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Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: the Wars of History [1]

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Alexander Rahr, Director of Russia Program, German Council on Foreign Relations, Berlin:

The difference of opinions on Russian history of the 20th century in Russia itself and in the rest of the world is dramatic. Outside Russia, Stalin is regarded as the same mass murderer and criminal as Hitler. Particularly problematic is the historic dispute between Russia and Ukraine. What will happen if Yushchenko dares to go as far as proclaiming General Andrey Vlasov, who defected to Hitler and believed in freeing Russia from Stalinism by assisting Hitler, as a "hero"? Russia cannot expect any understanding of its attempts to purify Stalins role during the German-Russian division of Eastern Europe in 1939 for one simple reasonbecause after 1945, it established dictatorial communist regimes in those countries which it successfully liberated from fascism. Politically, Stalin's tactical moves in 1939 may be understood, but morally, he cannot be justified.

The Cold War continued for almost half a century. The historical images and "dogmas" which were formed at that time in the "free" West continue to dominate the globe today, 20 years after the end of communism. One should not forget that more than two million Russians and Ukrainians, who either defected during the war from the Red Army or were captured by the Germans, remained in the West for good after 1945, joining the ranks of those who fought communism. A partial rehabilitation of Stalin that is being done in Russia these days will never go over with today's Western elite thinking, because in the Western view Russia's positive role in defeating Nazi Germany was later largely overshadowed by what the Soviet Union subsequently did in Eastern Europe.


[1] Published with permission of Russia Profile.

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The Wars of History


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