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Issue #1643      June 18, 2014

Culture & Life

The sacrifice of 27 million

I was informed the other day – from a source I regard as reliable – that a program of job-training here on the NSW Central Coast had had its funding cut and been forced to close. Nothing newsworthy in that, I hear you say, it’s happening everywhere. And, yes, it is. But this program was both practical and successful.

Victory Parade, Red Square, Moscow, May 1945.

It was training young people to be mechanics, and was conducted in conjunction with a number of local garages. Most importantly, the majority of kids who went through the course actually got jobs as a result. That makes it almost unique.

So many of the “training” courses operated by these government-funded private “job providers” are basically bogus, forcing the unfortunate unemployed to endlessly “train” so that they are “job ready”, but with no prospect of actually being offered a job because the “job provider” has no jobs to provide. This mechanics course was apparently real – real training in a real workplace with the prospect of a real job at the end of it.

My informant was almost distraught: “Most of the young people who did the course got actual jobs at the end of it. It was so successful that when they cancelled it on the Central Coast, but continued it in Sydney, some of the young people from up here have started commuting to Blacktown in Sydney to continue the course.”

It is not the fault of the staff in these usually church-based “employment” organisations that capitalism does not have jobs for a large percentage of today’s youth. The fault is in the system itself, a fact which is becoming clearer to more and more people. As is the solution: change the system itself, replace it with a better one: socialism.

D-Day has been much in the news lately, because of the anniversary, of course. Significantly, the coverage ignored the military/historical picture of the time and chose instead to concentrate on D-Day as if it was the “turning point of the war”. It was not. The turning point of WW2 occurred a year earlier on the Eastern front when the Red Army – in Churchill’s words – “tore the guts out” of Hitler’s forces, on a massive scale that makes D-Day look relatively small.

During the War and immediately afterwards – before the Western Allies launched the Cold War – public and politicians alike recognised the magnitude of the Russian effort in the War. From 1941 until 1944, the brunt of the war against Nazi Germany was borne by Russia: most of the German forces were on Russian soil, most of the German planes, tanks and guns were in action against Russia.

The death toll tells the story: the USA lost about 420,000 killed in WW2. The USSR lost around 26 to 27 million. The Red Army went on a liberating mission: first clear the Fascist scum from Soviet soil and then chase them all the way back to Berlin – and beyond, if necessary. Had the British government been obliged to flee Britain for Canada, as was planned, the War would have still proceeded to its inevitable end with the destruction of Hitler’s gang of mass murderers.

Churchill’s main enemy was German imperialism, and he recognised early in the War that without the help of the USSR, Britain had Buckley’s chance of defeating Germany. With the USSR, on the other hand, it was Nazi Germany that had no chance. It has been one of the key pursuits of Western propaganda since the end of the War to minimise and then ignore the overwhelming Soviet contribution to the Allied victory.

I recently picked up a second-hand copy of The 20th Century In Pictures, published in 1999 by The Australian Women’s Weekly. There are lots of photos of significant or at least “newsworthy” moments in the 20th century in this publication, as you would expect. World War One and the Russian Revolution are both there, as is the Wall Street crash and the Nazi invasion of Poland, and of course D-Day and Hiroshima.

But this is a ruling class perspective on history: one looks in vain for the momentous achievements of the working class in this period. There are lots of shots of sporting and movie stars, but the tragic US anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti, whose frame-up moved millions of people around the world into action on their behalf, are ignored. As are the similarly framed US labour organiser Joe Hill and the “Atom spies”, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

Similarly omitted is the entire US Civil Rights struggle and incredibly the whole of the greatest struggle of the 20th century – the gigantic combat between the Socialist USSR and Fascist Germany for victory in the war that cost over 61 million lives. How a pictorial history of the 20th century could choose to ignore the biggest battles of WW2, the events that determined the future of the world, is hard to fathom, until one realises that the publishers’ class position has intervened.

Churchill had delayed the opening of a Second Front that would have diverted some of the German forces from Russia, for two years, during which time millions of Russians died and thousands of towns and villages were completely destroyed. When D-Day finally came, the Soviet High Command congratulated Ike and his generals on their success on the beaches of Normandy. The famed British cartoonist David Low did a cartoon showing a symbolic battle-hardened Soviet soldier greeting from afar the Anglo-US soldiers coming ashore at Normandy with the words “Congratulations from one who knows!”

In Garson Kanin’s American documentary feature The True Glory, which follows the Allied advance from Normandy to the Elbe, the Russians greet them with a huge banner reading “Glory to the Hero Army of the USA”. As an overawed US soldier says, “Gee. We did pretty well, but I’d hate to think where we’d have been without them!”

Burying all memory of the Soviet contribution is a main theme of Western propaganda and the basis of much of its rewriting of history. The sacrifice of 27 million people requires that we never forget.

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