Nazism

Nazi Russia

It is sad to admit that in the 21st century there are no mechanisms in the country or the international community to stop the country’s rapid slide into the abyss of violence. In the recent past, it seemed that the country was heading “back to the U.S.S.R.,” but now the situation is more reminiscent of Germany in the 1930s, when gangs of storm troopers ruled the streets, beating up and killing Jews and others with impunity.

Read more: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/opinion/article/the-kremlin-storm-troopers/489306.html#ixzz2kKMixTgJ 
The Moscow Times 

Stalin’s Politburo speech, August 19, 1939

The Finland-Swedish historian and architect Carl O. Nordling (1919-2007) reconstructed Stalin’s speech to the Politburo of August 19, 1939 from texts published in Novy Mir (Moscow) and Revue de Droit International (Geneva). An excerpt (the bold text appears in both versions, the normal text only in Novy Mir and the italicized text only in Revue de Droit International):

The question of war and peace has entered a critical phase for us. Its solution depends entirely on the position which will be taken by the Soviet Union. We are absolutely convinced that if we conclude a mutual assistance pact with France and Great Britain, Germany will back off from Poland and seek a modus vivendi with the Western Powers. War would be avoided, but further events could prove dangerous for the USSR.

On the other hand, if we accept Germany‘s proposal, that you know, and conclude a non-aggression pact with her, she will certainly invade Poland, and the intervention of France and England is then unavoidable. Western Europe would be subjected to serious upheavals and disorder. In this case we will have a great opportunity to stay out of the conflict, and we could plan the opportune time for us to enter the war.

The experience of the last 20 years has shown that in peacetime the Communist movement is never strong enough for the Bolshevik Party to seize power. The dictatorship of such a Party will only become possible as the result of a major war.

Our choice is clear. We must accept the German proposal and, with a refusal, politely send the Anglo-French mission home.

It is not difficult to envisage the importance which we would obtain in this way of proceeding. It is obvious, for us, that Poland will be destroyed even before England and France are able to come to her assistance. In this case Germany will cede to us a part of PolandOur immediate advantage will be to take Poland all the way to the gates of Warsaw, as well as Ukrainian Galicia.

Germany grants us full freedom of action in the Pribaltic/three Baltic States and recognizes our claim on Bessarabia. She is prepared to acknowledge our interests in Romania Bulgaria and Hungary.

Yugoslavia remains an open question, the solution of which depends on the position taken by Italy. If Italy remains at the sides of Germany, then the latter will require that Yugoslavia be understood as her zone of influence, and it is also by Yugoslavia that she will obtain access to the Adriatic Sea. But if Italy does not go with Germany, then the latter will depend on Italy for her access to the Adriatic Sea, and in this case Yugoslavia will pass into our sphere of influence.

This in case that Germany would emerge victorious from the war. We must, however, envisage the possibilities that will result from the defeat as well as from the victory of Germany. In case of her defeat, a Sovietization of Germany will unavoidably occur and a Communist government will be created. We should not forget that a Sovietized Germany would bring about great danger, if this Sovietization is the result of German defeat in a transient war. England and France will still be strong enough to seize Berlin and to destroy a Soviet Germany. We would be unable to come effectually to her assistance/to the aid of our Bolshevik comrades in Germany.

Therefore, our goal is that Germany should carry out the war as long as possible so that England and France grow weary and become exhausted to such a degree that they are no longer in a position to put down a Sovietized Germany. 

Read it all.

(Hat tip: Mari-Ann Kelam)

Russia defends Stalin’s deal with Hitler

By Jonas Bernstein
Moscow
20 August 2009

Soviet dictator Josef Stalin (file photo)

Soviet dictator Josef Stalin (file photo)

Sunday, August 23, marks the 70th anniversary of the so-called Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact – the non-aggression treaty signed in 1939 by Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov and German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop. The pact included a secret protocol dividing Eastern and Central Europe into Nazi and Soviet spheres of influence. Days after it was signed, first German and then Soviet forces invaded Poland.

The anniversary’s approach has sparked a debate in Europe. Western governments condemn Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin as two equally murderous variants of totalitarianism. The Russian government calls that comparison a “distortion” of history.

On August 17, the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service issued a statement saying it had declassified documents showing that the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was the Soviet Union’s “only available means of self-defense.”

The spy agency’s demarche was just the latest in a series of Russian government statements that critics say appear to defend Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and justify actions he took shortly before and during World War II.

In early May, Russian Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu introduced legislation in parliament that would make it a crime to deny the Soviet victory in World War II.
Later in May, President Dmitri Medvedev issued a decree setting up a presidential commission to counter what he called attempts to “falsify history.”

At a meeting in early July, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe passed a resolution designating August 23 – the anniversary of the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact – as a day of remembrance for the victims of both Stalinism and Nazism.

Russian delegates to the European security body walked out of the meeting, in protest. Russia’s Foreign Ministry denounced the OSCE resolution as “an attempt to distort history with political goals,” while Russia’s parliament called it a “direct insult to the memory of millions” of Soviet soldiers who, in the words of the parliament, “gave their lives for the freedom of Europe from the fascist yoke.”

Former independent Russian parliament Deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov says what he calls the “official” Russian position on the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is “extremely strange.” 
Ryzhkov asks why today’s Russia, which has a democratic constitution and new democratic legitimacy, should justify the division of Europe between Hitler and Stalin.

He says that this view is now included in Russian history text books and has caused “enormous moral damage” to Russia’s reputation, particularly in the countries of Eastern Europe that were the main victims of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.  Ryzhkov says the only explanation for the Russian leadership’s position on the issue is what he calls “sympathy for Stalin.”

Public opinion surveys suggest many ordinary Russians share at least some of their government’s views.

