“The bourgeoisie turns everything into a commodity; hence also the writing of history. It is a part of its being, of its condition for existence, to falsify all goods: it falsified the writing of history. And the best-paid historiography is that which is falsified for the purposes of the bourgeoisie.”(Engels, Preparatory Material for the History of Ireland, 1870)
The above shrewd observation by Engels should be kept in mind when marking the 70th anniversary of the victory over fascism, which fell on 9 May this year. Indeed, it is a vital understanding for figuring out the causes of the second world war, the events leading up to it, the part played during it by the Soviet Union on the one hand and the various imperialist powers on the other, and the end result of that war.
The second world war, as the first, was inseparable from the system of monopoly capitalism and a product of it. Over 50 million people were slaughtered in the second world war alone, and many more injured, in order to decide which tiny group of imperialist bandits was to grab what share of the world’s wealth and resources.
The ruling classes of the ‘democratic’ imperialist countries were complicit in the rise of fascism. They aided and abetted fascist aggression in an effort to embroil the Soviet Union in a war with Nazi Germany, with the aim of destroying the socialist USSR and weakening their rival imperialist power (Germany). Events did not turn out quite according to this evil scheme, however, for the ‘democratic’ imperialist countries found themselves forced by circumstance to ally with the Soviet Union and fight Nazi Germany.
The Soviet victory in the war was a disaster for imperialism, since it resulted not only in the creation of a powerful bloc of socialist countries in Europe but also in the spread of the revolutionary movement to the colonies.
Bourgeois historiography can hardly be expected to enlighten readers in regard to these questions. Since the end of the second world war, and especially since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the bourgeoisie and its ideologues have gone on the rampage to distort and falsify its history, to belittle the world-historic role of the Soviet Union in defeating fascism, and to malign the record of socialism itself.
Through this falsified (and therefore most widely-propagated and best-paid) historiography, the bourgeoisie has had quite some success. The result is that 60 percent of the people in the US and Britain believe that Europe was liberated from the jackboot of fascism by the United States, primarily, and by Britain to a certain extent.
Reading this mercenary history, written in the service of imperialism, the reader is given the impression that the Soviet Union played a minor, peripheral, part in the outcome of the war; that it was not in the battles of Moscow, Stalingrad, Kursk and Berlin that the back of fascism was broken and its fate sealed but in (don’t laugh, for it isn’t a joke) the Battle of the Bulge.
This narrative is so patently false, so offensive to human decency and so insulting to the intelligence, that thinking and sophisticated organs of imperialism are obliged to correct it somewhat – albeit for the sole purpose of making their unceasing falsification more acceptable to the gullible. An example of such sophisticated falsification is furnished by an editorial in the Financial Times of 3 May 2015, just six days before the 70th anniversary of the victory over fascism.
The Financial Times found it unsettling that the 70th anniversary “arises at a moment of acute diplomatic tension between Russia and the West”. The “east-west divisions” would, the paper observed, be more apparent in Moscow than elsewhere because of the absence of the leaders of the US, France, Germany and other western countries at the 9 May Victory Parade in Red Square due to the situation in Ukraine and Crimea joining Russia.
With a mixture of hypocrisy and regard for historical truth, the Financial Times commented:
“Anyone contemplating the scale of suffering in the second world war is bound to regret their absence from Moscow on Saturday.
“The Soviet Union lost more than 20 million citizens and its role in defeating Nazi Germany was greater than that of any other state. The number who died in the siege of Leningrad exceeded the total losses of British and US forces combined in the entire war.
“The battles of Stalingrad and Kursk were turning points of the conflict. Russia’s role was central and critical and this should never be forgotten by historians.”
Supposed ‘lessons’ of WW2
No sooner had the Financial Times paid its tribute to the Soviet contribution, however, than it moved on to what it, and the rest of bourgeois journalism, does best – the falsification of history. The 70th anniversary, it said, ought to be a time when the world comes together, not only to honour those who paid with their lives in the cause of defeating Nazi Germany but also to learn the difficult “moral lessons of the conflict”.
And what are these moral lessons?
1. First, that the “world did not prevent the holocaust of European Jewry”. But it was not the ‘world’ that failed in its duty to prevent the murder of six million Jews; it was Anglo-American imperialism. The Soviet Union, with vast tracts of its territory under German occupation, was busy fighting for its very existence and was, therefore, in no position to come to the rescue of European Jewry. Had Anglo-American imperialism honoured its solemn undertakings, given in May 1942, to open a second front against Germany, it is not unreasonable to surmise that the number of those who perished in fascist concentration camps might have been far less than the actual 12 million, including six million jews.
Let it be said in passing that at the time quite a few zionist leaders and organisations closely collaborated with the Nazis in the extermination of large numbers of jews for, to them, saving jewish lives was of no consequence if those saved could not be shipped to Palestine for the creation of a zionist state. (See Rabbi Moshe Shonfeld, The Holocaust Victims Accuse, 1977)
By contrast, large numbers of jews organised resistance movements and were active participants in partisan warfare all across occupied Europe – usually under communist leadership, and frequently under the direct command of the Red Army, thus making a substantial contribution to the allied war effort.
The great majority of jews in eastern Europe, right up to the outbreak of the second world war, were opposed to zionism. “The most fanatical enemies of zionism were precisely the workers, those who spoke Yiddish, those who considered themselves jews; they were the most determined opponents of the idea of an emigration from eastern Europe to Palestine.” (Isaac Deutscher, The Non-Jewish Jew and Other Essays, 1968, p108)
These facts never get a mention these days in the corporate western media because of the close criminal relationship between the zionist Israeli state and imperialism.
