Dmytro OLKHACHUKThe modern Russian Federation is the successor of the USSR. This primarily refers to the fulfilment of commitments under international treaties signed by the Soviet Union. But, apparently, Russia as an empire is trying to arrogate to itself all the Soviet Union’s achievements, namely, the victory in the German-Soviet war of 1941-1945. At the same time, Russia is forgetting that the concepts of Russia and Soviet Union are not identical at all, because the Soviet Union was composed not only of Russia, but also sixteen (do not forget about the Karelian-Finnish SSR) different republics.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced live in 2010 that Russia would have won the German-Soviet war without the help of other Soviet republics because “Russia is a country of winners.” It is as if Russia suffered more than 70% of the Soviet Union’s losses, and that is why the war was won at the expense of human and industrial resources of Russia.
The lack of logic in Putin’s words is obvious. After all, what connection can there be between the number of casualties in the war and the amount of industrial resources used to achieve victory? And, generally speaking, how can huge losses indicate a large contribution to the victory?
Here is a simple and obvious example: China also suffered enormous losses in World War II – up to 20 million people. But for some reason, they are not talking about China’s decisive contribution to the victory over Japan. Everyone knows that the United States of America made a crucial contribution to the victory over Japan, and their casualties are ten times less.
The worst thing you can do is to be proud of your people’s losses in the war! After all, this is the terrible price of victory!
Each of the republics of the former USSR paid its price for the victory over German nazism and fascism. For example, in Ukraine, the territory of which was repeatedly swept by a merciless whirlwind during the war, up to 7 million people were mobilized, which amounted to 25% of total fighting in the Red Army. Ukrainians made up a significant part of the high Red Army command, and more than 300 of them among generals and admirals. More than half of the Soviet fronts were led by marshals and generals of Ukrainian origin. More than 50 thousand Soviet guerrillas, numerous underground organizations, and armed groups of Ukrainian nationalists fought in the rear of German troops in Ukraine.
For courage and bravery shown in battles, Ukrainians and nationals of Ukraine received only from the USSR 2.5 million awards and medals (out of a total of 7 million). About 2100 Ukrainians became Heroes of the Soviet Union, 32 twice Heroes, and pilot Ivan Kozhedub, as the most effective first-class pilot of the anti-Hitler coalition, three times Hero.
The total irrecoverable losses of servicemen of Ukrainian origin made up from 3 to 4 million people (who were killed, died in captivity, missed, died in hospitals). Every second who survived was disabled for ever.
From 4 to 5 million civilians died in the occupation zone. 714 cities and urban-type villages, as well as more than 28 thousand villages were destroyed, 10 million people were left without housing. More than 250 concentration camps and forced labour camps were created in Ukraine. 2.4 million nationals of Ukraine were taken out to forced labour in Germany. Ukraine lost more than 40% of its economic potential, 419 thousand industrial facilities were destroyed. All of this influenced the nature of the industrial production development, agriculture, the material condition of people for many decades.
Besides Ukrainians and Russians, people from Uzbekistan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia fought the most in the Red Army.
More than 1.4 million people were mobilized to the Red Army from Uzbekistan, of which more than 650,000 were killed or missed. 120 thousand Uzbeks were awarded military awards and medals, 338 became Heroes of the Soviet Union.
More than 1.3 million people were mobilized from Belarus to the Red Army. 300 thousand Belarusians were awarded awards and medals. 441 Belarus became a Hero of the Soviet Union, four as twice heroes. At the same time, Belarus, which has been under occupation for more than three years, has lost about 3 million inhabitants. 209 out of 270 cities and regional centres, 9,200 villages, and more than 100 thousand industrial facilities were destroyed.
Up to 1.3 million people were mobilized to the Red Army from Kazakhstan. This is an extremely high indicator, as it consisted to almost a quarter of the total Republic’s population. Between 410 and 630 thousand of them were killed during the war. More than 500 natives of Kazakhstan were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, two became twice Heroes.
Georgia sent more than 700 thousand troops to the Red Army, of which more than 300 thousand died. 280 natives of Georgia were awarded military awards and medals, 164 became Heroes of the Soviet Union, one as twice Hero.
From Azerbaijan to the Red Army were mobilized from 600 to 700 thousand people, of which every second (from 300 to 350 thousand) died. More than 400 thousand natives of Azerbaijan were awarded military awards and medals, 123 became Heroes of the Soviet Union, two as twice Heroes.
Armenia sent more than 500 thousand people to the Red Army, of which more than 200 thousand died. More than 70 thousand natives of Armenia were awarded military awards and medals, 107 became Heroes of the Soviet Union.
It is also worth remembering that the victory of the Soviet Union in the war became possible thanks to the support of the allies, and first of all the United States of America, Great Britain with its dominions and colonies, as well as dozens of other countries around the world. After all, military operations against Nazi Germany were carried out in Europe, Africa, Asia and in the waters of all oceans.
As for Great Britain, this country fought against Nazi Germany from the very beginning of World War II to the very end – from September 1939 until May 1945. That is much longer than the Soviet Union, which, although entered the war on September 17, 1939, but began to fight against Germany only in June 1941. Until that, the USSR was a strategic ally of Germany, supporting its large-scale supply of grain, oil products, nickel, manganese and chromium ore, phosphates. It is worth to emphasize, that Soviet Union directly supported the Nazis in their war against the British. In such conditions, for a whole year, between the defeat of France and the German attack on the USSR, namely from June 1940 to June 1941, Great Britain with its dominions and colonies actually independently opposed Hitler and his allies. Unlike the Soviet Union, which never independently opposed the military might of Germany. Why, then, Russian propagandists continue to use the old myth that the Soviet Union endured the “main burden of war against Germany? What about Great Britain?
Since 1940 the British, and since 1942 also the Americans, carried out strategic aerial bombardments of the territory of Germany and its allies. They made a huge contribution to undermining the economies of these countries. Without massive air strikes against industrial facilities, the war could drag on indefinitely. In such scenario, Germany, for example, could have enough time to complete the development of nuclear weapons, and the United States of America could use its nuclear weapons in Europe.
It is also necessary to remember about the help that the Soviet Union received from its allies under the Lend-Lease program. These deliveries were made through the Pacific Ocean, Iran, the Arctic, the Black Sea, depending on the situation in the theatre of operations. During 1941-1945 the USSR received 22,150 aircraft, 12,700 tanks, 51,503 passenger off-road vehicles and all-terrain vehicles, 375,883 trucks, 35,170 motorcycles, 8218 rifles, 131,633 units of automatic weapons, 12,997 pistols, 345,735 tons of explosives, 2.67 million tons of oil products, 331,066 litres of spirit, food and medicine in huge quantities.
The value of Lend-Lease illustrates, for example, the following fact. During the war years, the Soviet Union lost more tanks and self-propelled guns than Soviet industry produced: 96,500 versus 95,252. Under such circumstances, without Lend-Lease assistance, the situation with armoured vehicles would be catastrophic.
In total, the Soviet Union received $ 11.3 billion (more than 163 billion US dollars at the current rate) as aid only from the United States, of which only 0.4% was paid (including inflation). But there was also help from the Great Britain!
What conclusion can be drawn from the above mentioned?
Russia would not have won the war without Ukraine and the help of other republics of the former Soviet Union. Moreover, the Soviet Union would not have won the war without the help of other members of the anti-Hitler coalition.
The modern generation must respect absolutely equally the contribution of each country to the Victory over German nazism and fascism. And it is vital to remember what a terrible price humankind paid for the peace. Then no one will have thoughts like “we can repeat”, but on the contrary, there will be a desire to make every effort to “never again”!