May 9, 2015 - No. 19


70th Anniversary of the Victory over Fascism in Europe

The Anglo-American Plot Against the Peace

Operation Sunrise
- Dougal MacDonald -
Act of Surrender Signed in Reims
- Yuriy Rubtsov -

Bern Incident
- Yuriy Rubtsov -

Setting the Record Straight
Contest of Absurdity and Victory Day
- Yuriy Rubtsov -

The Rewriting of History over VE Day
- Workers' Weekly -

International Community's Onus to Safeguard Victorious
Outcome of WWII

- Zhu Junqing -

The Leningrad Siege During World War II:
The Diary of Tanya Savicheva

- Maria Zakharova -
What Wasn't Said
- Radio Havana Cuba Editorial from May 5, 2005 on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Liberation of Europe -

Historical Accounts on the Liberation of Europe from Nazi-Fascism
Russia Completes Twelve-Volume Treatise on the
Great Patriotic War

The Economic Price Paid for Soviet Victory in
the Great Patriotic War

- Valentin Katasonov -

Reparations from the Second World War:
Stalin's Generous Gesture

- Valentin Katasonov -

Germany: The National Memory and the Second World War
- Natalia Meden -

Dresden and Poznan: Two Different Ways to Wage War
- Yuriy Rubtsov -

The Anglo-American Plot Against the Peace

Operation Sunrise

According to the renderings of history put forward in many Anglo-American accounts of World War II, the war against Germany did not end on May 9 with the German surrender in Berlin, but on May 4 or May 7 or 8.

On May 4, 1945, a German surrender took place in a ceremony at the headquarters of British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, on the Luneburg Heath in northern Germany. The British marked this as the end of the war even though fighting persisted in Europe as the Nazis continued to throw themselves against the Red Army in a desperate attempt to avert their fate in Berlin. In fact, the German capitulation on the Luneburg Heath applied only to German troops that had been battling Montgomery's British-Canadian 21st Army Group in the Netherlands and Northwest Germany. It is reported that, just to be on the safe side, the Canadian Command actually accepted the capitulation of all German troops in Holland the next day, May 5, at a ceremony in Wageningen, a town in the eastern Dutch province of Gelderland. In some accounts this is spoken of as the prelude to the definitive German capitulation which they claim took place at the headquarters of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of all Allied forces on the Western Front, in a school building in the city of Reims in the early morning of May 7, 1945. However, because this armistice was to go into effect only at 11:01 p.m. the next day, commemoration ceremonies in the United States and in Western Europe take place on May 8.

All of this is to deny the fact that the definitive capitulation of Germany took place in Berlin on May 9 when the highest representative of the Red Army was also present. This definitive capitulation is recognized throughout the world with the photograph of the flag of the Soviet Red Army flying over the Reichstag, the German Parliament. To this day, that flag is recognized as the Victory Banner.

But the story of the date of the capitulation of the German fascists is not merely a matter of a date and time and place. On March 3, 1945, while the Second World War still raged, the U.S., UK, and Nazi Germany opened a series of secret negotiations in Switzerland to arrange a local surrender of German forces in northern Italy. This was known as "Operation Sunrise" or "Operation Crossbow." The main U.S. negotiator was Allen Dulles, later head of the U.S. CIA, while the main Nazi negotiator was Waffen SS General Karl Wolff, Supreme Commander of all SS forces in Italy, who went to work for the CIA after the war along with many other former Nazis, continuing to promote the "communist threat."[1] The Operation Sunrise go-between was Italian industrialist and fascist sympathizer, Baron Luigi Parilli.[2] Subsequently, on March 15 and 19, Wolff conducted further secret negotiations on the surrender with U.S. General Lyman Lemnitzer and British General Terence Airey. The German forces in northern Italy and western Austria eventually surrendered unconditionally on May 2, 1945, only six days before Nazi Germany surrendered in Berlin.

The Soviet Union, which had borne the brunt of the fighting against the Nazi occupiers since June 22, 1941, and which had resoundingly defeated the Nazi forces at the heroic battle of Stalingrad on February 2, 1943, the turning point of the war, was informed of the Operation Sunrise negotiations but was excluded from actual participation. On March 22, 1945, Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vyacheslav Molotov wrote to U.S. Ambassador Averell Harriman: "For two weeks, in Bern, behind the back of the Soviet Union, negotiations between representatives of the German Military Command on one side and representatives of American and British Command on the other side are conducted. The Soviet government considers this absolutely inadmissible."

On March 29, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin wrote a letter to U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt clearly exposing the real purpose of the Operation Sunrise negotiations. He rightly accused the U.S. and UK of having concluded an agreement with German General Albert Kesselring, the overall German commander in the Mediterranean theatre, in order to open the front to allow full concentration of German forces against the Red Army. He noted that in fact the Germans had stopped fighting the Anglo-American forces and that three divisions of German troops had already shifted from Northern Italy to the Soviet front. On April 3 and April 7, Stalin again pointed out in blunt letters to Roosevelt (who died April 10) that negotiations with the Nazis in Switzerland were related to German non-resistance in the west and ferocious resistance against the Red Army in the east.

In his own book on Operation Sunrise, The Secret Surrender (1966), Dulles states that he also pushed for a negotiated surrender with the Nazis in northern Italy because he was worried that if a quick surrender was not negotiated, and the Germans, still fighting, fell back west of Venice, then Soviet troops and their partisan allies would reach Trieste, an important Italian industrial centre and deepwater port, before the Anglo-American troops arrived. This could have led to greater Soviet post-war influence in France and Italy, which Dulles wanted to prevent at all costs. Dulles makes it clear that post-war arrangements of advantage to the U.S. and UK were the dominant factor in Operation Sunrise, not assisting the Soviet Union. In the end, U.S. troops did arrive in Trieste before the Soviet troops, resulting in acrimonious post-war border disputes between Italy and Yugoslavia.

The Operation Sunrise machinations also fitted completely with the Anglo-American refusal throughout most of the war to open a second front in Europe, which Stalin repeatedly requested. An Anglo-American landing in Europe would have forced Hitler to remove some of his forces from the Eastern Front, affording the Soviet Union some relief and speeding the Nazi defeat. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill openly opposed a second front. He was pleased that Hitler and Stalin were battling to the death on the Eastern Front with huge casualties, and he believed that the Anglo-American imperialists would benefit from allowing that fight to continue. U.S. Senator and future president Harry S. Truman also opposed a second front. On June 24, 1941, Truman stated: "If we see that Germany is winning, we should help Russia, and if Russia is winning, we should help Germany, so that as many as possible perish on both sides."

Monument to historic battle of Stalingrad.

The Soviets would eventually get a Second Front, but only much later, with the Normandy landing on June 6, 1944, almost a year and a half after the decisive battles of Stalingrad and Kursk had turned the tide against the Nazis and begun Germany's forced retreat back to Berlin. Also, by June 1944, the Anglo-Americans had urgent reasons of their own for landing on the coast of France. Soviet troops were relentlessly marching towards Berlin with the Nazis in full flight. It became imperative for the Anglo-Americans to land their own troops in France and to drive into Germany to keep most of that country out of what they saw as Soviet hands.

Once the defeat of Nazi Germany became a foregone conclusion, Nazi propaganda in the U.S. and UK also ramped up attacking the Soviet Union and promoting the notion that the Anglo-Americans had much more in common with the faltering Nazis and a post-war Germany than with their erstwhile ally. For example, on January 22, 1944, following the historic Tehran Agreement, the Neue Volkszietung, the main pro-Nazi, German-American newspaper based in New York, which incessantly published propaganda playing the other allies against the Soviet Union, stated: "The whole of Europe west of the Russian border will have a common interest after this war. That is, to preserve their independence in the face of their powerful Russian neighbour. This cannot be achieved without the help of England and America."

Throughout the Second World War, the overall Anglo-American strategic plan was to try to minimize their own military losses, then intervene when both Germany and the Soviet Union were exhausted. The U.S., with its British ally, could then create a post-war Europe that was to its own economic and political advantage. When Operation Sunrise was implemented in March-April 1945, and when a second front was finally opened in Normandy in June 1944, the main aim of both was not to help bring about a just peace. Instead, both operations were first and foremost aimed at trying to prevent the Soviets from playing the decisive role in winning the war against the Hitlerites, even though the Soviet Union had already played that role and had already won the everlasting acclaim of the world's people for its great accomplishments.


1. Wolff saved his own skin due to his Anglo-American links. He served less than two years in prison after the Nuremberg trials, then served another short sentence after conviction by the post-war German government in 1948. Due to revelations during the Eichmann trial, Wolff was convicted in 1964 of deporting 300,000 Jews to the Treblinka extermination camp, the deportation of Italian Jews to Auschwitz and the massacre of Italian Partisans in Belarus. For these heinous war crimes he served a mere five years of a 15-year prison sentence.

2. Parilli would surface again after the war working with the OSS/CIA to prevent a communist-led government in Italy.

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Act of Surrender Signed in Reims

Soviet World War II poster -- Our Victory

More and more countries refuse to mark the Victory Day on May 9 as they used to do. Poland was the last to cancel the Day of Victory and Freedom on May 9 in favor of the national Victory Day to be celebrated on May 8. It is done to diminish the role of the Soviet Union in achieving the victory over fascism and forming the post-war world order.

The Polish parliament said there were no reasons to agree with the Soviet interpretation of events. According to it, the Soviet Army established unelected governments and undemocratic political systems in the countries that happened to be under its control after the Second World War ended. These invented reasons serve well the goals of sowing doubt about the contribution of the Soviet Union in the victory of the Allied Nations and the marking of the event on a different day, not the one considered to be Victory Day in the "totalitarian" Russia, especially in view that it was the most significant event of the last century. Even the countries and politicians friendly to Russia seek explanations to justify their decision to cancel the historic date for the sake of Euro-Atlantic solidarity. For this purpose they use the event that took place in Reims, France before the Act of unconditional German surrender was signed in Karlhorst on May 9.

