Remembering A Day the West Wants to Forget

In a few days Russians will celebrate Victory Day, one of the most important dates (May 9) on its calendar, which marks the triumph over Nazi Germany.

While the USSR played the biggest role in defeating the Third Reich, that contribution has been thrown into question in the West by historical revisionists in recent years who instead seek to blame the USSR for WWII.

It will be interesting to see what kind of comments emerge from the West this year. It’s notable that Russian representatives (but nor President Valdirmir Putin) have been invited to the French D-Day anniversary at Normandy in June. Importantly, the Liberation Mission organizing committee in its invitation to Moscow noted “the importance of the commitment and sacrifices of the Soviet peoples, as well as its contribution to the 1945 victory.” I haven’t seen whether Russia plans on accepting the invitation.

Around 25 million residents of the USSR died in the Second World War; yet Western officials and media and think tank personalities now largely use the Victory Day occasion to taunt Russia.

CNN declared last year that “Putin tried to project strength, but Moscow Victory Day parade revealed only his isolation.” CNBC called Russia’s celebration, which was dramatically scaled down to the threat of drone attacks from Ukraine, “an embarrassment.”

“It would be hard to imagine a more fitting symbol of Russia’s declining military fortunes than the sight of a solitary Stalin-era tank trundling across Red Square during the country’s traditional Victory Day celebrations on May 9,” said Peter Dickinson, the editor of the UkraineAlert blog at the Atlantic Council.

“Future Victory Days will celebrate the defeat of both Nazi Germany and Putin’s Russia,” writes a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

“They [the Russians] were not able to capture Bakhmut,” taunted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky alongside European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

For her part, von der Leyen accused the Russians who sacrificed more than anyone else for Europe’s freedom from Nazism of trying to take all those freedoms away. “Ukraine is on the front line of the defense of everything we Europeans cherish: our liberty, our democracy, our freedom of thought and speech,” von der Leyen said. “Courageously Ukraine is fighting for the ideals of Europe that we celebrate today. In Russia, Putin and his regime have destroyed these values. And now they are attempting to destroy them here in Ukraine because they are afraid of the success you represent and the example you show, and they are afraid of your path to the European Union.”

Von der Leyen’s comments equating neo-Nazis in Ukraine with Europe’s freedom and the Russians as threats to it are a continuation of the historical revisionism in recent years that seeks to lay the blame for World War II equally with the Nazis in Germany and Communists in Russia.

The battle over history is very real with significant consequences – it helped lead to the current conflict in Ukraine and is contributing to rising tensions in the Baltics and Caucasus. This helps explain why Putin provided a thirty-minute historical lecture during an opportunity to speak to a Western audience during his Tucker Carlson interview:

The Rewriting of History

Nowadays Putin is compared to Hitler, which isn’t all that unusual considering how often that label is applied to official enemies of the “rules-based order.”  But there has also been a decades-long push to equate communism in the USSR with Nazism in Germany.

While originally more of a fringe view, it started to go mainstream back in 2008 when the European Parliament adopted a resolution establishing August 23 as the “European Day of Remembrance for the victims of Stalinism and Nazism.” Also called Black Ribbon Day, the US in 2019 also adopted a resolution to observe the date.

In 2019, the European Parliament went even further and adopted a deeply offensive and nonsensical resolution “on the importance of European Remembrance for the Future of Europe.” It proclaims that the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact is responsible for World War II and consequently Soviet Russia is as guilty of the war as Nazi Germany.

No matter that the pact, from the Soviet perspective, was agreed to in order to buy itself time seeing as Poland and other European states refused to ally with the USSR. If anyone should share more of the blame it would be the West, which appeased Hitler with the hope he would turn the Nazi war machine East against the Soviet Union, which he of course did, resulting in 25 million Russian deaths.

Typical of this new genre is Orlando Figes, a Professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London,  who wrote at the BBC, that the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was “the licence for the Holocaust” and that it “remains an embarrassment for those in Putin’s Russia who take pride from the Soviet achievement in the war.”

These reimaginations of history claim that socialist land reform efforts, however mismanaged, were the equivalent to the genocidal Nazi imperial project. It also implies that Nazis were actually just acting in self-defense against Communists, and if you really think about it, the Nazis are the real victims here!

Part of how this works is described by Professor Dovid Katz at Jewish Currents:

Within the mythology of East European nationalists, particularly but not exclusively in the Baltics and western Ukraine — where there was massive local participation in the actual killing of Jews, usually by shooting at local pits rather than by deportation to faraway camps — the Bogus moral equivalence of the Holocaust has been from the time of the actual massacres the myth that the Jews were all Communists and got what they deserved because Communism was every bit as genocidal as Nazism. Hence what the Jews call the Holocaust is a kind of opposite and equal reaction to the first genocide, the crimes of Communism.

Even the nowadays-Russophobic Guardian published an opinion piece by Seumas Milne back in 2009 that admitted this:

…the pretence that Soviet repression reached anything like the scale or depths of Nazi savagery – or that the postwar “enslavement” of eastern Europe can be equated with wartime Nazi genocide – is a mendacity that tips towards Holocaust denial. It is certainly not a mistake that could have been made by the Auschwitz survivors liberated by the Red Army in 1945.

The real meaning of the attempt to equate Nazi genocide with Soviet repression is clearest in the Baltic republics, where collaboration with SS death squads and direct participation in the mass murder of Jews was at its most extreme, and politicians are at pains to turn perpetrators into victims. Veterans of the Latvian Legion of the Waffen-SS now parade through Riga, Vilnius’s Museum of Genocide Victims barely mentions the 200,000 Lithuanian Jews murdered in the Holocaust and Estonian parliamentarians honour those who served the Third Reich as “fighters for independence”.

Most repulsively of all, while rehabilitating convicted Nazi war criminals, the state prosecutor in Lithuania – a member of the EU and Nato – last year opened a war crimes investigation into four Lithuanian Jewish resistance veterans who fought with Soviet partisans: a case only abandoned for lack of evidence. As Efraim Zuroff, veteran Nazi hunter and director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, puts it: “People need to wake up to what is going on. This attempt to create a false symmetry between communism and the Nazi genocide is aimed at covering up these countries’ participation in mass murder.”

The Baltic states have been systematically destroying monuments to Soviet soldiers who fought the Nazis. This historical revisionism is also happening in Armenia, which coincidentally is considering an application for EU membership and has torpedoed its ties with Russia. Armenian-American historian Ronald Grigor Suny said back in 2017:

All post-Soviet countries are rewriting their history at the moment. Those who were heroes are now enemies; former enemies, even fascists, are now heroes. This is happening in the Baltics, and in Armenia. Some people who collaborated with the Nazis, such as Garegin Nzhdeh, are now considered heroes. And the people who murdered Jews in Latvia and Lithuania are no longer denounced, as they were during the communist era.

It’s happening across the West, maybe most visibly in Canada’s revealing decision to celebrate a Nazi in parliament. This is unsurprising. This post from Red Sails goes into great detail on Canada’s welcoming thousands of Nazis after WWII, how none were ever successfully prosecuted there, and how capitalists in Canada were major supporters of Nazism. It was not dissimilar in the US.

In Europe too it’s often forgotten just how much support there was for the Nazi project across the continent. Bruno Bruneteau’s 2016 Les ‘Collabos’ de l’Europe nouvelle details how many pro-European intellectuals of the 1930s considered the Nazi invasion a sort of historic opportunity to bring about an united political system across Europe.

Twisting the historical record or ignoring Russian contributions in WWII can also be used to advance today’s narratives, as Piers Morgan tries to do here. Unfortunately for him, Professor John Mearsheimer is there to call him out on it:

The ironic part about Piers Morgan trying to justify modern war crimes by comparing them to atrocities committed in the fight against Germany is that the memories of the latter are also being erased:

The end result is that despite decades of Hollywood films depicting the US as the lone heroes of World War II, the US elite decision makers decided to throw in with the Nazis after all. As Diana Johnstone wrote back in 2022:

When Western leaders speak of “economic war against Russia,” or “ruining Russia” by arming and supporting Ukraine, one wonders whether they are consciously preparing World War III, or trying to provide a new ending to World War II. Or will the two merge?

As it shapes up, with NATO openly trying to “overextend” and thus defeat Russia with a war of attrition in Ukraine, it is somewhat as if Britain and the United States, some 80 years later, switched sides and joined German-dominated Europe to wage war against Russia, alongside the heirs to Eastern European anticommunism, some of whom were allied to Nazi Germany.

Are We the Bad Guys Now?

You can see how equating Communism to Nazism made sense to Western capitalists after WWII. Communism was a threat to them. And yet Stalin, similar in this way to Putin, was slow to accept that the West would never accept the USSR. He projected confidence that the anti-fascist coalition from the war might last and turn into wider cooperation.

But why, following the breakup of the USSR with communism no longer a threat, has the blaming of Russia continued to pick up steam? Can you fault Putin for repeatedly hoping that Russia would be accepted into the Western club? Moscow spent two decades trying to convince the West, “we’re neoliberal just like you!” To no avail. In interviews Putin sometimes seems genuinely hurt by this.

So what gives? Why go the route of rehabilitating Nazi collaborators?

