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Edric O

60 years since victory in World War 2

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Has it been another year already? It seems like only yesterday we were talking about Victory Day on this topic and anticipating the celebrations that would accompany the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Well, the anniversary is here! And the celebrations in Moscow were every bit as grandiose as they should have been.

World War 2 is a distant memory to us now, and few of the people who experienced it in person are still alive today. But this war was, without any exaggeration, the greatest war in human history. No wonder that we, the human species, have developed such an obsession with it. World War 2 is The War, Humanity's darkest hour, the most vicious conflict ever to rage on our planet. And it did not only change world politics, but the human psyche itself. Humanity was collectively traumatized by World War 2 and its horrors. It has forced us to reflect on the evil that we are capable of, and we have vowed to never again allow such evil to be unleashed. Racial discrimination, seen as the norm for thousands of years, is finally being expunged from human culture. The ideas of Liberty and Equality have triumphed, and, at least in principle, virtually all human beings on the planet agree - for the first time in history - that all people are born free and equal, and that they should stay that way.

Most wars were simply "the continuation of policy by other means", the result of petty conflicts of interests between various rich and powerful individuals. World War 2 is one of the few wars that can truthfully be called a battle between Good and Evil - although it would perhaps be more accurate to call it a battle between Evil and Others. The Nazis are now rightfully recognized as the embodiment of the worst evil human beings are capable of, but the Allies were certainly no saints. Victory brought a better world, but by no means a perfect world. All was not well once the Nazis were beaten, and all is not well now. We still have many battles to fight and many wars to wage before we can eradicate some of the less spectacular but nevertheless deadly evils that still plague our world - poverty, exploitation, tyranny, injustice and unnecessary suffering of every sort. Let us only hope that the battles which lie ahead will be battles of conscience and will rather than battles of swords.

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I'm thinking some people at that Red Square celeberation would be feeling kinda nostalgic. I mean, all the red Soviet flags and stuff. Some people were better off in those days than they are now.

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It does. And there's a good reason for the return of all those Soviet symbols: The Soviet era is very popular in Russia today. The initial enthusiasm with capitalism in the early 1990's has turned into disappointment, and now it's turning into anger, as the vast majority of Russians live in extreme poverty and things aren't improving. Capitalism has failed them, and they want to get rid of it. Of course, the new Russian capitalists (especially the oligarchs) disagree, and they are very powerful individuals. But their power seems to be on the wane, with Putin taking charge of more and more things. Putin is neither on the people's side nor on the oligarchs' side. He is on his own side, and he's winning. Now he is trying to win political capital and the favour of the people by wrapping himself in the Soviet flag. And every other flag he can get his hands on, for that matter. He flip-flops on just about everything on a routine basis. He is trying to support the image of the Soviet Union, the new Russia, the United States, Europe, China, democracy, dictatorship, capitalism and communism all at once.

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Going back to World War 2, though, I must stress that it is very important for us to never forget the sacrifices made in that war, even though the sheer scale of the suffering may be incomprehensible and unimaginable to us. We must remember, so that we can prevent such suffering from ever happening again.

As a useful reminder, here's one great article I found from the Eisenhower Institute:

WHY RUSSIANS CALL IT THE GREAT PATRIOTIC WAR

http://www.eisenhowerinstitute.org/programs/livinghistory/SovietExperienceww2.htm

Overview

Americans have little conception of the Soviet Union's experience in World War II. No cities in the United States were besieged, not a single bomb was dropped by an enemy airplane on any of our 48 states, no part of our population was enslaved, starved or murdered, and not one village, town or city was completely destroyed or even heard a shot fired in anger.

About the only way we can begin to understand is through imagination. The distance between Moscow and Berlin is about the same as that separating New York City and Atlanta. Imagine twenty million people being violently killed between those two American cities in four years. The Eastern Front in the war wound like a serpent from Sevastopol on the Black Sea to Leningrad on the Baltic. Including the twists, bulges and turns of the line of battle at the height of German penetration, November 1942, the line would have stretched from Baltimore to Cheyenne, Wyoming. In place of Leningrad, can you fathom Chicago under bitter siege and constant shelling for 900 days? Is it possible for us to mentally picture thousands of dead bodies lying on the frozen streets between Lake Shore Drive and Evanston? Could we endure seeing a million people die, mostly from starvation, during the Chicago siege or begin to fathom our own citizens engaging in cannibalism for profit? At the same time of the Chicago siege think of Cincinnati becoming a battleground such as Stalingrad where not a single structure was left habitable and several hundred thousand soldiers killed each other in the process of leveling the city. Mentally switch names such as Smolensk, Karkov, Minsk, Kiev and Rostov for American cities and picture them destroyed and silenced. If such images are possible for us to even conceive, we can begin to understand why Americans refer to the conflict as World War Two, but the Russians universally refer to it as the Great Patriotic War.

