Saturday, June 23, 2007

Another fateful anniversary

I was so taken with the Vatican's Ten Commandments for Drivers, or Pastoral Care on Our Roads, that I nearly forgot to remind everyone that yesterday, June 22, 2007, was the anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in l941. That day marks one of history's most notorious doublecrosses, Stalin having declared himself the eternal friend of Hitler in the Nazi-Soviet pact of August l939 only to see his fellow dictator come after him with the strongest army in the world to date less than 2 years later. You know something of the road to June 22, e.g. the partitioning of Poland and the murder of the Polish home guard, Stalin's snatch of west Ukraine, the Baltic states and Bessarabia in l940, the buildup of German forces in huge numbers all along the Soviet border, the steady stream of German officials LEAVING the USSR, and finally all the espionage reports that pinpointed the exact day and hour of this outrage. Stalin, who had apparently convinced himself that nothing bad could happen, and/or that he was missing the the military leadership who could've helped counter this threat, did absolutely nothing. In fact, he forbade preparations and defensive measures that could've saved thousands of lives. He, Stalin, was not going to be tricked into provoking Hitler(!).

What followed was a terrible ordeal for the Soviet people, who already had endured two revolutions, a civil war, famine, a brutal industrialization regime and waves of political purges that saw thousands of people get one bullet in the back of the head or an impossibly long sentence in camp at hard labor. But it was the beginning of opportunity for Stalin, who drove his people to the end of their strength to push the Germans out of the Soviet Union. He then got to pose as the liberator of eastern Europe from the hated Nazis, his armies being the first to encounter the horror of Auschwitz and Treblinka, while making plans to install the Red Army and re-conquer the "liberated" people. He got all the way to Berlin and rendez-voused with the Allies before the Red Army halted. At that point, the Soviet Union had half of Europe and the British, French and Americans had the other.

That's the way it stayed until November 9, l989, when the Berlin Wall came down, bringing to an end the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe.

What I am trying to say is, Hitler's invasion was the beginning of the division of Europe, the real beginning of the Cold War. Who woulda thunk it then?


mishdiaz said...

Wow! Makes you think about all that is going on in the Middle East right now. How is that division going to end up? I am thinking about the Palastinian and Hamas division, and Lebanon and Hezbollah, Iran and the students, and Iraq... Just wondering how this whole thing is going to play out and if it will be a similar resolution. No one is completely satisfied and a stalemate ensues...I know this is not really relevant to the situation since we do not have one madman attempting to take over the world. But we do have one movement attempting to take over the world. Can there even be a stalemate? See... I am still stuck on old quandaries!

buckarooskidoo said...

I can't begin to see the future in the M.E...but it's a grim picture now, because there's no consensus in Palestine about the way forward, just a civil war. Israel has had terrible political trouble. Iraq is mired in ethnic conflict, Iran has domestic problems, yet no significant opposition to Ahmadinejad...just no clue about what will happen there. One thing's clear, the whole region is burdened with just plain bad leadership, or no leadership, and i'd say bad leadership is the main obstacle to a peaceful world everywhere.