People carry portraits of people, including Red Army soldiers, as they take part in the Immortal Regiment march on the Victory Day parade, which marks the anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, in Vladivostok, Russia. (Reuters/Yuri Maltsev)
“He who does not wish to speak of capitalism should remain forever silent about Nazism” – Max Horkheimer famously said. It was a clear and often repeated line of this chief architect from the Frankfurt school of Philosophy – one of the most influential centres of thought in the XX century.
This school of thought was tolerant and rather forgiving towards Western societies. Most importantly, the Frankfurters were for sure physically closest one to the post-WWII ideological and geopolitical default lines.
Even the Heideggerian run-away, Herbert Marcuse agreed. His “repressive tolerance” was probably the best indication of the possible self-entrapment of the western society, if someone in future ever attempts a dangerous and ahistorical equitation between Nazism and anything else, least with Communism.
Regrettably enough, that future of de-evolution started pouring in by 1990s: It was this very same notion which Umberto Eco will name ur-fascism in 1995, sensing cold winds from the eastern flank of the EU and highly cynical silence of tacit approval from the central Europe.
Silence of the La(m)bs
“No one governs innocently” is a legendary diagnosis of Simone de Beauvoir about a true (Machiavellian) nature of political conduct. However, Nazi culprit; the calmly programmed concentrations camps, ruthless invasions and unprecedented scale of all-Europe suffering does not fall under this category. And will never be. This colossal evil needs its own name, its own category and our clear immortal reference to it.
Hence, the one who is not ready to talk about the imperialism of (primarily) Atlantic-Central Europe, colonialism, as well as about racism which usually justified the first two, should not talk about the ‘true’ European values. Or, for that matter, teach any lesson Europe’s East and Southeast.
Bottom line, before any contemplation for equitation, we should openly speak up about France in Algeria and Indochina, Italy in Libya and Eritrea, Dutch in Indonesia, Spain in Latin America (and home with Franco), Germany in Namibia and repeatedly all over Europe, Britain at so many places and at so many times, etc.
More than that, the only (i) organised and (ii) permanent resistance in Europe, occupied by Nazis, before and during the WWII was made by the communists. This irrefutable fact many to the EU’s East today perceive as inconvenient truth, which – by anti/intellectual acrobatics and central EU complicit silence– should be hidden under the carpet.
That antifascist struggle does not include Soviet Union and Yugoslavia only – two countries taking up by far the heaviest burden of pan-European resistance and liberation – but other patriotic movements as well; French, Greek, Italian and Spanish communists, too.
Of course, the only two counties that solely freed themselves from Nazism without any external help were the two Eastern European, and at the same time two predominantly Slavic countries, Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.
So, the equitation of Communism with Nazism deeply insults all victims, but more over it negates very antifascist fundaments of modern Europe, while being at the same time deeply anti-Slavic.
Clearly, negations of Nazi horrors – and any equitation is a beginning of such ahistorical and racist negation – committed in camps and elsewhere in occupied Europe, is not only anti-Semitic. It is first and most of all anti-Slavic!!
It isn’t freedom From. It’s freedom To
Sadly enough, most of the popular Atlantist literature and movies elaborating on topics of the WWII are biased and misleading on the role of the Red Army, and are generally disrespectful towards the enormous suffering of the Soviet and Yugoslav peoples at that time.
Some of the constantly implied fallacies is that the US and UK equally shared the burden of WWII with the Soviets. Even the British WWII ambassador in Moscow, Sir Stafford Cripps accused – in many cables he sent – his government of fatalistic defeatism, lack of bravery and of shirking any fight.
As it happens, Stalin himself shouted at Churchill when the British PM went to Moscow to meet him in August 1942: “We’re losing 10,000 soldiers a day (1 per 8 seconds!!, rem.aut.)… Are you going to let us do all the fighting?”
Relative to the 1939 size of state territory and incumbent population within, the top WWII fatalities were suffered by Poland– 18%, the Soviet Union– 15%, Yugoslavia 12%, III Reich/Germany+Austria – 10%. For a sake of comparison, the Atlantic rim suffered as follows: France– 1,3%, UK–0,9%, the US– 0,3%. In casulties, it is: 36 millions to the East (mostly civilian), versus only 1,2 of the Atlantic Europe including the US soldiers.
Indeed, Russian and Yugoslav front – as only two fronts of permanently organized military resistance on the Continent – faced nearly 90% of the total German forces deployed in Europe.
Promising to open the second, western front ever since 1941, the Anglo-American army eventually managed its landing on Sicily (oddly helped – out of his prison cell – by an Italian village Don turned the US mafia boss, Lucky Luciano) but only as late as September 1943.
By that time, Tito’s Partisans already managed most of their critical offensives (providing a strong support to Albanian and Greek patriots at the same time, too), while Russians won over in the biggest and bloodiest battles of the WWII.
All of them were fought on the very Soviet soil; that of Moscow, of Stalingrad, of Leningrad, and of Kursk – with the last one representing the biggest battle ever recorded in history of mankind.
Also indigenously, Italian anti-fascists – organized by progressive patriots and gathered in Garibaldi brigades – significantly knocked down the Duce’s rule in Italy.
Conversely, the Anglo-American blitzkrieg up the Italian ‘boot’ turned into a blamage. German forces quickly replaced capitulating Italy’s Fascists phalanges, and easily repelled the Allies. The Western combined army will reach Rome only in June 1944. Eventually, by the time of the Normandy invasion in summer 1944, the fate of Nazism in Europe was already decided by Eastern and Russophone Europe.
Trying to answer why the so-called Anglo-American antifascist intervention in Greece and Italy was so slow, anemic and late, many scholars argue that it was never meant to fight Nazis, but to disturb the strong indigenous leftist antifascist forces and to divert them to the desired ideological orientation and Atlantist geopolitical course.
The name of the Rose? Well, it is Red.
Sorry, but this is how it is. Eco just recorded echo.
Prof. Anis H. Bajrektarević,
Author is professor in international law and global political studies, based in Vienna, Austria. His 7th book From WWI to www. 1918-2018 is published by the New York’s Addleton Academic Publishers last winter.
Vienna, 20 FEB 2020
The 21st Century