On May 6, Generaloberst (Colonel General) Alfred Jodl, German Chief of the Operations Staff of the Armed Forces High Command, arrived at the temporary headquarters of General Dwight Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, in Reims to sign the document of surrender according to the authority given to him by Grossadmiral (Grand Admiral, the highest rank) Karl Dönitz who acted as President and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces at the time. Eisenhower insisted the act of capitulation was to be signed to stop hostilities on all fronts, including the Eastern Front where the Wehrmacht continued to offer fierce resistance to the Red Army. On May 4, Eisenhower informed the Soviet command about the upcoming visit of Jodl. In a letter addressed to Army General A. Antonov, Head of the Operations Directorate in Stavka, Eisenhower wrote that he would recommend Admiral Dönitz establish contacts with the Russian high command and discuss the capitulation of all forces confronting the Red Army. One must give the devil his due -- the American General behaved like a real ally. He stressed that the capitulation was a purely military term, it had no relation to political or economic conditions imposed by the governments of allied states. He found it important to match the time of ending the hostilities on all fronts.

Late on May 6, Jodl reported the conditions for surrender to Admiral Dönitz whose staff was located in Flensburg at the time. On May 7, the radio message from Dönitz instructed him to sign an act of unconditional surrender on all fronts.

General Ivan Susloparov, the chief of the Soviet liaison mission with the French government and the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force, signed for the Soviet Union the German Instrument of Surrender on May 7, 1945. According to the recollections of Army General S. Shtemenko, as the head of operations directorate of the Soviet General Staff, Susloparov was in Paris. He was visited by Eisenhower's adjutant who asked him to come to Reims without delay. Eisenhower informed him that Jodl was ready to sign the surrender instruments and the Soviet representative was to attend the ceremony. Eisenhower said he flatly denied to sign a separate instrument without Soviet participation. The Allied Supreme Commander asked Susloparov to send the protocol text to Moscow and represent his country at the signing ceremony which was scheduled for 02:30 Central European Time on May 7, 1945. The protocol said all forces under the control of German government were to comply with unconditional surrender. The armed forces were to remain at their positions. All orders of the Allied Supreme Commander and Soviet Command were to be carried out.

Susloparov had not received instructions from Moscow by that time. So he took the risk to act on his own and signed the document. According to Shtemenko, Susloparov offered a supplement to the document to say that another document on capitulation could be signed if one of the allied governments found it expedient. The representatives of other allied nations agreed.

The unconditional surrender of the German armed forces was signed by Generaloberst Alfred Jodl, on behalf of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces and as the representative for the new Reich President, Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz; Walter Bedell Smith signed on behalf of the Western Allies; and Ivan Susloparov on behalf of the Soviet Union. French Major-General Francois Sevez signed as the official witness. German Admiral Hans-Georg von Friedeburg also witnessed the signing. The document was to come into force at 00.00 May 8 Central European Time (two hours later according to Moscow time).

The message from Moscow came after the ceremony was over. It said no documents were to be signed. Shtemenko says it took a few hours to report the information to Stalin and make him prepare the reply. Perhaps the real cause was different. Stalin had all the reasons to believe the protocol to be signed in Reims would not be complied with at the Eastern Front. He knew something Susloparov was not informed about. Dönitz gave an order to leave the positions at the Eastern Front and move to the west using arms if need be. Besides, Jodl used bad communications as a pretext to give 45 hours of delay to the forces (from the moment of signing to coming into force, that is till 23:00, May 8, Central European Time). A biography of Jodl called A Soldier Without Fear or Reproach has been recently published in Germany. It says many soldiers and refugees used the time to escape from the Russians. Stalin had big policy considerations. The Allies emphasized their role in defeating Germany by organizing the ceremony on the territory they controlled, no matter that the Soviet Union bore the brunt of the war effort: the enemy lost 73% of its personnel and 75% of weapons systems at the Soviet-German front.

Stalin declined the proposals of Churchill and Truman to declare May 8 Victory Day. He sent personal letters to each of the Western leaders saying the resistance of German forces at the Eastern Front was as strong as before. He offered to wait till the capitulation of German forces at 23:00, May 8, Central European Time or 1:00, May 9, Moscow time. The Western leaders declined the proposal to declare victory on another day, but they agreed to consider the Reims document as preliminary formalization of surrender. Stalin wrote that the surrender instrument signed in Reims could be neither cancelled, nor recognized. The signing of capitulation had to be an important historic act. The documents had to be signed where the aggression came from -- in Berlin. It could not be done unilaterally. The document had to be signed at the level of the top commanders of the alliance. That is what happened late at night on May 9, 1945, in Berlin's suburb of Karlshorst.

(Strategic Culture Foundation, May 5, 2015. Slightly edited for grammar by TML.)

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Bern Incident

The USSR achieved victory over Nazi Germany together with coalition allies [despite the intrigues of the latter]. This fact is irrefutable.

By the end of 1942, when the Stalingrad battle was in full swing, the London station of Soviet Foreign Intelligence reported about a conversation that took place between British Ambassador to the United States Edward Wood, Lord Halifax, and Under Secretary of State Benjamin Sumner Welles. The latter said that if Germany fell in 1943 or 1944, then the Red Army would advance far to the west and this would negatively influence American public opinion and change the plans for European reconstruction.

To slow down the Red Army's advance to Europe, Anglo-American allies were constantly involved in unseemly actions like trying to hold separate talks with the Nazis. Allen Dulles was recruited to work at the Office of Strategic Services. He held secret negotiations in Bern, Switzerland, with SS General Karl Wolff to have all German and fascist armies surrender in northern Italy, or, even in the West in general. The talks were codenamed Operation Sunrise. The General did not act on his own, as many believed. He represented the Reich leadership. On February 6, [1945] he was told by Hitler personally to establish contacts with Western nations to talk about prospects for an armistice on the Western front. The operation was under the control of Heinrich Himmler. By holding these talks Germany wanted to kill three birds with one stone. It wanted to split the anti-Hitler coalition, and even join the West in a would-be war against the USSR. It also had the goals of putting an end to the advance of the Allied nations at the Western Front and to use this opportunity to relocate forces from the West to the East to strengthen its defenses against the USSR.

Holding separate talks was forbidden by accords concluded between the USSR, the United States and Great Britain. For instance, the Twenty-Year Mutual Assistance Agreement Between the United Kingdom and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was signed on May 26, 1942. Article II said, "The high contracting parties undertake not to enter into any negotiations with the Hitlerite Government or any other government in Germany that does not clearly renounce all aggression intentions, and not to negotiate or conclude, except by mutual consent, any armistice or peace treaty with Germany or any other State associated with her in acts of aggression in Europe."

It was not only a matter of tearing up agreements. The Anglo-American allies did not exclude the possibility of using German prisoners of war against the Soviet Union. In this case the military potential of forces opposing the USSR would have substantially increased.

On March 8, [1945] Dulles and Wolff met at a secret place in Zurich. The high-positioned SS General offered the following conditions: the Anglo-American command stops the advance in Italy, a cease-fire follows, and then German forces evacuate the front. Dulles agreed that the conditions were right to initiate contact. Subsequently, on 15 and 19 March, Wolff conducted further secret negotiations on the surrender with American general Lyman Lemnitzer and British general Terence Airey.

Wolff reported to Berlin on the possibility of a split in the ranks of the allies. He was told to make the talks drag on as long as possible. Thus Germany managed to delay the start of Allied advance in Italy and bring reinforcements (the 6th SS Tank Army) to the Eastern Front and launch a counteroffensive near Lake Balaton in Hungary in March 1945.

The talks were top secret. Nonetheless the Anglo-Americans allowed for a leak, informing the USSR about the contact with the representative of Field Marshall Albert Kesselring, the commander of German forces in Italy, to discuss the conditions of capitulation. Vyacheslav Molotov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, asked for Soviet participation in the talks. The request was refused. The contacts with Wolff continued. The Soviet leadership was informed about the process from reliable sources, for instance, Kim Philby, part of Cambridge Five and head of MI6 at the time. Moscow undertook a demarche.

On March 22, Molotov said that he did not think the whole incident was a mere misunderstanding. The Soviet government believed it was something worse. On April 3, Josef Stalin received a message from Franklin Roosevelt who denied the very fact of any contacts. Stalin's telegram was terse and straightforward. He wrote that, "You assure that no contacts are taking place. Perhaps, you were not fully informed. My military colleagues have no doubt the talks did take place. An agreement is reached. German commander Field Marshall Kesselring agreed to open the front and let Anglo-American forces pass. In return, Anglo-Americans promised to ease the conditions of armistice. I believe my colleagues are nearer to the truth. Otherwise, it's impossible to explain why a representative of Soviet command was not allowed to take part in the talks in Bern. I understand the separate talks in Switzerland may bring some positive results because Anglo-American forces have an opportunity to advance deep into Germany without meeting any resistance from Germans. Then why hide this fact from Russians? Now Germans stop combat actions on the Western front but continue to fight Russia -- an ally of Great Britain and the United States. This situation cannot serve the interests of strengthening confidence between our countries."

In reply, Roosevelt tried to convince Stalin that no talks took place in Switzerland. He even made a supposition that Stalin used "German sources" that tried to make the allies split and thus evade the responsibility for the crimes committed. According to him, if that was the goal of Wolff, then he accomplished the mission. Winston Churchill also denied the fact of holding talks in Switzerland on the capitulation of German forces led by Kesselring.

The head of the Soviet government sent to Roosevelt another message where he expressed in straightforward and simple terms his views on what the relationship between the allies should be like. "We, Russians, believe that the enemy faces the inevitable capitulation and any meeting on discussing the terms of surrender must include the representatives of other allies. I believe this point of view is right. It excludes any mutual suspicions and prevents the enemy from giving rise to the feeling of mistrust."