One possibility is that the opportunity was simply there to use as a battering ram against Russia, which Western elites have been trying to break up for more than a hundred years and return to the pre-Bolshevik days.

There’s the added bonus that this rehabilitation of fascists might also jibe with the direction of Western systems. It might be comforting to believe that Western elites and their historical rewrites are simply encouraging fascist foot soldiers in the former USSR states to do their bidding in an effort to weaken Russia, similar to, say, the mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s, but to do so would neglect the increasingly fascist domestic positions – from banning criticism of Israel and state sanctioning of political violence by police and thugs against protestors of genocide to surveillance of anyone challenging the war uniparty and stuff like this:

If this was in doubt before, I think the events surrounding Israel’s “plausible” genocide in Gaza have shown that the fascist knives sharpened with Project Ukraine are being drawn with regards to Israel.

Even if Western oligarchs don’t necessarily hold fascist positions, the quest for profit would likely pull them in that direction. David de Jong’s 2022 book Nazi Billionaires follows five families – the Quandts, the Flicks, the von Fincks, the Porsche-Piëchs and the Oetkers – through their closeness to the Nazi regime and postwar, where they remained among the country’s wealthiest families.

What stood out was that they weren’t necessarily believers in anything at all to do with Aryan superiority or Jewish inferiority. They believed in money. And thought they could make more with Hitler, and as Adam Tooze has pointed out, they did – for a time:


SS planners hoped for even more as they prepared to capitalize on the fruits of victory and the exploitation of the defeated as the biggest prize of all was to be Russia. Alas it was not meant to be, and it doesn’t look as though it will come to pass this go round either as you saw those same hopes today for the  breakup of Russia in order to return to 1990s-style plunder when the US’ best and brightest sucked hundreds of billions of dollars out of the country with devastating results. The number of Russians living in poverty jumped from two million to sixty million in just a few years, and life expectancy plummeted:

Once Putin brought the Russian oligarchs under his control and stopped the looting of the country, the demonization of Russia continued as if the 90s never happened just like WWII never happened.

Despite the USSR effectively saving Europe, it was said Moscow was about to conquer Europe. This despite the USSR lying in utter ruins at that time. As Lucio Magri describes in The Tailor of Ulm:

The ‘horseless soldier with calloused hands’ had more to live for than another war. Industry had been dispersed in various parts of the country and needed to be reorganized. Fertile farmland had been laid waste by retreating and reconquering armies, 70,000 villages burned to the ground, whole cities demolished. People often went hungry, and in 1946 there was again a widespread famine. Per capita income stood well below the level of 1938. Twenty-five million people were homeless; manpower was in short supply for the first time, so that the size of the army had to be cut at a stroke from twelve to two million; most of the men made their way back home on foot or on horseback, because the railways were in bad repair and there was a shortage of motor vehicles. Productive capacity declined in 1945, and again in 1946 and 1947.

In this case and that of the 1990s plunder, after so much Russian suffering inflicted by the West, they are then vilified, with that suffering stuffed down the Western memory hole. That cycle might be permanently broken now that Russia looks to have finally accepted that it will never be welcome in the West and has begun looking to the rest of the world.


Maybe this story has a happy ending for Russia, but what of us in the West? What will become of the fascist forces unleashed here, especially if there won’t be any Red Army coming to the rescue this time?

We probably need to first come to terms with history. We went from an insistence on the uniqueness of Nazism and the Holocaust to attempts to relativize Nazi policies by comparing the regime’s crimes to those of Soviet communism, and ultimately an attempt to blame them on a reaction to Russian communism.

All of these readings conveniently absolve the systems of capitalism and imperialism from which Nazism was derived. None of this asks how fascism was a part of the modernizing forces of industrialization or how it fits into the crisis cycles of finance capitalism or what its role is today.

It brings to mind the films of German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, who was somewhat obsessed with how the past is seen across the traces it leaves in the present, as well as how the opportunity in 1945 to remake Germany was lost. This is especially the case in the 1978 film “The Marriage of Maria Braun.”

A short plot synopsis: Married in 1943 during Allied bombing raids and during her soldier-husband’s 48-hour furlough, Maria waits in vain for his return after 1945. She begins seeing an American soldier who becomes her and her family’s provider. The husband eventually reappears, and Maria kills the American soldier, for which her husband takes the rap and goes to prison. Maria becomes the lover of a wealthy industrialist. Her husband is released from prison but goes to make his fortune in Canada. He returns again following the industrialist’s death. Maria, finally ready to commence a marriage she has been imagining for more than a decade, is notified by the industrialist’s will that he and her husband had made a pact: the industrialist would enjoy Maria until his death and in return, Maria and her husband would be his heirs. As the radio plays the match in which West Germany won the1954 World Cup final against Hungary, Maria goes to light a cigarette in the kitchen, but she earlier failed to turn off the gas, and an explosion brings the film to an end.

The film was widely viewed as an allegory of West Germany trapped in the endless rerun of the same, forever saturating the air with gas until all it takes is a spark to start a chain of combustion.

A somberness of missed opportunities pervades this film as well as Fassebnder’s others. It revolves around the fact that out of the wreckage of Nazism, Germany failed to build a better, less exploitative system, and instead got right back on the path to the next explosion. Viewed against the backdrop of Project Ukraine, maybe the allegory in the film can be more broadly applied to the West in general and seen as a warning that went unheeded. Maybe we’ll be more prepared to pick up the pieces and build something better this time.

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    1. JohnA

      The article notes there will be a D-Day anniversary celebration in June, to which an invitation has been sent to Russia, but that excludes Putin.

    2. Bugs

      Perhaps worse than the Olympic security in Paris – locals need to get special stickers and show ID to get to their homes. Getting to the actual sites will be impossible for the average Joe, Jane or Jx.

      The parallel world these mugs are creating is going to eventually be invaded by reality and they won’t know what they’re looking at.

    3. Terry Flynn

      I visited the Peace Museum in Normandy in late 1980s. It was way ahead of its time with huge electronic screens that appealed to us teenagers and really brought to life the truly awful battles to defeat Germany.

      I learnt that when the Brits & Commonwealth didn’t take Caen fast enough the USAAF and RAF just carpet bombed it, killing huge numbers of “our side”. It was truly sobering that my paternal grandfather totally underplayed his role in WW2 to dad and siblings. Shortly befire he died, after learning my education regarding Caen, he revealed his role in infantry and seeing his mates being decapitated by allied air force bombs. No wonder he had PTSD.

      The Eastern front stuff was even worse.

      1. MFB

        Yes, and apparently most of the towns in north-western France were bombed to rubble long before that. Germany was a long way off and had a lot of fighters protecting it, but flattening places like Dieppe and Calais was much easier. Also it supposedly distracted the Germans. A lot of the hostility which France showed to Anglo-America after the war probably derives from that.

  1. wellclosed

    Wikipedia calls Man In The High Castle – “alternative history”. Given a rerun without Pearl Harbor, would sentiment here have remained with anti-communist Germany?

  2. JBird4049

    The Soviets especially under Stalin committed great evil, just look at Gulag archipelagos, the invasion of Finland, and the occupation of the Baltic states. However, considering the Nazis conquest of most of Europe, the eleven million dead in the Holocaust, as well as the planned and partially carried out extermination of most of the Slavic populations from Poland to Ukraine, maybe even to the Urals, and probably further south as well for their lebensraum, if we really have to compare and decide the worst of two great evils, I do think that the Nazis are the greater.

    To think that I have family members who fought the Nazis, and now that they are dead and can’t complain, we have lying historical revisionists, Neo-Nazis given power, and actual génocidaires using the Holocaust as an excuse to commit a Holocaust. How nice. What’s next? I see that we have Aktion T4 in Canada. And Congress just upchucked on the First Amendment. Maybe they will start euthanasia here in the United States.

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘The Soviets especially under Stalin committed great evil, just look at Gulag archipelagos, the invasion of Finland, and the occupation of the Baltic states’

      In all fairness, Finland was allied with the Nazis during WW2. And the Nazis had to be cleaned out of the Baltic States by the Red Army before they could move on to Berlin. And it must be noted that both Estonia and Latvia contributed to Waffen SS formations so were hardly neutral.

      1. vao

        Be prepared to have all Finnish readers of NC (if there are any) explain to you forcefully that Finland was not an ally of Germany, but a co-belligerant, and expound in excruciating detail the diplomatic consequences of that subtle distinction.

        Apart from that, one thing that is always forgotten is that when the USSR occupied them, the Baltic States had turned into dictatorships — in 1934 for Latvia and Estonia, as early as 1926 for Lithuania. At that time, democracy was definitely not in good shape in Europe.

        1. Terry Flynn

          When I attended a conference in Helsinki we had a tour that pretty much said exactly what you did. The Finns were not “real axis”. If we are to point fingers at any government in Scandinavia it should be Sweden.

          Yes I know a bunch of Swedish locals saved a huge proportion of the Danish Jews but their government definitely played it both ways.

