Recalling the war in Great Britain, one involuntarily thinks about the qualities for which the nation is considered great, such as courage and determination before, it seemed, insurmountable difficulties. The battles for Britain or Dunkirk, clearly demonstrate how the British in a situation of inevitable looming failure miraculously managed to gather their courage and turn the scales in their favor. No doubt, in the United States, during the war, they composed quite a few stories about American commitment to freedom and democracy. Many Hollywood films touched on this topic and diligently contributed to the promotion of these stories to the masses.
In the endless recalculation of the virtues of war, almost no attention was paid to the Russian front, where a large number of fierce battles were fought that became decisive in consequence. The narcissistic tendency of many nations to pay attention only to the exploits of their people has already become a matter of course, which is not surprising, however, in Russia this phenomenon carries much more connections with reality than in Britain or the United States. One has only to look at the figures in order to understand how titanic the efforts of the Soviet Union were, thanks to which the fate of Hitler’s plans to seize the world was decided precisely in the eastern part of Europe. All efforts were aimed at resisting the fascist invaders, resulting in the death of the order of 20-27 of millions of Soviet citizens. While Britain lost 450 thousands of people, and the US - 420.
For three years, from 1941 to 1944, when Anglo-American forces advanced through northern Africa to Italy, the Soviet Union was the only force opposing the Third Reich (more than half of all troops were concentrated in battles with the Russians, even after landing in Normandy). The battle of Stalingrad fully showed the scale of the battle and struggle in the territory of the Union. In the battle of El Alamein in 1942, when Churchill kept saying “the beginning of the end,” the British suffered a loss of fifty thousand. For comparison, the whole sixth army of Paulus fell in the battle of Stalingrad (330 thousands of dead and 144 thousands taken prisoner).
This understatement explains why, asking about the victory of foreigners, from the Russian side sounds a kind of reproach. For this reason, many delusions have appeared on the account of the Soviet Union regarding its role in the war. For example, it is often assumed that Western countries did not pursue political goals, trying to defeat Hitler as quickly as possible, while Stalin wanted to replace the totalitarian fascist regime with his own at the first opportunity. However, this fact is contrary to the real course of events: the leadership of the United States and Britain made a choice in favor of operations in the Mediterranean, postponing the invasion of France by June 1944.
The reasons why the United States entered the war three years later the USSR can be explained. Landing from the sea and a direct strike against a fortified Europe, right in the heart of Germany, could give the military both a relative advantage and the likelihood of being in a stalemate. This strategy was to allow Britain to further strengthen its position in North Africa and the Middle East, and along the way to regain control in the Mediterranean. The military leadership of Britain constantly insisted that the position of Germany would certainly weaken before the operation. At this time, the Soviet troops were the only force that was able to force the Germans to retreat.
In April, 1942 of the year Churchill agreed to the landing in France proposed by the Americans, which was to be held next year, but he still doubted this, because believed that the correct conduct of the defense of India and the Middle East.
But the situation soon cleared up when he convinced Roosevelt to land allied forces in North Africa in 1942 (Operation Torch). Thus, plans to open a second front in the north of Europe were postponed, and the main reason for this was the lack of resources. Military operations in Italy and Sicily in 1943 were carried out by order of Churchill. However, they diverted troops from the assistance of the USSR. But a couple of months later, in 1943, under pressure from the leadership of the United States, the Prime Minister of Great Britain was forced to agree to a landing in France in May, 1944. However, Churchill still hesitated with the transfer of troops from Italy, in order to strengthen its position in the Mediterranean. The irony is that all these efforts were in vain, because as a result, geopolitical influence passed to the United States, as a tribute for cooperation.
