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Issue #1776      May 10, 2017

Editorial

1939-45 Marking the defeat of fascism

Never forget

May 9 was celebrated throughout the former socialist countries of Eastern Europe as Victory Day, the day that commemorates the defeat of Hitlerite Fascism in Berlin in 1945. That day marked the end of a nightmare that for some countries began as early as 1933, when the Nazis won power in Germany.

By 1935, with the tacit co-operation of anti-communist Western powers (notably Britain and France), the Nazis had extended their control to Austria, which was incorporated into the German “Reich” at the point of a gun. Spain soon followed as did Czechoslovakia.

A world war was in the making, about which British and French imperialism were untroubled. They smugly thought they were the most powerful countries in Europe (perhaps in the world) and they were totally preoccupied with the possibility the war afforded for getting rid of Bolshevism once and for all.

They had no doubt that a rabble of Russian peasants and workers would be no match for the sophisticated civilised military forces of European capitalism, especially if they could persuade Germany to spearhead the assault. They had a cosy vision of Anglo-French forces mopping up after the Russians and the Germans had worn each other out (although they could also live with a German victory, just so those Bolsheviks got their come-uppance).

So, despite then Soviet Foreign Minister Litvinov’s strenuous efforts to organise collective security for Europe, Britain and France would have none of it. German occupation of Poland was an essential step before Hitler could invade the USSR, so Poland was abandoned to its fate. The Second World War was off and running. Before it was over it would spread across the world and cause the deaths of tens of millions of people, 26 million of them in the USSR alone.

I was discussing the War with a Moscow schoolteacher friend of mine once and she said to me, with great feeling, about the Nazi advance: “You have no idea of the horror that was coming towards us.”

The Nazi horror totally consumed what is now the Republic of Belarus, which lost every fourth citizen.

If you visit the Hero City of Leningrad (since the overthrow of socialism in the USSR rechristened St Petersburg) you will still find many memorials to the siege by the Nazis, not least the huge mass graves where those who succumbed to cold and hunger (particularly in 1942) are buried.

The Soviet people bore the brunt of German imperialism’s class hatred, so also had to face Germany’s best weapons – its biggest, fastest tanks, its biggest guns, its fastest most powerful fighter planes and bombers, and of course by far the greater part of its armies.

Even against Japan, the USSR’s Special Red Banner Army of the Far East, stationed in Siberia, kept Japan’s elite Kwantung Army pinned in China for the duration, unable to be moved south to bolster Japanese forces elsewhere.

But the capitalist world would rather wipe out that it was the Reds who broke the back of Hitler’s war machine, that it was the Russian steamroller that crushed his dreams of world domination and brought the edifice of Nazism crashing down in ignominy.

Not content with largely ignoring the War on the Eastern Front (in marked contrast to books, magazines, newspapers and films of the time, which stood in awe of the exploits of the Red Army), many influential sources in the capitalist world today actively denigrate and smear or deny the crucial role of the Soviet Union in WW2.

This is particularly so in areas where the extreme right has gained the ascendancy. In that part of the Ukraine where the anti-Soviet elements are in control, they have actually sunk so low as to erect a memorial to a Wartime SS unit made up of Ukrainian traitors, which fought against the Ukrainian and Soviet people on behalf of Hitler!

Similarly, in Latvia (where the Communist Party is forbidden to use the word Communist and must be content with calling itself the Socialist Party), Soviet war memorials have been destroyed and pro-fascist terrorists honoured instead.

As the current world capitalist depression shows, capitalism as a system is already on its way to the rubbish heap of history. It may take a while yet before it is finally discarded, but discarded it assuredly will be.

Next article – Defeat of fascism – Julius Fucik remembered

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