        2. Polar Socialist

          Finnish readers of NC (if there are any)

          (Raises hand) Weeeeeeell, back then there was a certain legalistic tradition in Finland, so Finland never entered in any formal agreement with other Axis states to retain nominal freedom of decision. While Ribbentrop did try to convince Hitler of the need to bind Finland tighter to Germany, Hitler didn’t think there was no need for that after Finland joined the Barbarossa and told Ribbentrop to stop bothering everyone about it.

          That said, Finland was most definitely Germany’s ally and a co-belligerent. And, if you believe German historians and contemporaries, worth more in the East Front than the rest of the allies put together.

          As for the Soviet invasion of Finland in 1939, that did not happen in an unhistorical vacuum – during the Russian Civil War Finns send several military expeditions to Russian Carelia in a confused attempt to either make the are independent or integrate it to Finland.

          Finland also spent the latter half of the 1930’s trying to disrupt every Soviet attempt to create a security alliance against rising Germany – a lot like Poland, but in a more Anglophilic way – and trying to create a security alliance against Soviet Union. So there was very little trust between the two, a big war in the horizon and Finnish army 28 km from the Leningrad.

          Might didn’t make the invasion right, but Münich made it pretty much unavoidable.

          1. hk

            There seem to be some interesting dispute as to how “fair” the territorial exchange offered by Soviets to Finland was. Soviets offered much larger territory to Finland in exchange for what they demanded. While much is made of the fact that the lands they offered were sparsely populated forest land of little economic value while they asked for populated regions with significant economic value, a few military historians noted that they territories Soviets offered were strategically valuable as they provided strategic depth for north-south transportation corridor in Finland while the territories they demanded were critical for defense of Leningrad. I am not qualified to evaluate these claims, but they are certainly consistent with both what I understand to be Russian approach to security and Soviet policy towards Finland during the Cold War. All in all, not exactly a one-way demand or an excuse for war of aggression, although not exactly fair–but not something unexpected in a more or less “fair” proposal for negotiation in presence of big power disparity.

            1. Polar Socialist

              I still have a few books waiting to be read, but it seems that the most current understanding is that Finland was willing to cede parts the areas* close to Leningrad, but not to the extent Soviet Union asked. All in all, that was negotiable.

              What was not negotiable to the Finns was the military base Soviet Union wanted to have on Finnish coast (to control Gulf of Finland and access to Leningrad). In Finnish calculations the best chance Finland had staying out of the war was playing Germany and Soviet Union against each other hoping that neither would allow to other to take advantage of Finland. And for that purpose, Finland could not allow either one to have a military base in Finland.

              That, as we all now know, was a great miscalculation. Of the same caliber as joining NATO about now would be…

              I wouldn’t say the territories offered by Soviet Union were strategically important for Finnish defense – in these areas the Soviet invasion was rather weak and within a month had been pushed back to the border (and battles were actually fought more on Soviet side of the border). The lure was the two regions offered had in 1919 attempted to secede from Soviet Union and join Finland (that’s a can of worms we don’t have time to go now).

              * the biggest irony is that those parts had been Russian since early 18th century, and when Russia annexed Finland, they were integrated to Grand Duchy of Finland against the will of the Finnish elite.

        3. Henni

          When USSR created the false flag event that started the winter war, 30 November 1939 (USSR vs Suomi), several diplomatic initiatives failed to secure defense and open support from USA/Britain.

          Covertly, equipment was being shipped, as is the norm among weapons manufacturers. Sverige sent men and equipment, also mostly hidden from public, being a supposedly “neutral country”. Sverige also allowed rail transit of heavy materials for the Nazi regime during the war.

          When Winter War ended, just as abruptly, it was inevitable that USSR would try again and yet again, USA and Britain refused to assist Suomi.

          Everyone knows by now that political leaders had made “pacts” of non-aggression, dividing up lands and wealth, on the premise of “grand victories” to come.

          Open dialogue existed between the governments at the time, between Suomi, USA, Britain and Germany and everyone knew that by leaving Suomi alone and exposed, they would not stand unless drastic delay (read: deaths by attrition) tactics were employed. Mannerheim was a bit crazy also, having been trained as a Russian military officer.

          Dad fought on the Karelian Isthmus in an artillery batallion against superior Soviet forces. He survived but as the shell of a human upon his return.

          1. digi_owl

            I would not say UK refused, but their attempt at sending aid was part of their larger chess game with Germany.

            Thus their proposal was to land troops in Narvik, Norway, and use the railroad there to Kiruna, Sweden.

            Thing is that this was also the major winter time iron ore supply route to Germany, and this would place the UK troops in a perfect position to occupy it all. So Germany complained loudly.

            And this is in large part why Germany ended up invading Norway, as UK kept looking for ways to curtail that iron ore shipment.

    2. upstater

      The Baltic statelets had no shortage of revolutionary Bolsheviks and Bundists. France occupied Klaipeda/Memel and Britain shipped thousands of Freikorps to kill the revolution. Conor is absolutely right that the Lithuanian “genocide museum” treats the indigenous+SS holocaust as a footnote. Note that MI6 and the CIA continued to arm the generously equipped Forest Brothers into the early 50s.

      While the Soviet Union certainly was ham fisted in the Baltics, I’m not sure allowing Nazism to survive would have been beneficial. Most of those deported by Stalin were collaborators and did return, unlike the murdered Jews, communists, disabled, and other Lebensunwertes Leben.

    3. pugilist

      Sorry for the red-pill, but you’ve been thoroughly brainwashed

      Gulags were established by Tzarist Russia and were *much* harsher back then – but somehow that’s never mentioned. Under the rule of the Communist Party, they had just slightly elevated mortality rates compared to the general population. As percentage of total population, Gulags had prison population comparable to the US today. Vast majority of the prisoners were incarcerated for completely normal crimes – robbery, fraud, assaults, etc. Educated prisoners worked office jobs, uneducated on construction works and mines. The trope of Siberian uranium mines were left for the worst of the worst, rapists, murderers and such. They all received salaries for their work – about half of the normal wages. In other words – Gulags were by and large a completely normal prison labor complex – not some extermination camps

      As for the invasion of Finland – the founding act of Finland was massacring ~2% of their male population who held socialist views. Afterwards they established a fascist regime, where beatings and killings of labor organizers and union leaders were acquiesced – in other words, the hostility towards USSR was there from the inception – not as a result of anything Soviets had done. In 1939, USSR offered a fairly generous territory exchange, which Finland rejected. Then they offered to rent the land. Finnish army warned the government that rejecting the deal amounts to a declaration of war towards the USSR – the Finnish government rejected it by a very slim margin regardless

      1. Polar Socialist

        Actually… Finland’s “founding act” doesn’t exist. Finland emerged as a “state” sometimes between 1848 (first symbols, ironically as loyalty to Czar) and 1863 (own currency, own central bank and usage of “state” in official sense – as in ‘Finnish State Railroads’).

        Even if we’re not counting that, there was this civil war going on contributing to those massacres (2.6% of the male population over 14, to be more precise). I doubt many of those executed or starved held socialist views: they just wanted 40 hour workweek, franchise in local elections and/or own the soil they tilled (as kind of sharecroppers). Oddly enough, all these “war aims” were achieved by end of 1918.

        Indeed the right-wing political violence continued until early 20’s, but in general the society didn’t approve this and it petered out. Along with the European trends it flamed up again in the early 30’s, but it ended in the almost tragicomic failure of the coup. Neither the army, civil guard, police or any political party supported the coup and Finland was one of the few Eastern European countries that avoided right-wing autocracy between the wars.

        But yes, official Finland was very anti-communist and anti-Soviet between 1917 and 1944. Yet Finland was not that important for Soviet Union – it had been the expansionist Swedish foreign policy that led to Russia annexing Finland in 1812, and it was the birth of Germany that defined the Russo-Finnish relations from 1871 to 1991.

  3. Es s Ce Tera

    Thank you Conor, as usual you’ve done it again.

    Only comment I would make is around this:

    “But there has also been a decades-long push to equate communism in the USSR with Nazism in Germany.”

    “You can see how equating Communism to Nazism made sense to Western capitalists after WWII. Communism was a threat to them. “

    I would argue the USSR was never communist and I don’t think even the Russians thought they had achieved communism, and possibly not even socialism. I think there’s wide acknowledgement that the USSR was more of a dictatorship. Communism can’t have dictators and still be communism.

    I think it’s an important point to make because people still think Russia is communist, it’s a key source of the animosity toward Russia.

  4. The Rev Kev

    Growing up as a kid there was no shortage of Hollywood & UK films where the Nazis were the bad guys and of course there were any number of documentaries explaining what had happened in the war. So it was to some surprise a decade ago to see how the Baltic countries were holding parades commemorating their Nazi formations back in WW2 with some of these old boys taking part. And then I found that there were actual memorials to SS units in the west here. Seriously? Where was the Simon Wiesenthal Center while this was going on? The Russians lost 27 million people fighting down the Nazis and have zero interest seeing another Nazi country being set up on their border, especially if there would be nukes stationed there. The Russians know exactly who the Nazis were and what they were all about. But in stomping down on the memory of Nazis, it has forced other countries to reveal themselves. So for example back in 2014, the Russians put a resolution forward at the UN against the ‘glorification of Nazism’. The bulk majority of countries voted for it but three voted against it – the US, the Ukraine and Canada. Those numbers were consistent each year the Russians brought it up but after the war started, things changed. Last year there were 52 countries that voted against it so I guess that Nazis are cool once more. They get invites to Congress, Stanford and Israel (!) and are on the right side of history while the main stream media edits out all the Nazi logos from footage taken from the front. Well this little, black duck still knows who the Nazis were so family-blog them.

