Some things should be above daily politics. The last major anniversary of victory over Nazism with living veterans in Moscow is one of them
This article originally appeared at Rock Solid Politics
There is something so bizarre, so inhumane about Western countries boycotting the parade for the 70th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Germany in World War II that I just had to write on it. Recently, the prime minister of the United Kingdom announced he will not be attending the parade. Previous to that, countries like Germany and the United States had announced the same. It's only a parade you say? No it's more than that.
The Soviet Union sacrificed 25 million people to defeat Nazi Germany in World War II. A sacrifice beyond imagination, and far, far greater than all the countries fighting Nazi Germany combined. In comparison, the Holocaust, which is rightly remembered annually, claimed the lives of six million people of the Jewish faith. These are really the two true tragedy's of World War II unleashed on the world by Nazi Germany. The stories of Soviet soldiers advancing without weapons to pickup the rifle of the next dead soldier are well known. The bloodbath of Stalingrad, the siege of Leningrad, the millions of Soviet soldiers killed and captured (only to then die in POW camps) during the early days of the German invasion, and so on, all markers of the brutality of man against his own, stand large in the history of the world. In fact, the German invasion of the Soviet Union stands as the largest military battle in the history of man.
Yet, western leaders have decided to not attend the parade that is meant to honour that sacrifice. When Britain announced it would not attend, well, that's the straw that broke the camel's back frankly. Of all the countries in the world, Britain was saved by the massive waves of young Soviet men and woman that bled the German army white. Hitler would have crushed Britain in short order if he had not diverted millions of German men to the invasion of the Soviet Union. Crucially, the diversion of aircraft, fighters and bombers, to the Soviet front saved Britain from the entire annihilation of a full blown, continuous air campaign, and the subsequent naval invasion that would certainly have occurred. In reality, the western allies left Stalin almost alone in Europe to battle the Nazi's, and take the majority of the casualties in doing so. By the time D-Day finally arrived, the German army and air force was only a shadow of it's former self as it existed in 1941. As bad and hard as it was for the allies to march east through Europe to Berlin, without the Soviet people's sacrifice, it would have never happened.
It's a place of honour in human history. To quarrel with that is to go beyond ignorance. To quarrel with that is the hateful and arrogant bastion of the very seeds that caused World War II in the first place. And now, as if history is repeating itself, Western leaders have entered that bastion of ignorance and arrogance to punish Russia for the Ukrainian civil war. By contrast, Russian president Putin, despite the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, attended the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in France last year. He was given the proverbial cold shoulder by western leaders, yet he subjected himself to that, in honour of the sacrifice of the men of Canada, Britain and the United States. He did not ignore the history or the price in blood of that action. He honoured it. He put the sacrifice ahead of his political position, and it could even be said his personal shunning. Now that the time is here to do the same for the Soviet Union's dead, we cannot bring ourselves to do the same.
What that says about us is really quite obvious. It means we haven't learned the lessons of history. That our political leadership has become so petty, so detached from historical reality, that it attempts to rewrite the history of 25 million souls. That is the danger of all of this. Russians don't really need the West to honour their sacrifice. They know it all too well. It's the West that needs to honour that sacrifice so it can clearly see the dangers of war on a scale far more destructive than anything it experienced on the western front, or anywhere else in history. Poland started this train rolling by refusing to invite the Russian president to the Holocaust remembrance at Auschwitz last year. This despite the fact that the Soviet army liberated all of Poland, and specifically Auschwitz from German armies.
The actions of our western politicians say more about us than the Russians could ever say themselves. They have portrayed us as people who refuse to honour the dead, those that gave their lives in another time to defeat a tyrant bent on world domination, and in doing so dishonour those men and women. As the son of a young man, training in England, fighting in North Africa, Italy, Holland, and Germany through those tumultuous years of war and senseless slaughter, I recognize the Soviet sacrifice that probably saved my Dad's life. How could you not? Yet, that is exactly what our politicians are doing today. You don't have to be a lover of this country, or that country to recognize and honour grave human injustice committed on a massive scale. You just have to be humane, and subordinate your own bias in the remembrance of the fallen. Is that really so hard? Isn't that what is expected of us all? Wouldn't we expect that from our children? I've never been so ashamed of the actions of our governments than I am now with the boycott of that parade in Moscow.