Weekly Experts Panel: the Wars of History
Sergei Roy, Editor, www.guardian-psj.ru,
For 70 years since the beginning of World War II, there has been
little doubt as to who started hostilities on September 1, 1939.
There were too many survivors of the war still around, and their
memories were too fresh. The aggressor had been defeated, charged
with war crimes and crimes against humanity, and justly punished –
or so the world believed.
Now, after all these years of complete clarity, Europe has sort of
bethought itself and decided that that was all an historical
mistrial. There was more than one aggressor; the Soviet Union was
equally responsible, along with Nazi Germany, for the outbreak of
the war. Since Germany has been punished enough, the time has now
come to punish the Soviet Union, or rather its successor in law,
Russia. The Ribbentrop-Molotov non-aggression Pact is declared to
have triggered the war. As Ribbentrop’s Germany is no longer around,
Russia (deemed unchanged since Molotov’s times) is the only party
available for finger-pointing.
What appears to me to be particularly revealing about the purveyors
of this nonsense is their shy unwillingness to trace their views to
their actual historical source. Now, who was the first individual to
point the finger at the Soviet Union as an aggressor, or potential
aggressor? Why, Hitler, that’s who. Hitler repeated his allegation
that his assault on the Soviet Union was “pre-emptive” on numerous
occasions: in his statement to Stalin on launching the war; in his
address to the army on the same day; in October 1941, when the
Blitzkrieg flopped and he appealed to the German people for winter
clothing for the soldiers on the Eastern front, lying like mad that
in May the situation was so threatening that there could be no
longer any doubt that Russia intended to fall upon us at the first
opportunity; and again in May of 1942.
After the war, this explanation was trotted out by some of the
German war criminals at the Nuremberg trials. Later there arose a
whole school of historiography, now flourishing in German-speaking
countries, whose adherents are busy rewriting history to prove the
“rationality and legitimacy” of Nazi Germany’s politics.
This despite the fact that German intelligence never came up with
any information about Soviet preparations for aggression. The more
forthright of the German generals, like Friedrich von Paulus, Heinz
Guderian and Erich von Manstein, reluctantly admitted this fact.
Moreover, in September of 1940 Lieutenant General Ernst Kostring
wrote to General Franz Halder that the Red Army was in ruins after
Stalin’s purges, and that it would require at least three years to
reach its pre-war level.
Indeed, it was a funny way of preparing for aggression against
Germany on Stalin’s part, executing within the space of one year, in
a bid to establish an unchallenged dictatorship, some 36,700
commanders in the army and 3,000 in the navy – military district
chiefs of staff, corps and divisional commanders, staff officers and
chiefs of staff down to regimental level.
These awkward historical facts notwithstanding, pro-Hitler
propaganda about the start of the war is still peddled by various
Russia-haters. Ernst “Revisionist” Topitsch insists that World War
II was, in fact, a “Soviet attack on the Western democracies, in
which Germany served only as a military surrogate.” I guess it’s
fair to say that balderdash like this serves as present-day Hitler
apologists’ surrogate for history. A history in which topics like
Hitler’s ideological plan outlined in Mein Kampf, the whole of the
Third Reich’s ideological tenets on a superior race expanding its
Lebensraum, are simply brushed aside.
It is really revolting to see the OSCE joining a bunch of Nazi
sympathizers, a move guaranteed to keep Europe divided rather than
united. Holding different historiographical views is one thing.
Branding millions of Soviet soldiers who died to stop a pan-European
holocaust as aggressors is quite another. Too much like spitting on
with permission of