    1. Mikel

      “And then I found that there were actual memorials to SS units in the west here.”

      I think one of biggest memorials in the USA is Dulles Airport.

      1. gk

        And Alabama has a Wernher von Braun (“Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down? That’s not my department”) Planetarium.

        1. James Payette

          Or is said about Von Braun”\: “I aimed for the stars but mostly I missed and hit London.”

          1. Martin Oline

            Thanks, I always liked that quote but thought it was “. . . in the morning we hit London.” Wiki has it as “We aim at the stars, but sometimes we hit London.” He must have been quoted a few years after Operation Paperclip started.

        1. gk

          I think there were 2 resolutions a few years apart. I don’t remember which was which, but I think the first had only Palau with the US and Ukraine. By the time they got round to the second one, Canada joined the US, with other countries (like the EU ones) abstaining instead of voting in favor. Despite all the money they get from the US, Israel voted against the US both times. Almost as though they don’t like Nazis.

    2. CA

      The beginning:

      September 4, 2001

      By Rachel L. Swarns

      The United States and Israel walked out of the United Nations meeting on racism here tonight, denouncing a condemnation of Israel in a proposed conference declaration and lamenting that a meeting intended to celebrate tolerance and diversity had degenerated into a gathering riven by hate.

      South Africa rushed tonight to convene emergency meetings to redraft the declaration and program of action in the hope of averting other walkouts, and a spokesman for the European Union delegation, which also raised concerns, said its diplomats would take part in the efforts to rewrite the draft documents.

      In announcing his decision in Washington, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said, ”I have taken this decision with regret because of the importance of the international fight against racism and the contribution that the conference could have made to it.”

      ”But following discussions today by our team in Durban and others who are working for a successful conference, I am convinced that will not be possible,” he said.

      Secretary Powell said negotiators here had failed to persuade Arab delegates to remove criticism of Israel from proposed conference documents that assail ”the racist practices of Zionism” and describe Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as a ”new kind of apartheid.” …


      December 9, 2015

      Canada votes against UN motion on glorifying Nazism
      By Ron Csillag

  5. vao

    One thing that NATO countries are reluctant to acknowledge is that, besides fighting the massed German armies, the USSR had to contend with and destroy entire Hungarian, Romanian, Italian, and Finnish armies, army-corps sized expeditionary forces from Croatia and Slovakia, as well as multiple divisions of volunteers from Spain, France, Denmark, Belgium, Ukraine, Estonia — basically the whole of Europe — sent against it. And the Japanese Kwantung army (twice, in 1939 and in 1945).

    This makes the victory of the USSR all the more impressive — and the historical complicity of many countries in the Drang nach Osten more damning.

    Historiography has shown that all those extra forces constituted a strategic resources for Germany, which it relied heavily upon for its offensive operations (e.g. Crimea, Leningrad, Stalingrad, Balaton lake), and to offload anti-partisan fighting from the Wehrmacht.

    1. hk

      Plus the Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish (and, in a way, even British). They all had SS volunteers fighting in the East. People forget that the French Nazis were among the most fanatical defenders of Berlin in 1945.

      1. nik

        It would me much easier to list those that have not sent volunteers to fight in the East, just like it is nowdays.

        1. The Rev Kev

          I met this German combat vet in Hamburg back in the early 80s who had fought on both the eastern front and Italy. He told me that there were over 60 nations fighting on the eastern front but I never followed it up. So maybe he was actually right.

          1. Synoia

            Some believe that the reparations demanded from Je4many for WW 1 paved the way for the rise of Hitler.

            We had much discussion of these ww1 and ww2 at school because it was a present memory for all the Teachers of the school because they were called up and fought ww2

            England decided it it would not engage in European wars after the defeat of Napelion. . Why that changed for WW 1 O do not Know.

    2. Kouros

      Romanians were really armstronged into joining the war against USSR as co-beligerants. However, there isn’t any hope Nazis will be forgotten or forgiven. After all, the chipping away at the Romanian territory started in 1939, with the Vienna Dicktat, when Germans forced Romania to relinquish Northern Transylvania to Hungary.

      Then Germany agreed in the annexes to the non-agression treaty with USSR that they wouldn’t mind if USSR took away Bessarabia, as long as the oilfields in southern Romania were left untouched.

      As such, Romanians can say that their territorial losses were wholly or partly due to german actions. And were wise enough to not throw all their forces on the eastern front such than the time was ripe, they switched sides and became co-beligerants on the USSR side. More than 250,000 Romanian soldiers died fighting the Nazis.

      USSR/Russia could have had a friend if they would have dealt differently with Romanians, but the respect they showed to the Finns, with the exchange of territory, and having strategic needs to protect Leningrad, where never in play with the Romanians. Yes, Odessa is not that far away, but why throw the Romanians in the arms of Germany (kind of what US is doing now pushing together Russia, China, Iran)…

    3. MFB

      You left out Russia, in fact. There were a lot of hilfswilligers fighting with the Nazi armies. They called them “Ivans”. Maybe fanatical anti-Stalinists, but probably a lot of them were in it for the sausage stew.

  6. NN Cassnadra

    There is side story in this Molotov-Ribbentrop pact revisionism regarding Czechoslovakia. People probably heard about the Munich conference where Czechoslovakia was stripped of its border areas, but in March 1939 Germany went beyond that and occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia. So while the West pretends the war started in September 1939, by that time Czechoslovakia was already fully at war.

    You probably won’t be surprised to learn that Czech elites are completely on board with the Western narrative. So it’s always fun, when comes the part of the year to remember that pact and the public space is full performative horror about how terrible thing it was, to ask what these people imagine would happen if USSR didn’t sign the pact and where Czechs would be if Stalin didn’t do to Poland what Poland, along with France and Britain, have done to Czechoslovakia a year before.

    1. hk

      Eduard Benes pointed out that what broke the Czech back, so to speak, in 1938, IIRC, was Poland joining Germany in demanding Czech territory. Looking at maps, this makes sense since that completely isolated Czechoslovakia: they may have been able to hold out, even for a long time, against combined military of Germany, Hungary, and Poland, but no help would be forthcoming from the West or the Soviets any time soon, possibly ever. Would the West risk a war for Prague, especially if it pits them against Warsaw as well as Berlin? Would Russia help without the West or Polish cooperation? Should Czechs even accept Russian help if that’s all they could get? Czechs decided, not wrongly, however peculiar that might seem now, through the distorted lens of history, that giving up was better for them than fighting.

      1. James Payette

        Actually Czechoslovakia came out better than most every nearby country as Germany needed its factories and workers. It was too far to be bombed. Hardly any actual fighting took place on its territory. Plus the Czechs had centuries of practice surviving a**hole foreign bosses.

  7. DJG, Reality Czar

    Conor Gallagher: Thanks for this essay. There are many excellent reminders in it.

    The thread through this essay isn’t just that the West requires an enemy in Russia. The thread is how adaptable fascism is, particularly in the West, where the elites have refused to be reformed. The elites simply make cosmetic changes and continue the looting. “Se vogliamo che tutto rimanga com’è, bisogna che tutto cambi,” The Leopard by Tomasi di Lampedusa. Spoken by the young and ambitious Tancredi, rather than the Gattopardo himself, Prince Fabrizio. And the Latvians and Estonians (yes, I’m picking on them) haven’t had to learn a thing from their dreadful histories.

    I recently read an interesting article here in Italy in which the author cautioned everyone not to focus so much on emanations of the Ventennio (the twenty years of fascist dictatorship) but on the way that fascism has / will transform itself to adapt to modern culture.

    And this article shows that the fascism that everyone suspects the West has devolved into isn’t about Mussolini in spats or Trump and cheeseburgers. It is about rewriting history. It is about the impulse to manufacture enemies (I’m looking at you Macron, Annalena Baerbock, Hillary Clinton). It is about control of the economy by the elites and the endless degradation of working people.

    1. Camelotkidd

      There’s a secret postwar history, Conor, that gives credence to your essay.
      Operation Gladio, where western elite created a secret army supposedly to act a resistance to a Soviet invasion. Gladio instead became an anti-communist militia employed to carry out acts of terror as part of a ‘the strategy of tension’, carried out by the State against its own citizens for the purposes of reconstituting the capitalist order represented by fascism

      1. hemeantwell

        Re Gladio, there’s a BBC documentary from 1992 (yes, the BBC, part of their Timewatch series) that’s very good. A number of high level NATO spooks, and some Italian politicos spill the beans. Iirc Italian elites were disgusted over false flag bombing of civilians and the murder of police by zealous Mussolini supporters recruited by the CIA.

        1. hemeantwell

          forgot to thank everyone who contributed to this thread. I learned something, and I’m sure I have company.

    2. Ignacio

      The thinking that has assaulted me is that the very same fear that was behind fascism is what is now directing our leadership on this road to nowhere. I think Aurelien noted this and I am starting to be convinced about it. Collective fear interfering with reasoning.

