This blog explores the contemporary political and cultural trends from a distinct perspective
World War II and its Meaning for the present
Published on May 9, 2005 By Bahu Virupaksha In Politics
Nearly 60 years ago, a President of the American Historical Association, Carl Becker said famously:Everyman his own historian. What he meant was that each human being understands the events surrounding his life from his/her individual perspective. The victim remembers an incident differently from the pertetrator. Hence historical memory is the stuff life and civilization is made of, and we must not tamper with History just to make a rhetorical point or two. Granted that there can be different versions of the same event. What is not possible to accept is that events that have been understood and interpreted in a manner that conforms broadly to a social consensus of lived expeience, can be completely thrown away.

George Bush has done just that. He has appropriated the history of World War II entirely for the USA. In his version of the history of World War II, the contribution of the USSR does not amount to anything because the war was faught not to rid Europe of the monstriocity called German Nazism, but for Freedom and Democracy. In short Bush has outdid Churchill {in his notorious Fulton speech} by completely writing Russia out of the historical record. Of course, he joined in the 60 th Year Celebrations of the end of the war, but he did it in such a graceless manner. His speech, probably the worst in his entire life,was that of a neo con politician not that of a statesman using the pulpit provided by a glorious moment in history, to tarnish the historical record and score debating points of an extremely dubious kind.

The USA entered the War against Japan only after Pearl Habor in December 1941.A day that will live in INFAMY as Roosevelt declared. Only in June of 1944 did American troops land in Europe. American troops faught hard and 800,000 men died in Europe to free the continent from German tyranny. Any country can be proud of history such as that. The facts of History, however, are that the erstwhile USSR faught Germany single handed from 1942 to 44 and had liberated Poland and Eastern Germany by the time the US troops arrived in Berlin. It would be extremely wrong to say that Soviet War Effort did not contributre much to the eventual defeat of German Nazism. The Yalta Agreement stemmed from the realization that the security of the World can only be done through a collective effort. American unilateralism is undermining that important effect of the war and Bush is now trying to rewrite history by saying that the Yalta Conference was an error. Without Yalta the peace in Europe could not have been maintained.

In his desire to wave the flag of Unilateralism, Bush is seeking to reinterpret the History of World War II. Remember 30 million Russians died and they faught virtually alone. Stalingrad was the turning point ogf the war.

on May 09, 2005
Here are the facts on the Yalta Conference:

The Yalta Conference, sometimes called the Crimea conference and codenamed the Argonaut Conference, was the wartime meeting from February 4 to 11, 1945 between the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The delegations were headed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin respectively.

It was a continuation of the series of meetings begun at the Casablanca Conference (January 14 to 24, 1943) and was followed by Potsdam Conference. The meeting took place in the former Imperial palace at Yalta in the Crimea on the north side of the Black Sea.

The agreements of the Yalta conference were in dispute even before the final meeting at Potsdam. Following his death, Roosevelt was publicly accused of signing central and eastern Europe into Communist control, as both Churchill and Roosevelt did not accept the requests by the Polish government in exile for international control over the countries such as Poland that were occupied by the Soviets. Moreover, no other governments were allowed to send representatives to Yalta nor were they notified of the decisions made at the meeting.

The official agreements reached at the meeting included:

The declaration of liberated Europe, allowing for democratic elections in all the liberated territories. In reality for countries occupied by the Red Army as Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia this remained only a declaration. Elections in those countries were heavily rigged in favour of Soviet-controlled communist parties while members of other political parties were persecuted and murdered by NKVD and NKVD-controlled local security forces. Similarly, Western colonial powers such as France were allowed to reenter their former colonies, most notably percipitating the decades long conflict in Vietnam (see Western betrayal)
A conference in April in San Francisco on the proposed world organization, the United Nations (UN). The structure of the UN was also considered and the Security Council idea was agreed upon. The US and UK also agreed to support the Ukrainian and Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republics having separate UN seats. A UN territorial trusteeship (as later stipulated in the United Nations Charter article 76 and 77) would also be applied to existing mandates of the League of Nations and territories detached from the enemy as a result of the war.
The dismemberment, disarmament and demilitarization of Germany, which the three powers saw as "requisite for future peace and security". The country was to be divided into zones amongst the Allies. The French were also granted a zone of occupation and membership of the Allied Control Council for Germany.
Reparations from Germany for "losses caused by her to the Allied nations in the course of the war". Reparations were allowed in the form of the removal of national wealth (machine tools, ships, shares in German enterprises, etc.), the annual delivery of goods for a period to be fixed, or the use of German labour. The Americans and Russians agreed on the figure of $22 billion in reparations, while the British delegation did not believe a final figure could yet be arrived at.
The question of war crimes was postponed.
Poland was to have a "broad democratic provisional government" leading up to "free and unfettered elections as soon as possible on the basis of universal suffrage and secret ballot". As it was already mentioned this was only a declaration, the reality was heavily rigged elections and totalitarian communist dictatorship introduced by the Soviets.
In Yugoslavia the Tito-Šubašiæ Agreement would be put into effect, merging the Royal and Communist governments.
The Soviets agreed to intervene in the war with Japan within three months of the German surrender. In return they would be given the Sakhalin and Kurile Islands and pre-eminent interests over Port Arthur and Darien (Dalian) and its rail connections.
Concerns over the Italo-Yugoslav and Italo-Austrian frontiers were postponed as were decisions over Yugoslav-Bulgarian relations, Romania, Iran, and the Montreux Convention.
All captured Soviet nationals be repatriated whether they were willing or not.
With regards to the future of Germany, the Yalta conference was extremely ambigious. The Allies were committed only to 'the complete disarmament, demilitarization and the dismemberment of Germany as they deem requisite for future peace and security.' This formulation permitted scope for future modifications and moreover essentially gave each a free hand to impose and practice its own interpretation of decision.