The Numbers

The populations of the United States and the USSR were about the same, 130,000,000, when both nations went to war within six months of each other in 1941. To Americans, we were sending our boys to fight a foreign war that we'd never experience. To the Soviets, it was an up front and personal war of monumental savagery. America would lose slightly more than 400,000 soldiers (killed or missing) and almost no civilians during World War II and the USSR, depending on which historian you believe, would lose at least 11,000,000 soldiers (killed and missing) as well as somewhere between 7,000,000 and 20,000,000 million of its civilian population during the Great Patriotic War.

Looking only at Anglo-American forces engaged against German soldiers on our two fronts, northwest Europe and Italy, the United States lost 139,380 soldiers (killed and missing) during the conflict. General Eisenhower had just over 3,000,000 men under his command, with about a third of them safely in England, and faced a German Army of less than 1,500,000 of which our forces killed 834,314. At the same time, Soviet armies in excess of 20,000,000 soldiers were fighting German armies totaling 5,700,000 at their strongest and killed 2,415,690 of them as they fought their way out of Russia and on to Berlin.

These are the numbers that make Russians bristle when they hear Americans say to each other that we won the war in Europe. For every American soldier killed fighting Germans, eighty Soviet soldiers died fighting them. On the other hand, Americans deeply resent Soviet textbooks telling their children their version of history with passages such as:

"In June, 1944, when it had become obvious that the Soviet Union was capable of defeating Hitler's Germany with her forces alone, England and the USA opened the second front.

"On 6 June, 1944, the Allied forces, commanded by General Eisenhower, landed in Normandy (Northern France). The Anglo-American forces met with practically no opposition from the Hitlerites, and advanced into the heart of France"ii

Studied without bias born of the Cold War, one can understand the Soviet description of the facts. Some historians of World War II suggest that by mid 1944 the USSR was strong enough to defeat Germany eventually, without any Anglo-American second front. With respect to the "practically no opposition" propaganda phrase it is also true that the Soviets, who routinely faced battles involving several hundred thousand soldiers on both sides, did not regard the 67,000 Germans defending Normandy on June 6th as serious opposition.iii To the Soviets, fighting 390,000 Germans in the area of a single city (Stalingrad) was meeting serious opposition

The Savagery

Beyond the quantifiable numbers of people killed and missing, the Great Patriotic War was a much different war than that experienced in the West.

Hitler's occupation of countries such as Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium, and France was harsh, but was not aimed at inflicting widespread depopulation (with the exception of the Jews) on those nations. The Germans looted huge amounts of raw materials, machinery, art, gold and even wine from their European conquests, but they left the people with enough food to prevent starvation and saw to it that some form of the civilian rule of law remained in force in those countries during the war. Almost all the French, English and American soldiers captured by the Germans were housed and fed at or above the subsistence level and repatriated after the war. The same was true of German soldiers captured by the Allies. In the west, most of the putative "rules of war" were observed at some level.

The war in the east was entirely different. The results of Hitler's beliefs concerning the Jewish populations is widely known because of the Holocaust, but his dark convictions concerning peoples he called Slavs are much less well known in the west. Every reputable biography of Hitler and his own writings and speeches confirm that he regarded them as subhuman. He saw everything east of Poland as the ideal place to provide extra living space for the Aryan race and all that was necessary to provide it for them was to push the "Slavic subhumans" out or exterminate them if they failed move. Unlike his earlier conquests, Hitler ordered his generals in 1941 to conduct the war against the USSR as one of annihilation rather than capture and coercion. He wanted the populations out or dead. The German invasion of the Soviet Union was the only attack during the war employing the concept of Einsatzgruppen (tasks forces) which followed just behind the attacking forces with specific orders from Hitler to kill, "

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I nearly missed one closing test at school due to Putin's speach  ;D  But it was worth it. ORT is btw full of war movies now, soviet-era as well as newer ones, some of them hard psychos, some plain propaganda. But all were saying the same: this is what we had to do, to prevent our next generations from doing so.

kpacивии День Победы!

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National Socialist Political parties still exist in Germany to this day, the NDP I think, But I know they only got some 9.2% or so of the votes, but still. Their party has also been linked with groups that provide living funds with former SS officers and Nazi war criminals. Former SS officers interviewed said that.