      1. digi_owl

        Adam Curtis made the argument that our leaders embraced manufactured fear because after the end of the cold war they had run out of distant goals to aim for. And the thought of merely managing the world as it was into eternity horrified them. Hense the litany of hyped of threats, from Bin Laden to Gaddafi to Kim Jong Un etc etc etc.

  8. renard

    Great article. On this years anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Unholy Ursula also stated that it was liberated by ‘allied forces’ – not the Red Army. And perhaps the 1938 ‘appeasement’ should better be named ‘complicity’ – here’s Michael Parenti on the events leading to WWII:

    Looks ever more like we’re in for a remake…

    1. Feral Finster

      Poroshenko insisted, to western applause, that Auschwitz was liberated by “Ukraine” in the form of the Third Ukrainian Front.

      Proeshenko and his audience all knew that claim was so much BS, but it didn’t matter.

      1. ambrit

        One of my Dad’s cronies was a Polish Jew who fought in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and escaped to Sweden at the end. His wife was a survivor of Auschwitz. She described being liberated by the Red Army from that horrible place. She would hear nothing bad said about the Russians.

  9. hk

    One thing that kept sticking to my mind was the way justification of current Israeli actions works: “what Israel is doing to Palestinians is awful” is met by “why aren’t you denouncing Hamas first?”. So “what (local) Nazis (or their “allies,” charitably speaking) was horrible” is met with, “why aren’t you denouncing the commies first?”

    Now, one could play this game and everything could be traced, I suppose, to the “one caveman hitting another” 100,000 years ago or something. Everyone has myths in which they are THE victims (and their erstwhile “oppressors,” whatever the oppression was) was the ultimate evil (because they did stufff that we don’t like today to us X years ago). But most of these are retrospective/revisionist violence to real history (always messier than one would like) to justify today’s churlishness. You can’t attack them, either because you are not X, or, if you are X, you are a traitor for not buying into the myths. And this is especially true when the myths are mostly true–that is, when the past “oppressions” really did happen.

    This brings us back to the problem raised by AJP Taylor about the origins of World War 2: does an “evil man” theory of history, popular among “never again” people of all stripes make sense? The disputes between Germans and Czechs in what is now Czech Republic went back to the time of Przemyslids. That between Germans and Poles in what was known as Polish Corridor was just as old. Yet, both were manageable and indeed was managed for centuries, even if not everyone was happy with the arrangements. Hitler did not start these disputes but they did not mean conflict was inevitable. Taylor did not quite say this (but kept pointing in this direction), but one might say that the war happened because the people involved used history as excuse to stop trying to manage problems and outside parties bought into the myths and propped up the obscurantists. Certainly, this applies to Hitler, but also applies to the likes of Joszef Beck as well. Blaming Hitler has the effect of giving excuses for the churls on “our” side–they were right not to negotiate in good faith because the other guy was Hitler, or Putin, or Lincoln, I suppose. (Inclusion of Lincoln here is, yes, intentionally mischievous, but a part of the Lincoln myth that we look upon favorably now had been created by his enemies, back then as well as in the subsequent decades/century, as a slur, when the Confederacy was being rehabilitated and the interpretation of history was, eh, different.)

    One should do history well (ie account for all the gray areas), or not at all, I think. Drawing “lessons” from bad history tends to give excuse for evils today…because they are justified because of the modern iteration of some greater evil of the imagined yesterday, or, as Taylor put it more succinctly, men learn from history how to make new ones….

  10. Aurelien

    Whilst much of this is fair, historians these days no longer accept the simple defence that Stalin was “buying time” in 1939, not least because the archives show that the Soviet government actually did very little with the time that was theoretically gained. Stalin’s objectives are now known and are clear, and by his lights sensible. Keep the war away from a country that his purges had weakened, and encourage the West into an internecine conflict which would destroy them all and finally make the Soviet Union safe. Stalin was a major instigator of the plan, not because he liked Hitler, but because he saw the safety of the Soviet Union in getting its enemies to fight each other.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I think that there was more to this. The western powers at the time were extremely reluctant to get into a pact with Soviet Russia because the whole idea was anathema to them. And when Soviet Russia formed a non aggression pact with Germany – the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact – they copped a lot of flak for that. But both Germany and the allied powers were making entreaties with Russia at the time. The difference is that the allied powers sent their delegation by a slow boat while the Germans sent theirs by airplane. Stalin could see that the western powers would be quite happy to see Russia and Germany get into a war against each other and as Russia was in a weakened state like you pointed out, he chose door number two.

      1. Kouros

        It was a treaty (of non-agression), not a pact. Same as Iran’s Russia’s governments are administrations and not “regimes”.

        From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

        The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, officially the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics,

    2. voislav

      I’ve had the opportunity to read some of the documents related to this and the truth is somewhere in the middle. Soviet Union was trying to form an alliance in 1937/38 to combat rising German threat, including supplying arms to Czechoslovakia (Antonov SB-2 bombers). Czechoslovakia was in favour of Soviet aid, but Poland blocked any Soviet involvement by denying even transit for Soviet troops to Czechoslovakia.

      Once Czechoslovakia was dismembered, Soviet Union realized that they will likely have to fight Germany with no or limited assistance from the West. They then shifted to creating as much strategic depth as possible for key centers of Leningrad, Moscow and Kiev, by acquiring Polish, Romanian, Finnish and Baltic states territory. So the idea of gaining time was not necessarily to gain time as such, but to have territorial depth to absorb German invasion while mobilizing its army.

      It’s interesting, Stalin correctly deduced the threat he was facing and made preparations to meet that threat as best as he could, but then he hampered his army’s efforts when it came to actual invasion in 1941.

      1. hk

        Poland joining Germany in demanding territory from the Czechs is supposedly what caused the Czechs to give up, on top of Poland refusing to cooperate with anyone as long as aiding Czechs involved USSR…

        1. Feral Finster

          What happened was that Hitler promised Poland the Cieszyn triangle at Munich. Poland accepted and the Little Entente collapsed as a result.

          1. hk

            Poles and Czechs already fought over that piece of real estate in 1919. Poland was going to try grabbing Teschen Silesia one way or another, Hitler or otherwise. It just happened that Hitler gave them the chance when they did.

      2. Kevin Walsh

        Czechoslovakia wasn’t the only issue from the Soviet point of view. Britain had invested considerable diplomatic effort into allowing Italy and Germany to replace the Spanish Popular Front government, which could be expected to be friendly to France, with a fascist government which could be expected to be hostile to France. Franco himself was flown to Morocco from the Canary Islands to take command of the Army of Africa by British intelligence.

        From Stalin’s perspective, it must have been reasonable to think that Chamberlain and Halifax were intent on building up the Nazis to help them destroy the Soviet Union.

    3. JonnyJames

      That sounds about right. Similarly, Churchill wanted to have the USSR and Germany fight and destroy each other, and then the Anglo-Americans could come in and clean up, getting rid of both Hitler and Stalin at the same time. It almost worked. Perhaps Stalin’s accusations of Churchill delaying D Day was not based in paranoia.

      1. digi_owl

        Best i can tell these days, Churchill was a massive empire fan.

        Thus to him Germany was a rival that needed to be put in place as secondary to the mighty British.

        But communism was to him an existential threat, as it was not just about a rival but a concept anathema ot the very idea of empire.

        FDR getting along with Stalin like that must have driven the old bulldog bonkers.

    4. Es s Ce Tera

      I dunno, my understanding is in 1938 the USSR had 100ish Divisions and by the start of Barbarossa had 300, which means that in the interim Stalin had mobilized 3-5 million, tripled his forces. Also, Stalin moved key industries to the Urals and Siberia, out of reach, and of course there was the building of the Stalin Line and the fortification of Moscow. If these weren’t the actions of someone expecting an invasion, if it was just Stalin leaning a little toward the cautious side, just in case, then that’s fairly remarkable.

      1. Keith Newman

        Churchill in his memoirs recounts that the Soviets held talks with the British and French in 1939 about defending against the imminent German threat. While the French indicated they would put up a sizable force the British said they would put up next to nothing. Rather than face the German threat more or less alone, the Soviets made a non-aggression pact with the Germans. And prepared for the coming war as Es s Ce Tera notes above.

        1. MFB

          It also seems that the Red Army in 1939 was very badly equipped (mostly obsolescent weaponry manufactured while their heavy industry was still tooling up in the early 1930s) and of course the Communist Party used the Great Terror as it was applied against the Red Army to try to take over the Red Army with commissars, which didn’t turn out well when a commissar type was appointed to do the planning for the invasion of Finland — if you look at the Red Army deployment it lined up divisions along almost the whole Finnish frontier and the Finns were able to slaughter them in detail, plus the Red Army commissariat didn’t bother to lay in stocks of winter gear (except felt boots) or food since it was going to be a short war.

          Two years later the T-34s and 85mm artillery pieces were rolling off the production lines and a lot of the power of the commissars had been stripped away thanks to the Finnish disaster. I don’t think the Nazi-Soviet Pact was specifically justified with military planning in mind, but it’s clear that the Soviets felt, correctly, that they needed time to prepare. If they’d had a few more months the Nazis might have had their clock cleaned a lot earlier — Hitler was sensible to invade as early as he did, as Tooze points out.

