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lectures by Professor Karpenko, Samara University, Russia delivered at JNU Centre of International Studies
Good day! Please find a transcript of the lectures by Professor Karpenko, Samara University, Russia delivered at JNU Centre of International Studies in November 2019 on the attempts of World War II history and the Soviet Union’s contribution to the Victory. This is for possible publication. Thank you very much. Have a nice day.
Gennady Y. Karpenko,
Doctor of Philology, Professor of the Department of Russian Foreign Literature and Public Relations of Samara National Research University
Preservation of the history of World War II: time challenges
My report is based on an analysis of modern media sources devoted to the history of World War II (1939-1945) and the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945) as the most important and sensitive historical event for the Russians.
The national identity of a Russian person (Russian) is determined not so much by the history of the Second World War (1939-1945), but by a sacred event — the Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 over fascist Germany. We will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory on May 9, 2020. Our national identity is associated with this event and is expressed in the words “We are a victorious people!” What does this mean? This means that the victory over fascism is not only a fact of our history, but also our existence, the deepest level of our existence. For us, this is inalienable value, as the most expensive and closest: mother, father, homeland.
The image of war and victory in modern Russia remains a symbol of unity of people of different nationalities, social and age groups.
But unfortunately, the history of World War II is being rewritten from era to era.
What do you note here?
This year, on the eve of Victory Day on May 9, 2019, the Komsomolskaya Pravda correspondent spoke with Western Europeans, Chinese, Americans and Australians to find out how they feel who won the Second World War. Most unequivocally stated: «The United States.»
How could this happen? The act of complete surrender of Germany was signed on May 8, 1945 near Berlin. But seven and a half decades were enough for the world to forget about the role of the Soviet Union in the victory over fascism or to ignore this historical fact.
At the time of the end of World War II, the victorious role of the Soviet people was difficult to deny to both the allies and the defeated states. While the memory of the victory was fresh, the assessment of our country was objective and fair.
Victory was achieved by the unity of all the peoples of the Soviet Union. It was a nationwide victory. The Soviet people suffered the greatest losses during the war: according to various estimates, from 20 to 29 million people.
The main contribution to the victory over fascism in World War II was made by the Soviet Union. The Nazis suffered three-quarters of the losses in World War II on the Eastern Front, on the territory of the Soviet Union. Having liberated its own territory in 1944, the Soviet Army crossed the state border and saved eleven other European countries from Nazi evil.
Noting the decisive role of the USSR in the Victory over Nazism and in the liberation of the peoples of Europe, President of Russia Vladimir Putin emphasized that “All Allies in the anti-Hitler coalition won the Second World War … This is our common holiday. Victory Day belongs to all of us, this is an event of universal scale. ”
The history of the Second World War remains the front of the most acute political, ideological, scientific and informational struggle. History needs protection. By Decree of the President of the Russian Federation of May 15, 2009 No. 549, a Commission was established under the President to counteract attempts to falsify history to the detriment of Russia’s interests.
The falsification and distortion of history to the detriment of Russia’s interests has recently become a planned phenomenon on an international scale: persistent attempts are made to break the historical and moral code of perception of the Great Patriotic War, to introduce a different idea of the war and its culprits into the masses of European consciousness.
In recent decades, new concepts of reading the history of the Second World War have appeared. According to them, the Soviet Union already acts as the culprit of the war, modern Russia appears to be the receiver of the aggressive totalitarian system of the USSR, and Western countries become the savior of mankind from totalitarianism.
The goal of the “new historians” is to distort the facts of World War II, which would allow Russia to transfer from the category of a victorious country to the category of an aggressor state.
A whole arsenal of techniques and means is used, aimed at distorting the history of the Second World War and the Great Patriotic War. We can say that there is a methodology and a theoretically developed system of falsification of the events of 1939-1945.
The German historian Ernst Nolte can be considered as a kind of methodologist of the modern wave of falsification. On June 6, 1986, E. Nolte published an article entitled “The Past Must Not Be Forgotten.” The essence of his approach is related to the equalization of the concepts of Bolshevism, totalitarianism and fascism, as well as with a reassessment of the actions of the warring parties.
