Thanking Those Who Saved Our Lives

Posted in Russia | 04-May-05 | Author: Dmitry Udalov

1942: Jura Udalov Volunteered at the front at the age of 17
1942: Jura Udalov Volunteered at the front at the age of 17

Famous Russian poet A. Tvardovsky wrote these lines in 1942 when he was in the regular army on the battlefield. Fighting in the most terrible war in the history of humanity, in these lines he wrote about the nature of that war. And his idea is simple: “This is not a war for Glory, this fight is for the benefit of all people on the planet!

Sixty years have passed since the ending of that war. Living for 60 years without massive bloodshed, we still continue to draw lessons from WWII.

The Second World War is undoubtedly one of the most striking events of the Twentieth Century. It determined world history and continues to affect all of us. But to my mind, the greatest virtue that humanity has learned and realized the importance of as a result of WWII is the value of life. Understanding this virtue helped WWII veteran John F. Kennedy prevent an escalation of conflict during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. Brezhnev, also a veteran of WWII eagerly favored the idea of détente, having realized the price of human life.

Unfortunately, this WWII jubilee is probably the last one we can celebrate with the veterans. Next time in 2015, the youngest participants in the war will be over 90 years old. This is why it is so sad to see a growing campaign of accusing the Red Army of expansionism, occupation instead of liberation etc., thus viewing this year's festivities in Moscow as a revival of Russian imperialism. Of course Stalin pursued his goals, but are Soviet veterans guilty? Weren’t they also victims of a totalitarian regime? They were! For example, all those who surrendered were automatically treated as traitors, and those who managed to escape from captivity were sentenced to being shot in the USSR. And still, Soviet soldiers fought for freedom, fought for life.

Soviet army in Europe. Are occupation forces always met with flowers??? Vienna 1945
Soviet army in Europe. Are occupation forces always met with flowers??? Vienna 1945
For this reason I should warn those who refer to those who liberated Buchenwald, Auschwitz, Warsaw, Budapest, Vienna, etc. as the "occupation force." One only needs to look at the photo below and video materials of the time to understand the enthusiasm that the people of Europe expressed when greeting the Soviet soldiers. An occupation force does not enjoy such a reception.

That’s why those who only perceive the Soviet army as having been an occupation force should not forget about the common soldiers who gave their lives for the lives of future generations. The point is that these were not stilted words - it was a principle. Today it is difficult to understand what forced my grandfather to go to the front after leaving school at the age of 17. It was not only a duty to defend the Motherland; it was a call to defend humanity and the lives of further generations.

That call was common to many soldiers because the nature of the Nazis was evident. When one man wants to eradicate several peoples and make slaves of other peoples, when some of the wives of top Nazi officers found handbags, gloves, wallets made of human skin especially fashionable or when captured children were used as a source of blood it makes us understand that the soldiers of the Allied Forces were fighting for life.

Today, WWII Veterans deserve more respect; they are not responsible for the political actions of their leaders. They are only responsible for having saved lives and humanity on our planet. They managed to do it. Let’s bow down to the ground to thank them.