    5. jrkrideau

      About a year after Hitler took power, Moscow realised Hitler was coming for it and everybody else. At Stalin’s direction, the Foreign Minister, Maksim Litvinov, starting pushing “collective security”: everybody who was threatened by Hitler should get together to resist him. Obviously, the three principal powers, Britain, France and the USSR, would be the leaders, but Poland, Romania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia were all on Hitler’s hitlist. Alone they would be eaten one by one, only united could they stop Hitler.

      Litvinov didn’t have much success: he did get a treaty with France in 1935 but it turned out to have little content in practice. Meanwhile Poland, vitally important to any anti-Hitler scheme because it lay between the USSR and Germany, signed the very first non-aggression pact with Hitler in 1934 and collaborated in the carve-up of Czechoslovakia in 1938. Washington rejected overtures in 1934. The UK signed a naval agreement with Germany in 1935. Litvinov kept trying, and people like Winston Churchill agreed, but the Munich agreement of September 1938 pretty well killed it off. Without Britain, France or Poland, it couldn’t be done.

    6. Polar Socialist

      The purges did not really weaken Soviet Union, at least not the Red Army. It was the fast pace of expanding and modernizing it between 1933 to 1941. First to double in size by 1937 and then triple (well, kinda) by 1941. There just were no officers available to fill the ranks. The 20,000 purged were a drop in the ocean compared to the need (something like 350,000).

      What Stalin aimed to achieve with Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement was to prevent France, UK, Poland and Germany from joining up against Soviet Union – as Munich seemed to indicate could be a possibility. As voislav points out, Soviet Union was willing to stand up against German expansionism and even go to war for Czechoslovakia, but was not even invited to Munich where Czechoslovakia was calmly sold off. By the same countries that had sent military expeditions against Soviet Russia less than two decades earlier.

      1. vao

        By the same countries that had sent military expeditions against Soviet Russia less than two decades earlier.

        Expeditions spearheaded by the Czechs…

        1. Kouros

          They just happened to be in the heart of the Czarist Empire. More or less they wanted to get back home, and went eastwards…

      2. MFB

        You may be right, but if I were a middle-ranking officer I would find that when my government executed virtually all the generals above me for no reason, I might be glad for the promotion opportunities but I would be rather reluctant to stick my neck out in any way at all. I suspect that the rather unimaginative behaviour of the Red Army’s command structure in the first year of war can largely be blamed on the Great Terror — and also on the fact that so many of Stalin’s cronies, who benefited from the purge, people like Budenny and Voroshilov, were largely useless commanders.

    7. rkka

      “ Stalin was a major instigator of the plan, not because he liked Hitler, but because he saw the safety of the Soviet Union in getting its enemies to fight each other.”

      Being able to read German ambassador in London Von Dirksen’s cables from London on the Anglo-German talks when they circulated to German Embassy Moscow, while the August ‘39 Anglo-French-Soviet military staff talks were going on making pretty much zero progress certainly helped prepared the Soviet government to open the Kremlin door when Von Ribbentrop knocked on it.

      The source of this is Zachary Shore “What Hitler Knew” Oxford University Press, 2003.

  11. 4paul

    In Florida a brand new law is driven by the Anti-Castro anti-communists … the text mentions economics as well as politics.

    Is religion part of Russophobia? I don’t think Protestant religions in the US embrace Eastern Orthodox as “one of us”, the iconography is more similar to Islam than US Protestantism.

    There is a VE “Victory in Europe” Day, but in the Pacific Theater is is called VJ Day “Victory over Japan”, instead of VP Day, I wonder if racism might play a part in that also. It isn’t called VN Day “Victory over Nazism”, there aren’t separate VG Day and VI Day, Italy was (sorry Italians) not really a factor in WWii.

    It’s almost as if we’re supposed to forget the white people we fight (generic “Victory in Europe”) but remember the non-white (Japanese, Castro, Che, Eastern Orthodox) and re-fight them every day, letting the gas build up, like Fassbender .

  12. EAC

    The “our enemy is Hitler” trope is almost amusing since those living in a country ruled by any leader designated as the new Hitler are routinely refused visas or asylum in order to escape this Hitler…

  13. Altandmain

    Now that the West has joined forces with the Banderists in Ukraine, whose predecessors collaborated closely with Germany during WW2, and has adopted its own modernized form of fascism, I suppose that the West doesn’t want to remember how it ended for Germany.

    That’s because the West has embraced some of the worst parts of the Third Reich. You can see that with the censorship, the propaganda, and for all the talk of the West being tolerant, it actually looks down on the rest of the world. That’s so obvious with the constant condescending lecturing they give to the rest of the world and the comments like Joseph Borell’s “Europe is a garden” compared to the “jungle” of the rest of the world. In other words, it’s become the modern “Aryan Master Race”.

    It’s discussed in the article, but there’s also the dishonest tendency to understate the role the USSR played in defeating the Third Reich and overstate the role the Western allies played in it. The answer is that it would raise the uncomfortable question of how the current proxy war in Ukraine is going for the West, how it will end, and whether the West is on the wrong side of history. For many European nations, it would mean revisiting the uncomfortable history of their nations allying with Germany during WW2.

    Look at how the West reacts – they try to cancel people, they use ad hominem attacks, and they really struggle to debate with their critics. There has been a culture of lying from day one of when the USSR broke up, from the violations of various nuclear arms control treaties, to the expansion of NATO, to regime changes in Ukraine, and when the SMO started, ridiculous fantasies of Russia running out of chips, using laundry equipment in desperation. Needless to say, Russia has been outproducing the West.

    Ultimately, the problem is the West is governed by a dishonest ruling class. Lying and exploitation, to both their own citizens, along with citizens of other nations abroad is all they know. The rich have to lie and to try to get people to forget history to keep this system going.

  14. Alice X

    How General Winter Did Not Save the Soviet Union in 1941
    by Jacques R. Pauwels

    Shorter, the Soviets did it themselves, though the Germans bungling of logistics helped. Hitler invented the winter did it to save face.

    The Soviets faced 80% of the Wehrmacht. If it had been much less than that the Allies in the west would never have gotten past the beach in Normandy. In summer 1944, Operation Bagration, in Belarus led to more German casualties than the number the West faced in total.

    Ok, back to Gaza.

    1. Mikel

      Pauwels “The Great Class War: 1914 to 1918” is a good document of the social conflicts within countries leading up to and during the war.

    2. voislav

      “General Winter” and other myths of the Eastern Front are so pervasive because Western post-WWII accounts of fighting in the East came almost exclusively from Germans, which played up the “madman Hitler”, Winter and “Soviet hordes” tropes while ignoring logistics failures and Soviet competence and technical superiority.

      In reality, Germany severely underestimated the industrial scale of the war in the East, where human attrition of First World War was replaced by material attrition (guns, tanks, vehicles, shells, etc.). German industry reduced production of war materials leading into invasion of Soviet Union and did not fully re-mobilize until mid- to late-1943, by which point it was too late.

      The history of that war bears striking resemblances to the war in Ukraine, one of sides (Soviets) proceeded to fully mobilize its human and industrial resources to fight the war, while the other side believed that superior weapons and training will win the war without the need to fully mobilize human and industrial resources. I both cases it took about 2 years for the tide to turn fully in favour of the fully mobilized side.

  15. Michael

    So the destruction of Nordstream is today’s continuation of Germany’s wobbly existence. Film at 11.

    Excellent reporting Connor!

  16. Carolinian

    My thanks added to the others. The great myth currently being pushed is that Fascism was a populist phenomenon whereas the originator of the term, Mussolini, described it as the merger of business and government. Naturally neoliberals don’t like this angle and prefer to blame the victims including the Russians although Stalin was certainly no saint. Since big business often thrives by exploiting the populace true populism is the antithesis of the fascism the “progressives” are always going on about from their platforms owned by billionaires.

    In WW2 fascism lost but Goebbels won. Still winning.

      1. steppenwolf fetchit

        Many years ago I used to listen to random episodes of a David Emory program on a Pacifica/ Free Speech Radio Network public radio station called ” From The Record”.

        Many of his episodes covered various aspects of the alignment of Fascist Movements and Governments with the Rich People Class. Some of his programs covered members and organizations of and from the American Rich People Class arming various fascist factions and militias in Germany during the mid-to-late Weimar Period in order to destabilize Germany enough to bring their preferred political actor Hitler to power in Germany. I wonder how much this is studied in postwar Germany ( or ever has been).

        In one of his episodes ( I forget which) , he claimed that the Fascist International and its supporting classes and governments realized by late 1942 or so that Germany would lose the war so they worked to move billions of dollars and thousands of nazis and fascists of various kinds out of EuroGermany into the Paperclip Countries to save them for future use. He claimed that the ” Fascist International” viewed and views World War II as a “battle” and not a “war”. The “war” to make the world Fascist continues. Their plan for America was/is to destroy it from within to get revenge on it for its role in preventing Nazi Germany’s victory in WWII. He referred to President Dubya Bush as the “visible nexus of the Underground Fourth Reich in America today.” ( He may have also discussed the Fascist International’s desire for revenge on Russia for its role in defeating Nazi Germany in WWII. I never did hear most of the episodes).

