Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A putrid pact

A review of The Devils' Alliance: Hitler's Pact with Stalin, 1939-1941 provides an important historical reminder:


Seventy-five years ago this summer, a deal was struck that took the world's breath away. Even in the dirty-dealing climate of the time, the Nazi-Soviet pact was a shocker. Hitler and Stalin, who had spent years reviling each other, were now apparently the best of friends. ....

When Vladimir Putin stands alongside world leaders at next year's 70th-anniversary VE Day celebrations, few will reflect that he is representing a nation that spent nearly a third of the war allied to the Nazis. ....

The pact was ostensibly an understanding that each would not attack the other nor ally with its enemies with a trade deal attached. It was the green light Hitler needed to start his war and eight days later the Panzers were in Poland. Seventeen days after that, the Red Army invaded from the East, in accordance with a secret protocol of the pact that divided territories in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Romania into Nazi and Soviet spheres of influence. ....

Beneath the surface differences there was much shared ideological DNA. This was indeed a pact between two devilish creeds. Both Nazism and Communism had rejected a notion that until then had sustained civilisation, that of the universality of mankind. Both sides thus set about murdering and enslaving with the same merciless efficiency. For the Germans the racial enemy was the primary target; for the Russians, the class enemy, a category that, as well as Trotskyists and conservatives, included Esperantists, philatelists and those with "white hands" that had never done manual labour. ....

As the ultimate victors, the Russians never had to undergo the national self-examination and acts of contrition forced on the Germans for their wartime behaviour. There is no sign of them doing so now. Instead in all likelihood they will use next year's anniversary to reinforce the message that it was their sacrifices that ultimately defeated Hitler. .... [more]

A Putrid Pact between Devils | Standpoint