"Even after all these years, Himmler's legacy lives on. They are worth succesers to our legacy. Himmler would be proud." Ect ect.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo-Nazi

Neo-Nazi's is present in Germany,Italy,The USA,scandavia and even in russia, other europe countries, even your own Romaina . http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noua_Dreapta

Hell, on the 60th anivsery of the Dresden Bombing 5,000 Neo Nazi's marched through Dresden, http://www.guardian.co.uk/germany/article/0,2763,1412355,00.html

another good article

http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,345720,00.html

When Chancellor Konrad Adenauer was asked in early 1955 if there should be an official event marking the 10th anniversary of the liberation from the Nazis he answered, tellingly: "You don't celebrate your defeats."

http://www.rickross.com/reference/neonazis/neonazis54.html

They planned to bomb the dedication of a mosque...This year

And edric, If Russia had been the only country to defeat Germany, The whole of europe would have had to face the effects of Stalinism, The Allied landings not only helped defeat Germany, But stop Stalinism from gripping Millions more lives.

Eeek.

Seems as if Facism is growing faster then Communism is, in western nations...

You can't defeat idealism apparently. Someone should maybe tell my Goverment...

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National Socialist Political parties still exist in Germany to this day, the NDP I think, But I know they only got some 9.2% or so of the votes, but still. Their party has also been linked with groups that provide living funds with former SS officers and Nazi war criminals. Former SS officers interviewed said that.

"Even after all these years, Himmler's legacy lives on. They are worth succesers to our legacy. Himmler would be proud." Ect ect.

You mean the NPD (Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands - National Democratic Party of Germany - www.npd.de)... It seems that Nazis have a frustrating habit of taking the name of something they hate (socialism, democracy), slapping "National" in front, and using that as the name of their party. It's good for propaganda, I suppose. "We're not evil, we're National Democrats, you know... *cough cough* ".

Neo-Nazi's is present in Germany,Italy,The USA,scandavia and even in russia, other europe countries, even your own Romaina .

Of course they are. I never said that Nazism has dissapeared from the face of the Earth. In some places it is even on the rise.

And edric, If Russia had been the only country to defeat Germany, The whole of europe would have had to face the effects of Stalinism, The Allied landings not only helped defeat Germany, But stop Stalinism from gripping Millions more lives.

Of course. In fact, I remember talking to an American on another forum who said that the French would be "speaking German" today if it hadn't been for the Normandy invasion. I corrected him: "No, they would be speaking Russian." ;)

The point is that the Russians bore the brunt of the war, regardless of the socio-economic system they had. They lost by far the most, both in terms of material destruction and human deaths (half of all people killed in WW2 were Russians), and their victory was the hardest won victory in the history of warfare. They should have our respect and gratitude for that.

Seems as if Facism is growing faster then Communism is, in western nations...

Not in Germany it isn't. The Marxist PDS (sozialisten.de) is much larger and growing faster than the NPD, at least in the former East Germany. It is doing remarkably well in local and regional elections in the East. See here: http://www.parties-and-elections.de/germany3.html

Some countries (the Czech Republic, Portugal, Spain) have strong communist parties and no nazis to speak of. Others (Belgium, Estonia) have strong nazi parties and no communists to speak of. Yet others (Germany, Italy) have strong nazis as well as strong communists, which often clash violently in street demonstrations.

I don't see anything to worry about in Germany - the communists will give the NPD a serious beating if it tries anything funny. 8) You'd have plenty to worry about in Belgium, though - specifically, in the region of Flanders, where Vlaams Belang is now the 2nd largest party.

Nevertheless, as I pointed out in my first post, things will never be the same as before WW2. Today, there is no party who would ally itself with nazis, so even when they win a large share of the vote, nazi parties can't come to power because no one is willing to form a coalition with them. Remember that Hitler never won more than 35% of the vote in any election. He only came to power because he formed a coalition with the conservatives.

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I nearly missed one closing test at school due to Putin's speach  ;D  But it was worth it. ORT is btw full of war movies now, soviet-era as well as newer ones, some of them hard psychos, some plain propaganda. But all were saying the same: this is what we had to do, to prevent our next generations from doing so.

kpacивии День Победы!

Ha ha, tell me about it, I stayed at home yesterday morning to watch the whole event. After all, you don't get to see so many world leaders in one place very often, and this was probably one of the last Victory Day celebrations to include large numbers of WW2 veterans (sadly, not many of them will still be around in another 10 years' time...).

Also, this must have been the first time an American president attended a military parade which included these kinds of flags:

March.jpg

For a few minutes there it looked like the Soviet Union won the Cold War. :D

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Hmm, Street conflicts between communists and national democrats? hmmm Didn't that happen sometime last century? :P

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But was it really a victory? :- The demise and fall of the Nazists and mostly of Fascism, of course, but for the nations of Latvia,Lithuania,Estonia, and all other Soviet-occupied nations, 'tis a bittersweet victory. The Nazists were driven out, but the Sovietskiy Soyuz came closing in. And with the Soviet Union came cultural stagnation and repression, and decades where only hard labor got you anywhere. For God's sake, when Bill Clinton came to Latvia in '94 he was filmed with a black and white video-camera!

