That war didn’t have just one aggressor

HitlerStalinToday is Russia’s Victory Day, which more appropriately ought to be called Russia’s Aggression Day. For, contrary to a common misapprehension, Russia wasn’t a victim in the Second World War. She was its instigator.

Ask any Russian youngster (or intellectually challenged adult) when the Soviet Union entered the war, and you’ll get the same reply every time: 22 June, 1941, when the USSR fell victim to the Nazi offensive. This means that the hundreds of thousands of Soviet soldiers killed before that date didn’t die in the war. So what did they die of? Heart attacks?

Following its criminal Pact with Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union entered the war as Hitler’s ally on 17 September, 1939, by stabbing Poland in the back.

By that time, again contrary to a misapprehension, the German offensive had slowed down, and their army was running out of ordnance, especially bombs. The Russians replenished those stocks, with enough left over for London (did you know it was Soviet-made bombs that rained on England?). And then they struck from the east, Poland collapsed, and the two predators held a joint victory parade in Brest-Litovsk on 22 September.

In the process the Russians violated four international agreements: the 1921 peace treaty signed after the Russo-Polish war, the Eastern Pact denouncing war, the 1932 Russo-Polish Non-Aggression Pact and the 1933 London Convention defining aggression.

That was just the beginning. On 30 November, 1939, the Russians attacked Finland, violating the 1933 Non-Aggression Treaty. As a result, Finland lost 10 per cent of her territory, while the Russians lost 500,000 lives. Some 10,000 of those belonged to the Soviet POWs returning home after the war. In the good tradition going back to Ivan the Terrible, they were all shot pour encourager les autres.

As a result, the Soviet Union was expelled from The League of Nations, but that had no effect. On 15-17 June, 1940, Soviet troops annexed Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. On 28 June they added a huge part of Romania to their tally.

All the new areas were purged, with 25-30 per cent of their populations killed or deported (which often amounted to the same thing). While the murders of 20,000 Polish officers at Katyn and elsewhere have been widely publicised in the West, the other victims of Soviet aggression haven’t received similar coverage.

Stalin’s plan was to wait for the Germans to land in England and then launch his own offensive across the common border formed by the joint aggression against Poland. That required such a massive concentration of troops that keeping those plans a secret was impossible. Hence Hitler had to plunge into what every German schoolchild knew would be catastrophic: a two-front war.

This is castigated in historiography as a stupid mistake, but in fact Hitler had no choice: he had to beat Stalin to the punch because, had Stalin’s haymaker landed, it would have been deadly for Germany and all of Europe.

What followed was a national tragedy: Soviet peasants, who made up the bulk of Stalin’s army, wouldn’t fight for Stalin. The memory of millions of them being robbed, murdered, starved to death by Stalin’s stormtroopers wasn’t just fresh but current.

Once the Germans struck, the Soviets began to desert and surrender en masse, often joyously marching into captivity to the sound of regimental bands. By the end of 1941 the Nazis held 4.5 million POWs.

Stalin made the army fight by unprecedented violence against wavering soldiers and their families. “There are no Soviet POWs,” declared Putin’s idol, “there are only Soviet deserters.” Retreat was also equated with desertion, with predictable results. All in all, 157,000 Soviet soldiers were shot during the war following tribunals’ verdicts – and at least twice as many without even such slapdash justice.

Once the Soviets advanced into Europe, their aggression resumed. Contrary to every international protocol, they installed puppet Communist governments in the countries of Eastern Europe, effectively turning them into their colonies. Along the way, Soviet soldiers were committing acts of diabolical brutality towards civilian populations – not only in Germany, but in Eastern Europe too.

Here’s one snippet, from the memoirs of Lieutenant L. Riabichev: “We entered the house. Three large rooms, two dead women and three dead girls, their skirts up, each with an empty wine bottle stuck between her legs. I walk along the wall, another door, corridor, another door leading to two adjoining rooms with three beds altogether. Dead women on each, with open legs and bottles.

“Fine, they were all raped and shot. The pillows were drenched in blood. But whence this sadistic desire to stick bottles in? Our infantry, our tankers, lads from our towns and villages, with families, mothers, sisters…”

Is that the meaning of We Can Do It Again posters proudly displayed by Russian ‘patriots’? Is this why Russia is filled with portraits of Stalin, the monster who combined the war against Germany with one against his own people?

One would think this would be an occasion for tearful sorrow, silent contemplation and kneeling prayer. In a decent country, it would be. But in Putin’s Russia the world is treated to a shrilly militaristic, jingoistic show in Red Square, an obscene pagan rite celebrating one aggression and threatening another.

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