of the Second World War by inviting to Warsaw the former Axis powers, but not the Russian Federation, even though it was the Red Army which liberated Poland at high cost in dead and wounded. This is a fact of history which Polish nationalists simply cannot bear to hear and which they seek to erase from our memories.

After nearly six years of trying to create a broad anti-German entente in Europe, notably with Britain and France, the Soviet government had nothing to show for its efforts. Nothing. By late 1936 the USSR was effectively isolated, and still Soviet diplomats tried to obtain agreement with France and Britain. The British and French, and the Romanians, and even the Czechoslovaks, and especially the Poles sabotaged, spurned or dodged Soviet offers, weakened agreements with Moscow and tried themselves to negotiate terms with Berlin to save their own skins. It was like they were doing Moscow a favour by humoring, with polite, knowing smiles, Soviet diplomats who talked about Mein Kampf and warned of the Nazi danger. The Soviet government feared being left in the lurch to fight the Wehrmacht alone while the French and the British sat on their hands in the west. After all, this is exactly what the French and British did while Poland collapsed at the beginning of September in a matter of days at the hands of the invading Wehrmacht. If France and Britain would not help Poland, would they have done more for the USSR? It is a question which Stalin and his colleagues most certainly asked themselves.

The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was the result of the failure of nearly six years of Soviet effort to form an anti-Nazi alliance with the western powers. The pact was ugly. It was Soviet sauve qui peut, and it contained a secret codicil which foresaw the creation of “spheres of influence” in Eastern Europe “in the event of… territorial and political rearrangement[s]”. But it was not worse than what the French and British had done at Munich. “C’est la réponse du berger à la bergère, the French ambassador in Moscow remarked, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. The dismemberment of Czechoslovakia was the precedent for what then followed. As the late British historian A.J.P. Taylor so aptly put it long ago: violent western reproaches against the USSR “came ill from the statesmen who went to Munich…. The Russians, in fact, did only what the Western statesmen had hoped to do; and Western bitterness was the bitterness of disappointment, mixed with anger that professions of Communism were no more sincere than their own professions of democracy [in dealing with Hitler].”

There then occurred a period of Soviet appeasement of Hitlerite Germany no more attractive than the Anglo-French appeasement which preceded it. And Stalin made a huge miscalculation. He disregarded his own military intelligence warning of a Nazi invasion of the USSR. He thought Hitler would not be such a fool as to invade the Soviet Union while Britain was still a belligerent power. How wrong he was. On 22 June 1941 the Axis powers invaded the Soviet Union with a huge military force along a front from the Baltic to the Black Seas.

It was the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, 1418 days of the most horrendous, intense violence. The USSR allied, finally, with Britain and the United States against Hitlerite Germany. It was the so-called Grand Alliance. France of course had disappeared, crushed by the German army in a military debacle in May 1940. During the first three years of fighting from June 1941 until June 1944, the Red Army fought nearly alone against the Nazi Wehrmacht. How ironic. Stalin had done all he could to avoid facing Hitlerite Germany alone, and yet there he was, the Red Army fighting nearly alone against the Wehrmacht and Axis Powers. The tide of battle turned at Stalingrad, sixteen months before the western allies landed in Normandy. Here is what President Roosevelt wrote to Stalin on 4 February 1943, the day after the last German forces surrendered in Stalingrad. “As Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States of America, I congratulate you on the brilliant victory at Stalingrad of the armies under your Supreme Command. The 162 days of epic battle for the city which has for ever honored your name and the decisive result which all Americans are celebrating today will remain one of the proudest chapters in this war of the peoples united against Nazism and its emulators. The commanders and fighters of your armies at the front and the men and women, who have supported them, in factory and field, have combined not only to cover with glory their country’s arms, but to inspire by their example fresh determination among all the United Nations to bend every energy to bring about the final defeat and unconditional surrender of the common enemy.” As Churchill put it to Roosevelt at about the same time: “Listen, who is really fighting today? Stalin alone! And look how he is fighting…” Yes, indeed, we should not, even now, forget how the Red Army fought.

From June 1941 until September 1943 there was not a single US, British, or Canadian division fighting on the ground of continental Europe, not one. The fighting in North Africa was a sideshow where Anglo-American forces faced two German divisions when more than two hundred German divisions were arrayed on the Soviet Front. The Italian campaign which began in September 1943 was a fiasco tying down more Allied divisions than German. When the western allies finally arrived in France, the Wehrmacht was a beaten-up shadow of what it had been when German soldiers stepped across Soviet frontiers in June 1941. Normandy was an anti-climax, enabled by the Red Army, and by no means the “decisive” battle of World War II which the western Mainstream Media have made it out to be.

In the Soviet Union the Germans pillaged, burned, murdered relentlessly in an attempted genocide of the Soviet people, Slavs and Jews alike. An estimated 17 million civilians died at the hands of Nazi armies and their Ukrainian and Baltic collaborators. Ten million Red Army soldiers died in the war to liberate the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and to run down the Nazi beast in its Berlin lair. Large areas of the Soviet Union from Stalingrad in the east to the Caucasus and Sevastopol in the south to the Romanian, Polish and Baltic frontiers in the west and the north were laid waste. While there were Nazi massacres of civilians at Ouradour-sur-Glâne in France and in Lidice in Czechoslovakia, there were hundreds of such massacres in the Soviet Union in Byelorussia and the Ukraine in places of which we do not know the names or which are known only in still unexplored or unpublished Soviet archives. Whatever sins, whatever turpitudes, whatever mistakes the Soviet government committed between September 1939 and June 1941, they were paid for in full by the colossal sacrifices and victory of Soviet arms against Hitlerite Germany.

In the light of these facts, the Trudeau August 23rd statement is politically motivated anti-Russian propaganda which serves no Canadian national interest. Trudeau gratuitously insulted not only the government of the Russian Federation, but also all Russians whose parents and grandparents fought in the Great Patriotic War. He attempts to delegitimise the emancipatory character of the war of the USSR against the Hitlerite invader and thereby to discredit the Soviet war effort. Trudeau’s statement panders to the interests of his Ukrainian minister for foreign affairs in Ottawa, Chrystia Freeland, a known Russophobe, who celebrates the life of her late grandfather, a Ukrainian Nazi collaborator in occupied Poland. She supports a regime in Kiev which emerged from the violent, so-called Maidan coup d’état against the elected Ukrainian president, backed by fascist militias and from abroad by the European Union and the United States. As preposterous as it may sound, this regime celebrates the deeds of World War II Nazi collaborators, now treated as national heroes. The Canadian prime minister desperately needs a history lesson before he again insults the Russian people, and indeed denigrates the sacrifices of Canadian soldiers and sailors allied with the USSR against the common foe.

Michael Jabara Carley


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