On April 12, 1945 just a few hours before his death, Roosevelt wrote a last message to Stalin expressing gratitude for making precise the Soviet point of view in relation to the incident in Bern that became a thing of the past without doing any good.

But there was some good. As a result of the Soviet demarche, the Allied forces renewed their attacks in Italy on April 9. The talks with Wolff terminated. Dulles was informed that as a result of Soviet objections, the proposal on capitulation could not be discussed unilaterally by the Anglo-Americans.

The Bern incident greatly damaged the relations between the allies, creating the possibility of a serious split between the Soviet Union on the one side and Great Britain and the United States of America on the other side. Some historians call Operation Sunrise the first episode of the Cold War.

(Strategic Culture Foundation, April 29, 2015. Slightly edited for grammar by TML.)

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Setting the Record Straight

Contest of Absurdity and Victory Day

On March 19, the Los Angeles Times published an article entitled "Kiev, not Moscow, should be the choice for marking V-E Day," written by Steven Pifer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, John Herbst, the director of the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council and Bill Taylor, the acting executive Vice President at the United States Institute of Peace. All three are former U.S. ambassadors to Ukraine. It begins with praise for German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron for their refusal to come to Moscow in May to take part in the celebration of the victory over Nazism.

The authors believe that Merkel, Cameron and Obama should go to Kiev instead of Moscow to commemorate the V-E Day, so that they could mark it "on their terms, not Putin's." That's it! "Given the conflict that Russia has conducted against Ukraine, Western leaders could not sit in a reviewing stand on Red Square and watch parading Russian troops, whose comrades had so recently waged -- and might continue to wage -- war in eastern Ukraine, just 500 miles to the south," write Pifer, Herbst and Taylor.

In this case these veterans of the U.S. diplomatic service concentrate on the fulfilment of an assigned political objective -- to symbolically deprive Russia, the only successor of the Soviet Union, to rightfully claim that legacy. They are clear that they are not the first ones to float this idea. Poland had put forward proposals of this kind before them. For instance, Polish President Komorowski mooted the idea of holding V-E Day celebrations on May 8 at Gdansk's Westerplatte, where the war erupted in 1939. Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna said it would be more apt to celebrate victory over Hitler in London, Berlin or Poland. Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves announced he did not intend to go to Moscow on May 9 and take part in events to mark the 70th anniversary of the Victory. "We do not remember and honor someone's victory or defeat. We honor the memory of the victims and remember the courage of soldiers and resistance fighters defending their country," he said. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has enriched our knowledge of world history by saying publicly that the Soviet Union "invaded Ukraine and Germany."

All the proposals to mark the Victory Day in any other place but the capital of the Soviet Union/Russia -- the leading victorious power in the main war of the 20th century -- look like a contest of absurdity. It is not poor knowledge of history. In the given case, this absurdity is part of the Cold War unleashed by the West against Russia. The authors of the article mentioned above say that Western leaders should choose Kiev, not Moscow, as the place to gather on Victory Day because "gathering in the Ukrainian capital would also send a powerful message to the Russian populace of the isolation of their country's leader because of his aggression against Ukraine." That's what the Americans said and that's what Ukrainian officials repeat now. As a Pole, there is no way Mr. Grzegorz Schetyna could deny that the Red Army carried the brunt of the fight against Adolf Hitler's Wehrmacht because he also would have to admit that Poland not only avoided being wiped out from the world map but added one-third of its territory because of Stalin, not Churchill. Churchill expressed his attitude towards possible Polish territorial gains at the Crimean conference. "It would be a great pity to stuff the Polish goose so full of German food that it died of indigestion," he said then. Accordingly, if the Estonian President remembers that the Soviet Union won the Second World War and Nazi Germany suffered a defeat, then how could he honor "the memory of the victims and remember the courage of soldiers and resistance fighters defending their country" meaning the Estonian legionnaires of Waffen SS -- the force recognized as a criminal organization at Nuremberg. The same situation is faced by any politician who perceives the victory of the Soviet Union in the Second World War as a thorn in his side.

Nevertheless, Pifer, Herbst and Taylor believe that their proposal is more ingenious than anything else that has been put forward before. They don't shy away from recognizing the contribution of the Soviet people. They pursue quite a different goal -- they want to separate the great victory from "Putin's Russia." Let us quote the former ambassadors to Ukraine once again as they call on the heads of leading Western states to go to Kiev to mark Victory Day: "Let the Kremlin propagandists try to hide the sight of Western leaders in Kiev respectfully honoring the heroic World War II struggle of the Soviet people, including Russians."

Soviet World War II poster, "Red Army Broom Will Sweep All the Scum Out!"

Respectfully honoring the Soviet people? Who do they want to deceive with these words? Western leaders still cannot forgive the Soviet people, the Red Army and the fact that the Soviet Union withstood the attack of Nazi Germany and, thus, frustrated the plans of Western democracies to appease Hitler at the expense of lands he was allowed to grab in Eastern Europe. Can the West admit that without the Soviet Union and its Red Army the entirety of Europe would have turned into a fascist concentration camp? Or, perhaps, the authors would disagree with Winston Churchill? His animosity towards Russia was well known. No matter that, he admitted that the Red Army "tore the guts out of the Nazi war machine." The fact is that such an admission on the part of the authors would undermine the world vision of those who have imposed their style of democracy on Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya, and which they are now trying to impose on Ukraine.

Kiev along with other Soviet cities like Moscow, Sebastopol, Odessa, Minsk and Smolensk, for example became a Hero City. The soldiers from all Soviet republics, including Ukraine, fought in the ranks of the Red Army. They were not divided along national lines. Together they defended Moscow, liberated Poland and seized Berlin. What can Western leaders commemorate on Victory Day in Kiev, the capital of the country where the government came to power as a result of a coup supported by neo-Nazis? What event could be marked together with the regime which has declared Hitler's stooges Bandera and Shukhevych heroes of Ukraine?

The contest of absurdity in the form of choosing another place of historic importance to mark Victory Day instead of Moscow can go on, nothing stands in the way. And nothing will happen if some Western leaders don't come to Moscow on May 9, 2015. It will put a damper over the holiday to be celebrated by all of Russia.

It's always dangerous to mix things up, something being done by those who have started the discourse imposing lies about "Russian aggression" before the celebration of the victory over fascist Germany. It will inevitably create a backlash in Europe. Europe knows what it is to foster Nazism. It did it once before.

(Strategic Culture Foundation, March 21, 2015. Slightly edited for grammar by TML.)

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The Rewriting of History over VE Day

VE day celebrations in London, May 8, 1945.

William Hague, the Leader of the House of Commons, announced in mid-March that the weekend of 8-10 May, 2015, had been officially designated to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day, which is marked on 8 May in Britain.

What is noteworthy about the planned celebrations and the statement made by Hague is the fact that the government seems less concerned about commemorating the 70th anniversaries of VE Day, and of Victory in Japan (VJ) Day in August, than it is about the centenary of the First World War which has been marked by four years of planned commemorative events. What is also evident is that the government is intent on marking the end of the Second World War in Europe by obscuring the nature of that war and the important fact that it was concluded by a decisive victory over fascism. The re-writing and falsification of history that followed this victory have also necessarily obscured the vital role of the Soviet Union, which led the defeat of fascism in Europe in the course of which over 20 million of its population gave their lives.

It is perhaps for this reason that there are attempts to present the wartime Conservative Prime Minister Winston Churchill as the embodiment of Britain's part in this victory and make much of the speech that he delivered on VE Day in 1945. However, as history records, less than two months later, the working class and people of Britain, with their aspirations for a new society, one built on opposition to all that imperialism, fascism and Nazism stood for, threw Churchill out of power in the July 1945 general election.

Churchill's government had already indicated its predatory and anti-people nature several months before VE Day with military intervention in Greece in December 1944. That intervention, planned for some time, had the aim not of ridding Greece of the Nazi occupiers but of eliminating the heroic Communist-led resistance movement, the National Liberation Front (EAM), that had led the struggle against Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in Greece, and which had received arms from Britain during the war. The British government intervened in order to prevent the empowerment of the Greek people following the evacuation of the occupiers and to restore a reactionary government and monarch who were considered best suited to safeguard the route to Britain's wider imperial interests. The British army created the conditions for a massacre of unarmed patriotic demonstrators including children in Athens and conducted other military actions against the resistance, having been instructed by Churchill not to "hesitate to act as if you were in a conquered city where a local rebellion is in progress."

Lt. Gen. Ronald Scobie (centre) who, on December 5, 1944, imposed martial law and ordered the aerial bombing of the working-class Metz quarter of Athens.

The military intervention in Greece and attacks on anti-fascists during the Second World War were widely condemned in Britain, even most major newspapers including The Times joined this condemnation. It was however supported by the leaders of the Labour Party and the Trades Union Congress (TUC), both before the 1945 General Election and after when Atlee's Labour government took office. The TUC first sent a delegation to Greece at the request of Churchill's government shortly after military intervention. Several others followed, all with the intention of splitting the Greek trade union movement, preventing "free and fair elections" and imposing leaders who would serve the interests of the British government. Atlee's Labour government both supported the reactionary Greek governments, which attacked the rights of working people in Greece, and simultaneously attacked the workers' and patriotic movements that had led the struggle against fascism during the Second World War.

Intervention in Greece by the British government and trade union leaders created the conditions for the growing political crisis in Greece, and paved the way for US intervention, not just in Greece but elsewhere, justified under the openly anti-Communist "Truman Doctrine" and supported by the so-called Marshall Plan. It culminated in what is referred to as a civil war between the reactionary Greek government, supported by Anglo-American imperialism, and the patriot forces led by the Greek Communist Party. This was a military conflict which led to the deaths, imprisonment and exile of many thousands who had fought to defeat fascism during the Second World War and that left Greece politically unstable and dependent on the US for many decades.

Left: Unarmed protesters shot by the police and British Army in Athens, December 3, 1944.
Right: Women protest the shootings, which led to more than a
month of street fighting in Athens.