The essence of his approach is related to the equalization of the concepts of Bolshevism, totalitarianism and fascism, as well as with a reassessment of the actions of the warring parties. He reanimated the old Hitler thesis about a “preventive war”, demanded that the theory of totalitarianism be restored as a basis for understanding history, putting Hitler and Stalin on the same level, tried to deprive the Nazi crimes of their exclusivity, presenting them as a reaction to the «Bolshevik threat». E. Nolte presented the Barbarossa plan as a “defensive” measure and a protective “reaction” to Bolshevism and anti-Semitism, as well as an attempt to “save” Western civilization. The publicist historian writes that National Socialism and Fascism were the “inevitable” reaction to Bolshevism and the “preventive measure” that outpaced the attack of Stalin, which was supposedly inevitable. E. Nolte places the blame and responsibility for the outbreak of World War II and the Holocaust directly on Bolshevism. Fascism, in his opinion, was a completely understandable reaction to the October Revolution. National Socialism, Nolte writes, was an ideal legal and state system until 1939, when Hitler began to act under the pressure of paranoid fear of Asian brutality and the brutal torture of the Bolsheviks.
The extermination of the Jews, according to Nolte, should have been connected with the October Revolution, which was the true cause of the Holocaust, since National Socialism became a reflection of Marxism and the Russian revolution. From the point of view of Ernst Nolte, the massacres by the Nazis cannot be considered separately from the Bolshevik reprisals that preceded them, since there is a causal connection between them. According to Nolte, the true cause of Nazi racial cleansing was the class violence of Bolshevism. Auschwitz was only a pale copy of the original — the Gulag, a much more terrible and criminal machine of the death of peoples. Thus, the immediate cause of Auschwitz is the Gulag.
In such attempts to interpret the history of the Second World War, to question the liberation mission of the Soviet Army, one can see the desire to belittle the involvement of one’s own country in the crimes of National Socialism and present it as a victim of the “Soviet threat” and “Soviet expansionism”.
The cultivation by the former countries of the Hitler coalition of their image as a victim has become an important area of reinterpretation of their responsibility for the tragedy of World War II. The beginning of this direction immediately after the war was laid in West Germany. In fiction, movies, the media, in statements by politicians, the Germans see themselves as victims of defeat at Stalingrad, unfortunate refugees fleeing the Soviet offensive, victims of the policies of the occupying authorities, victims of forced displacement (in German terminology — expulsion) from the eastern regions of the Reich and other places of centuries of residence, the victims of the Anglo-American bombing and, of course, the victims of Hitler and his executioners, who allegedly encouraged the Germans to do things, fully alien to their human nature. And finally, in Sunset movie (2004), Der Untergang — sunset, death, wreck — Hitler himself was already presented as a victim — a victim of his illusions and delusions.
Another noticeable feature in the strategy of falsification: from the second half of the twentieth century in Western philosophy and methodology of history, history has become regarded as a kind of literary creation, as a narrative, a form of narration of events where the main value is not a real story, but its “deconstructed” content, what was supposedly from the point of view of the “writer” in reality. From this point of view, the historian writer “creates history”, creates a story about past events. This approach to history has become very common in Western historiography since the publication of the Hayden White monograph Meta-History (1973).
In other words, non-professionals, people who came to the «history» from the outside, began to deal with history.
A vivid example is the “writing” activity of Vladimir B. Rezun, who appropriated the recognizable pseudonym Suvorov after fleeing to the West.
Engaged in the substitution of concepts and using the methods of conspiracy, Suvorov in his works (“Icebreaker”, “The main culprit”) displays the Soviet Union as the aggressor that unleashed the world war, and represents Germany as a defending side. Characteristically, Suvorov’s book, “The Main Culprit: Stalin’s Master Plan for Unleashing World War II”, was published in 2008 by the US Naval Institute.
According to Suvorov, the main reason for the war was the dictatorial policy of Stalin, who wanted to capture the European states, spread the proletarian revolution and establish the camp’s socialism throughout Europe.
Suvorov criticized the interpretation of the initial stage of the Great Patriotic War, which was established in Soviet and foreign historical science. Referring to Hitler’s propaganda documents, Suvorov concludes: in the summer of 1941, the Red Army was preparing to strike at Germany, which it wanted to carry out in July 1941, with the aim of subsequently capturing the rest of Europe, then the European metropolitan states in Asia, Africa and on the ocean islands. To disrupt the plan of Stalin, German troops were forced to attack the Soviet Union.