        Here is the episode discussing President Bush’s tax cuts and debt/deficit rises as being part of the deliberate Underground Fourth Reich plans to destroy America “from within and the top”.

    1. renard

      John Ralston Saul in his 1992 ‘Voltaire’s Bastards’ stated that Mussolini Fascism won throughout the West. And of course neoliberals don’t like this angle since Neoliberalism is just a rebranding without the ‘folcloristic’ elements. For details cf Ishay Landa’s ‘The Apprentice’s Sorcerer’.

  17. JonnyJames

    Yes, it looks like we are the baddies. War crimes, genocide, denial of history, mass misinformation and outright propaganda, loss of freedom of the press, demonization of out groups and immigrants, mass incarceration, loss of freedom of speech, total lack of democratic choice, normalization of economic and siege warfare (euphemistically called “sanctions”), perverse levels of income and wealth disparity, monopolization and fictionalization of the economy, Techno-totalitarian Feudalism etc.

    A few years ago a Ukrainian student (highly educated and recently graduated from law school in Kiev) told me to my face that Nazi Germany was only defending itself against “Russian aggression” in WWII, and that it was the USSR that was to blame for WWII. Germany was a “good guy” in the war.

    I had read that this sort of thing was being taught in Ukraine and I had heard similar suggestions from other Ukrainians and Ukrainian students, but never that open about sympathies for Nazi Germany. Of course not all Ukrainians believe this nonsense, but many are taught that.

    (Another Ukrainian student from Donetsk told me that we need another Stalin-like figure to come and clean out the Nazis from Ukraine again). These anecdotal experiences reinforced what I have read.

    Since history in the Anglo countries looks like it is being re-written, and the accepted consensus on history goes down the memory hole, many will believe the story Ukrainians are telling. The contradictory, irrational narratives get a pass from our sycophantic stenographers of the mass media.

      1. vao

        Speaking of indoctrination: what explains the sheer fascination of Ukrainians for Nazi symbolism?

        In countless videos and photos from the Ukrainian conflict, we keep seeing troops making the Roman salute, and wearing the insignia of the Waffen-SS divisions: Dirlewanger, Totenkopf, Wiking, and of course Galizien. Azov has adopted a mirror image of the insignia from the SS-Division das Reich. Deutscher Adler and Swastika abound as tattoos, and even the Balkenkreuz figures on armoured vehicles.

        What floored me is to learn that there is a “march of the Ukrainian legion of foreign volunteers”: this song is actually derived from “SS marschiert in Feindesland” — a marching song of the Waffen-SS — which is itself derived from the “Lied der Legion Condor”, i.e. the hymn of the infamous Condor legion (the one that helped Franco by razing Guernica to the ground). Probably the only piece more Nazi than that is the Horst-Wessel-Lied.

        Notice that the ubiquitous Ukrainian trident was actually designed in the late 1910s by the regime of Petlyura, based on actual heraldry from medieval Ukraine. This is what one would expect from a nationalist movement: reviving old symbols, establishing a continuity with a glorious past. But apart from that, Ukraine is nowadays grounding its imagery on the 3rd Reich.

        Germans were totally open about the contempt they had for Slavs, and Ukrainians were bound to suffer the same fate as other slavic populations: extermination or enslavement.

        How is it possible that just three years of occupation were enough to so utterly acculturate Ukrainians that they are now enthusiastically adopting the symbols, insignia, and decorum of their oppressors?

        1. Polar Socialist

          Bandera’s ilk had always been a sort of death cult, anyway – self-sacrifice was the highest form of patriotism. There’s also a weird undertone of Ukrainians being the True Slavs vs Polish and Russians, both degenerate mongrels that should be “purified” from the “sacred lands”.

          So yeah, Third Reich had a lot that resonated with Banderites (besides despising Poles, Russians, Jews and Gypsies even more). And during those three years the western Ukrainians got to define Ukraine as they dreamed it to be.

            1. hk

              I’d heard something similar from a Croat in 1990s–another country and era where Nazi nostalgia was a thing.

        2. JonnyJames

          Stockholm Syndrome perhaps. They hoped if they showed loyalty and fought with the German invaders, they would be given special privileges. That, of course, never happened.

          The Nazi plan, Drang nach Osten, was to ethnically cleanse European USSR of what they considered Slavic subhumans, creating the infamous “Lebensraum” and re-populate the place with Germans. It was not just Jews and Roma who were considered untermenschen by the Nazis, the Slavs were the biggest “External Other” for them

          We need a good social psychologist to suss out the rest.

        3. NN Cassandra

          The eternal question. Why they worship people who not only would have killed them if given enough time, but on top of that who actually failed to accomplish the one thing for which they worship them, which is the elimination of judeobolsheviks/muskovites/Russia. I’m sure even Freud would stumble when trying to explain that.

          1. jrkrideau

            I have long wondered how the greatest political screw-up and abject failure in the 20th century became a hero to neo-nazis. In 1937 Hitler was the unquestioned leader of Germany and admired in a good part of the world. By 1945 he had destroyed Germany and ended up shooting himself while hiding in some hole in the ground.

            Just the hero I want to follow!

        4. R.S.

          Ukrainian ethno-supremacists formed as a movement only in the late 19th century, and their views were heavily influenced by the bogus “racial theories” of that time. Basically, they shared their foundational ideas with various “Voelkischen”, and the connection with the Nazis is obvious. One just has to reshuffle the hierarchy a bit, maybe “find new evidence” or something…

          Ironically, those theories were first popularized by a Pole, and promoted by the French:

          From any sensible p.o.v. that’s just delusions, but in the late 19th cent the theory of “non-Slavic Muscovites” was quite a fad. Even the German Communists (like Marx and Engels) endorsed some of those theories at some point.

          For instance, you had maps like this:

          The “White Russians” (modern Belarussians) and “Small Russians” (modern Ukrainians, more or less) are labelled as “Ruthenes” and Slavic, while the “Muscovites” are “Turko-Finns”. Some scholars went even further, and declared the Russian language to be a “non-Slavic pidgin” or something like that.

          1. digi_owl

            Hmm, yeah. That gets me thinking that they try to somehow declare themselves the heirs of the Varangians, making them by extension Germanic.

            Again and again the only thing more frustrating than people fawning over the Romans are people fawning the Vikings.

            1. R.S.

              Many Galitzian intellectuals had a particular soft spot for the Germans. After all, the Western Ukraine was Austrian for about a century, so the German culture was viewed as the highest and the noblest of all. When WWI broke out, loyal Western Ukrainians formed volunteer units, the Sich Riflemen, and fought alongside the Austrian Army. (Those who were deemed “pro-Russian” were sent to concentration camps, Thalerhof being the most well-known.)

              After the war, “the Good Kaiser Franz Joseph”, Vienna Opera, Viennese coffee, etc. became something of a meme, the Paradise Lost. I guess it was one of the reasons why Ukrainian nationalists were easily subverted by the Nazis.

          2. GM

            The Poles are actually the first people in Europe I can think of who explicitly formulated a racial superiority doctrine, in order to justify serfdom:


            The origins of the szlachta, while ancient, have always been considered obscure.[10]: 207  As a result, its members often referred to it as odwieczna (perennial).[10]: 207  Two popular historical theories about its origins have been put forward by its members and early historians and chroniclers. The first theory involved a presumed descent from the ancient Iranian tribe known as Sarmatians, who in the 2nd century AD, occupied lands in Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. The second theory involved a presumed szlachta descent from Japheth, one of Noah’s sons. By contrast, the peasantry were said to be the offspring of another son of Noah, Ham — and hence subject to bondage under the Curse of Ham. The Jews were considered the offspring of Shem.[40][41][42] Other fanciful theories included its foundation by Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, or regional leaders who had not mixed their bloodlines with those of ‘slaves, prisoners, or aliens

            Note that this is even before slavery in the US became ideologized and very long before Hitler.

            And it was all for quite naked socioeconomic reasons.

            Ukrainians then apparently picked that attitude up having been on the receiving end of it for centuries, and fringe intellectuals there started developing their own racial superiority ideas already in the late 19th century.

            You can, of course, trace the origins of German Nazism to the 19th century too, but the Ukrainians were in fact the first to merge racial supremacy with genocidal violence.

            In Germany that only really develops in the 1930s. In WWI it was good old imperialism that drove the fighting.

            It is true that in the WWI period there was widespread mass murder and ethnic cleansing, but that was mostly in the Balkans, and it wasn’t backed up an explicit racial supremacy ideology.

            But when the Petliura death squads burst onto the scene in 1918 and start mass murdering Jews, that is when you have these things merged for the first time.

            In effect, the Ukrainians were Nazis before the Nazis themselves. And it only worsened since then. Read their textbooks from the last couple decades…

            At this point it is completely impossible to have a non-Nazi Ukrainian nationalism, nearly every single major figure they have as a national hero was some kind of a Nazi, the newer ones that will be generated through the current war will be too, and it has all been defined in opposition to communism and Russia. How do you ever redefine it as something else? It’s hard to see how it’s even possible.