Such a slow approach to the opening of the second front was not to the liking of the other members of the Big Three, although they tried not to express this at international meetings. In telegrams to his allies, Stalin strongly condemned them for their indifference towards the USSR. In addition, during personal meetings with leaders of other countries, he focused on the fact that the delay from the west is nothing other than an intention to speed up the defeat of the Red Army, which by that time would weaken from bloody battles. And so only allies will reap the rewards of victory. Moreover, Stalin assumed that Britain could secretly conclude a peace treaty with Germany, returning to the “established policy of appeasement,” since this was the only explanation why she was so calm about the heavy defeats of the USSR.
And although Stalin's hypotheses were not applied in practice, he had every reason to doubt the plans of the allies regarding "victory at any cost." At the requests of the USSR to open a second front were received only unclear answers. During Molotov's visit to London in June 1942, it was decided to land a small reconnaissance group in Normandy before the main operation in 1943. However, the agreement had many ambiguities, and it was far from what the leadership of the Soviet Union wanted. But, ultimately, the contract was formally concluded, obliging the Allied forces to "quickly open a second front in 1942 year." Although by this they meant their own operation "Torch".
After statements that the West did not intend to open a second front, the irritation among the leadership of the USSR intensified even more, having beaten off any desire to cooperate in the near future. Later, in 1942, Churchill arrived on a visit to Moscow in order to personally assure Stalin that, despite the inability to make a landing in France during the year, she has every chance of being held at 1943.
Not only the USSR blamed the West for inaction. Calls for the opening of the second front were made by citizens, both the United States and Britain, whose leaders could not clearly explain their indecision, because the defeat of the Soviet Union would mean a fiasco of all further attempts in the struggle against Germany. In addition, a sense of moral duty, after all, obliged. The heroic battles of the USSR allowed the postponement of the attack on Britain and enabled the US to prepare for the upcoming campaigns, so the people considered it right to strike at the first opportunity by striking the north of France. In a series of articles in the British newspaper Tribuna, she criticized state policy. “Wherever the people gather, he is only concerned with one question: when will we send reinforcements to the Soviet Union?” In the US, where 48% of the population was for the immediate opening of the front, many publications of public unions, in addition to well-known writers sent letters to the senators asking for help from the USSR.
These calls came to nothing lead: Churchill and Roosevelt were determined to carry out a military campaign in the Mediterranean, and only then open a second front. Unfortunately, the truth is that they did not take seriously the opinion of the population or advisers, not fully aware of the consequences of the defeat of the USSR. For the most part, this was the fault of Britain. At the end of 1941, when the Wehrmacht army almost captured Moscow, Stafford Krips, the British ambassador to the USSR, lamented that London didn’t take this fear seriously. With a sharp statement, he turned to his leadership and expressed the need for joint support for the Red Army until Germany destroyed it. In September of the same year, he wrote: “Unfortunately, we thought that we were not responsible for what was happening ... I am afraid that now it may be late, if only we don’t throw all the available forces to save the front.” During the first year of the war, very meager assistance followed; in addition, the USSR requested the transfer of 25-30 divisions if the allies could not create another front in France. By the time Lend-Lease began to arrive on a large scale, the Red Army won a key victory at Stalingrad in 1943, and the German army had to retreat.
The pride of Russians for Soviet weapons during the Second World War is not as veiled as the obsession with the West for its role in it. This is evidenced by Hollywood films, as well as in popular historical and documentaries. The historian Norman Davis writes the following: “... the contribution of the Soviet Union was so great that most historians have no choice but to recognize the role of Britain and the USA as secondary. The aspect ratio is far from 50 to 50, as many people like to say, speaking of a decisive blow to fascist Germany. Sooner or later, people will have to realize that the role of the USSR was key, and that the West was only insignificant. ”
It is hard to be objective when the question of valor and victory of the people is on the agenda. Nationalist views quickly become part of the worldview and therefore it is difficult to get rid of them. Among the Russians, it was believed that by its inaction, Britain wanted to direct Hitler towards Eastern Europe to expand its empire, thus creating conditions for conflict with the Soviet Union. Most of the British thought that the British government indulged Hitler, fearing a repetition of the mistakes that had plunged Europe into the slaughter of the First World War, not to mention the clash of communism and Nazism. In any case, the spark due to which World War II broke out appeared closer to the border of the USSR. But why did Britain stand up for Poland if its intention was to allow Hitler to stroll through Eastern Europe? Then, perhaps, the fact of inappropriate inactivity of Britain in the 30-s is as absurd as any traces of conspiracy theory.