The events of June 22, 1941, Suvorov called nothing more than a preemptive (preventive) blow to contain the aggression alleged by Germany from the USSR. The very fact of Germany’s attack on the USSR Suvorov calls “suicide”, since, according to him, Germany was not ready for war with the USSR, lagged behind in the arms industry, and German industry worked in peacetime.
The idea that Europe is «in the balance» from the invasion of the Bolshevik armies and therefore Hitler carried out his attack as a kind of “rescue operation” is argued by many Western “historians” (Fritz Becker, Werner Mather and Heinz Magenheimer, USA (Richard C. Raak, Albert Wicks). So, in the works by Joachim Hoffman, “The Stalinist War of Destruction”, “Vlasov against Stalin” a point of view coincides with the opinion of Suvorov. The author speaks of Stalin’s desire to enclose Germany (through the already begun territorial acquisitions in the south and in the north) in giant mites and put her before the choice: either to die, or enter the war as an aggressor and be defeated constant.
And as a result of such writer’s interpretations came the emergence of political declarations. Thus, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on September 19, 2019, in which the Soviet-German non-aggression pact was declared the cause of the Second World War: “The Second World War, the most destructive in the history of Europe, was the direct result of the notorious Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact of August 23 1939, also known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and its secret protocols, according to which two totalitarian regimes, set out to conquer the world, divided Europe into two zones of influence. »
HSE professor Oleg Matveychev reminded the European parliamentarians who had forgotten history: “The true reason for the Second World War is that the Western countries took and handed over to Hitler to tear Czechoslovakia, from which Poland grabbed a piece. At the same time, Warsaw had the exact same non-aggression treaty with Germany — the Pilsudski-Hitler Pact.” It is noteworthy that the critical mention of the Munich Agreement of 1938, which revealed the consolidating weakness of European countries and untied Hitler, disappeared from the final text of the resolution.
Depreciation of the role of the Soviet Union and revision of the results of World War II. It has become today a widespread trick resorted to by modern falsifiers. Concepts are being developed in which the decisive role of the Soviet Union in World War II is denied and the military contribution of the United States as the “chief architect” of the Victory is extolled.
Thus, American historians, speaking of events on the Soviet-German front, do not touch on the question of their decisive influence on the general course of the war, but at the same time they exaggerate in every possible way the results of the military operations of the US-British forces in various theaters of operations (in North Africa, Italy, France). The liberation mission of the Soviet Army in the countries of Eastern and Southeastern Europe is presented as a communist expansion in Europe, as a result of the intervention of Soviet troops in the internal affairs of these countries and move the deadlines for the end of the war to a «final victory». The termination of the Warsaw Pact Organization, the unification of Germany on a Western basis, the collapse of the USSR, the expansion of NATO to the borders of Russia are now presented not only as a victory of the West in the Cold War, but also as a final victory in World War II. As a result, the winner turns into a loser.
Rewriting history in the former union republics. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the former Soviet republics, especially the Baltic states were actively engaged in falsification of the history of the Great Patriotic War and World War II. The basis of falsification is the myth of the eternal «Russian and Soviet» genocide of the Baltic peoples.
In the Baltic States, the German-Soviet non-aggression treaty of 1939 is unilaterally motivated. It is assessed in the spirit of the theory of totalitarianism as a conspiracy of aggressors that allowed the Soviet Union to «occupy» the Baltic States. The liberation mission of the Soviet Army in the Great Patriotic War and World War II is served as a «re-occupation» of the Baltic states by the Soviet Union. Such an assessment leads to the justification of the crimes of the Nazis: in the fight against the «great evil», the Baltic nationalists were forced to cooperate with the German occupation administration. Against this background, the process of legalization and glorification of SS legionnaires is rapidly developing, museums of the «occupation» are opening, educating young people in the anti-Russian spirit and reducing the great significance of Victory exclusively to the shadow sides.
