The occasion was marked with great pomp and ceremony. Invited to the celebrations were the US president Donald Trump, the French president Emmanuel Macron and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. Conspicuously absent was President Vladimir Putin of Russia – by way of a deliberate insult to both the peoples of the Soviet Union and those of present-day Russia.
Before, during and after this ceremony, repeated claims were made that the D-Day landings had changed the course of the second world war and sealed the fate of Nazi Germany. These boastful and barefaced lies were uttered by the political representatives of the powers involved in the D-Day operation and their media hacks.
Such claims can only be attributed either to total ignorance about the role of the various countries in defeating Hitlerite Germany or to malice aimed at belittling the heroic role of the Red Army, the Soviet people, and the Soviet government, led by the communist party and headed by the legendary Josef Stalin. The whole of humanity will forever show respectful gratitude to them for their services in ridding the world of the scourge of German fascism.
The Soviet Union lost 27 million lives in the course of that great conflict, 10 million of them defence personnel. By contrast, German losses amounted to 7 million and British losses were a mere 450,000.
The turning point in the war came with the Soviet victories at Stalingrad and Kursk, not with the D-Day landings, which in truth were peripheral to the final allied victory in the war. After Stalingrad and Kursk, it was no longer a question of if, but when the Germans would lose – namely, how long would it have taken the Soviet Union to crush the Nazi armies in the absence of the second front (which is what the D-Day landings were finally opening up).
After these two titanic and legendary battles, the Red Army was set on an unstoppable march to Berlin, there to hoist the Red Flag proudly over the Reichstag as the Führer committed suicide in his bunker.
Quite rightly, responsible Russians have responded with outrage at the claims of imperialist politicians, ideologues and their propaganda machines. Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for Russia’s foreign ministry, referred to the battle of Kursk as one of the decisive moments of the war, while emphasising that the Normandy landings “did not fundamentally influence the result”.
Sergei Lavrov, Russian foreign minister, expressed a widespread view when he wrote that “false interpretations of history” were belittling his ancestors. “Young people are being told that the main credit in victory over Nazism and liberation of Europe goes not to Soviet troops but to the west due to the landing in Normandy, which took place less than a year before Nazism was defeated.”
The Times of 7 June 2019, from which the above-quoted remarks are reproduced, reported that President Putin, who was not invited to the celebrations in Portsmouth, believes that the Soviet sacrifice is consistently underplayed in the west, “and he may be right”, wrote the author, adding: “Between June 1941, when the Soviet Union was attacked, and June 1944, when the western allies opened what Russians call the ‘second front’ in France, the Red Army suffered massive casualties.”
Continued The Times: “An estimated 24 million Soviet people died in the war …
“The Battle of Stalingrad in 1942-43 helped to turn the tide of German advance, overstretching Hitler’s forces, which the Red Army then chased back to Berlin.”
The Times went on to say that historians have recorded that Churchill was attempting to stall the opening of a second front as late as November 1943 when he met Stalin and US president Franklin D Roosevelt in Tehran.
The overwhelming majority of the peoples of the former Soviet Union, and of humanity at large, believe that the Soviet Union would have emerged victorious even in the absence of the rather belated second front. And a few honest scholars in the west agree with that assessment.
One of those few honest historians is Sir Max Hastings, who believes that the Soviet Union “probably could have won the war on its own”, even though it would have taken “much longer” and its “losses would have been even more ghastly”.
Sir Max attributes the enormous Soviet casualties mainly to the fact that “between 1941 and 1944, the western allies, with a considerable degree of cynicism, left the Russians to fight the Germans on their own”. In fact, if the truth be known, the second front was opened in June 1944 only when it had become virtually certain that the Soviet forces were well on the way to crushing Nazi Germany.
The purpose of the D-Day landings was not primarily to smash Hitler, who was being smashed already, but to prevent the liberation of Europe from the jackboot of Nazi occupation taking place solely at the hands of the Red Army.
If the imperialist bourgeoisie did not want the Red Flag flying over government buildings in western Europe too, it had to act. The D-Day landings were meant neither to assist the Soviet Union nor to aid the fight against fascist Germany.
That had by and large been accomplished by the Red Army and the Soviet people on the eastern front, where three-quarters of Hitler’s armies were fighting. While this epic battle raged, Britain and America looked on with a certain degree of satisfaction and cynicism, expecting Germany and the USSR to weaken each other sufficiently to allow Anglo-American imperialism to impose peace terms on both of them. But things turned out quite differently.
Chancellor Merkel represented Germany at the D-Day celebration in Portsmouth, although one fails to see what Germany’s contribution was to the defeat of the Nazi war machine. As for France, it collapsed within six weeks of the German invasion, while half the French bourgeoisie were outright collaborators with Nazi Germany and set up the Vichy regime under German patronage.
Of course, many French people fought against the Nazi occupation regime. But their fight took place under the leadership of the partisans, in which the Communist Party of France played the most outstanding role, although since then that has been hijacked by the Gaullists.
The Soviet Union sadly is no more, and its mortal imperialist enemies have been emboldened since its collapse to tell the most flagrant lies about it on every topic, and about its glorious role in the defeat of fascism in particular. If President Putin was not invited to the D-Day commemoration, it is mainly due to the fact that, after long years of national humiliation under the comprador president Boris Yeltsin, the present Russian government remembers and honours at least some of the achievements of the Soviet era.
After nearly three decades of non-stop imperialist propaganda against the erstwhile USSR, and especially against JV Stalin, people everywhere have begun to wake up to the strength and beauty of the Soviet Union. They are rightly nostalgic about its achievements, at home and abroad, and they miss its stabilising presence in the world.
In the end, the truth will shine through. No amount of bourgeois lies and half-truths will ultimately be able to obscure the historic achievements of Soviet Union, the Soviet people, the Red Army, or the CPSU, which made such earth-shaking and epoch-making victories during the period of Stalin’s leadership – victories that made this world a better place in which to live.