The attitude of the British government to Hitler was obviously schizophrenic. Being interested in restricting German expansion, but at the same time, experiencing a greater ideological hostility towards communism than towards Nazism, Britain refused to conclude a pact with the USSR that could prevent Hitler’s further aggression and war. The Soviet Union was not invited to Munich to discuss the fate of Czechoslovakia. In addition, his proposal, which followed the end of the conference, to provide security to the countries of Eastern Europe, was immediately rejected. In the 1939 year, when Hitler’s intentions toward Poland became apparent, Britain and France entered into negotiations, but it was too late. Nevertheless, even then the hope of concluding an alliance was completely rejected by the West’s reluctance to conclude a bilateral agreement. Initially, Lord Halifax suggested adding assistance to France or Britain as one of the points in case of a conflict, but only unilaterally. During the negotiations, when the Anglo-French delegation stalled on discussing the military details of the treaty, Stalin became convinced that the West was not serious about cooperating, instead being ready to give up its words at first danger, leaving the Soviet troops to clean up the heat themselves. Many historians agree that the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was concluded precisely because of the impasse with Britain and France, that is, with the goal of winning more time.
And if the thirst of the West to show its importance has led to such errors, then how great is this desire among Russians, where pride in the wealth of the nation is in the order of things. The enormity of the efforts made to win, unfortunately, left in the shadow of things that had to be sacrificed during the defense. The invasion of Poland, as well as the shooting of Polish officers, the joining of the Baltic countries, the arrest of dissidents, the links of national minorities and the establishment of control in Eastern Europe — this sounds less attractive, and yet deserves more attention.
The problems that the Russian people had to meet after the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union definitely played the same role at the time when it was necessary to rally to confront the common threat. In his speech, Vladimir Putin recalled this, referring to the duration of the war with the words: “The main strength of such a holy kinship is love for Russia, for his home, for his loved ones and family. These values unite us today. All our people fought for them. ”
But why should the people look for their greatness in the events of the war? After all, it is nothing but a massacre on an industrial scale. Human ingenuity is aimed at finding more effective methods of killing more people. Scientists create such weapon, economists strive to maximize its production, and the media are trying to cause as much aggression among the population to the enemy. The soldier motivates himself that the slaughter is being done for the sake of a just cause, and the actions that had previously averted him were now something gallant. A US Army officer during the Second World War, and subsequently a renowned literature professor, Paul Fassel, remembered the feeling when you came across a clearing strewn with the corpses of German soldiers - “it completely deprives teenage illusions; and you realize that you will never see the world in the same color. ” Commenting with irony on the hellish conditions that his platoon had to meet during the advance, he noted: “Anyway, our main task was to survive. Yes, we knew about the Jews. But our skins were more precious to us. ” Bloodshed is also an example of heroism, but it testifies more to the strength of the spirit than to the desire to commit violence. Overwhelmingly, the war reveals the worst traits in people, but some are able to overcome them. However, this fact should not hide the fact that citizens are participants in the massacre, which greatly affects the psyche. And the truth is, especially in Britain, the love of the values Putin mentioned: family and home, forces veterans to avoid talking about the things they have been through, until their children or grandchildren want to save these memories for future generations. .