It is unclear whether the fate of the Crimean Tatars deported earlier on 18 May 1944 was discussed.

The Yalta Conference is often cited as the symbol of Western betrayal or the beginning of the Cold War. In May 2005 US President George W. Bush said that the Soviet domination of central and eastern Europe after World War II was "one of the greatest wrongs of history" and acknowledged that the United States played a significant role in the division of the continent and that the Yalta conference "followed in the unjust tradition of Munich and the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. (...) Once again, when powerful governments negotiated, the freedom of small nations was somehow expendable."

However, it can be argued that the failure was not in the Yalta Agreement, but in the Soviets' failure to keep their word. The Yalta Agreement guaranteed free elections for Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, but Stalin broke his word and made U.S.S.R. a dictatorship. The United States did not respond because they feared a third world war and because of (by 1949) a threat of nuclear war. Roosevelt did not cede to Stalin the right to control Eastern Europe the way that Stalin did so.

Squirrel Note: Yalta and Potsdam were considered errors before Bush was born.
on May 09, 2005
The Soviets did pull a fast one at Yalta. The result is the cold war. But that shouldn't diminish the massive struggle the Soviet people undertook to fight off the German army. They went through hell. They deserve a place in history just as much as the men who landed at Normandy.

Anything less is a travesty.
on May 09, 2005
Well, a good many of the soldiers in the Soviet Army weren't communists at all, just simple peasants who had to fight. The Germans often went through the Soviet POWs and killed the and Communists (Jews too) among them, and they weren't in the majority.

But Bahu, I'm afraid you need to qualify your statements with something. What are you referring to?

I like to think of the Soviet military effort in WWII as very much like Homer Simpson in the episode where he was a boxer. Let the other guy wear himself out by punching, and when he's exhausted just knock him over. The Soviets didn't succeed based on their brilliance on the battlefield. They did so because they let the Germans expended themselves for little real gain. Germany's industry wasn't structured for superior military output. The Soviets moved their industry to the Urals and allowed the Germans to take territory in exchange. Once the Germans were spent, the Soviets launched their successful counter-offensive and didn't stop until they got to Poland. They let the Polish Underground and Retreating Wehrmacht fight it out before continuing on to Germany.
on May 09, 2005

While the contribution of the old USSR is unquestionable, your turning point is way off base.  The Turning point was the entery of teh Americans (about 6 months after wards).  We then not only started pumping a bunch of materials into the USSR and GB, but we opened up second fronts.  It was the draining of materials from the eastern front and the use of land for time by the Soviets that truned the tide.  If you look at the history, the expansion of Germany ended in early 42.  Just after the Americans helped the British stop them in North Africa.

As to your contention that Bush just cut the soviets out, I did not see that in the recent speeches.  Indeed, he seemed to cut out the British more than the soviets.

on May 10, 2005
They went through hell. They deserve a place in history just as much as the men who landed at Normandy.

If you look at the history, the expansion of Germany ended in early 42. Just after the Americans helped the British stop them in North Africa.

These posts show that perceptions of the War are sill quite immediate. I do not think that the erstwhile USSR merely exhausted the Nais. If you look at the course of the War on the Eastern front. the German aarmy in 42 was within artillery range of Moscow. One does not wait for the enemy to arrive at the very gfate in order to exhaust him.. Unfortunately, historians, both American and Russians, have read into the history of World War II, the on set of the Cold War. In other words, allowed their interpretations of W W II to be clouded by theirm distaste for the Cold War. This however does not mean that we can just push the 27 million Soviets who died under the carpet. I will concede, that this figure 27 million, includes the 6 or 7 million that the Communist fiend Staslin killed in cold blood. Even so the stupendous cost of the war is sobering.

There is another point to all this which President Bush's sppeech at Riga raises: Dis Churchill want the Germans and Soviet Union to destroy themselves in mutual annimosity so that his empire is safe. This line of reasoning comes close to a couter factual in history and no self respecting historian will entertain such ideas about the writing of history. One cannot but be suspicious when we look at the long history of how Britain allowed Nais and Germans breach the Paris Treaty without even a whimper of protest. It would have served the interests of both the USA and Gt Britain had the two i.e. USSR and Germany engaged in mutual destruction. One would hate to admit it but, Stalin saw through this and ensured that when the hour of crisis came, he could not be alone. This argument is fleshed out in Issac Deutcher boigraphy of Stalin.
on May 10, 2005

One does not wait for the enemy to arrive at the very gfate in order to exhaust him..

If you have even tried to study the history of Russia, you would see the total inaccuracy of that statement.  They did it with Napolean, even allowing them inside the gates.  They did the same thing against Hitler.

YOU may not do that, but Russia learned that lesson early and well.

on May 12, 2005
One does not wait for the enemy to arrive at the very gfate in order to exhaust him.. If you have even tried to study the history of Russia, you would see the total inaccuracy of that statement

In case of both these invasions,winter set in early. It is often sais that General Winter was responsible for the defeat both of Napoleon and Hitler. There is no way a military strategist can factor in this imponderable in his military plan, and that is why I say that it was not intentional to allow the enemy comne so close.