Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Victory Day

Today is Victory Day, Russia’s version of Memorial Day. It celebrates the victory over Nazi Germany. I watched a little of the celebration in Red Square. The Soviet Union was allied with Great Britain and the United States against Hitler. Whatever your opinions of the Russian government in 2017, we can express solidarity with Russian citizens suppressed by the Soviet regime in the 1940’s who still rose to the task of defending themselves against fascism. 27 million Soviets, mostly Russians, died in the Great Patriotic War. Every Russian family today has at least one relative, uncle, grandfather, who died in the war. Over a million people starved to death in the siege of Leningrad. The United States hasn’t been invaded by a foreign power since the war of 1812. Russians understand what war is first hand. They don’t like it but they know how to fight one.

Russia was invaded. Joseph Stalin refused to believe his advisors that the Nazis were about to invade and had no preparations. He had to scramble to assemble an army, the Red Army, provision it, arm it, and repel the Nazis. They liberated Poland, liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp, and marched to Berlin. The three allies met in Berlin, which precipitated the division of Berlin and all of Germany into East and West. Stalin, Churchill, and FDR met at Yalta. And then the Cold War happened, an odd piece of history considering that we were all allies during the war. Then we were enemies for no real reason.

The cold war is over. Has been for 27 years. Let us remember what it was like and honor the sacrifices of everyone who was thrust into it. Let us work to insure that no more wars, hot or cold, rear their hideous heads anywhere on earth again.

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