Andrei Kalikh: Russia's WWII ... Still Too Many Taboos?Roundup: Talking About History
Andrei Kalikh is programme coordinator at the Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights.
22 June 2011 marks the 70th anniversary of Hitler’s attack on the Soviet Union. This date is to this day a painful memory for the people of Russia, though for a long time the official Soviet calendar ignored it. Everyone knew that 22 June was the start of the war, but it was not until 1996 that Boris Yeltsin declared it a day of national mourning.
- above all, the friendly relations between Germany and the Soviet Union which lasted until virtually the end of the pre-war days: the joint military parades and manoeuvres, the reciprocal gestures of attention and the generous concessions such as the 1939 division of Poland;
- the mass repressions of the 30s which wiped out hundreds of good officers and commanders, or sent them to Stalin’s camps, and the crippling of the Red Army by Stalin himself;
- the fact that the German aggression effectively caught the USSR off its guard, despite countless communications sent to Stalin from Soviet and German sources that Germany was preparing for war. The unexpected attack on the USSR revealed the total failure of Stalin’s foreign and defence policies, which, taken with other mistakes, led to the tragic defeats and countless casualties in the first months of the war;
- the fatal similarity between the two totalitarian regimes with Socialism in their names.
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