Victory Day celebrated abroad

DALLAS - The BBC presented a video news report of the Victory Day celebration, May 9, in Russia.

Around my town, I couldn't even find the Allied victory in World War II mentioned, but I retain my fond memories of being in Moscow on May 9, 1989 for the celebration.

My pal and I, visiting tourists, were thrilled to see what seemed like the entire Soviet Union turning out to honor their veterans and their 20 million who died in what they call the "Great Patriotic War." It was a festive, patriotic occasion.

We could see why they were so happy. The German Army had taken all of Eastern Europe and much of the western part of the Soviet Union. They were stopped just a few feet short of the Volga River, a main artery of the Soviet economy.

People starved in the major Soviet cities, people froze to death. It was the Soviet counteroffensive in 1943, a year before American troops landed in France, that broke Hitler's war machine. Soviet troops chased the Nazi-led forces all the way back to Berlin to end the war in Europe.

My pal and I had a vague intellectual understanding of these events thanks to "The Unknown War," a 1978 TV documentary directed by Isaac Kleinerman and Roman Karmen, written by Rod McKuen, and narrated by American superstar Burt Lancaster. Lancaster, always one of my favorites, made a Communist out of me. Previously, I'd always been a little fuzzy about the war and the Cold War aftermath. Here in America, many try to take full credit for defeating fascism, forgetting the critical contribution made by the Soviet Union.

I had known that the U.S. and the Soviet Union were allies during the war, but always assumed that the communists played a minor role until they were "rescued" by the U.S.

I had no idea that the Soviets had crushed the German army after having survived the onslaught that had already overrun the rest of continental Europe.

Here in the U.S. May 8th is called "Victory in Europe" day. We should celebrate it more than we do.


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  • I remember once visiting the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential museum in Kansas and seeing a big mural there celebrating his leadership of the Allied Forces in WW II. The Allied flags were all there--except the USSR! I was shocked needless to say. I wonder if that's been corrected since then.

    Posted by Eric, 05/14/2011 1:58am (5 years ago)

  • Not sure what you're on about. I've been living in Germany for about 3 years now, and in the papers, in the universities (even in the history and international relations courses!), on the streets, in the everyday exchanges, V-day isn't even mentioned.

    The same took place in France last year, and Belgium 4 years ago.

    Posted by Blue Bob, 05/12/2011 3:50pm (5 years ago)

  • Long Live the Red Army, the liberators of the concentration Camps and the Vangard against fascism! Long live the Soviets!

    Posted by Harvey C Smith, 05/11/2011 5:36pm (5 years ago)

  • The history in U.S. high school textbooks is often boring, as well as inaccurate, and that may be part of the reason that historical knowledge of American citizens is so very poor. The underlying assumption of most texts is that capitalism is largely humane and beneficial, and that U.S. "democracy" is the absolute best political structure in the history of mankind. To some degree certain problems are related, such as slavery, and later segregation are referred to, but these problems were "solved. End of story. Perhaps there is a little tounge-clucking about the plight of Native Americans, and a few words about how the "trusts" had some questionable effects in the late 19th C. Most of this was corrected, however-allegedly. There is little about mass movements, and portrayal of the rise of trade unions is inadequate, not inspirational. Besides, that happened in the 30's,( and today) there is less need for unions. Victory in WW2-primarily was due to the U.S. and its ally, G.Britain. Little about the crucial role of the Soviet Union in the defeat of the Nazis, and of the
    Japanese too, for that matter (Battle of Nomonhan).

    The function of the history teacher should be to correct the biases of these texts, but she or he has to please administrators, fearful of some reactionary parents or school board members, and may be afraid to teach real history-if they know the historical truth themselves.

    Those planning to teach social studies in the public schools should not only be smart and well-read but
    should have a highly developed respect for historical
    truth and should be guided by a moral compass that
    tells them they have a responsibility to educate about
    truth and justice. There are some like that. There should be more.

    Posted by Robert Moir, 05/10/2011 7:36pm (5 years ago)

  • I am US citizen now, but originally from the former USSR.
    The May 9-th, Victory Day, is the biggest for all former
    Soviet Union people. We lost almost 20 million people
    in this terrible war. There is not family which didn't lose
    somebody. I think it will be forever in the memory of Russian, Ukrainian, Belorussian, Jewish,
    and many other nationalities who fought in this war.
    Unfortunately not many American people know history of this war. And I am not surprised. I never heard
    today from any TV or Radio station about this great celebration in Russia or other countries.
    Unfortunately American people don't know that Soviet
    Army was able to reverse war from defense to offensive
    operations in 1942-1943 and only after that came the
    famous D-day.

    Posted by Steven, 05/10/2011 12:46am (5 years ago)

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