Even 15 years after regaining independance, Latvia and Estonia are still deeply influenced by Russia and it's citizens. For example, in Latvia and Estonia(Reffered to from this point on as Latv. and Eesti) Russians make up more than 30% of the whole population! In Riga, Latvians are a minority, and most street gangs are made up of Russians and Latvians who grew up in bad neighborhoods(I got dragged behind a crumbling house, beaten, and $60 and my phone stolen from me by one of these gangs) Many Latvians live in poverty and tiny apartments, which still are the cheapest form of living. I thank God that my parents make about 1000 LS a month($2000), which in Latvia is very good(A proffessional soldier earns $800 dollars a month - that is considered 'good') and that we have a good apartment and are building a house on a piece of land we own).

Anyway, what I am trying to say is that for many people, the fall of WWII Germany meant changes - from bad to worse. For example, almost 400,000 Latvians were deported to Siberia and the Gulags. Many of these were izglitoti or educated Latvians, who the Soviets feared would rally the people against the Soviet invaders. So many people don't have much cause to celebrate, and Putin won't even admit that the invasion was wrong or issue an apology to Latvia. All that he said was that 'the Molotov-Ribbentropp Pact was not reflecting the views of Soviet citizens of that time and was a pact between Stalin and Hitler.' How can the man know if it reflected the views of Soviet citizens if he wasn't alive at the time? My grand-uncle was kidnapped and shot dead inside and empty warehouse because of taking part in a protest asking for better wages and more food to be put on the table.

BUT! I'm ranting, so I will stop now. I, for one, did not celebrate or watch the celebrations, simply because I don't believe there is cause to celebrate about.

PS: I realize I will be heavily critisized for this, but if I had to join either the Red Army of the Latvian Legionars(German forces) or be killed, then I would probably sign up in in the German Army, only for the chance of keeping the Red Army back for that little bit of time from occupying and annexing Latvia.

NOW that is all I have to say. Discuss, or do whatever you wish.I'm going to bed.

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Well yeah, but imagine what would have happened if it weren't for the Red Army. If the German Wehrmacht could have focused all manpower and recources on Great Brittain and Africa they might have attained victory there, or at least prevented the invasions of Normandy and Italy. Germany would have fortified its position on the continent. And nations like Latvia and Estonia wouldn't have benefited from 60 years of Nazi occupation either.

I wonder what would have happened if after Stunde Null (zero hour, the moment of German surrender) the allies would have listened to general Patton and invaded Soviet held territories along with the remains of the former Wehrmacht.

Think about it: after a few months Japan surrenders after witnessing the sheer power of the atom bomb. Japan would serve as a staging point for a second front against Russia. Russia, already devastated by the incredible losses would fall apart in a matter of months. Mao will not be allowed to make China into another "communist" country. The outcome is that the world is ridden of both facism and stalinism, and the Cold War will never happen.

All my speculation, off course.

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Well, GOAK, if we are to start such discussion that fall of fascism brought only communism, then it is not only about baltic states. There are thousands of possible explanations of the conflict, we can say from nazi perspective that slavonic states made the test of aryan worthiness, as well as we can say it was just a political play of few madmen, or it was a titanic fight of three strongest ideologies, which had that misfortune to occur at same time. To maintain at least a slight gloriole of that victory, I would prefer the third explanation, and if I would have to choose one of the ideologies, which would be worth to be defeated primarily, then it would be surely nazism. Communism is, in the end, not about erradicating whole nations... So the war was worth it.

If western allies would attack Russia, they would be forever marked as betrayers. Patton would be equal to Bonaparte and Churchill to the khans. Also, if there would come the wave of war second (in case of Russia third) time through the land, do you think there will be any understanding by the population? Not everything can be solved by force, Anathema. To be sure, the soviet system fell nearly bloodlessly. But it is another story, and another victory.

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National Socialist Political parties still exist in Germany to this day, the NDP I think, But I know they only got some 9.2% or so of the votes, but still.

Minor point, in the defense of modern German voters, that's 9.2% in the province of Saxony, not nationally (from the wikipedia link you provided).  Still too much.

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I believe the more extreme votes come from the former East Germany rather than the West. The West got economic prosperity through the Marshall Plan. East Germany did not. You only have to look at the graffiti on the east side of the Berlin wall to see the views of some people. It has only been 15 years since German re-unification after 44 years of seperation, and the relationships between the two sides have been far from perfect. They are still, in reality, quite different states.

