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Foreign Correspondent
by international syndicated columnist & broadcaster Eric Margolis


Copyright: Eric S. Margolis, 2005

May 9, 2005

President George W. Bush was certainly right to attend ceremonies in Moscow commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Soviet Unionís victory over Germany in 1945. But his rebukes to host Vladimir Putin over Russiaís brutal past needed to have been far stronger.

Many North Americans and British mistakenly believe their nations defeated National Socialist Germany. While $11 billion of US military and financial aid to the USSR was important, it was Stalinís Soviet Union, not the western democracies, that played the decisive role in defeating Adolf Hitler and his European allies.

While honoring our own heroic veterans, itís time we also recognize and pay homage to Russiaís dauntless courage, endurance, and suffering.

  • The Soviet Union inflicted 75% of all World War II German casualties in titanic battles involving millions of men. Soviet forces killed 3 million German and Axis troops, and lost 11.3 million dead and 18.3 million wounded. Twenty million Russian civilians died. Britain lost 340,000 men, Canada 43,000, and the US about 150,000 dead in the European Theater. The Red Army lost more men attacking Berlin alone than the US did in its entire European and North African campaigns.

  • When Allied forces landed at Normandy, the German Wehrmachtís `guts had been ripped out by the Soviets,í said Churchill. Had the Allies met 1940ís strength and quality German troops, with an intact Luftwaffe, instead of understrength units with no air cover, they would have been driven into the Channel. The battered Wehrmachtís dogged resistance from 1944-45 recalled Churchillís dictum, `you will never know war until you fight Germans.í

  • The Soviet defeat of Japanís forces in Manchuria has been ignored. In a brilliant, blitzkrieg campaign along a 3,000 km front on 9 Aug, 1945, Soviet Far Eastern armies crushed Japanís weakened 710,000-man Kwantung Army, killing 80,000 and capturing 594,000.

So itís right and overdue to honor Russiaís valiant soldiers. But itís wrong to continue to ignore the Soviet Unionís monstrous crimes or the Western alliance with the tyrant who committed them.

Nazi concentration camps Buchenwald and Auschwitz are household names. But who recalls even more murderously prolific Soviet death camps like Kolyma, Vorkuta and Magadan? Stalin told Churchill he had killed 10 million farmers in the early 1930ís, and hailed the butcher of 6 million Ukrainians, Commissar Lazar Kaganovitch, as `our Himmler.í

The best current estimate of Stalinís victims is 20 million murdered before WWII, and 10 million from 1941-1953, a total democide of 30 million. Hitlerís toll was around 12 million after 1941.

Nor did German aggression alone begin the war in Europe. German-Soviet aggression did. We forget Hitler and Stalin jointly invaded, then partitioned Poland under the notorious Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, that Moscow has never renounced. Seven million Poles died , half of them were Jews. The USSR then went on to invade Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

In 1939, Hitler, whose major crimes still lay ahead of him, was seen by many Europeans as a hero who had pulled Germany out of economic collapse, restored national dignity, and provided the main bulwark against the very real threat of communist mass murder engulfing western Europe.

Yet Britain and the US chose to become war partners with Stalin, by then historyís worst tyrant and mass killer. Churchill and particularly Roosevelt must share indirect guilt for Stalinís crimes, just as they would had they joined Hitler.

This aspect of the war remains taboo. At Yalta, the left-leaning Roosevelt, whose White House contained two influential Soviet agents of influence, and besotted by `Uncle Joeí Stalinís masculine power, delivered half of Europe to communist rule, replacing a greater tyranny for a lesser one. President Bush rightly raised the matter of Yalta while in Moscow but unfortunately had little to say about the crimes of Lenin and Stalin.

What should the Allies have done in 1939? At the time, the 20th-centuryí leading military thinker, Maj. Gen. J.F.C Fuller, urged Britain and France not to go to war over Poland, but remain neutral and await the inevitable war between Germany and the USSR that would destroy them both, then liberate Europe.

In 1939, neither Britain nor France were ready for war, and the two uneasy allies had no offensive plan in the event of a conflict. If Britain and France went to war against Germany, Fuller rightly warned, Stalin would inevitably emerge the victor and gobble up eastern Europe.

But Churchill and Roosevelt declared ideological war against Hitler, `the supreme evil.í Fuller was pilloried for his heresy.

Itís time Britain and the US face their culpability in abetting Stalin and demand modern-day Russia come clean over Stalinís crimes and prosecute Soviet officials and police who are still alive. President Bush at least took a first step by rebuking the Kremlin for its invasion of the Baltic states. President Vladimir Putin should come forth and openly denounce Stalinís crimes, as Kruschev did in secret, offer national repentance, as Germany and Japan are forced repeatedly to do, and compensate the remaining victims of Stalinís oppression.

Continuing to beat the drums about Nazi crimes while ignoring egregious communist crimes is profoundly dishonest. Too much lingering wartime propaganda still clouds our historical memory. The left keeps beating the drums about Nazi crimes in order to conceal the crimes of communism. Other groups seek to retain a monopoly on suffering.

Some other forgotten points:

  • Germanyís Sept 1939 invasion of Poland did not begin WWII. It began five months earlier when Fascist Italy invaded little Albania. Or arguably in 1936-1937, when Japan invaded China.

  • In the 1920ís, Winston Churchill authorized using poison gas against rebellious Kurdish tribesmen in Iraq and on Indiaís NW frontier. In the 30ís, Italy used poison gas and concentration camps to break resistance in Libya.

  • As Rommel and Guderian were smashing across the Meuse on 12-15 May, 1940, in the epic Battle of France, Hitler remarked that his generals were more eager to march on Berlin than Paris. The failure by Britain and the US to support anti-Nazi Germans in the late 1930ís and again in 1944 proved a tragic mistake.

  • World War II was not a simple conflict between democracy and tyranny, as we are misinformed, but a clash between imperial powers, ideology and economic systems. Italyís fascism, and Germanyís National Socialism, threatened not only Europe but Britainís and Americaís capitalist system and money-lending financial elites.

  • In 1939, the British Empire still ruled swathes of Asia and Africa. Germany, Italy and Japan went to war against the British, French, Dutch, Belgian colonial empires and the US Pacific Imperium. When Japanese troops landed in Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaya, they were greeted as Asian liberators from European colonialism. But like the Germans in Ukraine and White Russia, their stupid brutality and arrogant racism quickly turned conquered populations against them.

  • Still, one should ask, was a German invasion of Poland unacceptable aggression when it was perfectly acceptable for Britain to invade neutral Iran in 1941, or, previously, invade Burma, South, West and East Africa and Egypt, to mention only a few of the nations it seized and colonized?

  • No sooner were the Netherlands liberated from German occupation by Canada in 1945 than Dutch troops were sent to re-occupy former Dutch colony Indonesia, which had proclaimed independence from Holland. Dutch and British colonial forces massacred tens of thousands of Indonesians from 1945-49, acting with far more brutality than German troops did in Holland. Yet this crime has disappeared down the memory hole, to be replaced by the image of the Netherlands as a dulcet, peaceful land that suffered terribly under the wicked Nazis.

  • At warís end, 15 million ethnic German were driven from ancestral homes across Eastern Europe. Two-three million Germans were massacred. At least two million German women raped by the Red Army.

Published at Bigeye.com since 1995 with permission, as a courtesy and in appreciation.

To read previous columns by Mr. Margolis: Click here

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    Eric Margolis
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    333 King St. East
    Toronto Ontario Canada
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