US troops crouch inside a Higgins boat just before landing on Omaha Beach on D- Day. Photo: U.S Coast Guard, National Archives
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the landings at D-Day and the beginning of the Liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germany. As is custom on such an anniversary, world Leaders from the participating nations gathered in Normandy to commemorate those who fell. Despite the Red Army not participating in the landings, Vladimir Putin was nonetheless invited to the 70th anniversary back in 2014. This year however he was not invited.
Bitter and angry at this diplomatic snub, the Russian government has now taken to blasting D-Day as an irrelevance. Maria Zakharova put the following words on twitter which are worth a quick response.
#Zakharova: The Normandy landings were not a game-changer for the outcome of WWII and the Great Patriotic War. The outcome was determined by the Red Army’s victories – mainly, in Stalingrad and Kursk. For three years, the UK and then the US dragged out opening the second front pic.twitter.com/LhzkEzNCQN
— MFA Russia 🇷🇺 (@mfa_russia) June 5, 2019
The call to open up a second front against Hitler was made by Stalin to Churchill repeatedly through their correspondences, even as early as July 1941. Not to mention that Stalin begged Churchill for aid as the Germans advanced.
A couple of examples: On 18 July 1941, Stalin sent a message to Churchill with the following request:
A front in the North of France, besides diverting Hitler’s forces from the East, would make impossible the invasion of Britain by Hitler. Establishment of this front would be popular both with the British Army and with the population of Southern England. I am aware of the difficulty of establishing such a front, but … it should be done, not only for the sake of our common cause but also in Britain’s own interest. The best time to open this front is now…”
On September 3, 1941, Stalin sent an even starker message after complaining that he had lost half of Ukraine at this point and that the Germans were approaching Leningrad:
I think the only way is to open a second front somewhere in the Balkans or in France, one that would divert 30-40 German divisions from the Eastern Front, and simultaneously to supply the Soviet Union with 30,000 tons of aluminum by the beginning of October and a minimum monthly aid of 400 aeroplanes and 500 tanks (of small or medium size).
Without these two kinds of aid, the Soviet Union will be either defeated or weakened to the extent that it will lose for a long time the ability to help its Allies by active operations at the front against Hitlerism.”
I’ve added my own emphasis on that last passage because it tells of something interesting.
The USSR did, of course, end up receiving aid via the Lend-Lease programs and aid delivered by the UK and Commonwealth through the Arctic and Iran. Aid that proved to be essential to the very existence of the USSR’s war effort.
This is also a good reason why for example the Willys MB Jeeps are remembered both as Vehicles of Liberation in Western Europe as well as Vehicles of Terror in Central/Eastern Europe at the same time, as they ended up becoming a vehicle of choice for the murderous NKVD.
The Battle of Kursk was “won” in part because any would be additional German resources had to be diverted to Sicily in order to counter the Allied Invasion of Italy, which was made possible by the collapse of the German forces on the Africa Front. Estimated German losses in Tunisia are a close match for their estimated losses in Stalingrad.
The defeat of Germany in WW2 was a multifaceted affair with many contributing factors, including Hitler’s own tactical blunders. This is not to say the Eastern Front of the European theatre with its 27 Million+ dead should be overlooked. But likewise, that figure should not be simply used to mask the genocides and atrocities of the Soviet Union, as contemporary Russia is currently doing. The reason for such a high death toll was that it was a duel between the two worst regimes in history – Stalin also helped contribute to that death toll. A reminder if anyone needs it that the Germans weren’t the only bad guys and that the history of WW2 is not so simple.
- Stalin’s NKVD and Hitler’s Gestapo cooperated closely even before Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
- How Soviet troops destroyed downtown Kyiv and killed Kyivans in 1941
- Soviet soldiers who were shot by their own people recalled
- The Soviet foundations of Russia’s Great Patriotic War myth
- Top-6 Soviet World War II myths used by Russia today
- Soviet myths about World War II and their role in contemporary Russian propaganda
- Understanding the Ukrainians in WWII. Part 1
- Understanding the Ukrainians in WWII. Part 2. Stories of Ukrainians in the Red Army
- Understanding the Ukrainians in WWII Part 3. Of German plans and German collaborators.