History shows that the Second World War led to a victory over fascism and created the conditions for the liberation of many nations in Africa and Asia and for the working people to advance their cause for progress and social emancipation. The few years after the victory over Nazi fascism were a time of great momentum, profound changes and the creation of the socialist camp. However, history also shows that these advances were not welcomed by all. They were opposed by those that had nurtured, appeased and financed fascism before the war, in the hope that it would destroy the Soviet Union and the aspirations of the workers of all countries. Once the victory over fascism seemed assured and VE Day beckoned, the struggle against communism and to prevent the peoples empowering themselves recommenced.

Workers' Weekly is a publication of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist).

(March 22, 2015)

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International Community's Onus to Safeguard Victorious Outcome of WWII

Seventy years ago today, Nazi Germany signed an unconditional surrender, ending the European conflict in World War II.

At this special moment, all peace-loving people around the world should remember this history and safeguard the international order with the United Nations at the core while promoting global peace and development in the contemporary world.

This is an important year of special historic significance, as it marks the 70th anniversary of the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War, and the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, as well as the founding of the UN.

Seventy years ago, the barbarian wars of aggression waged by German fascists and Japanese militarists were a "dark page" in human history. More than 80 countries and regions and about two billion people in Asia, Europe, Africa and Oceania were engulfed in the flames of war and suffered grave disasters.

As a main battlefield in Asia, China made indelible contributions to the anti-fascist war as it held back Japanese aggression at tremendous costs -- including 35 million casualties -- which supported the war efforts of the allied powers in European and Pacific battlefields.

As the victorious outcome of WWII, the international order with the UN as the core has guaranteed global peace and development in the 70 years after the war, and that should be cherished and safeguarded.

The Cairo Declaration issued on December 1, 1943 by China, the United States and Britain remains a cornerstone to shape the post-war order of East Asia. So does the Potsdam Proclamation which defined the terms of Japan's surrender.

Any attempt to challenge the international order based on these two documents is doomed to fail.

Though at present the world is experiencing complicated and profound changes, the nature of WWII and the historic significance of the victory concluded by the UN Charter and other international documents are absolutely beyond dispute and tampering with them must not be permitted.

However, the Japanese government under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe still shamefully dodges history and has not faced the heinous and systematic war crimes committed seven decades ago.

Most recently, Abe when at the U.S. capital, voiced "deep remorse" over Japan's "actions" before and during WWII that "brought suffering" to other Asian countries, continuing to water down the country's wartime atrocities.

The increasingly strident nationalist leader owes a heartfelt apology to its Asian neighbors victimized by the fascist country's brutal aggression and colonial rule during WWII.

At a time when the world is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, Abe should be discreet in word and deed, and should really take this golden opportunity to reach out to his neighbors with honor and dignity.

To forget the past means to betray; to tamper with history means the start of following the same disastrous road.

All peace-loving nations and people should cherish the hard-won lasting peace, maintain the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and push forward the construction of a new type of international relations centered on win-win cooperation.

(Xinhua, May 8, 2015. Slightly edited for grammar by TML.)

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The Leningrad Siege During World War II:
The Diary of Tanya Savicheva

The permanent representative of the United States to the UN, Samantha Power, speaking at a meeting of the General Assembly on May 5, 2015, cited the diary of Tanya Savicheva, recalling the suffering of the girl during the siege of Leningrad in 1941-1944. Posted below is Tanya's diary, followed by a commentary by Maria Zakharova, Director of the Department of Information and Press of the Russian Foreign Ministry, published in Russian by RT and translated and published by Oriental Review.


During the 900-day German blockade of Leningrad 642,000 civilians died in the city and another 400,000 during evacuation.

In 1941 the Savichev family lived in Leningrad and was making plans to spend the summer in the country side. But only Tanya's brother Mikhail managed to leave the city before the blockade.

With the onset of the war all members of the family began helping with the war effort. The mother was sewing uniforms, others worked in weapons manufacturing and served defending the city.

As food supplies were cut off during the siege, most of the city's residents were sentenced to a hungry death. Tanya's family did not escape the common fate and her diary became a testament to Leningrad's human tragedy in WWII.

Tanya’s grandma, Evdokia Arsenieva

The first entry:

"Zhenya died on December 28, 1941 at 12:30 am"

Sister Zhenya worked at an arms plant, where she had to walk battling the harsh winter elements. She became the first victim of the family, due to high physical demands and a lack of nutrition.

Less then a month later, a new entry appeared in the diary:

"Grandma died on January 25, 1942 at 3 pm"

Then, Tanya's grandma, Evdokia Arsenieva

"Leka died on March 17, 1942, at 5 am"

Next, Leonid Savichev (1917-1942)

"Uncle Vasya died on April 13, 1942 at 2 am"

Finally Tanya writes about the death of Uncle Lesha, and her mother Maria. Lesha died on May 10, and her mom 3 days later. In the entry Tanya skips the word "died":

"Mama on May 13, 1942, at 7:30 am"

Last entries:

"Savichev family died"

"Everyone died"

"Only Tanya is left"

Soon Tanya was evacuated with other kids. In August 1942, the train with kids arrived in village Shatki. The girl ended up in an orphanage, #48. But she was the only one among the new kids with tuberculosis. Tanya died on July 1, 1944 at 14 years.

Commentary: Maria Zakharova, Director,
Department of Information and Press, Russian Foreign Ministry

Cynicism has many definitions and examples. Here's another one. Cynicism is when on May 5, 2015, U.S. permanent representative to the UN, Samantha Power, from the podium of the General Assembly quotes the diary of Tanya Savicheva, talking about the girl's suffering during the siege of Leningrad.

First, Samantha Power temporarily forgot that the siege of Leningrad lasted 872 days -- from September 8, 1941 to January 27, 1944. And the long-awaited Second Front was opened in Europe six months after the complete liberation of Leningrad from the blockade!

What prevented the U.S. and the UK from helping our country to save Tanya and hundreds of thousands of these same children for two-and-a-half years? After all, something was preventing it, right? Or did Washington and London not possess the pages from the diary of Tanya Savicheva at the time? But if they had, then certainly they would have started a military operation against Hitler's troops in Europe three years earlier, right?

It's just that Tanya is gone. And now American diplomacy can speculate on her name all they want. It is fair to say that to demand a knowledge of history from Americans, especially of a foreign country, even [if well-known], is, you know, on the brink of cynicism. Children in Donbass were hiding in shelters for months while Ukrainian troops shelled the cities.

Secondly, by playing the "good aunt", who deplores the fate of a child who died in distant 1944, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN has again forgotten that at no time during the past year -- not once at the thematic meetings of the Security Council -- did she bother to mention the fate of the still living children of Donbass who too, by the way, suffer [including from hunger -- KR] as a result of military operations and humanitarian disaster caused by the current blockade. However, she was not alone to forget about this, but followed her other colleagues from the State Department.

It's just that the children of Donbass don't exist, it's all a myth of "Russian propaganda"! They, from the point of view of the "exclusive" Samantha Power, are not even worth the status of Pussy Riot and so talk about them at the UN. Now, if these children died on the right side of history and, preferably, many years ago, unable to stand up for themselves; or, stuffed a frozen chicken in all kinds of places [reference to Pussy Riot -- KR] proudly declaring that they suffer from [Putin's] regime and lack of creative fulfillment, then Samatha Power would guarantee a free tour of the United Nations building and an honorable mention from the UN podium.

(Oriental Review, May 7, 2015. Slightly edited for grammar by TML.)

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What Wasn't Said

Celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the victory over fascism in Europe have taken on an unexpected pattern. The cruelty of the Nazis is recalled but always avoiding the ideology of fascism, as well as historical premises and political circumstances which lead to similar horrors.

To the denunciation of the brutality that characterizes Nazism, it would have been important to have reflected on the attempts to ideologically sustain such actions, exposing the fact that fascist ideology based on national exclusivity, racism, xenophobia, intolerance and exclusion, survived the fall of Berlin.

The magnificent victory over the Nazis could serve as an ideological relaunching of an impassioned defense of freedom and democracy, recalling the values that 60 years ago placed unity and humanity above regimes and political opinions, religious creeds and levels of development. It would have been a good moment to renew the commitments that made possible the formation of an anti-Nazi coalition.

It was too much to ask. President George Bush could have said many interesting and even beautiful things about the leadership of Franklin D. Roosevelt, but instead chose a rambling speech that revealed his nostalgia for the days of the Cold War ignoring the fact that at the time, the Soviet Union was not part of the problem but part of the solution.

Many would have liked to hear about the heroic resistance of the occupied peoples, of the brilliant actions mounted by the French and Yugoslavian guerrillas, of the partisans who populated the forests of Europe, of the magnificent resistance of Prague, Budapest, Sofia, Oslo, of the sacrifice of the farmers who burned their crops, condemning themselves to starvation to keep food away from the Nazis, and of the determination of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto.

Bush said nothing about the martyrdom of the communists and social democrats, he didn't mention the names of Tahelman and Dimitrov, or those of Guernica and Lidice, nor was there a homage for those priests who turned their churches into refuges.

In a world deeply in need of unity and a re-encounter of cultures and civilizations, he left out the fact that in the anti-fascist struggle, Catholics and communists, Muslims and Christians, Americans and Russians, were all on the same side.

Many wanted to hear a critical reflection on the role of Swiss banks that accepted gold bars made from gold pulled from the teeth of death camp prisoners, of art collectors who kept in their vaults works stolen from the museums of Europe, of the billions of dollars made on the war by the captains of the US automobile, steel and oil industries and how the United States closed its borders to Jewish immigrants escaping fascism.

In fact, Bush was tougher on the Soviet Union which no longer exists, than on Hitler whose ideas are still alive and well. No one clarified that the Soviet Union liberated half of Europe, including Norway and Austria from which their troops withdrew as soon they were requested and exhausted joined the war against Japan to give a hand to their American allies.

