sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

May 8, 2015

Will The Great Victory Fade Away?

Filed under: politics, Russia — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 11:28 am

UPDATE: Many thanks to Professor Jacobson of Legal Insurrection for linking.  Ditto Citizen Tom.

Over the past half a century the three major American holidays, 4th of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas, have been continuously marginalized; emerging in their place is non-committal nonsense like Halloween, which I enjoy, and various festivities celebrating drunken minorities.  One such holiday has, thankfully, just passed.  And yet right next to it, hiding in the shadows, is a half-forgotten occasion which, I think, is not only worth remembering, but can bring us together as a country.  It is, ladies and gentlemen, VE Day.

If we need to refer to an ethnic minority to confer authenticity on the occasion, refer to Russia.  Yes, Russia.  I know, Putin is the blue-eyed devil these days (never mind that Gaza treats gays far worse than the Russians) but if there is one thing they do right, it’s that they still remember WW2, or, as they call it, the Great Patriotic War. Victory Day, celebrated on May 9, is a major holiday, commemorated with marches, parades and a general flurry of WW2-related activity.

Now, the holiday is so ubiquitous, it causes a fair share of teenage eye-rolls, which is only a minor problem.  A major problem these days is the ongoing deification of Joseph Stalin, the dictator who presided over the victory.  This is a recent development: when I was growing up in the 70’s and the 80’s, Stalin’s name was all but dissociated from the war, May 9 was celebrated, but He was an unmentionable.

General Secretary must be rolling in his grave as this Russian lady carries his portrait with a halo. Marrying communism to Orthodox Christianity is the it thing these days

Moreover, any questioning of the manner in which the Soviet Union conducted the war is near-verbotten.  Technically it’s not prohibited, but dissenting voices are marginalized and maligned, the treatment of TV Rain for their discussion of the siege of Leningrad is a case in point.  Official insecurity has a reason: Russians should be asking questions pertaining to the heavy toll (24 million) Generalissimus extracted on them at wartime.

German soldiers in Stalingrad.  Powerful.  Yet many more Russian military men gave their lives in that war, and that’s not even going into civilian deaths

That said, the defeat of Nazi Germany is something to be celebrated and something to be remembered.  Even if it was achieved under a tyrannical dictator (who happened to be the free world’s wartime ally).  Almost every family west of Moscow was touched by the war, nearly every region has its war stories.  And while individual soldiers might not have been perfect, the manly valor of those who gave so much to defeat Nazism is to be recognized.

The Immortal Regiment march in St. Petersburg. Participants carry the portraits of their family members, now deceased, who fought in Great Patriotic War

I wish VE Day was a bigger deal stateside.  It’s not just that the greatest generation has earned their major national holiday, but in the general atmosphere of moral relativism it’s more important than ever to be able to talk about good and evil, and Nazism personifies ultimate evil.

Equally important in the age of Obama, as we watch our country being torn apart by race-bating, is to remember the time when our nation was united.  Was the United States a perfect nation in the 1940’s? No. Jim Crow was still the law of the land in the South, for instance. And yet, as late Samuel Huntington noted, WW2 was the point when people from different ethnic backgrounds, many first and second generation Americans, came together and defeated the enemy.  As we are so desperately searching for meaning, why not find it in a place where we can be brought together as a nation?

So please, enough with commemoration of minor victories of a foreign people.  We have our own victory over evil to remember.  Grab a bottle of vodka if you must.



  1. The USSR paid a great price for their “victory” during WW II. With somewhere over 400,000 dead, the United States got off easily. The Over 26 million citizens of the USSR died (nearly 14 million Russians). About an eighth of the population of the USSR died, and, undoubtedly, many bore scars from that war to the grave. That’s why Russians still remember WW II, and that is why they remember it the way that they remember it.

    And Hitler and Stalin had their pact. Each contributed to the start of the war. What we need to remember is the cost of putting such men in charge of our government. Sadly, we don’t, and so there will be (and most likely within the next several years) WW III.

    Comment by Citizen Tom — June 5, 2015 @ 4:01 pm

    • 25 years ago, when I was a teenager, we spent a half a year in Italy waiting for American visas. We lived nearby an American military cemetery in Anzio, the cite where Americans stormed Italian beaches in WW2. When we went to the cemetery,my first reaction was “Wow! That’s small!” I was so used to the sprawling Soviet memorials. My parents had to exlain that Americans don’t send their soldiers to sure death.
      There is a fascinating theory by Russian-British historian Viktor Suvorov who believes that Soviet Union was poised to attack the Wermacht in 1941, but Hitler stroke first.
      The Nazis were considering Plan Ost for ethnic cleansing of Eastern Europe. They would have majority of ethnic Slavs moved beyond the Ural ridge and/or exterminated, while populating their lands with ethnic Germans whom a minority of remaining Slavs will serve. Whether or not they would be able to implement the plan to the fullest (consider the population numbers), they in fact enslaved locals and burned villages. Belorussia lost 25% of its population in WW2. So May 9 is kind of like Russia’s second birthday.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — June 8, 2015 @ 1:06 pm

  2. […] Will The Great Victory Fade Away? by edge of the sandbox describes the lingering reaction of a great nation in the aftermath of great collision. […]

    Pingback by IN THE INTERSECTION OF LIVES WE WILL STARS | Citizen Tom — June 6, 2015 @ 7:57 am

  3. […] Will The Great Victory Fade Away? by edge of the sandbox describes the lingering reaction of a great nation in the aftermath of great collision. […]

    Pingback by IN THE INTERSECTION OF LIVES WE WILL SEE STARS | Citizen Tom — June 6, 2015 @ 7:58 am

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