It is ridiculous to conclude, like Robert Fulford, a columnist for the National Post recently did, that the Cold War started because Molotov, in early 1945, was offended when Truman snubbed him with a few curt words and later boasted to his staff, “I gave him straight. It was a straight one-two to the jaw!”
To put the Cold War in its proper perspective, we have to go back a few years. A decade earlier, the signs were ominous. The duly elected leftist government of Spain had been toppled. The Spanish Civil War that followed, saw Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy help bring about the brutal and revengeful dictatorship of Franco. Millions cheered as Hitler, the very devil himself and his minions, Mussolini and Franco, had saved the Catholic Church from the godless Communists. Soon, Austria would be annexed by Nazi Germany without a single shot being fired. In order to avoid a war, parts of Czechoslovakia, known as the Sudentland, would be ceded to Nazi Germany. What followed clearly indicated the growing instability encompassing the whole of Europe as godless Communism – not Nazism or Fascism – was the real threat.
The Soviet Union had been unable to reach a collective agreement with Britain and France against Nazi Germany and by 1930, it became clear that the Soviets would be left alone to resist the military expansion of Hitler in Eastern Europe. They sought a change in policy and signed a Non-Aggression Pact with Nazi Germany. As with Chamberlain, Stalin was double crossed by Hitler.
Encircled by Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Austria, several Catholic/ Christian countries in Eastern Europe and spiritually backed by the Catholic Church that saw godless Russia spreading its errors around the world, the invasion of Russia was launched on June 22, 1941.
Facing the might and fury of the Wehrmacht, the Soviets faced a bleak future. It was indeed a one-two punch to the jaw that had them reeling against the ropes. More than 20,000 Russians died defending Crimea. Millions more died in the Battle of Stalingrad and Moscow. In 1943, in a little known city of Kursh, more that 3,500 tanks would be locked in mortal combat, blasting away at point-blank range in a brutal, deadly, slugging match. It was the greatest tank battle ever fought. When the smoke cleared from the scorched earth, the course of World War II had been changed forever. The Nazi dream of conquering Europe had been irrevocably lost.
From the gates of Moscow to the gate of Brandenburg in Berlin, the Soviets pushed on, in spite of crippling losses. The fact it was able to turn back the Nazi invasion is a testament to the courage of the Soviet Armed Forces and the Russian people. But it came as a shocking price!
It soon became apparent to the West, the Soviets would, in the very near future, be a force to reckon with. A plan formulated by Churchill and code-named, “Unthinkable” to push them back, was just that: Unthinkable! The Soviets held much of Eastern Europe with a military power three times greater than the allied forces in the West. The long promised invasion by the West to open up a second front was yet to come. Many historians believe the West dragged its feet so that the Soviet Union would bleed. And bleed it did. More than 26 million Russians perished. For every ALLIED soldier killed, the Russians lost eighty! And more than 75% of the Soviet Union’s infrastructure had been destroyed.
At the Tehran Conference in Nov/Dec 1943, Stalin knew he was now in a position of power. He demanded the West keep its long promised opening of the second front and further demanded and obtained the Soviet sphere of influence in Eastern and Central Europe as an essential part of the USSR’s national security strategy. It was precisely at this time that the Cold War began and an iron curtain descended on Eastern Europe.
As a footnote, it must be remembered it was Russia that was the target of Nazi aggression and destruction. It also paid the harshest price. It was the good fortune of the West that the Soviets paid almost the entire “Butcher’s Bill” for defeating Nazi Germany.
Hitler had viewed Eastern Europe as “Lebensraum” for the anticipated and expanding Thrid Reich that involved the horrifying and systematic attempt to depopulate whole swaths of Europe. This included unspeakable crimes and massacres of millions of Jews and others. He also wanted to destroy Poland and the Soviet Union as states and kill millions of Slavs.
In Ukraine and Belarus, the Stalinist regime had starved and shot some four million people in the years prior to the war. The Nazis and the Fascists starved and shot even more in half the time. In the “Bloodlands” of Eastern Europe, Hitler and Stalin had murdered more that 14 million civilians.
We should learn from the past or else history would repeat itself. In present-day Ukraine the situation is dangerous and explosive, Let us, therefore, keep in mind that Putin is a history buff, a great chess player, a powerful commander-in-chief with an extraordinary will power and his foreign policy is based on the legacy of World War II.
In other words, that war is not over!