It was President Putin who had to bring up the role of the Soviet Union which, a huge battle field, defeated Hitler's military machine by inflicting a full 75 percent of all German casualties in World War II, though paying a tremendous price.

There were no words recalling the Nuremberg Trials where the crime of aggression was defined, nor was there mention of those who sheltered the Nazis to take advantage of their talents, their money and even their special abilities at repression.

Nor was there mention of the world leaders who, headed by Roosevelt, founded the United Nations, a system of international security based on respect and sovereignty of states, the sovereignty of peoples and the self-determination of nations.

We can only hope that the world's only superpower will someday be governed by a president with a grasp of history and tradition and a love of peace and tranquility instead of a thirst for profits and war.

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Historical Accounts on the Liberation of Europe from Nazi-Fascism

Russia Completes Twelve-Volume Treatise
on the Great Patriotic War

To mark the 70th anniversary of the defeat of fascism, Russia has completed the publication of a twelve-volume treatise on the history of the Great Patriotic War (1941-45). The Treatise deals with the complexities of how the Soviet Union liberated the motherland from Nazi German invasion and contributed decisively to the defeat of the Nazis in 1945.

Soviet Red Army soldiers throw down Nazi insignia at Victory Parade, Moscow, June 25, 1945.

A Strategic Culture Foundation article by Yuriy Rubtsov notes that this multi-volume study was commissioned in 2008 by Russian President Vladimir Putin under the direction of the Russian Ministry of Defence. Rubtsov writes that the mission was completed recently and offers a fresh perspective on the Great Patriotic War. "It is a really overarching project and this time the authors have tried to come up with something new. Unlike the fundamental works that had been issued in the Soviet Union, the authors carefully avoided the risk of pertinent descriptions of dispositions and military activities overshadowing the political, economic, diplomatic, social, spiritual and everyday life aspects of such a complex phenomenon as the Great Patriotic War."

Rubtsov writes that around 200 experts in various fields (military and civilian historians, economists, political scholars and lawyers) took part in the study. These included the Academy of Sciences and public organizations, military and civilian educational institutions such as the Russian Academy of Missile and Artillery Sciences, the Academy of Military Science, the Russian Academy of Missile and Artillery Sciences, the Academy of Military Science, the Academy of Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, the General staff college of the Russian Federation's armed forces, and the Military University of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. Also taking part were the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, the Lomonosov Moscow State University, The Combined Arms Academy of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration under the President of the Russian Federation, the Saint Petersburg State University, as well as state and agency-level archives, military-industrial complex and veterans organizations.

The focus of each of the twelve volumes of the Treatise on the Great Patriotic War are as follows:

Volume 1 details the main events in the war and summarizes the whole 12 volumes. It tells about the preparatory measures taken by the Soviet Union to counter the fascist aggression, as well as the description of main operations, the activities in the rear and how people lived in those days.

Volume 2 examines the origin of the Great Patriotic War and the outbreak of the war and the first three months of the war.

Volume 3 highlights the decisive battles of the war including the battles of Moscow and Stalingrad as well as the other battles fought between 1941 and the end of 1943.

Victory Day, Moscow, May 9, 1945.

Volume 4 deals with the liberation of the Soviet territory in 1944 and describes the Red Army operations to push back the Germans.

Volume 5 provides details of the "victorious finale" of the war including the decisive battles of the Red Army in Europe and the war against Japan in the Far East.

Volume 6 details the "secret war, intelligence and counter-espionage during the Great Patriotic War. The volume narrates a story about the efforts undertaken by foreign, military and counter intelligence to achieve victory."

Volume 7 examines the Soviet economy and armaments. "It provides the description of the economic base of the USSR at the time of the war and offers descriptions and characteristics of the weapons systems in the inventory of the Red Army."

Volume 8 deals with the foreign police of the Soviet Union and diplomacy during the war.

Volume 9 is devoted to the policies of the Allies in the Second World War including the United States and Great Britain and others and devotes attention to the operations of their armed forces.

Volume 10 examines "power, society, and war. It tells about the role of the government and society in the war effort."

Volume 11 discusses the "policy and strategy behind the victory and how the strategic command of the armed forces was exercised in extreme conditions."

Volume 12 sums up the war and "provides ideas on what lessons Russia and its military should learn from the Great Patriotic War."

Liberation of Poland by the Red Army.

Rubtsov writes: "The new edition offers hundreds of the documents that have been found during the recent twenty years in the archive of President of the Russian Federation, the Russian State Archive of Socio-Political History (RGASPI), the Central Archive of the Russian Ministry of Defence and other national and foreign archives. The material used is unique. It provides a clue to understanding the genuine reasons and the goals of the criminal war unleashed by Germany against the Soviet Union. It dispels the myths about the "preventive war" Germany had to start. The documents prove that the goals pursued by the Soviet Union in the war against the fascist alliance met vital interests of its peoples, as well as the peoples of other countries. It testifies to the fact that the USSR pursued a just cause by fighting for independence, territorial integrity and its very right to exist."

Soviet Red Army liberates Bulgaria.

The author emphasizes: "The statistics adduced in the treatise show that the Great Patriotic War was the main event of the Second World War. The Soviet Union bore the brunt of the effort to rout Nazi Germany and its European allies. The work offers an insight into the interaction with the anti-Hitler coalition allies, and the role of economic and military aid provided according to the Lend-Lease. It shows that it was the people's war. The treatise sheds light on the role of the [Communist] Party and government organs, public organizations and the church in mobilization efforts. It explores the subject of where the resources and willpower to fight the aggressor came from and how subversive activities were conducted in the enemy's rear. It provides a clue to understanding how high was the price of war, what immense human and material losses the country suffered."

Celebrating the liberation of Yugoslavia.

According to Rubtsov, the authors of the 12-volume study "provide substantiated replies to controversial questions. Could the Second World War and the aggression of Germany against the Soviet Union have been avoided? What caused the defeats suffered by the Red Army in 1941 and why the war inflicted such great losses? Why did some Russians collaborate with the enemy? Is there a reason for painting as an aggressive force the army that liberated (fully or partly) 11 European and two Asian countries?" He points out that the answers to these questions are relevant to today.

The authors of this massive study of the Great Patriotic War "vividly react to the attempts of falsifiers to do away with the very notion of Great Patriotic War. They offer to use the definition "Soviet-German" or "Nazi-Soviet" instead and make the Soviet Union and the Third Reich equally responsible for unleashing the war. Some try to paint the soldier-liberator as an occupant and rapist. The authors of the treatise have reviewed all available information about the Second World War. Solid facts have been separated from inventions, the previous mistakes and oversights have been rectified."

Rubtsov concludes his article by pointing out that one of the features that stands out in this historic study is that it is linked to the future. "The authors directly and unambiguously try to learn lessons of practical use for Russia and the build-up of its armed forces in the 21st century. It's up to readers to decide how successful they are. Hopefully the new treatise on the history of Russia's 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War published on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union has come into the world to start an independent, long and fruitful life."

Celebrations in the streets after the Soviet liberation of Austria.

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The Economic Price Paid for Soviet Victory
in the Great Patriotic War

The West continues to disavow the USSR's momentous contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany and her satellites. But there is documentary proof that can refute any speculation on this subject. Suffice it to point to the economic price of the victory won by the people of the Soviet Union.

The war caused an astronomical level of financial damages to the USSR. On Nov. 2, 1942, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR issued a decree establishing the Extraordinary State Commission for Identifying and Investigating Crimes Perpetrated by the German-Fascist Invaders and Their Accomplices, and the Damage Inflicted by Them on the Citizens, Collective Farms, Social Organizations, State Enterprises, and Institutions of the USSR during the Great Patriotic War.

Soldiers celebrate decisive victory in the Great Patriotic War at Stalingrad.

After the war, that Commission published the following statistics: the German-Fascist invaders and their accomplices razed 1,710 towns and more than 70,000 villages and hamlets, depriving approximately 25 million people of shelter. They destroyed about 32,000 factories, 84,000 schools and other educational institutions, and demolished and looted 98,000 collective farms.[1] In addition, they destroyed 4,100 railway stations, 36,000 communications facilities, 6,000 hospitals, 33,000 outpatient clinics, treatment centers, and infirmaries, 82,000 primary and secondary schools, 1,520 specialized high schools, 334 institutions of higher education, 43,000 libraries, 427 museums, and 167 theaters. In the agricultural sector, 7 million horses, 17 million head of cattle, and tens of millions of pigs, sheep, goats, and poultry were appropriated or killed. The country's transportation infrastructure endured the wreckage of 65,000 kilometers of rail lines and 13,000 railway bridges, and in addition 15,800 steam- and gasoline-powered locomotives, 428,000 rail cars, and 1,400 ships were destroyed, severely damaged, or stolen.

German firms such as Friedrich Krupp AG, Reichswerke Hermann Göring, Siemens-Schuckert, and IG Farbenindustrie pillaged the occupied territories of the Soviet Union.

The material damages inflicted on the Soviet Union by the Nazi invaders were equal to approximately 30% of the country's national wealth, and that number rose to 67% in the areas under occupation. The Extraordinary State Commission's report was presented at the Nuremberg trials in 1946. A summary of the direct material losses is given in the following table.

The Magnitude of the Direct Material Losses Suffered by the Soviet Union as a Result of the War Years of 1941-1945

Type of loss Quantitative estimates of the losses caused by destruction, damage, and theft
Core manufacturing assets

Metal-cutting equipment (each)


Sledgehammers and presses (each)


Coal cutters (each)


Jackhammers (each)


Electrical plants (kW of power)

                                              5 million

Blast furnaces (each)


Open-hearth furnaces (each)


Textile machines (each)


Spindles for spinning (each)

                                              3 million

Agricultural resources

Horses (per head)

                                             7 million

Cattle (per head)

                                           17 million

Pigs (per head)

                                           20 million

Goats and sheep (per head)

                                           27 million

Tractors (individual units)


Combines (each)


Tractor-mounted seed drills (each)


Threshing machines (each)


Livestock buildings (each)


Planted croplands (in hectares)


Vineyards (in hectares)


Transportation and communications

Rail lines (in kilometers)


Locomotives (each)


Rail cars (each)


Railway bridges (each)


River vessels (each)


Telegraph and telephone lines (in kilometers)



Urban housing (individual buildings)


Rural housing (individual buildings)

                                         3.5 million

Source: Nikolai Voznesensky. Voennaya Ekonomika SSSR v Period Otechestvennoi Voiny. - Moscow: Gospolitizdat, 1948.

