Cross-posted over at PoliticalVindication.com
European leaders are meeting tomorrow to reflect on the beginning of the second World War, happening seventy years ago on September first. Tensions have risen as the question of who started WWII are asked:
Ultimately, however, the row which threatens to eclipse a gathering on Tuesday of European leaders in Gdansk is not about history or the past. It is all about the present, specifically Russia's claim of having "privileged interests" in its post-Soviet neighbours. Russia's president, Dmitry Medvedev, made his own explosive contribution to the debate, saying it was a "flat-out lie" to suggest that Stalin bore any responsibility for starting the second world war, which he described as "the 20th century's greatest catastrophe". According to Medvedev, it was Stalin who in fact "ultimately saved Europe".
Anyone who has studied the issue at all recognizes the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, signed in August of 1939, whereby Stalin teamed up with Hitler to cut up Europe. The news shocked the world, and damn near guaranteed world war. Very soon after they attacked Poland on opposite borders, crushing her. The reward? The USSR was supposed to get Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, a whole lot of Romania and two-thirds of Poland in exchange for supporting the Third Reich. Why the normally suspicious Stalin trusted Hitler is a mystery that may never be answered, but it was known that the Soviet mass murder saw in Adolph much to admire. The military victory was not long celebrated.
On June 22, 1941 Germany invaded Russia; tens of thousands of smiling Russians were slaughtered waving in welcome to their German allies. Stalin executed informants bringing news that Germany was invading, he refused to believe it. When proof finally convinced him, he was so shocked by the betrayal that he shut himself up in a room and saw no one for a week, they say he was in a drunken stupor, no doubt now regretting his paranoid purge of the Russian officer corp. The nation was reeling as German troops stormed toward Moscow without opposition, massacring civilians without remorse. The only thing that would save the young communist nation was the Russian winter.
But Hitler's deceit doesn't forgive Stalin's evil designs. The pact was a deal among demons. In moral terms, there was no difference between the two men. Today Hitler is irredeemable but Russia still works to reframe Joseph Stalin:
The Kremlin now argues that Stalin had no choice but to forge the pact with Hitler in August 1939. It says Britain and France made war inevitable by signing the Munich agreement. And it puts the boot firmly into Poland; the Kremlin says the country was a willing Nazi ally and accomplice to Hitler's partition of Czechoslovakia the previous year.
Historians are unimpressed. "This is a very stupid argument," Vladimir Ryzhkov, a historian and former Russian opposition MP said. "You are saying that Poland was bad for allowing the division of Czechoslovakia, but that Stalin was good when he agreed to divide eastern Europe with Hitler."
It's obvious that the new Russia has many of the same aspirations as the old Russia. The first thing they must do is re-write history. Fortunately for them we have a president who is eager to re-learn...