Of course, veterans did not hide their involvement in the killings. The post-war years in each of the victorious powers were marked by a surge of hope and expectation of a better future. In Britain, the conservative party was replaced by the labor party, which soon began to implement extensive social reforms. In the USA, Henry Wallace promoted the idea of an “ordinary man era” during the 1948 presidential election campaign, focusing on establishing good relations with the Soviet Union and solving social problems in his country. In the USSR, people hoped for an end to authoritarian rule, repression, and arbitrary arrest, which killed many lives in the 30's. By and large, these hopes did not materialize when the shaky devotion of political leaders to the people quickly gave way to a thirst for rearmament. First of all, the war left a long imprint on international relations. The leadership of the countries distorted its consequences for personal purposes to create the basis for further conflicts committed under the pretext of the spread of democracy. The naive desire to view war as the pinnacle of the history of our people is only a miserable attempt to justify the vanity of those who fought in it.
The former gunner, the representative of the “great generation”, and the historian Howard Zinn responded to the glorification of the Second World War and its participants in the following lines: “I refuse to honor them as representatives of the“ great generation ”because so we honor courage and self-sacrifice in the name of war. And we do not correctly interpret to the younger generation that military heroism is the best form of its manifestation, while in the hands of cunning politicians it is just an auxiliary tool, driven by power and profit. Of course, the current fascination with the Second World War prepares us, some deliberately, others - no, for more wars, adventures, more and more often to follow the example of heroes from the past.
The victory parade in 2008, in which Russia showed the full power of the armed forces, was the most expensive since the collapse of the Soviet Union. In the same year, they didn’t regret money for anything: they even made sure that the clouds were sufficiently scattered so that last year’s incident did not happen again. Being forgotten in the nineties, Victory Day was revived, at least to the scale of the times of the USSR.
The work of Russian cinema echoes the renewed interest of the state in the Second World War. An interesting fact is that some of the best Soviet films did not praise the resilience of a simple Soviet citizen, but paid great attention to the harsh reality of the conflict itself. Unlike Western films, such as Saving Private Ryan, where vivid battle scenes are used to describe the leitmotive about the sacrificial nature of war, the best Soviet films were so full of idealism that after watching them you are very doubtful about the virtuous qualities of war. In the film Ivan's Childhood, which was filmed in 1962, a twelve-year-old boy has to carry out the officer’s orders when going on dangerous missions. . These films show how much pressure a war has on a person.
Delicacy is definitely not the word that would characterize modern Russian films, if we compare them with the worst Hollywood creations, given the superficial approach to the description of the Second World War. In one of the latest films "Match", based on real events, we are talking about a group of Soviet prisoners of war who beat the Nazis in a symbolic football match. As one would expect, the picture is replete with patriotic appeals. The filmmakers defined its genre as a “historical-patriotic drama”. He was shown in cinemas in time for the Victory Day.
There is no reason to believe that the temporary distance from the Second World War will force the future generation to pay less attention to it than now, when our direct connection with it is already insignificant. The interest of the state in preserving the memory of the war as national pride is too strong to disappear. In each former union country, people will continue to admire former glory, and the state will continue to pay attention to such virtues as unity in difficult times and faith in the righteousness of the armed forces. The active participation of the country's leaders in maintaining the memory of the Second World War is especially alarming, because without the emergence of a state with its bureaucracy and total control over citizens, wars would not have such devastating consequences. It is as involved in war as Tanks or machine guns. Indeed, the feigned attitude towards the victims of conflicts of the past and attempts to create an appropriate atmosphere among the population hide the fact that this massacre was carried out by cold and prudent actions of a faceless power. Millions of people are called to the front, torn from their relatives and forced to fight.
Somehow George Orwell wrote an article criticizing his British colleagues, who condemned the royal air force bombing of the German civilian population. They are mistaken, as he argued, that the war must be humane. “Wars take the healthiest and bravest men. Every time when a German submarine sinks, along with it the whole of its crew goes under the water. However, people who criticize the bombing of the civilian population declare with satisfaction the victory in the battles for the Atlantic. ”
This statement contains more than the truth. Indignation towards specific atrocities hides the fact that war itself is such. As a result, the victorious countries, trying to festively commemorate the memory of the Second World War, forget that it really is.