At least under Nazi Germany people could walk to the other side of Berlin and have the same economic prospects from any side of the country. Poignant? Yes. An excuse to vote for Nazism? Certainly not. It would be worrying to hear of their majority rising and I think it should be (and I believe, has become already) a priority for the Government of Germany to resolve such problems such as the rise of Nazism. Suppression and censorship however, I fear, are not the answer.

The issue is however complicated, and this is just IMO, one of the factors leading to such election results.

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Even 15 years after regaining independance, Latvia and Estonia are still deeply influenced by Russia and it's citizens. For example, in Latvia and Estonia(Reffered to from this point on as Latv. and Eesti) Russians make up more than 30% of the whole population!

Ummm, why is that a bad thing? ??? Ok, so you have a large Russian minority... so?

Many Latvians live in poverty and tiny apartments, which still are the cheapest form of living. I thank God that my parents make about 1000 LS a month($2000), which in Latvia is very good(A proffessional soldier earns $800 dollars a month - that is considered 'good') and that we have a good apartment and are building a house on a piece of land we own).

The situation in Romania is very similar (except we don't have a Russian minority). And this state of affairs says a lot about the kind of system we've had over the past 15 years. How long were we under Soviet domination? 45 years. And how long since this domination ended? 15 years. A long time. 1/3 of the time we spent under Soviet hegemony. How much has been achieved in these 15 years? Almost nothing. In fact, most Eastern European countries are poorer now than before 1990 (our GDP this year was 80% of our GDP in 1989, and 1989 was a very bad year). Sure, you can blame it on the stalinists, but for how much longer? 15 years have already passed. Blaming our social and economic problems on "communism" is growing increasingly ridiculous - like blaming all the problems of the 1945-1960 period on the pre-1945 regimes, for example. Our politicians love to wash their hands of guilt and blame everything on the leaders who came before them, but don't you think that, after 15 years, enough is enough? It's about damn time to look at our experience with capitalism and judge its effects - which have been quite disastrous.

So many people don't have much cause to celebrate, and Putin won't even admit that the invasion was wrong or issue an apology to Latvia. All that he said was that 'the Molotov-Ribbentropp Pact was not reflecting the views of Soviet citizens of that time and was a pact between Stalin and Hitler.' How can the man know if it reflected the views of Soviet citizens if he wasn't alive at the time? My grand-uncle was kidnapped and shot dead inside and empty warehouse because of taking part in a protest asking for better wages and more food to be put on the table.

Putin is a bastard, but it's also true that it wasn't his fault... The people who were guilty of such things as your grand uncle's murder are all dead by now. :-

I realize I will be heavily critisized for this, but if I had to join either the Red Army of the Latvian Legionars(German forces) or be killed, then I would probably sign up in in the German Army, only for the chance of keeping the Red Army back for that little bit of time from occupying and annexing Latvia.

Frankly, that's terribly selfish of you...

Latvia has a population of 2.2 million today, and it probably had less during World War 2. The Nazis murdered some 18 million Russian civilians - men, women and children. That's the equivalent of exterminating the entire population of Latvia 8 times over. A further 6 million Jews (together with Gypsies, other ethnic and religious minorities, Communists, etc.) were killed in Nazi death camps. That's another 3 times the population of Latvia.

Overall, the number of innocent civilians (we're not counting soldiers) killed by the Nazis would be enough to fill 12 countries the size of Latvia. And they were just getting started. Imagine what they would have done after the war if they won.

I can sympathise with Latvia's suffering under Stalinism (after all, I'm an Eastern European myself), but sometimes sacrifices must be made in order to defeat the greater evil. Thousands of Latvians were killed or deported by Stalin, but that is nothing compared to what Hitler had done all across Europe (and to what he would have done if he won the war). For the Russians and Ukrainians under German occupation, the arrival of the Red Army meant liberation. For the Jews at Auschwitz, Treblinka and the other camps, the arrival of the Red Army meant liberation. For every Slav in Europe, the arrival of the Red Army meant salvation from the fate Hitler had planned for them: extermination for some, enslavement for the rest.

Even if Latvia would have been better off under the Nazis (which is extremely unlikely), you cannot retreat in your ivory tower and ignore the death and suffering around you. If you don't care about the tens of millions of non-Latvians who died and suffered under the Nazis (and the many more who would have died and suffered after a Nazi victory), well, then you have no right to complain about Stalin, because you're no better than him.

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I wonder what would have happened if after Stunde Null (zero hour, the moment of German surrender) the allies would have listened to general Patton and invaded Soviet held territories along with the remains of the former Wehrmacht.

Think about it: after a few months Japan surrenders after witnessing the sheer power of the atom bomb. Japan would serve as a staging point for a second front against Russia. Russia, already devastated by the incredible losses would fall apart in a matter of months.

