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

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Edward Lozansky, President, American University in Moscow, Washington, DC:

I think it is very unfortunate that politicians are trying to use the tragic events of the World War II to score some points instead of concentrating on the real problems of today. Humankind as a whole and Europeans in particular could not be proud of how they behaved during that time. The bitter truth is that it would be pretty difficult to find a country whose reputation was impeccable during this most horrible war in human history.

Try searching the Web for Nazi collaborators and you will get the names of major Axis powers (Germany, Japan, Italy), minor ones (Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Croatia), as well as endless lists of the so-called co-belligerents and puppet states. In addition, you will see a huge number of non-governmental military and civilian Nazi collaborators, sympathizers, and volunteers in practically every European country and on other continents. Almost 600,000 non-German volunteers joined the Wehrmacht, the auxiliary police (Schutzmannschaft) and the Waffen SS.

Over 60 percent of the total number of the last defenders of Berlin and the Reichstag in April to May 1945 who fought against the Soviet troops came from the Netherlands, France, Spain, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine, and other parts of Europe.

There are some shocking revelations of U.S. corporate collaboration with Nazi Germany which prompted the following horrifying quote in the Michael Dobbs article in the Washington Post, published on November 30, 1998: "General Motors (GM) was far more important to the Nazi war machine than Switzerland, said Bradford Snell, who has spent two decades researching the history of the world's largest automaker. Switzerland was just a repository of looted funds. GM was an integral part of the German war effort. The Nazis could have invaded Poland and Russia without Switzerland. They could not have done so without GM." Besides GM there were large numbers of U.S. corporate and financial entities working with the Nazis, including at least five companies from the Fortune 500 list. And what about countries that gave refuge to fleeing Nazi criminals? South America was certainly a leader in this disgusting business.

No matter how much one despises the communist regime and Joseph Stalin, it is inadmissible and immoral to deny the obvious: the victory in World War II was achieved by the Allies, but it was the Soviet Union, through its huge losses and sacrifices and peoples heroic actions, that played a major role in liberating the world from the Nazis. It is also inadmissible and immoral to deny that the same Soviet Union occupied the countries of Eastern Europe and the Baltics and imposed totalitarian regimes on them for almost 45 years, while all revolts against such regimes in Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and even in the Soviet Union itself were brutally suppressed.

However, it was the Russian Federation that liberated the world, including itself, from Soviet-style communism, and actually it was the only country which returned the territories its predecessor the Soviet Union appropriated under the secret protocols of the Molotov Ribbentrop pact. However, Lithuania and Ukraine, for example, still keep some Polish territories and it seems like no one is objecting.

It is time now to leave World War II to historians, put past grievances aside and stop pointing fingers at each other. This will do no one any good. Instead, we should concentrate on the new and enormous security threats the world faces in the 21st century. There is no other way to meet these challenges except forging a close United States Russia Europe security alliance under a unified Euro-Atlantic security system. The sooner we build such a system, the better for everyone, and if we succeed, it would be the best we could do to honor all those who died in World War II, because it would mean that they did not give their lives in vain.


[1] Published with permission of Russia Profile.

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The Wars of History


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