[The Independent, U.K.]



Izvestia, Russia

'Shocking' Russian and American Ignorance About World War II


"When I visited the United States, I was amazed that many Americans are certain that the U.S. was a German ally during World War II and fought the USSR. … and many Russians put the U.S., Great Britain and France on the list of our enemies."


By Anna Kaledina



Translated By Yekaterina Blinova


September 2, 2009


Russia - Izvestia - Original Article (Russian)

A rather conciliatory Vliadimir Puting presents a candle at the Cemetery of Defenders of Westerplatte where Poland defended itself against the initial Nazi attack on their country, outside of Gdansk, Poland, Sept. 1. Poles still resent the Soviet Union's attack that immediately followed - and the Soviet murder of most of Poland's officers' corp.


RUSSIA TODAY NEWS: Russia-Poland relations strained over historical revisionism, Sept 1., 00:04:33RealVideo

I never liked history. It's written by the victors and rewritten by other, subsequent victors. Or by those who've been defeated but have recovered. No single source, especially one that's hand-written or typed, is ever 100 percent accurate. Because those who write it are people, and it's a characteristic of people to make mistakes, have misconceptions, exaggerate, lie, or simply omit. We're all subjective.


But the most important thing is this: Although I'm not a fan of history, I have always adhered to the principle that one should know it. One must know it, not necessarily appreciate it. Why? Because “knowledge is power.” This is an immutable principle that should guide every individual. Not only in order to be smarter, but stronger and safer.


With the onset of the anniversary of the Second World War - which, as the saying went in the USSR, “all progressive humanity” marks on September 1 - more active attempts to rewrite or at least correct history have been made. Some are attempting to include Russia on the shameful list of those who started the war. Some have sought to change the date that the war began to September 17, when the Red Army launched an operation to establish control of the Eastern territories of Poland.


[Editor's Note: Under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of August, 1939 between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, Northern and Eastern Europe were divided into German and Soviet spheres of influence. Poland was to be split between Germany and the USSR. The German attack on Polish soil began on September 1, 1939. The Russian attack began on September 17].



Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said recently that "falsifications" of history are unacceptable. Therefore we will struggle against them. Basically, the enemy won't trespass on us twice. Another question we might ask is, trespass where? The majority of people in even the most developed and prosperous countries couldn't care less who fought with whom and when it all began. When I visited the United States, I was amazed that many young Americans are certain that the United States was a German ally during World War II and fought the USSR. In Europe perhaps, the situation is better, but still …


At a ceremony in Gdansk, Poland to commemorate the 70th anniversary

of WWII - which began with a Nazi attack on Poland - President Kaczynski

of Poland described the Russian invasion of Poland that followed the Nazi

one, as a 'stab in the back.'

[Watch video by clicking here or clicking on the photo above.]


A friend from Holland told me of a most comical incident that occurred on their version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? For €65,000, a very respectable looking gentleman got what at first glance would appear to be an elementary question: “What was Hitler’s first name?” As usual there were four alternative answers: Jop, Adolph, Heil and something else, which I apologize for having forgotten. But it's not important - let say it was "Albrecht."


And what answer do you think he chose? Personally, I somehow thought he guessed it right. I was sure. It seemed the most obvious because of its auditory familiarity: Heil. Funny? Perhaps. But it's more sad than funny.


For such people, these falsifications aren't at all dangerous. The never knew that Hitler’s name was Adolph and they never will. They don’t care. On the other hand, they are undoubtedly more susceptible to lies. An empty vessel, with the right motivation, can be filled with anything. So it is with a brain that lacks information.


What’s most important is: who fills this virginal void? There is some doubt that we'll be the ones to do it. On the eve of the anniversary of the Second World War, the Russia Public Opinion Research Center conducted a poll asking our compatriots to name the date that the war began and who the allies and adversaries of the USSR were. Frankly, I was shocked by the results: 15 percent of respondents were either unaware of or named the wrong date. Others offered their own versions. The correct answer was given by 22 percent. The vast majority - 63 percent - were mistaken. What's more, 58 percent of respondents said World War II began in 1941.      



Of course, we could blame this on the Soviet propaganda machine, which smoothed our gray matter with its heavy iron and has managed to get the population of one sixth of the earth's surface to equate World War II with The Great Patriotic War [Russia's term for the battle on the Eastern Front]. But still, one might have hoped for a demonstration of some inquisitiveness. After all, even in Soviet schools, the timeline of the Second World War began on September 1, 1939, meaning the moment that German troops invaded Poland.  




NRC Handelblad, Netherlands: On 70th Anniversary of War, Wounds in Europe Still Sting  

Izvestia, Russia: Truman and Churchill No Better Than Stalin

Vedemosti, Russia: Soviet Theft of American Nuclear Secrets Was Fully Justified

Der Spiegel, Germany: Why Wasn't Hitler Stopped?

Der Spiegel, Germany: German Editorial Roundup on 70 Years After WW II

The Telegraph, U.K.: Vatican Says U.S. and Britain Knew of Nazi Murder of Jews and Did Nothing
The Times: Does Appeasement Look So Bad, 70 Years Later?


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Even more fascinating were versions of who the USSR's opponents were. There were those who added the United States, Great Britain and France to the list … meaning, our very allies. One ‘brilliant” response the sociologists received from 1 percent of respondents was that they were confident that one of the USSR's enemies was Soviet Ukraine (which, curiously, was a part of the USSR at the time). Essentially, this reflects a complete jumble in the brain. With this kind of recruit, the war against falsification may be lost. Because any discussion must be convincing and well reasoned. Otherwise, it will be a conversation between the mute and the blind.



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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US September 4, 2:45pm]



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