Russia? Before getting anywhere near Russia, the western allies would have had to fight the Red Army in Eastern Europe, and they would have been crushed (by 1945, the Red Army had about the same technology as the Anglo-Americans, but with overwhelming numerical superiority). Instead of stopping in Germany, the Soviets would have rolled over into France and Italy, and they could have rightfully claimed the moral high ground - after all, they would have been perfectly justified to punish those cowardly western allies who tried to stab them in the back.

Japan might not have surrendered if it knew the Americans still had to fight the Russians in Europe. And even if it did surrender and served as a staging point for a second front against Russia, the second front would have just been a copy of the Korean War in real history.

But even in your scenario, even if the allies could have defeated the Soviet Union, the human cost would have been enourmous. Think World War 2 all over again in 1945-1950. By the end, I doubt there would have been anyone left alive in Eastern Europe or Russia. If the Americans used nuclear weapons (which they probably would have), the carnage and human tragedy would have been unspeakable. War is not to be taken lightly. Future generations would have probably reviled Patton and the western allies almost as much as we now revile the Nazis.

Mao will not be allowed to make China into another "communist" country. The outcome is that the world is ridden of both facism and stalinism, and the Cold War will never happen.

I'd rather have a Cold War than a "hot" one.

And in any case, I think it was a good thing that the Cold War happened. Together with WW2, it served as a sort of "growing up experience" for mankind. It taught us to handle nuclear weapons responsibly, it encouraged the strengthening of democracy and human rights in America and Western Europe (let's not forget that the western world wasn't exactly very "free" in the 1950's), it led to the rise of most European welfare states, it precipitated the end of colonial empires, it led to the first explorations of space... There's no telling what the world might look like without the Cold War.

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Ummm, why is that a bad thing? ??? Ok, so you have a large Russian minority... so?

That in itself is not a bad thing. The bad thing is this: There are pretty much 2 tautas, or cultures, in Latvia. Latvian, of course, and Russian. 1 third of the whole population is Russian! And with current birth:death ratios in Latvia, in about 100 years or so Russians may be a majority!

The situation in Romania is very similar (except we don't have a Russian minority). And this state of affairs says a lot about the kind of system we've had over the past 15 years. How long were we under Soviet domination? 45 years. And how long since this domination ended? 15 years. A long time. 1/3 of the time we spent under Soviet hegemony. How much has been achieved in these 15 years? Almost nothing. In fact, most Eastern European countries are poorer now than before 1990 (our GDP this year was 80% of our GDP in 1989, and 1989 was a very bad year). Sure, you can blame it on the stalinists, but for how much longer? 15 years have already passed. Blaming our social and economic problems on "communism" is growing increasingly ridiculous - like blaming all the problems of the 1945-1960 period on the pre-1945 regimes, for example. Our politicians love to wash their hands of guilt and blame everything on the leaders who came before them, but don't you think that, after 15 years, enough is enough? It's about damn time to look at our experience with capitalism and judge its effects - which have been quite disastrous.

I can't say much for other countries, but the GDP growth has been staggeringly high/good. 5% a year, or something close to that. That is one of the highest growth rates in the EU, if the economic magazines I've been reading are correct! 

Putin is a *******, but it's also true that it wasn't his fault... The people who were guilty of such things as your grand uncle's murder are all dead by now. :-

But I stand by my point.Putin is President of Russia, he could issue an apology to Latvia for all his - ehh - fore-presidents.

Frankly, that's terribly selfish of you...

I'm sorry if I typed it out unclearly. If I had sure knowledge that Latvia wouldn't be occupied by any of the powers after the war, I would not sign up for any side.I would only sign up in the German army/Forces against the Red Army if it gave me the chance to defend MY homeland from being occupied.

Latvia has a population of 2.2 million today, and it probably had less during World War 2. The Nazis murdered some 18 million Russian civilians - men, women and children. That's the equivalent of exterminating the entire population of Latvia 8 times over. A further 6 million Jews (together with Gypsies, other ethnic and religious minorities, Communists, etc.) were killed in Nazi death camps. That's another 3 times the population of Latvia.

But Russia has/had much more citizens than Latvia. I'm not saying that that means the deaths are less important or sad, but it wasn't 1/4th of Russia like the 1/4th of Latvians that were deported by Stalin. The loss wasn't as, err, I'll try to say this delicatley, crippling for Russia. More sad and grievous, of course, but it didn't cripple Russian like the deportations crippled Latvia.

Overall, the number of innocent civilians (we're not counting soldiers) killed by the Nazis would be enough to fill 12 countries the size of Latvia. And they were just getting started. Imagine what they would have done after the war if they won.