            And we are supporting that…

            Now imagine Europe in the case Ukraine wins. The largest by territory country right in the middle of it will be completely militarized, armed to the teeth, and infused with this hateful ideology, coming out of a historic win, and surrounded by pathetically weak militarily neighbors all the way to the Atlantic, except perhaps for Poland (which is also heavily militarizing now). Where does that go from there?

            In that context, Poland arming itself to the teeth too in the medium term may not be just directed against the Russians…

            1. PlutoniumKun

              Notions of racial/ethnic superiority go way, way, back before the medieval period. There is copious genetic evidence going back to the early neolithic in Europe (and elsewhere) of interbreeding and inbreeding among elites – a clear indicator of a concern about racial/genetic purity – the Ptolomaics in Egypt being an obvious example from the historic period. It may go back to the original settlement by farmers in Europe – there was surprisingly little interbreeding or cultural exchange between Mesolithic hunter-gatherers and incoming farmers, despite them living side by side for centuries. Later Yamnaya peoples (the ancestors of most Europeans) almost entirely genetically replaced the first wave of farmers, indicating again, an ethnic/cultural aversion to ‘inferior’ peoples.

              This isn’t exclusively a European vice – there are plenty of examples in the Americas, Africa and Asia from anthropology or genetic studies. It seems we lost our egalitarianism with the invention of farming.

              1. digi_owl

                Lets not forget about inheritance.

                What ancestor cultivated what lands etc can be a very big deal for farmers. Giving up the ancestral farm is not done lightly.

                And through witnessed wows one ensure who the land ends up with.

  18. digi_owl

    Speaking of destroying memorials.

    During the war, Nazis sent a number of soviet POWs to Norway as forced labor on road and rail projects. Some of those POWs used leftover materials to build memorials to their lost comrades while waiting to be sent home after the Nazi surrender.

    But come the cold war, a number of those memorials were demolished. The excuse being that the government feared soviet spies would use pilgrimage as an excuse to enter Norway. Crazy thing is that the rubble of one of the biggest is still left in place.

  19. Kouros

    I liked very much this analysis by Gabriel Rockhill in one of his workshops for the Critical Theory, where has succintly asserts that “liberalism is the good cop and fascism is the bad cop of capitalism”

    However, this time it looks like the productive capacity is concentrated in the hands of the other guys… and the population in the west is more interested in sports, shows, and cooking and covering their ears to the genocide in Gaza for instance. Can the capitalists make out whips of of shite?

    1. ambrit

      “… whips of of shite?” Do you mean “Merde Meringue?” Just like our economy. Light and fluffy and full of empty calories.

  20. Victor Sciamarelli

    Among other things, Biden said, “There’s the right to protest, but not the right to cause chaos” and he added that, “order must prevail.”
    We now know what Biden would say to a German citizen in the Nazi era who supported the government compared to say, a German citizen who opposed the Nazi government’s policies and actively protested in order to change those policies.
    “Order must prevail” so count on Biden to protect the Nazi crimes

    1. MFB

      Rosa Luxemburg’s last piece of writing after the failure of her uprising and before her murder was the heavily ironic “Order Prevails in Berlin”

  21. GM

    But there has also been a decades-long push to equate communism in the USSR with Nazism in Germany

    Ah, yeah, and who was Dirlewanger’s equivalent in the Red Army? Crickets.

    The facts are that one ideology was supremacist while the other was universalist and preached equality. Is it any surprise that the former generated/attracted such monsters given that it explicitly dehumanized others? And how asinine is it to equate the latter with it?

    So what gives? Why go the route of rehabilitating Nazi collaborators?

    Because nothing has changed in 900 years. Or much more than that if you want to go into the really basic drivers of human behavior. But in this concrete case, it starts with the Northern Crusades. Recall what the map looked like when Europe was exiting the chaos of the early Middle Ages and after the events of the migration period were settling down. Slavic tribes lived all the way west into modern Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein. The territory of the old GDR used to be entirely Slavic, and the Limes Saxoniae ran just east of Hamburg.

    Then the Northern Crusades started, beginning in 1147 with the Wendish Crusade (the Wends being one of those Slavic tribes). Notice how even Wikipedia (written by Westerners) describes it:

    The lands inhabited by the Wends were rich in resources, which played a factor in the motivations of those who participated in the crusade. The mild climate of the Baltic area allowed for the cultivation of land and livestock. Animals of this region were also thickly furred, supporting the dependence on fur trading. Access to the coastline also developed fishing and trade networks.[2] The land was attractive for the resources it boasted, and the crusade offered an opportunity for noble families to gain part of it.

    Quite honest. Grab the land, take over the resources. Lebensraum.

    But unlike the constant decrying of Western atrocities outside Europe, this part of the history is never told, even though the western Slavic tribes at the time were in pretty much the same situation — pagan and poorly organized politically, just as the Native Americans, Aboriginal Australians, or any other such groups that Western Europeans subjugated and exterminated/assimilated were.

    Those events start a gradual process of German eastward expansion at the expense of Slavic and Baltic tribes, which by the 17th-18th century had resulted in Germans dominating all the way into the southern Baltic region.

    Hitler basically wanted to continue and accelerate what had been happening slowly for centuries. But meanwhile capitalism had developed too and the means of destruction had greatly advanced, so we got mechanized genocide on an unprecedented scale.

    These reimaginations of history claim that socialist land reform efforts, however mismanaged, were the equivalent to the genocidal Nazi imperial project. It also implies that Nazis were actually just acting in self-defense against Communists, and if you really think about it, the Nazis are the real victims here!


    increasingly fascist domestic positions

    Old school communists understood very well that liberalism and fascism are directly linked to each other. Modern Ukraine provides a textbook illustration, for those who have the eyes to see. There the alliance is between the outright Nazis on one hand, and the PMC and other upper middle classes, who are pro-Western in order to elevate their self-perception of their own worth relative to the working class hicks in the industrial pro-Russian eastern Ukraine, on the other. The latter provide the ideological justification — we are the superior form of human being, the subhumans (openly called orcs these days) must be exterminated, the former provide the muscle. And this base of support is then used by the 0.1% to maintain and expand their position, with enough crumbs thrown to the Nazis and the PMC so that they are happy and continue to support the system. Meanwhile the bottom 90% are to be ruthlessly exploited and suppressed.

    Again, not much has changed. The whole “orc” and “vatnik” rhetoric and the dehumanization is straight up lifted from how Western Europeans used to deal with Africans, Native Americans and Aboriginal Australians. The Japanese in WWII too, though in that case the Japanese were guilty of the same with a reverse sign.

    Only this time the orcs have nukes and are at strategic military parity, if not even superior, so it is not exactly clear what the plan is here…

  22. Victor Sciamarelli

    Since the end of the Cold War and the Soviet Union, elite planners and the msm want everyone to remember history just as long as 95% of what you remember is about Germany from 1933 to 1945.
    The 1933-1945 era has all you need: appeasement, the need for unlimited military preparedness, alternative economic systems never work, and rejection of diplomacy because you can’t negotiate with dictators or terrorists.
    Moreover, during the Cold War, unlike today, US political elites generally showed a great deal of respect to Soviet leaders. It was Communism that they despised but the leaders were people they were willing to talk to and with whom to make agreements. Unlike Biden who called Putin evil, a murderer without a soul, Nixon showed respect to Leonid Brezhnev. Labeling someone a communist today is too narrow. Besides, there weren’t that many in the US; evil is everywhere.
    It is becoming increasingly difficult to explain that Russia and China are rising economic and military powers and, in the case of China, beating us at our own capitalist game. Thus, how better than to rewrite history demonstrating Russia, backed by China, is threatening to finish what it started in WW2, that is, hegemony over Europe.

  23. Bill R

    I think one of the best examples of how much the USSR did to defeat the Nazi regime is from the Consciousness of Sheep June 2019
    D-Day and the Battle of Normandy did require a lot of men and equipment, the Soviet Union took the pressure of the Western armies by fighting and holding up many times more Nazi forces than the Nazi’s could have used to defeat the West.
    We really do need to celebrate all the USSR did and realize they did almost all the work and get no credit for defeating the Nazis.

  24. DG

    So what gives? Why go the route of rehabilitating Nazi collaborators?

    Counter-revolution is, I believe, a constant force in society. Unfortunately, it prevails. Gerald Horne’s “The Counter Revolution of 1836 : Texas….” posits that Texas revolted against Mexico to ensure slavery continued in Texas. Obviously, that must be news to Fess Parker starring as Davy Crockett in the Disney movies.

    I remember the 1970 – 80’s as a great period in WWII history. France was shaken by the revelation that there were many Nazi collaborators. And the Resistance members were mostly Communists. The French series “Un Village Francais” made in 2009-2017 covered the issues in Vichy France, and France as a whole, quite well.

    I do not think it could be made today.

    This article and the many excellent comments confirms my belief that in the 1970’s a great counter revolution was launched. Warren Buffet said there was a class war and his class won. I agree.

    We individuals in the colony formally known as the US of A will not change this, but the majority of the world have a chance.

    Thank you Connor.
    Thank you Yves for having a site that keeps adding threads to weave a carpet that brings Climate, Economics, Education, and Politics together – creating over time a history of our time.


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