Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Victory and remembrance in Russia

Monday next week will mark the 60th anniversary of the victory of the USSR in 1945 over the forces of Nazism. This has sparked a variety of emotions in some of the new EU member states especially some of the Baltic Republics and there are some excellent articles on this at the online journal Russia Profile.

The current list of heads of state attending is at the official Victory in the Great Patriotic War website. It is, and ought to be, a widely acknowledged fact that without the Red Army victory in Eastern Europe the forces of Nazism could not have been defeated, and the Allied invasion of 6 June 1944 would have ended in defeat.

The Fourth Generation is an fascinating article written by, Natalya Loseva, an editor of the website Our Victory Day by Day - (for the English version click on eng.9may.ru). The website was set up to inform, and engage in discussion, the under twenty generation of Russians about the war. One of the most telling findings was the following:

The second group of teenagers is made up of the “victims of Hollywood.” They are interested in the war, but only as action-packed material for a screenplay. They are, without doubt, victims of show business propaganda – the most effective and insidious kind. The Hollywood version of World War II has proved an immensely effective form of product placement for a completely new way of recounting history – the cinematographic format – complete with special effects, cliches, heroes and storylines that fit the blockbuster formula and a completely new kind of cinematographic truth shaped for the circumstances of the moment. Of course, no one would dream of saying that the majority of these films are politically motivated. Instead, the motivation is economic. This is the innocent nature of the entertainment industry. The real danger only becomes apparent through what these children, who are curious and interested, write in forums and letters, revealing a completely different picture of history. Indeed, these children, who have grown up on movies and comic books, seriously believe that the United States and Great Britain won the war, with only symbolic help from the Soviet Union.
The above is probably true of the vast majority of teenagers, and very possibly many adults, in western Europe and, almost certainly, the United States. The facts highlighted by the above quote can only help to justify the view that Europe needs to counter some of the excessive influences of American culture.