I have taught thousands of American social studies teachers during the course of my life, and am invariably shocked by the lack of knowledge they possess–and obviously teach–concerning WWII. Most have an incredulous look on their faces when I tell them that throughout WWII, the Russian army confronted 70% of the German army, and that on D-Day, Americans were a minority of those who landed. President Medvedev recently sharply criticized attempts to rewrite the history of the Great Patriotic War. He particularly cited some of Russia’s neighboring countries who denigrate the role of the Russian people and pretend the war was between two totalitarian nations. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and others should open a history book and learn WWII involved an alliance between the Soviet Union, Great Britain and the United States.
It is shocking that men who fought in the Waffen SS and helped to kill six million Jews are now glorified while the Red Army which liberated the death camps is accused of being the criminals. Of course, Joseph Stalin was a dictator, of course, he brutalized even his own people, but no one can take away the incredible performance of the Red Army in defeating the worst criminals and murderers of the 20th century–Nazi Germany.
As President Medvedev commented: “We see distortions of the truth about the war, about the decisive contribution by the Red Army to the defeat of Nazism and the liberation of Europe.” Perhaps, the Lithuanians, Poles, Estonians and Latvians can tell the people of Holland, Belgium, France, Yugoslavia, and Greece of the wonderful time they had under the rule of the Nazis. Or, how about the hundreds of thousands of British civilians killed in Nazi bombing raids!