2. The second lesson: that the saturation bombing of Hamburg and Dresden was excessive. That is true, but the Financial Times ‘forgot’ to add that, in the bombing of Dresden, Churchill was not merely motivated by feelings of revenge against Germany, but, more significantly, by a determination to make sure that the Red Army, which was expected to liberate the area soon, would inherit nothing but rubble and thus face an exceptionally difficult challenges when setting about the rehabilitation and reconstruction of that part of Germany.
3. The third lesson: “the Red Army committed hideous war crimes, notably the destruction of the Polish officer corps at Katyn”. This is an outrageous lie, for the massacre of the Polish officers was the work of Nazi forces. Precisely for this reason, the charge sheet against war criminals at Nuremberg listed it as one of the crimes committed by the erstwhile Nazi regime. The Financial Times cannot but be fully aware of this fact.
Bourgeois lies demonise Russia for supporting opponents of imperialist aggression
The writer then went on to conclude from the above ‘moral lessons’ that “The second world war was not the simple tale of good defeating evil that is often served up.” In other words, both sides were evil, perhaps one side a bit more than the other. But in that case, what was the point in fighting and defeating Nazism, and in the process losing 50 million precious lives?
Having made this immoral statement, all in the name of recognising ‘difficult moral lessons’, the Financial Times went on to excuse the absence of western leaders from the 9 May celebrations in Moscow as “understandable”, if “regrettable”. Why was it understandable? Because “Mr Putin’s annexation of Crimea and his incursions into Ukraine are the first redrawing of the map of Europe by force since the end of the Cold War”, and: “Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine has been contained but it has not been stopped. This makes any show of western solidarity with Mr Putin impossible at present.”
The above three little sentences contain three big lies. First, Russia has not annexed Crimea. The Crimean people, refusing to be ruled by the fascist clique that came to power in Kiev with the help of US and EU imperialism, decided by an overwhelming majority in a freely-conducted referendum to join Russia, of which Crimea had been a part for over three centuries before that renegade Khrushchev handed it over to Ukraine. Since at the time both Russia and Ukraine formed part of that great and unique family of nations in the USSR, the transfer of Crimea to Ukraine made far less difference then than it does today.
Second, Mr Putin has made no incursions into Ukraine; Russia has committed no aggression in eastern Ukraine. There is not a shred of evidence to substantiate this Goebbelsian lie. What is true is that the people of east and south Ukraine are up in arms against the Kiev fascist junta, which has no legitimacy whatsoever. There has been a civil war raging in that part of the country, during which the Kiev junta’s forces have committed the most horrendous atrocities. For all that, the Nato-backed fascists are losing to the resistance fighters of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.
Third, the only time the map of Europe has been redrawn by force since the end of the Cold War was during the dismemberment of Yugoslavia at the hands of Nato’s forces in the late 1990s. The Financial Times may rely on its readers having exceedingly short memories, but in uttering this gross lie it is crossing all bounds of decency, honesty, integrity and regard for historical fact.
After uttering the above three big lies, the Financial Times went on to anticipate the 9 May commemoration in the following terms, which partly explain the refusal of the western leaders to be present on the occasion:
“The likely tone of next week’s celebration in Moscow would also make western leaders uncomfortable. Russian state propaganda repeatedly links the victory against Nazism with recent events in Ukraine, describing the pro-European Ukrainians who toppled President Viktor Yanukovych as fascists and Nazi collaborators. The 9 May commemoration in Red Square is unlikely to show restraint in using history as a propaganda weapon.”
Of course, it would never occur to the political spokesmen, ideologues and historians of imperialism to use history as a propaganda weapon!
Having carried out its own exercise in gross distortion and falsification, and having lent support to the clumsy and self-defeating attempt by western leaders to isolate Russia and its government, the Financial Times went on hypocritically and unctuously to advise them thus:
“At this solemn moment, the west’s leaders should take the opportunity to declare that whatever differences they have with Mr Putin, they have none with the people of Russia.
“Mr Putin may wish to use Victory Day as an exercise in militaristic posturing that puffs up his regime. But the millions of Russians and other former Soviet peoples who fought heroically to rid the world of Nazism deserve better.
“In Russia and beyond, they should be honoured for the extraordinary sacrifices they made – and for no other purpose.” (Anniversary message from West to Russia)
For all the attempts by western leaders to isolate Russia on 9 May, the most sacred day in the country’s calendar, the commemoration in Red Square was a truly impressive display of solemnity, determination and the country’s might.
Mr Putin was well rid of the presence of a clique of malicious and scheming hyenas. Far from being isolated, he was joined by, among others, President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China, President Raúl Castro of Cuba and President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela.
The real international community was present at the Red Square commemoration, paying sincere tribute to the Soviet heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice on such a massive scale to free the world of Nazism – and whose sacrifice is a constant reminder of the dangers that the continued existence of imperialism poses to humanity at large.
The present-day generation, while paying homage to those who fought and died in the fight against fascism, needs to remember that fascism and war are a product of imperialism; and that the fight against fascism and war must be inseparably linked to the fight against imperialism.
Postscript: That the attempts to isolate Russia are failing is shown, among other things, by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visits to Russia. Mrs Merkel, who stayed away (doubtless under US pressure) from the 9 May celebrations in Red Square, went to Moscow the following day to pay her respects to the Soviet war dead and to meet President Putin.
On 12 May, Kerry, travelled to Sochi to meet Mr Putin and Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister. The US is trying hard to participate in the implementation of the Minsk II agreement, which it so vehemently opposed until very recently. It looks, in fact, as if the US is belatedly trying to prevent its own isolation.