In Ukrainian textbooks, the term «Great Patriotic War» is often discarded: Ukraine, they say, waged its own separate war in the framework of World War II. In Ukrainian textbooks they write: “Units of the Ukrainian rebel army, led by Stepan Bandera, liberated Ukrainian cities and villages from Nazi occupation, protected civilians. However, the Soviet government did not want Ukraine to have its own army. Therefore, when in 1943 the Ukrainian lands were liberated from the Nazi invaders, the Bolsheviks began to fight with the UPA.” There is a desire to fence off at all costs from a common history with Russia, the Soviet Union, an active search is underway for “new” heroes of Ukraine.
Outright accomplices of the Nazis become the heroes of Ukraine. They are Bandera, on whose conscience are tens of thousands of victims of the Lviv and Volyn massacres, burned Polish, Jewish, Ukrainian, Russian villages, murders of women and children.
It’s a characteristic phenomenon of today. Almost simultaneously, a monument to the Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Zhukov was unveiled in Berlin in early November, and a bas-relief was dismantled in Odessa (before that, a monument to Zhukov was demolished in Kharkov in early June).
Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called those who demolished and desecrated the monument to Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Zhukov in Odessa the «beast».
Now the generation of Ukrainian residents has grown up that is ready to perceive Russia not only as a “rude” and “drinking” neighbour, but also as a long-standing adversary, a cunning enemy who has always sought to harm their country.
Manipulations around the historical significance of individual events or personalities. An example is the modern historiographical fate of General A. Vlasov, who, despite his real role as a puppet of the Third Reich special services, has almost turned into one of the leading figures of Russian history of the twentieth century through the efforts of a number of publicists and historians. The authors of textbooks and manuals consider it necessary to publish stories about Vlasov (and his photographs) along with stories about Lenin, Stalin, Zhukov.
Materials about Vlasov are presented among biographies of “people who have made a noticeable contribution to the history of their country” in line with modern revisionist ideas: considering «Stalinism as the worst evil that has happened in all of Russian history», Vlasov «decided to use the Germans in the fight against this yoke.»
In this regard, I would like to recall the spiritual and political position of Mahatma Gandhi, who did not recognize the possibility of achieving the goal by any means. On December 24, 1941, Mahatma Gandhi wrote in an open letter to Hitler about India: “We are in a unique position. We oppose both British imperialism and Nazism. But we would never want to end British rule with the help of Germany. ”
Claims to “official science” allegedly posed by modern Russian state «at the service» of patriotic education, complaints about the impossibility of a free scientific search in the atmosphere of the «growing wave of Putin’s lies» are an integral part of this struggle. The logic is clear: without undermining the credibility of science and its representatives, it is difficult to count on the success of introducing other ideas into the public consciousness that destroy the unity of national historical memory.
About the atrocities of the Red Army. Western propaganda is actively circulating stories about the “atrocities” of Soviet troops in defeated Germany. The fact that soldiers of the Soviet and other allied armies committed murders, robberies, and violence against women is not denied by any historians. Documents have been published in our country, the content of which leaves no doubt: the inevitable companions of any war, crimes against civilians have taken place.
We are constantly confronted with deliberate desire of a number of authors to expose the soldiers of the Red Army, which gives the impression that atrocities against civilians are almost a characteristic feature of the behavior of Soviet troops, which can only be explained by referring to souls crippled by «Stalinist totalitarianism» or a special «Asian barbarism». This is precisely how this problem is presented in the books of the British historian E.Beaver “Stalingrad” and especially “The Fall of Berlin. 1945 ”: a rapist soldier with a burning torch, choosing a victim among German women, was to become a symbol of the Soviet liberation army. In 2002, in an article “Russian soldiers raped all German women from 8 to 80 years old. It was an army of rapists.” E.Beaver continues to strengthen the image of the Soviet rapist soldier in the mass consciousness.
In the West, another book on this subject is also popular — the book of the British military historian Max Hastings, «Armageddon: The Battle of Germany, 1944-1945.» It is dedicated to the crimes of the Soviet Army against the civilian population of Germany and German prisoners of war. The historian depicts literally the ritual retribution perpetrated by the Soviet Army for the Germans losing the war, and even calls it «the primitive rape of an entire nation.»