These numbers do not reflect all the damages incurred. They show only the losses resulting from the direct destruction of property owned by Soviet citizens, collective farms, social organizations, and state enterprises and institutions. This total does not include losses such as the financial costs to the national government due to the partial or complete suspension of the work of state-owned companies, collective farms, and private citizens, nor the cost of the products and supplies confiscated by the German occupation forces, the military expenses incurred by the USSR, or the financial losses that ensued from the stagnation in the country's overall economic development as a result of enemy operations between 1941 and 1945. Data is provided below on these additional economic damages.

The Toll on Soviet Manufacturing and Agricultural Production Due to Occupation and the Destruction of Industries in the Occupied Territories
(Until the End of the War)

Type of product
Amount of loss*

1.​ Coal

307 million tons

2.​  Electricity

72 billion kWh

3.​ Steel

38 million tons

4.​ Aluminum

136,000 tons

5.​  Metal-cutting equipment

90,000 units

6.​ Sugar

63 million centners

7.​ Grain

11 billion poods

8.​ Potatoes

1.922 million centners

9.​ Meat

68 million centners

10.​ Milk

567.​  million centners

* The losses are estimated as the shortfall in production. The annual level of production in 1940 was used as the basis for the calculations. Source: Nikolai Voznesensky. Voennaya Ekonomika SSSR v Period Otechestvennoi Voiny. - Moscow: Gospolitizdat, 1948.

Even before the end of the Second World War, it was clear that the Soviet Union was bearing the brunt of its economic burden. After the war, various calculations and estimates were made, which only served as confirmation of that obvious fact. The West German economist Bernhard Endrucks conducted a comparative assessment of state spending for military purposes over the duration of the war by the primary belligerents. The French economist A. Claude produced comparative estimates of the direct economic losses (destruction and theft of property) suffered by the primary belligerents. We have summarized these estimates in the following table.

State Military Expenditures and the Direct Economic Damages Suffered by the Primary Belligerents During the Second World War (In Billions of Dollars)


State military spending*

Direct economic damages**

Total economic loss****




(3) = (1) + (2)









Great Britain




























* At current prices. **At 1938 prices. ***Along with Canada. **** The dollar's purchasing power in 1938 was higher than during the war years of 1939-1945. Therefore, this total will be somewhat overvalued if given in 1938 prices, but somewhat undervalued if given in today's prices. That said, we believe that this summation provides a fair picture of the aggregate losses these countries experienced. Source: Istoriya Mirovoi Ekonomiki/ Edited by Georgy Polyak and Anna Markova - Moscow: YUNITI, 2002, pgs. 307-315.

Exactly 30% of all the state military spending by the seven primary belligerents during the Second World War can be attributed to the USSR. The combined state spending by the allies (USSR, USA, Great Britain, and France) on military objectives amounted to $767 billion. The USSR financed 46.5% of all the military expenses borne by the four allied powers.

Of the total direct economic damages suffered by the five belligerents, 56% can be attributed to the USSR. It should be noted that the direct economic damages inflicted on the Soviet Union were 2.7 times higher than similar damages endured by Germany. This should be no surprise -- the Third Reich imposed a scorched-earth policy in the East.

The USSR bore the burden of 53% of all the military expenditures and direct economic damages to the four victorious countries (USSR, USA, Great Britain, and France). Stalin was exactly right when he suggested at the Yalta Conference that half of all the German reparations should be paid to the Soviet Union.

The USSR suffered 50% higher aggregate economic losses than Germany. The Soviet Union paid the highest price of any of the belligerents during World War II.


1. The data cited in this article was taken from the book by Nikolai Voznesensky. Voennaya Ekonomika SSSR v Period Otechestvennoi Voiny. (Moscow: Gospolitizdat, 1948). The author, Nikolai Alekseevich Voznesensky (1903-1950), served as the chairman of the Soviet Union's Gosplan Committee from 1938 to 1949.

(Strategic Culture Foundation, May 6, 2015. Slightly edited for grammar by TML.)

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Reparations from the Second World War:
Stalin's Generous Gesture

Yalta Conference in February 1945, photo shows (from left to right) Winston Churchill,
Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin.

Of all the harm inflicted on all the Allied countries (the Soviet Union, United States, Great Britain, and France) during the Second World War, approximately half occurred in the USSR.

At the Yalta Conference in February 1945, Stalin suggested that Germany pay a total of $20 billion in reparations, anticipating that half of that sum ($10 billion) would go to the Soviet Union -- the country that had made the greatest contribution to the victory and endured more than any of the other nations in the anti-Hitler coalition. With some conditions, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill agreed to Josef Stalin's suggestion. Ten billion dollars is approximately what the US spent on aid to the Soviet Union under the lend-lease program during the years of the Second World War. Ten billion US dollars, when they were backed by gold (one dollar at that time was technically worth 1/35 troy ounce of gold), were equal to 10,000 tons of gold, so the entirety of the reparations was worth 20,000 tons of gold. In fact, the German reparations that the USSR agreed to accept would barely provide compensation for a mere 8% of the direct damages inflicted upon the Soviets. And the costs of only 2.8% of the total damages were recouped. This appeared to be a generous gesture on Stalin's part.

Red October factory during the battle of Stalingrad shows the extent of Nazi destruction in the Soviet Union.

These figures stand in stark contrast to the enormous bill for reparations that the Entente Powers (excluding Russia) submitted to Germany at the Paris Conference in 1919. The Treaty of Versailles set the amount of reparations at 269 billion gold marks -- the equivalent of approximately 100,000 (!) tons of gold. That nation, which had initially been battered and weakened by the economic crisis of the 1920s, and later by the Great Depression, was unable to pay the enormous sums demanded as reparations and was forced to borrow from other countries in order to meet the terms of the treaty. In 1921, the Reparations Commission reduced the amount to $132 billion, or by approximately 50%, but even that new sum was the equivalent of 50,000 tons of gold. When Hitler took power in 1933 he put an end to the reparations payments altogether. After the Second World War and the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949, the foreign ministers of the US, UK, and France forced that new nation to resume payments on the debts owed under the Treaty of Versailles. In accordance with the 1953 London Debt Agreement, the German lands that had been lost after the war were permitted to forgo interest payments until after East and West Germany were reunified. The reunification of Germany on Oct. 3, 1990 reinstated her reparations obligations under the Treaty of Versailles. Germany was given a respite of 20 years to pay off her debts, for which the country had to take out a twenty-year loan of 239.4 million marks. Only late in 2010 did Germany make her final reparations payment to her closest allies. This was very different from the Soviet Union's policy -- only a few years after the end of WWII the USSR refused reparations from Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary, which were by then fellow members of the socialist community! Even East Germany stopped making any reparations payments to the Soviet Union shortly after that nation was established.

Stalin did not want to see a replay of what had happened in Germany and Europe after the Treaty of Versailles was signed. It was precisely that treaty that forced Germany into a corner and set the stage for Europe's slide into the Second World War. Speaking about the peace treaty with Hungary at the Paris Peace Conference, Andrei Vyshinsky, at that time the Soviet deputy minister of foreign affairs, explained the idea behind the Soviet policy on reparations, "The Soviet government consistently follows this line in its reparations policy, which consists of starting with a realistic plan, so as not to suffocate Hungary or rip up the roots of her economic recovery, but rather to help in her economic revival, help her get back on her feet, and help her to join the common family of the United Nations and to play a role in Europe's economic revival."

The USSR also took this magnanimous approach to other countries that had fought alongside the Germans. This can be seen in the peace treaty with Italy that required the payment of $100 million in restitution to the Soviet Union, although this offset no more than 4-5% of the direct damage inflicted on the USSR.

The principle behind this magnanimous approach to determining the sum of the reparations settlements complemented another important principle of Soviet policy -- that of using a country's current industrial output as the principle means of discharging the reparations debts. This principle was phrased with due regard for the lessons of the First World War. It is important to remember that the demands for reparations imposed on Germany after World War I were exclusively monetary, and to be paid in foreign currency. As a result, Germany had to focus on manufacturing products that were never intended to supply her domestic market with basic necessities, but were instead destined for export, in order to obtain the needed foreign currency. In addition, Germany was compelled to obtain loans in order to pay off each new installment of her reparations bill, which forced her into debt bondage. The Soviet Union had no desire to see that repeated. Vyacheslav Molotov explained the Soviet position at a session of the Council of Foreign Ministers on Dec. 12, 1947: "No deliveries of reparations are currently being made from the western zones, and industry in the combined Anglo-American zone is operating at only 35% of its 1938 level. Deliveries of reparations are currently being received from the Soviet zone in Germany, and industry there is operating at 52% of its 1938 level. Thus, the index of industrial production in the Soviet zone -- even though a more challenging environment exists here for industrial recovery -- is 50% higher than the index of industrial production in the Anglo-American zone."

At the Yalta Conference, the leaders of the USSR, USA, and Great Britain reached an agreement regarding the principle of the non-monetary nature of the reparations. The Anglo-American allies once again endorsed this at the Potsdam Conference. But in 1946 they began to work actively to scuttle this policy. In addition, they also undermined other agreements pertaining to reparations. Even at the Potsdam Conference, the allies of the USSR agreed that Germany could partially offset her reparations debts by supplying products and dismantling equipment in the western occupation zones. However, the allies devised obstacles to prevent the Soviets from obtaining goods and equipment from the western occupation zones (only a small percentage of the planned quantities were received).

