News from and about Ukraine in English

Andy Semotiuk. May 8.

It is time to tell the truth. The truth that Vladimir Putin and his comrades want us to forget. The truth that the men in the Kremlin work tirelessly to obliterate. That truth is that, unlike the United States and the other Allied powers, the Soviet Union allied with Nazi Germany to start World War II. The truth that Stalin, Putin’s hero, was Hitler’s strongest ally in 1939. The truth that pursuant to the terms of their Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, in September 1939, the Soviet Union invaded Poland along with Nazi Germany and that set into motion the events in which some 50 million people perished, including six million Jews in the Holocaust. The truth that millions of others were uprooted and ended up in refugee camps as displaced persons detached from their countries of citizenship, never to return home. The truth that from August 1939 through to June 1941, that is for almost two years, the Soviet Union was the first Nazi collaborator, helping Hitler by protecting him from a two-front war and by supplying him with raw materials and training facilities to build-up his illegal Luftwaffe air force, while he invaded Western Europe and marched all the way to his triumphant arrival in Paris and his strut under the Arc de Triumph.

The men in the Kremlin have worked hard to bury this history. They want us to forget that it was the Soviet Union that first established the NKVD secret police in 1917, which Hitler would copy to establish his Gestapo. They hide that it was the Soviet Union that first built concentration camps shortly after 1917 in which millions perished and which later Nazi Germany would copy to build Auschwitz and other such Nazi facilities. They deny that it was the Soviet Union that imposed the Holodomor on Ukraine in 1932-1933, sealing the borders of Ukraine, turning it into one giant concentration camp. Nobody could escape. On the Russian side of the border, there was bread, on the Ukrainian side, the artificial famine killed four million people, while another three million Ukrainians perished in the Ukrainian-dominated parts of the Caucuses, also afflicted by the famine. That genocide served to teach Hitler and emboldened him as an autocrat like Stalin, so he could later undertake the Holocaust. The men in the Kremlin seek to justify their efforts in Operation Keelhaul to round up all former Soviet citizens to return them to the Soviet Union for fear those refugees would inform the West of the Soviet terror used to destroy Ukraine’s resistance to Soviet rule.

Unlike Germany, whose leaders were prosecuted in Nuremberg, Putin’s Russia seeks to glorify the Soviet war past. Assuming the benefits of succession from the former Soviet Union, such as its seat and veto power in the Security Council of the United Nations and Soviet embassies worldwide, Russia nonetheless refuses to admit any war guilt and has managed to avoid paying war reparations of any kind. What is more, in Nuremberg, instead of Soviet leaders being prosecuted for war crimes, there were Soviet “lawyers” and “jurists” who served as prosecutors and even judges on the tribunal. It was only thanks to the other Allied jurists, that Nuremberg nonetheless managed to afford Nazi defendants a fair trial, in spite of the presence of these Soviet figures.

To this day, Germany continues to pay for its war crimes, while Russia denies everything and instead portrays itself as one of the victims of the war. Instead of recognizing the grave consequences of the Soviet Union’s conduct leading up to and during World War II, both on other Soviet republics and on other countries, Russia seeks to glorify its behaviour and counts its human losses as “20 million dead” incorporating Ukraine’s 7.5 million dead, 3 million dead in Belarus and the losses of others in their column.

Now, on this day, on May 8th, the 75th anniversary of the Victory Day in Europe, and as we approach the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, and let us at long last admit these truths and condemn those leaders who deny them. Until we do, the suffering of all those millions who died, and those who were displaced, will be for naught and we will have learned nothing from our common history.

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