I don't have any answer, but I imagine it would be much harder for many people. But of course if the Germans occupied Latvia until the end of the war but still lost, then I believe it would have been overall better for the Latvian people.

I can sympathise with Latvia's suffering under Stalinism (after all, I'm an Eastern European myself), but sometimes sacrifices must be made in order to defeat the greater evil. Thousands of Latvians were killed or deported by Stalin, but that is nothing compared to what Hitler had done all across Europe (and to what he would have done if he won the war). For the Russians and Ukrainians under German occupation, the arrival of the Red Army meant liberation. For the Jews at Auschwitz, Treblinka and the other camps, the arrival of the Red Army meant liberation. For every Slav in Europe, the arrival of the Red Army meant salvation from the fate Hitler had planned for them: extermination for some, enslavement for the rest.

But for Latvians, the arrival of the Red Army meant annexation and repression. I realize why Slavic people and Jewish celebrated when the Red Army arrived(Because, if I'm correct, Hitler hated Slavs with a passion),but Latvians weren't part of that group(Mainly because Hitler didn't bother with the Baltics all that much), and fought against the Red Army because they saw that Germany was losing the war, losing supplies, losing men, losing battles, and wanted to be free and independant after the war. You have to take into account that Latvia was under foreign rule for over 700 years!

Even if Latvia would have been better off under the Nazis (which is extremely unlikely), you cannot retreat in your ivory tower and ignore the death and suffering around you. If you don't care about the tens of millions of non-Latvians who died and suffered under the Nazis (and the many more who would have died and suffered after a Nazi victory), well, then you have no right to complain about Stalin, because you're no better than him.

I sypathize with all the victims,and honestly hate Hitler as much as I can, but I brought up the topic because many Latvians don't view VE Day as big a victory as other nations, probably only because Latvia was occupied for 50 years after the war and thrown into cultural stagnation, and that is the point I wanted to point out.

Edited by Edric: fixed quote tags

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By writing these statements of hate, be it against Hitler or Russia, that doesn't matter, you simply show you have no idea what the war was about, why it was started and why it ended up so. In its time Latvia with Poles controlled a one third of Europe, and what brought an end to this glory? Xenophoby and hate from sides of Germans, Ukraine and Russians. You should take a lesson from history, not repeat it in sake of some weird honor...

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I'm REALLY not trying to sound rude, but hating Stalin for deporting 400,000 of my countrymen during World War 2 is wrong? I know some past grievances can be pushed aside, but some just CAN'T be forgotten...Like WWII.

Also, I believe Latvia was an area controlled by Poland. Unless you mixed Latvia and Lithuania, in which case it would be true.

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That in itself is not a bad thing. The bad thing is this: There are pretty much 2 tautas, or cultures, in Latvia. Latvian, of course, and Russian. 1 third of the whole population is Russian! And with current birth:death ratios in Latvia, in about 100 years or so Russians may be a majority!

Ah, that might be a problem... but it is absolutely impossible for the birth:death ratio to stay the same for 100 years. Look at how many things changed from 1905 to 2005! The 20th century brought immense changes to the world. If the 21st century brings only a fraction of that kind of changes, the world will still be a very different place in 2105. So I don't think you should worry too much about those population trends. They're bound to change (one way or the other) much sooner than in 100 years' time.

I can't say much for other countries, but the GDP growth has been staggeringly high/good. 5% a year, or something close to that. That is one of the highest growth rates in the EU, if the economic magazines I've been reading are correct!

After you've fallen at the bottom of a deep pit, the fact that you're making good progress towards the surface isn't much of a consolation. It would have been better to avoid falling into that pit in the first place.

What I'm trying to say is that GDP growth can be misleading. China has the highest GDP growth rate in the world, but the vast majority of its population lives in abject poverty. Why? For two reasons:

1. Economic growth is extremely unequal. Virtually all of it is concentrated in a handful of big coastal cities, and even there, the rich are getting richer at a phenomenal rate while the poor are only slightly better off.

2. Even with the high growth rate, China's GDP per capita remains very small. Poor countries in general have higher GDP growth rates than rich countries. If you're poor and find a $100 bill, you can say your total wealth grew a lot. On the other hand, if you're rich and find a $100 bill, it doesn't make too much of a difference to your total wealth.

But I stand by my point.Putin is President of Russia, he could issue an apology to Latvia for all his - ehh - fore-presidents.

Can't argue with that. Putin should apologise in the name of previous Russian governments.

I'm sorry if I typed it out unclearly. If I had sure knowledge that Latvia wouldn't be occupied by any of the powers after the war, I would not sign up for any side.I would only sign up in the German army/Forces against the Red Army if it gave me the chance to defend MY homeland from being occupied.