One consequence of the Cold War launched against the USSR by the West in 1946 was that no single mechanism for the allies to collect and tally reparations was ever created. And once the Federal Republic of Germany was established in the western zones of occupation in 1949, any opportunity for the Soviet Union to obtain reparations compensation from western Germany vanished forever.

After the Yalta Conference, the precise total of the reparations imposed on Germany after the Second World War was never again cited. And that issue remains fairly opaque. The full sum of Germany's reparations debts was not documented. An effective mechanism was never created for the centralized collection and tallying of Germany's reparations payments. The victorious countries satisfied their reparations claims against Germany unilaterally.

Judging by statements from her officials, not even Germany herself knows exactly how much she has paid in reparations. The Soviet Union preferred not to receive reparations in cash, but in kind. According to Russian historian Mikhail Semiryaga, for one year beginning in March 1945, the highest bodies of power in the Soviet Union made almost a thousand decisions related to the dismantling of 4,389 companies from Germany, Austria, Hungary, and other European countries. In addition, approximately one thousand factories were moved to the USSR from Manchuria and even Korea. These are impressive figures. But that depends what you compare them to. The Nazi invaders razed 32,000 industrial plants in the USSR. That means that the number of manufacturing facilities dismantled by the Soviet Union in Germany, Austria, and Hungary represented merely 14% of what was destroyed in the USSR. According to Nikolai Voznesensky, who was at that time the chairman of the Soviet Union's Gosplan Committee, the value of the equipment taken as spoils from Germany compensated the Soviet Union for only 0.6% of the direct damage she suffered.

Some data can be found in German documents. Thus, according to information from the West German Ministry of Finance and the Federal Ministry of Intra-German Relations, all that was confiscated from the Soviet occupation zone and the German Democratic Republic prior to 1953 was worth 66.4 billion marks, or 15.8 billion dollars. German experts claim this is equivalent to $400 billion in today's dollars. Confiscations were made both in kind as well as in cash. The reparations that passed from Germany to the USSR primarily consisted of the following: goods currently being manufactured by German firms -- 34.70 billion marks and cash payments in various currencies (including occupation Reichsmarks) -- 15.0 billion marks.

Between 1945 and 1946 a common form of reparations consisted of dismantled equipment from German companies that was sent to the USSR. In March 1945 a Special Committee of the Soviet State Defense Committee was created in Moscow, which coordinated all the work to dismantle German military-industrial facilities in the Soviet zone of occupation. Between March 1945 and March 1946, decisions were made to dismantle more than 4,000 industrial plants: 2,885 from Germany, 1,137 from German companies in Poland, 206 from Austria, 11 from Hungary, and 54 from Czechoslovakia. The key equipment was dismantled at 3,474 sites, and 1,118 million pieces of equipment were confiscated: 339,000 metal-cutting tools, 44,000 presses and sledgehammers, and 202,000 electric motors. Sixty-seven factories that manufactured only military goods were dismantled in the Soviet zone, 170 were destroyed, and 8 were converted to civilian production.

However, once this equipment was dismantled, manufacturing came to a halt in eastern Germany and unemployment surged, so by early 1947 the Soviets began to limit reparations of this type. Instead, 31 joint-stock companies created with Soviet entities were established, based on 119 large firms in the eastern occupation zone. In 1950, these were responsible for 22% of the GDR's industrial output. In 1954, all joint-stock companies created with Soviet entities were freely transferred to the German Democratic Republic. This represented the final word in that chapter from the history of WWII reparations.

(Strategic Culture Foundation, May 7, 2015. Slightly edited for grammar by TML.)

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Germany: The National Memory and
the Second World War

The West believes that the anniversaries of the main events of World War Two have already been celebrated after organising a theatrical performance dedicated to the Normandy landings. The same World War Two event is in the American interpretation, the second element of which is the Holocaust. But as far as the Eastern Front is concerned, an American may ask: "What, did something happen there?" If memory serves, at the beginning of the 1980s there was a joint ten-part Soviet-US TV film dedicated to the Great Patriotic War that was released in America under the name The Unknown War.

The 'total' war and the total defeat have left too deep an impression in the minds of the German people. As the years go by, there are fewer and fewer living witnesses of the war's events, but many prefer to keep silent about the war, just as Nobel literature laureate Günter Grass kept silent, only admitting that he had been a soldier in the Waffen-SS in 2006. There is a term, 'communicative silence,' that describes the avoidance of stories about the past by Germans who had survived the war, even among their own families, which was typical in the first post-war decades. This trait created a peculiar atmosphere of solidarity in West German society that reinforced both the general resentment at the victors' behaviour and the desire to play down the guilt of the German nation. And the more successfully this ideologised memory of the war was implanted, the more it gradually forced out personal memory.

Today, German collective memory of the Second World War already has its own story. In divided Germany, collective memory in the West and the East took shape differently, but all the time with an eye on each other. The first German post-war film made in the GDR [East Germany] was rejected by the British occupation authorities, but after its première in East Berlin it appeared in West German cinemas. It was called The Murderers Are Among Us. At that point, a fundamental difference revealed itself between the East and the West: in the FRG [West Germany], 8 May was regarded as the day of capitulation and collapse, while in the GDR it was the day of liberation from Nazism and the birth of Germany.

Talking about liberation in West Germany was considered hypocritical. The first federal president, Theodor Heuss, recognised that Germany was both destroyed and liberated at the same time; this kind of duality was obviously a concession to the victorious powers. Then the Cold War quenched the Western powers' impulse to carry out denazification in Western Germany and in 1965, Chancellor Ludwig Erhard once again removed any mention of liberation from official speeches regarding the end of the war.

Social democrat Willy Brandt (chancellor from 1969-1974) referred to himself as the chancellor of a liberated Germany to the huge indignation of his conservative opponents. It is generally believed that just 40 years after the end of the war, Germany's entire political class had come to an understanding that the German people were liberated in 1945. This can be heard in a speech by Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker. When he died on 31 January 2015, his 1985 speech was recalled as part of the memorial events, but without placing any emphasis on the idea of liberation. Now, however, this emphasis has been placed: liberation from Nazism came to the Germans from overseas. (We should stress: never, not even under Stalin, did the USSR claim to be the "liberator" of the Germans, although Moscow used to extend its congratulations to the leaders of the GDR on the anniversaries of the "liberation of the German people from the tyranny of Nazism." It should also be remembered that Stalin tried to prevent Germany's post-war division.)

During the 1980s, the war on the Eastern Front was still well remembered in the FRG and this was largely due to the fact that the date was celebrated in the GDR. The leaders of East Germany not only referred to their republic as the first state of workers and peasants on German soil, but also the first anti-fascist state. And in fact they themselves were anti-fascists. Walter Ulbricht was one of the founders of the German Communist Party, he worked underground after Hitler came to power and then emigrated to Moscow. Erich Honecker was arrested by the Gestapo in 1935 and imprisoned until the end of the war. German anti-fascists were honoured in the GDR, whereas the West tried to forget about them. By way of example, the burgomaster of Königsbronn said that erecting a monument to Georg Elser, who carried out an assassination attempt on Hitler in 1939, was the same as immortalising the memory of terrorists from the Red Army Faction (a far-left militant group that operated in West Germany at the beginning of the 1970s). A monument to Elser was only erected in his hometown of Königsbronn in 2010.

Meanwhile, the first chancellor of the FRG, Konrad Adenauer, believed that the Germans needed to suppress their memories of the recent past and concentrate on reconstruction. The scale of the post-war reconstruction was colossal, since in many of the cities less than 30 per cent of the buildings were still standing. An irony of fate is that in Munich, which Hitler regarded as the birthplace of fascism, the royal palace of the Wittelsbachs was reduced to rubble, while both buildings of the National Socialist Party survived. In Nuremberg, 90 per cent of the buildings were rebuilt after the war. The most well-known of the newly-reconstructed cities, Dresden, was almost totally destroyed by Anglo-American bombing in February 1945. The destruction of Dresden by Western allies, along with Würzburg and Rothenburg, are united by the fact that these cities were not of military significance. Why the order was given to destroy these cultural centres is not a question that has been debated in Germany. Relatively recently, German historians even revised the number of victims of the Dresden bombings, significantly reducing the number of deaths compared to what had been previously believed. In Germany, it is unacceptable to point out that a multitude of 'ancient' monuments are, in fact, post-war new builds. It is also considered improper to remind their NATO allies how American and British carpet bombing wiped German cities from the face of the earth.

Monument in Dresden to the Trümmerfrauen (rubble women) who cleared away the ruins
of German cities after the war.

Monuments to the women who worked on clearing the rubble are also looked upon modestly today, although in the first years of the FRG's existence these women were honoured as heroes. Rather than these female workers, it is the female victims of violence who are more often remembered these days. Sandra Maischberger's weekly talk show on the German television channel ARD was dedicated to this subject at the end of March. Eighty-four-year-old pensioner Elfriede Seltenheim told viewers that the arrival of the "Russian rapists" turned out to be more horrific than Nazi propaganda had depicted it.

In the run-up to the 70-year anniversary, some German newspapers introduced a special section devoted to history, publishing materials related to the Second World War. As a general rule, these publications serve to reinforce the old stereotypes in the German collective memory, sometimes giving them new shades.

Recognition of the German people's guilt for the Holocaust is still the centre of attention, but ideally with a happy ending. (Süddeutsche Zeitung recently published an article recounting how the bombing of Dresden "saved" a Jewish child.[1]) In Germany, the basis for the Germans' deep repentance to the Jews was laid by Chancellor Brandt: today, his name is associated with a visit to the Warsaw Ghetto (in 1970), during which the politician knelt before a monument to victims of the Holocaust. The Holocaust memorial in Berlin is currently regarded as a materialisation of the collective memory of Germans regarding their historical guilt for the outbreak of the Second World War. This deformation of collective memory has also been actively encouraged by the Americans, including through the showing of a U.S. mini-series entitled Holocaust in 1979 (directed by Marvin Chomsky).

