By Tom Michalak
If it can be said that among peoples and nations there are particular psyches, it could easily be said that the experience of and victory in the Great Patriotic War is a defining feature of Russia’s. The level of terror, death, and misery inflicted on the Soviet peoples as well as their exemplary heroism, courage, and indefatigability displayed represents the full range of human capabilities.
It is not easy to comprehend the meaning of Victory Day in 2018 for someone with no links to the either the former USSR or the many others who were martyred in the millions during this period. The sheer destruction and loss of life in only a few short years is something that was never seen before and has not been since. An estimated 20-40 million people in the USSR alone were killed, and in addition millions of Poles, Yugoslavs, Jews, and others.
Entire cities were raised to ashes to make room for the German “master race”. Surviving and ultimately triumphing over the forces of death in many ways defines how Russians collectively see the world around them. How could they forget?
Have the imperialists forgotten?
As the world deliberately forgets the horrors of the First World War, falsifies the events of the Second, it waits on the edge of the coming Third. With many ‘state’ or ‘official’ holidays around the world, each passing year’s observations seem more detached, farther away, and less relevant.
This is something which distinguishes, indeed sets apart the May 9th Victory Day observations from practically any other state holiday observed practically anywhere else in the world. With every passing year, May 9th becomes a more and a more and significant day of reflection on what is possible.
It is important to reflect on the what is possible when imperialism throws all its weight to enslave liberated peoples, but also the consequences of when liberated people are resolved to resist. These are not just questions about some distant past with its bygone struggles and horrors – these are primary – perhaps the main questions and fights that we confront today.