If I had to choose between letting 400,000 Romanians die and helping to kill 18 million Russians (or Frenchmen, or Americans, or Brits, or Jews, or any kind of people), I would rather let the 400,000 Romanians die. I don't care about nationalities. What I care about is reducing overall death and suffering to the lowest possible level.

But Russia has/had much more citizens than Latvia. I'm not saying that that means the deaths are less important or sad, but it wasn't 1/4th of Russia like the 1/4th of Latvians that were deported by Stalin. The loss wasn't as, err, I'll try to say this delicatley, crippling for Russia. More sad and grievous, of course, but it didn't cripple Russian like the deportations crippled Latvia.

If there was a country with just 100 people, and another with 100 million, do you think the death of one man in the first country could even compare with the deaths of a million people in the second country? Of course not. Countries are irrelevant. It's the people that matter.

I'm REALLY not trying to sound rude, but hating Stalin for deporting 400,000 of my countrymen during World War 2 is wrong?

No. What is wrong is hating Stalin so much that you'd be willing to make a pact with the devil if he were anti-Stalin. :-

I, for one, don't think in terms of "my countrymen". People are people. And while I understand why it might be difficult for you to celebrate Victory Day, since Latvia didn't suffer so much under the Nazis, the fact remains that most of Europe (particularly Eastern Europe and Russia) did suffer a lot under the Nazis, and it would be nice of you to show some solidarity with those who owe their lives - and the very existence of their countries and peoples - to the Red Army.

I'm not saying "you must celebrate with us", I'm saying "please respect our celebrations, and, if you can, try to be a little happier on this day"...

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On a related note, it has already been mentioned that the genocide against the Russians was far larger (and in many cases more brutal) then the genocide against the jews.

But why is this rarely mentioned? I was never taught this in grade or high school, even though WW2 material had been (and still is) extensively treated. Ask any kid, everyone will know that roughly 6 million jews were deported and murdered. But what about the other 6 million who died in the same camps? The communists, gypsies and homosexuals? The double-digit number of millions of Russians who died on the eastern front? It seems to me that the tragedy of the jewish victims is over emphasized, and you're instantly suspect if you point that out.

In Germany it's even considered taboo to question the holocaust as the most worst tragedy ever. A few months ago a German politician (can't remember his name, but he was from east Germany) who caught the attention of the media because he said that the Soviet repression from 1945-1989 was just as bad as what the jews had suffered through 1934-1945. He came under fire for his statements almost instantly.

I realise it's important to remember the atrocities the jews suffered, but society is way to sensitive about it.

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But why is this rarely mentioned? I was never taught this in grade or high school, even though WW2 material had been (and still is) extensively treated. Ask any kid, everyone will know that roughly 6 million jews were deported and murdered. But what about the other 6 million who died in the same camps? The communists, gypsies and homosexuals?

The killing of any human being is wrong, but the reasons for killing them can be even worse. I think that the reason the Jews are "special" is because Hitler's whole campaign was built on Jews. He hated them. And it didn't help that Lenin or Marx was half-Jewish (or "complete Jews" (?)) - but I believe that since Lenin and Marx "started Communism", that became another target for the Nazis.

In other words, if Hitler (or any Nazi for that matter) were to shoot either a Communist or a Jew, they would choose to shoot the Jews because of his "race". In Nazism, "race" came before the political system - "race" came before anything for that matter. The Jew could very well be a Nazi himself, he would still be shot before the Communist.

The double-digit number of millions of Russians who died on the eastern front? It seems to me that the tragedy of the jewish victims is over emphasized, and you're instantly suspect if you point that out.

But many of those numbers are connected to the Red Army - they died fighting. Jews were deported because of their "race" and killed without a fighting chance. As I said, I don't agree with killing any human, but if I were to choose, I'd say it is "more acceptable" to kill a soldier in war, than it is to arrest, torture and then kill a civilian that has not one chance to fight back.

A few months ago a German politician (can't remember his name, but he was from east Germany) who caught the attention of the media because he said that the Soviet repression from 1945-1989 was just as bad as what the jews had suffered through 1934-1945. He came under fire for his statements almost instantly.

At least I disagree with that politician. I do agree that any dictatorship is bad, but some can be worse, some can be "better". Yes - the German people in East Germany was repressed under the DDR rule there, but I the Nazis were far worse. Nazis based everything on race and strenght, the stalinists in DDR based everything on "state capitalism", not on what "race" you belonged to, or how "white" you were.

I realise it's important to remember the atrocities the jews suffered, but society is way to sensitive about it.

It is important to remember those things - that we are all humans, and that "race" is something that belongs to the trashcan of history. We all live on the same planet, we breath the same air, we all eat the same necessities of our world.

What worse terrors are there than the belief in classes, "races" and nationalism?

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