If a Russian citizen were to reveal the truth about Soviet Union collaboration with the NAZI’s and the brutality they inflicted on countries they, along with the Germans, invaded they would end up in prison or worse.
As you read the following remember that this was written in May of 2020.
Even as the Red Army was imposing Soviet rule on eastern Poland, Soviet troops also began moving into the three Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), which had enjoyed some two decades of independence after the First World War. In subsequent months, as Soviet military and state security forces continued to pour into the Baltic countries, they compelled the local governments to comply with Moscow’s demands. Eventually, in mid-1940, Soviet occupying forces replaced the indigenous governments with puppet regimes that voted for “voluntary” incorporation into the USSR. The same pattern was evident in the formerly Romanian territories of Bessarabia and northern Bukovina, which the Soviet Union occupied and annexed in late June 1940.
This history is important to bear in mind nowadays because the Soviet Union’s role in the war has been obscured in myths—myths that arose initially during the Soviet period and that have multiplied in recent years under Vladimir Putin. One of the more disingenuous myths, fostered last year and earlier this year by Putin, is that Poland started the war—a bizarre claim that turns history on its head. Another myth is that the Soviet Union’s role in the Second World War began on 22 June 1941, when the Wehrmacht attacked the USSR. In reality, the Soviet Union was a leading participant from the very start, colluding for nearly two years with Nazi Germany.
The brutality of the Soviet occupation of eastern Poland, including massacres and widespread rapes, is a taboo subject in Russia nowadays under legislation adopted in May 2014 at Putin’s behest. The legislation allows criminal charges, punishable by up to five years of prison as well as large fines, to be brought against anyone in Russia who “spreads information on military and memorial commemorative dates related to Russia’s defense that is clearly disrespectful of society” or who “spreads intentionally false information about the Soviet Union’s activities during World War II.” Russian scholars who wish to investigate and write about sensitive topics, such as the collaboration of Russians with the Nazi occupiers or the atrocities committed by Soviet troops, are deterred from doing so lest they be sent to prison. Prosecutions and convictions have indeed occurred.
It should go without elaboration why Putin’s claim that his invasion of Ukraine was justified because he was attempting to protect their citizens for NAZI control is almost beyond words to express the level of cruel denialistic cynicism and historical revisionism. If 10 was the maximum on a scale I think he be rated off the chart as a 20.
You can go back to 2018 to read about less malignant lies coming out of Russia. For example
I have no way to discern how large portion of Russians believe these lies. They would not be likely to risk revealing what they really think to a pollster.
What I do know is that polls suggest that at least a third of Americans believe propagandized falsehoods from The Big Lie to the phantasmagorical tales spun by the likes of Marjorie Taylor (“Jewish Lasers”) Greene to the hook-line-and-sinker believers in QAnon.
I suppose that we ought to take note that in the United States the MAGA cult isn’t hysterical over the prospect of a more or less literal NAZI takeover of the country (although they do have their own Sieg Heil contingent). They are, however, quite sanguine if not enthusiastic, over the prospect that the GOP is now becoming a fascistic party.
I suppose that if the typical MAGA cultist had any rhythm they would be dancing in the aisles over the pending reversal of Roe and down the road the undoing of protection for those with another sexual orientation other than their own.
Mostly, though, they have gone apoplectic over the inevitable demographics which will make white people the minority, especially the white non-college educated group, in the not too distant future.
Mark Kramer published what is basically a follow-up to this 2020 article here:
He makes similar points to mine, for example he writes:
- Putin’s assertions about Nazis in Kyiv are baseless, but there are striking analogies between the way the USSR’s Red Army operated during World War II and the way the Russian army is operating currently against Ukraine. These analogies, far from reflecting favorably on either the Red Army or today’s Russian army, underscore the deeply immoral nature of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
- This coming Monday, Putin will officially commemorate the 77th anniversary of the Soviet and Allied victory over Germany. He will undoubtedly boast of parallels between the Red Army eight decades ago and the Russian army today. He is right that there are parallels, but the examples he will cite will be spurious. The real parallels are ones he will sedulously ignore.