Seventy years ago, on May 8 and 9, 1945, millions all over the world gave shouts of joy and relief as the Nazi regime in Berlin crumbled while the Soviet Union’s Red Army rolled into the German capital and hung the red flag with its hammer and sickle on top of the Reichstag building, the parliament. Throughout Europe in 1945 and the years following, even the enemies of the USSR had to acknowledge its primary role in the Nazi defeat.
This year is the 70th anniversary of that great victory. However, the U.S.-led NATO governments have turned the world’s celebration of the defeat of Nazism into an ideological offensive against the Soviet Union and against today’s Russian Federation.
The imperialist West has used every effort to diminish the Soviet role in smashing fascist Germany. It has used this distortion of history as a weapon against Russia, which, even though now a capitalist country, has become an obstacle to U.S. world domination.
By 1945, not only had Nazi rule super-exploited and oppressed workers and nations throughout Europe, it had carried out programs of extermination of vast sectors of the population.
In 1945 and the following decades, it would have been nearly impossible to erase the truth of the Soviet role in winning the war. Germany’s early victories, beginning with its invasion of the USSR along an 1,800-mile front in June 1941, had ended with its defeat at Stalingrad in the winter of 1943. Germany was driven back, despite having more than three-fourths of its troops on the Soviet front.
The Soviet Red Army had carried the weight of the war and deserved the major credit for smashing Nazism. Communist parties allied to the USSR also led the resistance movements in countries occupied by German imperialism.
Not only Russians but all the peoples of the multinational USSR had also suffered the greatest casualties that Nazi-led German imperialism had inflicted. Some 27 million Soviet citizens died.
The British and U.S. forces waited until June 1944 to open up a second front with the attack at Normandy. While this invasion and the later “Battle of the Bulge” have prominence in U.S. military history, the fighting on the Western Front never reached anywhere near the magnitude of that in the East. People all over the world, and especially the working class of Europe and even of the United States, knew of the Soviet role. Even decades of Cold War propaganda were unable to erase it from the collective memory.
Propaganda war part of attack on Russia
With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the imperialist ruling class in the West had another opportunity to rewrite the history of World War II. The goal of its bought-and-paid-for “historians” was to erase the heroic contribution of the Red Army and the first socialist state in the defeat of fascism. This effort has reached a fever pitch this year, as the imperialist West had already begun an attack on Russia.
This imperialist offensive has extended the NATO military alliance to countries bordering Russia. It allied with Ukrainian fascists to place an anti-Russian coup regime in Ukraine, provoking a civil war. Even though Russia is now a capitalist country and no longer part of a socialist USSR — whose very existence had challenged the rule of world imperialism — Washington and its allies still aim to eliminate this competitor.
To ensure that the 1945 Soviet victory would also be a part of the Russian legacy, the current Russian government mobilized major celebrations in Moscow and across the Russian Federation. Reports were that a total of 20 million people participated, with 16,000 Russian troops marching in Moscow past 3 million people. From the viewpoint of internal mass mobilization, Russia showed it was far from defenseless against Western aggression and that its population supported the government’s refusal to submit to NATO.
President Vladimir Putin had invited all the countries involved in the anti-Hitler alliance to the Moscow celebration, including the current German government. NATO’s current offensive against Russia, however, pressured many to reject this invitation. Competitive celebrations were organized in NATO capitals and in some of the Eastern European states that have been turned into imperialist client states. The key places of conflict, however, were Moscow and Berlin.
Together with Putin in Moscow were Chinese President Xi Jinping, Cuban President Raúl Castro and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, along with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and other high-level representatives from South Africa, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India and the former Soviet republics. NATO leaders, however, turned down the invitation.
German workers fear wider war
The other capital most affected by this anniversary was Germany’s. The Berlin imperialists are securely tied, both politically and militarily, to U.S. imperialism, whether they like it or not. Thus they have done nothing to confront Washington’s provocation of Russia in Ukraine and have joined sanctions against Russia.
On the other hand, the sanctions cost German business much more in trade and investment than they do U.S. industry and banking. Sometimes this contradiction leads to exposures in the usually pro-NATO German corporate media regarding the role of fascists in the Ukraine regime, for example, or Kiev’s outrageous corruption.
The masses in Germany, especially the working class, oppose and fear a wider war in Ukraine, which is even more important than the maneuvers of the Berlin government. Such a war, which could involve NATO and thus German forces, seems all too close. Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, is only 750 miles from Berlin.
In many German cities — among them Frankfurt am Main, Stuttgart, Tübingen, München, Heidelberg and Berlin — there were demonstrations from May 8 to 10 by anti-fascist and pro-peace groups. They protested racism, xenophobia against refugees and the militarization of German foreign policy.
On May 10 in central Berlin, several thousand demonstrators gathered behind a banner reading “70th anniversary of liberation.” Many carried red flags to show that the German working class, too, was liberated from the Nazi yoke by the Red Army victory.