The fact that the war in the East was radically different from the war waged by the Third Reich in the West has been completely forgotten. In the East, the Germans waged a war of annihilation (Vernichtungskrieg) against the USSR. Losses in the USSR among the civilian population alone exceeded seven million people. Few [Germans today] refer to the treatment of Soviet prisoners of war in German concentration camps as cruel and inhumane. There were times when local Germans were brought in to see how "subhumans" die from hunger. Is this known to the inhabitants of today's united Germany? In 1936, Hitler said: "If the Urals with their incalculable raw materials, Siberia with its rich forests, and the Ukraine with its incalculable farmlands lay in Germany, it would under Nazi leadership swim in surplus." Evidently, someone in Ukraine thinks that this is the end of the quote, that the Führer promised this surplus to the Ukrainians. In reality, Hitler ends the quote like this: "...every single German would have more than enough to live." How fiercely this fantasy has been played out by the modern-day worshippers of National Socialism in Ukraine! One needs only remember the "Miss Ostland" competition that was organised last autumn on the social networking site VKontakte (journalists renamed it "Miss Hitler"). And even though the competition was organised from Kiev and those competing for the dubious title were predominantly Ukrainian girls, Bild, the biggest German newspaper, wrote that this is how Russian internet users amuse themselves.

Publications emerging in Germany today are diligently avoiding any mention of the battles on the Eastern Front, but are in no way shying away from writing about the advance of American troops in Europe: they recount the tank 'battle' in Cologne, for example, during which three Brits were killed by a single German tank; or they write that the final stage of the Second World War apparently began with the capture of Aachen. They readily report details of the American landing at Okinawa.

Some German politicians are openly condemning Russia for carrying out military parades in honour of the anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War. A statement in exactly this vein was made by the chairman of the Bundestag's Committee on Foreign Affairs, Norbert Röttgen (Christian Democratic Union), who accused Russia of using history to justify its foreign policy. And here we could mention something else: about how Germany is exploiting the "military glory" of the soldiers of Hitler's Wehrmacht to increase the morale of the Bundeswehr! Some barracks are even being named in honour of these 'heroes.' A foundation affiliated with the German Bundeswehr bears the name of Theodor Molinari, a man whose name is included in the 'Brown Book' on war and Nazi criminals in the FRG and West Berlin (published in 1968). Field Marshal Erich von Manstein, who was pardoned in 1953, appears on the same page. Manstein's memoirs are entitled Lost Victories (published in 1955), which is quite conceited for a man who was sentenced to 18 years in prison by a British military court in 1950. For decades, this kind of literature laid the groundwork for the myth regarding the unsullied honour of Wehrmacht, which fought valiantly. The myth was so deeply ingrained in the minds of Germans that the first attempt to discredit it was stopped. This was at the end of the 1990s, when an exhibition on the crimes committed by the Wehrmacht had to be cut short and closed after being shown in 33 German cities. In the run-up to the 70th anniversary of Germany's surrender, there is a completely different exhibition being shown that was opened at the Bundestag with some fanfare in the autumn of 2014 on the German soldiers and participants of the Bundeswehr's peacekeeping efforts around the world.

The 'communicative silence' and cultivation of the German people's collective consciousness continues.


1. "Zerstörung von Dresden rettete Michals Bruder das Leben," Süddeutsche Zeitung, 12.02.2015

(Strategic Culture Foundation, April 16, 2015)

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Dresden and Poznan:
Two Different Ways to Wage War

The Red Army and British-American forces had one enemy -- the German Wehrmacht -- but quite often they waged different wars. The liberation of the Polish city Poznan by the Red Army and the bombing of Dresden by [other Allied countries] -- one event following one week after the other -- 70 years ago in February 1945. These two examples provide a good illustration of this.

The Liberation of Poznan by the Soviet Union

During the Vistula-Oder Offensive, the 1st Belarussian Front under the command of Marshal Georgi Zhukov, the "Hero of the Soviet Union," managed to secure two bridgeheads west of the Vistula River between July 27 and August 4, 1944, opening the way to Berlin. The concentration of German forces were left blocked but not defeated at Schneidemüh and Poznan. With the main forces continuing to advance in a westerly direction, it took time and effort to rout the German grouping at Poznan.

General Vasily Chuikov, the commander of the 8th Army (who later became Marshall of the Soviet Union), was responsible for the operation planned to smash the enemy forces there. In his memoirs he said the German-built fortifications were classic Vauban-style fortresses... The design envisioned the construction of underground forts in the center and citadels at the junctures to accommodate a large garrison.

Greeting the Soviet liberators in Poland

In Poznan the city and fortifications were strongly defended and integrated into a single defence plan to coordinate fire. The Fort Winiary citadel stood on a hill to the north of the city centre. Around the perimeter of the city were 18 massive forts spaced at intervals of about 2 kilometres in a ring with a radius of about 5 kilometres. General Chuikov described the forts as "...underground structures each with several storeys, the whole projecting above the surrounding terrain. Only a mound was visible above ground -- a layer of earth covering the rest. Each fort was ringed by a ditch ten metres wide and eight metres deep, with walls revetted with brickwork. Across the ditch was a bridge, leading to an upper storey. Among the forts, to the rear, were one-storey brick bunkers. These were clad in concrete almost a full metre thick, and were used as storehouses. The upper works of the forts were sufficiently strong to provide reliable protection against heavy artillery fire... the enemy would be able to direct fire of all kinds against us both on the approaches to the forts and within them, on the rampart. The embrasures were such that flanking fire from rifles and machine-guns could be directed from them." Together with Volkssturm (a German national militia of the last months of World War II), Poznan was defended by the 60,000-strong garrison.

The offensive started early in the morning on January 26. The first strike was delivered from the south. It was unexpected by the enemy. Two southern forts were seized on the Warta River's western bank. As a result, the troops and tanks penetrated the ring of forts to attack the enemy from behind. The attack from the north produced little result. The Soviet troops did not attack from the west. Chuikov remembers that a way out was left on purpose to allow the enemy to withdraw from the city-fortress. But Germans did not leave. A long hard battle lay ahead. On January 28, another attack was launched. Chuikov addressed the surrounded German troops in Poznan [and issued] an ultimatum. It read: "Officers and soldiers of the Poznan garrison. You are surrounded. There is no way you can leave the city. I, General Chuikov, offer you to immediately lay down your arms and surrender. I guarantee life and return home after the war is over. Otherwise you'll be wiped out. The death of civilians in Poznan will be your responsibility. Do not hesitate. Raise white flags and come to our side. General Chuikov."

But the garrison had no intention of surrendering. Soviet aviation and artillery strikes delivered on fortifications tried to avoid damage to the buildings inside the city and casualties among civilians. The Fort Winiary citadel was ruined. The soldiers hid underground.

By February 5 the assault teams had fully liberated the residential areas. After February 12 the Fort became the main target. As the Soviet troops approached, the resistance grew. The 5-8 metre high brick walls protected the enemy, preventing tanks from advancing. Heavy artillery pieces were moved closer to fire at the Fort from a distance of 300 metres. But even 203 mm projectiles did not inflict much damage to the thick walls.

At that time, the 1st Belarus Front forces moved to the west reaching the Oder. The general assault started on February 18 and lasted without stop for four days. Having built an assault bridge, Red Army tanks and assault guns of the 259th and 34th crossed into the main grounds of the citadel at 3 am on February 22 commencing the final struggle for the old fortress. The groups of 20-200 men started to surrender. Only 12,000 troops remained of the 60,000-strong garrison. The bloody fighting ended on February 23, 1945, the 17th anniversary of the Red Army. Two hundred and twenty-four artillery pieces fired 20 salvos to salute the victory.

The Bombing of Dresden by the Allies

Here is an example of the war waged by the allies. On February 13-15, they delivered air strikes against Dresden which inflicted damage comparable to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki attacks.

Americans called the operation "Thunderstrike." Who was it targeted against?

The city had no significant defence industry facilities and was flooded with refugees.

A Royal Air Force (RAF) memo issued to airmen on the night of the attack said: "Dresden, the seventh largest city in Germany and not much smaller than Manchester is also the largest unbombed builtup area the enemy has got. In the midst of winter with refugees pouring westward and troops to be rested, roofs are at a premium, not only to give shelter to workers, refugees, and troops alike, but to house the administrative services displaced from other areas." Why raze to the ground a city that had no substantial importance for the war effort? The very same memo was rather cynical about it. It read: "The intentions of the attack are to hit the enemy where he will feel it most, behind an already partially collapsed front... and incidentally to show the Russians when they arrive what Bomber Command can do." That's what the Royal Air Force really did by bombing from a safe altitude a city flooded with demoralized people.

As the end of war was approaching British-American aviation started to deliver more frequently politically motivated strikes, destroying cities of no significance for the German war effort that were soon to be liberated by the Red Army, for instance Prague, Sofia etc. Dresden is the brightest example of how this vicious tactic was employed. The devastated area in Dresden exceeded by four times the devastated area of Nagasaki. Fifteen-hundred degree heat hit the larger part of the city. People running to reach the city's outskirts fell into melting asphalt. Smoke was 45 metres high. At least 25,000 died. Some experts say the death toll was as high as 135,000.

Aftermath of the 1945 bombing of Dresden, Germany by Allied forces.

Günter Wilhelm Grass, a German writer and recipient of the 1999 Nobel Prize for Literature, called the bombing a war crime. This point of view is supported by many.

Dr. Gregory Stanton, president of Genocide Watch, expressed himself more bluntly saying the Allied firebombing of Dresden and the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were war crimes and also acts of genocide.

(Strategic Culture Foundation, February 26, 2015. Edited slightly for grammar by TML.)

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