A poll conducted by the state-run VTsIOM agency, following the OSCE resolution condemning Stalinism and Nazism, found that 53 percent of the respondents across Russia viewed it negatively, while 11 percent viewed it positively and 21 percent viewed it neutrally. In addition, 59 percent of those polled said the resolution was aimed at undermining Russia’s authority in the world and diminishing its contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany. 

Dmitry Furman of the Russian Academy of Science’s Institute of Europe calls the presidential commission to counter what it deems historical falsification an “idiotic undertaking” and a “very bad idea.” He also says Stalin’s government killed as many, or even more people than Hitler’s.

But, given the suffering Russians endured after Hitler turned on Stalin and invaded the Soviet Union, Furman says it is natural that many resist equating Stalinism and Nazism.
Furman says it is “very difficult psychologically” for Russians to put what they see as their “victors” in the Great Patriotic War, as they call World War II, on the same level with the vanquished Nazis.

From VOANews.com

See also: The anniversary approaches

The anniversary approaches

As the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union approaches (August 23), some news stories:

First, Russia’s defence minister announces that most of the hijackers of the Arctic Sea were Estonians. This later becomes eight detainees, of whom four are claimed to be Estonians, two Latvians, and two Russians. The Estonian government issues a statement saying that it received no official notification of the arrest of Estonian nationals from the Russian government, as would be required by the agreement existing between the two countries. Estonia delivers a note to the Russian embassy in Tallinn, requesting clarification.

The Czech government expels two Russian diplomats for suspected espionage. Russia calls it an “unfriendly act”, and says it “will not promote development of normal relations between the two countries.”

Georgia officially leaves the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent State, or former Soviet Republics, led by Russia).

Russia blames Poland for starting World War II

A few days ago the official website of Russia’s Ministry of Defence published a 4,000 word article by a Russian military historian in which Poland was accused of not acceding of Hitler’s demands, and thereby starting World War II, AP reports. The article, entitled  “Fictions and Falsifications in Evaluating the USSR’s Role On the Eve of World War II,” tells the story of how, before the Nazi invasion of Poland on September 1 1939, Hitler demanded that Poland hand over control of the city of Danzig, and also the land corridor between Germany and the territory now known as Kaliningrad.

“Everyone who has studied the history of the Second World War without prejudice knows that it began because of Poland’s refusal to satisfy the German claims,” the article’s author states. Although the item has now been removed from the Defence Ministry’s site, it can still be read in Russian here.

Bridging the gap

I don’t usually cross-post between different blogs, but this post from Nordic Voices in Translation is one that I want to publish here as well, as it fits into the general subject-area of A Step At A Time. The post is called Bridging the Gap: History and the Nordic World, and it forms part of an ongoing debate I’ve been having with Nordic translators Eric Dickens and Harry D. Watson:

I thought I’d continue out here in the open the discussion that started in the comments to Harry’s Bredsdorff post. Eric wrote:

While nowadays I am more on the right in economic and social-cohesion terms, I still read the former Communist weekly Ny Tid, partly out of nostalgia, partly because of its good cultural coverage, and partly because it is always useful to read opposite views. When I was at UEA and in Åbo, the Communists I knew were almost painfully middle-class offspring. They’d never been within an armsbreath of a worker. But I admired their idealism. And I hope that we people that kick against the cultural pricks of bestsellerdom and xeno-ignorance in the UK can adopt an even-handed approach in political terms.

I have to admit that my political sympathies are mainly centre-right/libertarian. This, I think, is partly a result of the relatively long ime I spent during the 1970s and 80s — after periods in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe — trying to do something to lift the veils of wilful ignorance that surrounded the view of the Soviet Union then prevalent among Western democrats, most of whom were apparently unable to perceive the true nature of global Communism. It’s also probably a result of the time I spent the United States during the same era, when the discussion of these issues had a different configuration from the one that characterized debate in the UK and Europe. Today, if I were still in the U.S. I suppose I would probably sympathize most with “right-wing Democrats” and “left-wing Republicans”.

This political stance caused me some problems when I met writers and intellectuals in the Nordic countries, most of whom held views that were even more the to the left than those of their counterparts in Britain. On the other hand, I became aware that — as Czeslaw Milosz pointed out in The Captive Mind — totalitarian ideology has the power to enslave the minds of individuals who are otherwise decent and intelligent, and that behind the ideological enslavement and blindness often lie beauty, truth and honesty. That is particularly true of writers and poets, I think. In Finland, for example, I found some poets who, though they professed to be Communists, were writing poetry that would never be accepted in the framework of Soviet literary dogma, and was even far removed from anything could be called “left wing”, or “politically committed”.

It wasn’t until I got to Estonia in the early 1990s that I began to meet writers and intellectuals from a Nordic cultural background who also had direct and personal experience of Soviet reality, and who because of that had managed to (even had to) bridge the gap between the personal and the public/political – much in the way that W.H. Auden had done in England and America decades earlier, though from a very different experiential base. These writers knew what Communism was and what it did to people, had felt its physically and mentally destructive force, which was similar to that of Nazi ideology and practice. Meeting these people was confirmation for me that even though in the rest of the Nordic world the influence of the Soviet threat and Soviet propaganda had put blinkers on many minds, there was a Nordic cultural reality that stood outside that limitation and beyond it.

I agree with Eric that the labels of “right” and “left” have become less meaningful since the fall of Communism – yet the old dichotomy remains, now mostly polarized around opposition to or support for the United States and its cultural and political role in spreading the values of liberty and democracy throughout the world. But also, for cultural and historical reasons, and probably because I’m British rather than European, the Nordic world has always seemed to me to stand somewhere between Europe amd America, and I guess I still see it as a kind of bridge between those two inwardly diverse but outwardly monolithic entities.