Lest we forget

Memories die hard. What irks Russians most is that westerners firmly believe World War II was a brutal conflict that the West had won. Images of the Battle of Britain, the storming of the beaches in Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge are images deeply ingrained in the western mind of the glorious Allied victory over Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.

For the Russians, that picture changes considerably and dramatically. It is recalled in a totally and vastly different light. For every Allied soldier killed, more than 80 Russians died fighting the Nazis and the Fascists. The Siege of Leningrad and the starving of Soviet prisoners of war exceeded more than four million. The soil of Crimea was soaked with the blood of more than 20,000 Russians who were slaughtered, defending it against the savage fury and might of the Nazi Wehrmacht. It is widely believed that winter was on the side of the Russians; all the woes that befell the Nazis and the Fascists were due entirely to the harsh and unforgiving winter and not due to the gallantry of the Red Army that also suffered, fought and died in the snow but who fought the enemy to a standstill and drove him back.

The Battles for Moscow, Stalingrad and Kursh involved colossal clashes of steel and explosive power. Millions of men and more than 5,000 tanks were locked in mortal combat in some of the greatest land battles ever fought. Nothing on the Western Front matched the brutality and savagery of those battles. From the gates of Moscow to the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin – a distanc of more than a thousand miles, 27 million Russians perished. When the air finally cleared from the scorched earth, the dream of Hitler being the master of Europe had been completely and forever shattered.

Sixteen million Americans, plus the combined Armed Forces of Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and other countries embarked upon, in the words of General Eisenhower, a great crusade. The hopes, the dreams, the prayers of liberty-minded people everywhere marched with them into battle to bring about the destruction of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan. It was a war to eliminate racism, bigotry, inequality, intolerance, oppression and to set the world free. World War II was an Anti-Fascist War!

Today, Anti-Fascist protesters are marching to the same drum, but they are scorned, beaten, physically manhandled and shot. They are branded as trouble makers, liberals, Marxists, Godless and therefore Communists. What they failed to realize is the fact that the Communists, during World War II, played a major role in the defeat of Fascism.

And they also conveniently forget they had some four hundred years to address many issues. Instead they knowingly and deliberately ignored them and followed  a “White Supremacy” policy where blacks were forbidden to drink from water fountains and not allowed to sit on park benches that were reserved for whites only and to sit at the back of buses. They were refused service at restaurants and accommodations in hotels; they were whipped and lynched for the most trivial infractions. White men with Halloween costumes burnt crosses on their front lawns. Steve King, a Republican openly said he has nothing against immigration as long as the dominant culture is white. And whites wore T-shirts during the Obama administration that said, “Keep the White House white!”

Stuart Thompson, writing in the National Post states that the toppling of statues is vandalism and has no place in any civilized country. He cites McGill University professor, Jacob Levy who tells us that what the white man failed to do is to think hard about whom he idolizes. People are wired to venerate powerful individuals whether they were morally upright or not and even when society requires they should oppose them, they fail to do this. Lord Acton reminded us that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are always almost bad men.” If this has proven correct, then great people whose triump in history are marked equally by bad behavior, should have their statues removed. There are often great people who are venerated for a record that also has troubling moments. Stuart thompson concludes that people are more disturbed by the mob action than the real reason for the removal of the statues. There is justifiable aversion to the sight of people taking matters into their own hands. But the politics of taking down the statues through lawful procedures gets so controversial that it never gets it done — leaving the skeletons in the closet.

About the Author
Originally from Mumbai, India. Studied, trained and worked in Mumbai, Munich, Germany and Toronto, Canada. For many years, Leslie owned and operated a printing company where he printed everything, except money! Currently retired. Married with four children (four too many.)