We can talk about the systematic introduction of a negative attitude towards the Soviet (and as a result) and Russian people into the consciousness of the Western man in the street. So, in Berlin there is a permanent exhibition “Topography of Terror” — the introduction of the topic of rape of German women by Soviet soldiers into the mass German consciousness, allegedly with the knowledge of the military and political leadership of the country, as one of the dominant topics.
The purpose of such media campaigns is to supplant the memory of the Soviet soldier as the liberator and savior of the peoples affected by Nazism and to introduce a falsified image of the brutal invader, who «occupied the Eastern European countries for almost half a century.»
Of course, during the Great Patriotic War, the topic of retaliation was one of the central ones in the agitation and propaganda of the state, as well as in the thoughts and feelings of Soviet people. Seeing tortured women and children, burnt and destroyed cities and villages, Soviet fighters vowed revenge on the invaders and often thought about the time when they entered the territory of the enemy. And when this happened, there were violent acts, especially among those who lost their families.
During the war, poems also appeared, in which there was a call for the destruction of the Nazis, enemies who entered Soviet land.
However, with respect to the German population or prisoners of war, the Soviet leadership never posed forceful tasks for its army.
On the other hand, the “Leaflet to a German Soldier” contains calls: “Destroy pity and compassion in yourself, kill every Russian, don’t stop if you have an old man or woman, girl or boy … We will bring the whole world to its knees … The German is an absolute master of the world. » As you can see, this was the policy of the Nazi leadership of Germany in relation to «racially inferior peoples.»
It is precisely these calls and actions of German soldiers on Soviet soil that the publicist E. Kubi points out when he writes: “Many Germans more or less definitely knew what exactly happened in the Soviet Union, and therefore feared revenge or reckoning with the same coin … The German people really may consider himself happy — justice did not suffer him. ”
Concluding, you need to say the necessary, to summarize. The fate of our Fatherland has always been closely intertwined with the fate of the world and is rightfully considered: the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 is the most important and decisive part of World War II, 1939–1945. But the further it goes into history on May 9, 1945, the more insistent it becomes to belittle the USSR’s contribution to the victory over German fascism. The falsification of history is carried out on various problems and in different ways. The true tasks of their organizers, local and foreign “true lovers,” can be defined as follows:
- By belittling the historical role of Russia as a guarantor of stability in Eurasia, to limit its influence on world processes;
- Using falsifications of the history of Russia (including the military component), to destroy the common desire of the states of the former Soviet Union for unity, pursuing a coordinated domestic and foreign policy;
- Distorting the well-established ideas about our history — to undermine the self-esteem of Russians by depriving the most important thing that the Russian people have taken from the past — pride in their Fatherland, for our great achievements and contribution to world civilization.
Falsification of the outcome of the war in the framework of the information struggle against Russia is carried out actively and continuously. The revision of the results of the Second World War has an “image” goal –– to transfer Russia from the category of the winning country to the category of the aggressor state, which will allow, as the falsifiers believe, to realize the common goal — to represent Russia as an “empire of evil, with centuries-old traditions of despotism, slavery and bribery ”, to take away her heroic past, and the people’s historical memory, to make the Russian Federation an outcast of world politics, to deprive them of the possibility of development as a single state.
A wave of “new interpretations”, “new interpretations” swept the public consciousness not only of the post-Soviet republics, but also of Russia itself, where its falsifiers appeared. In this case, the main blow is inflicted on the consciousness of youth.
Talking about the history of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945, any honest person, regardless of status, nationality, age, is simply obliged to follow several postulates of a civil, universal nature:
- First, the war was not launched by us, not by the Soviet Union, but by Nazi Germany.
- Secondly, for the Soviet Union this war was fair, liberating.
- Thirdly, the Soviet Union, the Soviet people, all the peoples who inhabited the Soviet Union made a decisive contribution to the defeat of German Nazism and fascism.
- Fourth, Nazism, fascism as phenomena that contradict human ideology can never be justified under any pretext.
The defeat of German Nazism and Japanese militarism during the Second World War led to the restoration of peaceful life in Europe and Asia, created a favorable environment for the free democratic development of the peoples of various countries, including those formerly colonially dependent. And the Soviet Armed Forces played a decisive role in this.
Views are personal , not necessarily represent Disha Moscow stance.
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