Dien' Pobiedy

The Russian V-E Day, celebrating the end of World War II 73 years ago.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Today is when Russians celebrate—at least they celebrated it under the Soviets, but I'm sure they still celebrate it now—Dien' Pobiedy: Victory Day, the victory of course being victory over the Nazis (or, as the Russians say, Fascists). Americans mark V-E day on May 8, but Russians do it on May 9, for complicated reasons (and see this Wikipedia article). My father, who lived through the Siege of Leningrad, tells me he remembers the original day (he was six at the time).


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  1. Seems like there was more winning back then. MAGA#

    1. Damned pricey winning ….

      1. It is said there is a mind altering effect, when reflecting on such events from outer space, for both astronauts and cosmonauts.


    2. Exactly, the best way to win a fight is to avoid it.

      1. “the best way to win a fight is to avoid it’

        Sure, given a choice of different ways to win a fight, if avoidance is going to lead to a win, then that’s the best way. Unfortunately avoidance does not always result in a win. And that’s the trouble with pithy aphorisms. Sometimes they work just as well the other way round :

        “sometimes the best way to avoid a fight is to win it” or variants thereof, along the lines that a short sharp early smack on the nose of a bully may save an awful lot of trouble later

        I append below some remarks from a genuine expert on the value of pre-emptive strikes on bullies, in the field of foreign affairs.

        1. “Up to now we have succeeded in leaving the enemy in the dark concerning Germany’s real goals, just as before 1932 our domestic foes never saw where we were going or that our oath of legality was just a trick. We wanted to come to power legally, but we did not want to use power legally. ?They could have suppressed us. They could have arrested a couple of us in 1925 and that would have been that, the end, No, they let us through the danger zone. That’s exactly how it was in foreign policy too?In 1933 the French premier ought to have said (and if I had been the French premier I would have said it) : “The new Reich Chancellor is the man who wrote Mein Kampf, which says this and that. This man cannot be tolerated in our vicinity. Either he disappears or we march !” But they didn’t do it. They left us alone and let us slip through the risky zone, and we were able to sail around all dangerous reefs. And when we were done, and well armed, better than they, then they started the war !”

          Josef Goebbels – April 1940

    3. Thought is, it never should have happened. It is both bad to win and bad to lose, but thank god they won.

  2. On 12 February 19444 Eisenhower as Supreme Allied Commander Allied Expeditionary Force was designated Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force and given this task:

    “You will enter the continent of Europe and, in conjunction with the other United Nations, undertake operations aimed at the heart of Germany and the destruction of her armed forces.”

    On May 7th 1945 Eisenhower sent this message to Combined Chiefs of Staff and the British General Staff;

    “The mission of this Allied Force was fulfilled at 0241, local time, May 7th, 1945.”

    I always thought the two official statements made good bookends,

    1. How old wil Eisenhower be in the year 19,444?

    2. The Soviets, however, bore the most heavy burden of that mission and also did most of the dirty work to get it done.

      1. After stabbing Poland in the back and letting the Germans catch them with their pants down. Not to mention the murder of 20,000 Polish officers.

        US wins without Russia, Russia loses without the US.

        1. Not going to argue with you that the Soviets were evil in the extreme. Your second point is probably right, but the costs of winning without Russia would be insanely high; and if the Soviets had actually allied themselves with Hitler instead of being “neutral”, I am not sure the Allies win. Most likely result is fight to stalemate where continental Europe is dominated by Hitler and Stalin.

          1. Also, the evil of the Soviets was a feature not a bug at the end of the war. I don’t know if it is confirmed, or even if it was a conscious choice, but the Allies clearly let the Soviets get to Berlin first to let them have their revenge. And I ain’t crying for the Nazis et al. who were on the other side of the Soviets in 1945 Berlin.

            1. The German Army imploded quicker in the West – who would you rather be taken prisoner by ? – so at the end the Western Allies were advancing pretty fast. But they certainly weren’t going to bother wasting troops chasing after territory that was going to be in the Soviet zone as a result of the Yalta agreement. The notion that they held back to allow the Soviets to rape and revenge themselves without interruption is absurd. The Western units stopped when the enemy folded and they’d reached their objectives. In fact one of the military problems that Western commanders faced in the final weeks was their more experienced troops losing enthusiasm for combat. Who wants to be killed in the last battle when you’re going to win anyway ? Racing the Russians to Berlin for glory was never going to happen. (Unless Mark Clark had been in the area, which fortunately he wasn’t.)

              They did mount a few missions into the Soviet zone as part of the Alsos Mission, but that’s a different thing.

        2. Don’t forget the Finns They go double screwed. Invaded by the Soviets then abandoned by the West and forced to take help from the Germans.

          1. With a few random Finnish Jews fighting alongside the Nazis …

          2. More precisely, the West was smashed to pieces during the key period (1940) when Finland was forced to seek German support. Norway and France were occupied, and Britain was powerless, itself under siege.

        3. I have a feeling that Poland no longer celebrates VE day, on account of not feeling there was much of a V as far as they were concerned.

        4. Bob: “US wins without Russia, Russia loses without the US”

          Both are possible but debatable.

          1) Could the US have won an ocean away against a Germany that wasn’t losing millions of soldiers and gigatons of weaponry and other supplies in the East? It would be an altogether different task than ultimately fell to them.

          (2) Couldn’t the Russians have beaten Germany without U.S. and British troops? Granted, the US helped Russia three ways: (a) war supplies, (b) making Hitler keep much of his military in Africa, Italy, and along the English Channel, and (c) indirectly, by keeping Japan’s attention elsewhere [that was what let the Russians transfer troops westward to first stop and then devastate the Germans]. But there are very smart people who say, as did Alan Clarke (“Barbarosa: The Russian-German Conflict, 1941-1945,” p. xxi): “It does seem that the Russians could have the war on their own, or at least fought the Germans to a standstill, without any help from the West.” So that’s another country heard from.

          1. “Could the US have won an ocean away…”

            Add a few months to the ETO with no immediate end in sight and Berlin/Hamburg/Munich/whatever could have gone the way of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

            1. Nuclear weapons were not as formidable in 1945 as they would be 10 years later.

              Meanwhile, there were plenty of other things that could have gone wrong for an Anglo-American alliance fighting Germany without Russian help in 1941-45:

              Huge forces would have been available to drive the British out of the Middle East and link up with Japan and an independent India in the Indian Ocean. Germany and Japan would have been able to pool technology and resources.

              Increased resources would be available for submarines and aircraft to strangle Britain. Even with most German resources fighting Soviet Russia, the Anglo Americans were not able to contain the submarine threat until the spring of 1943.

              Without the huge expense ot the Russian campaign, the Germans might have decided they could afford serious investment in their own nuclear bomb research. As it was, they were well ahead of us in missile and jet-aircraft technology.

              It is not clear that the USA was ready to pay millions of lives for an extended war with Germany. Though there were some exceptions, on average neither Americans nor British fought with the same all-out ferocity as Germans or Russians routinely did.

  3. Ah yes; the end of the Great Patriotic War.

  4. But 00:xx on May 9th, Central European Time would be about 18:xx May 8th Eastern War Time in DC so both are correct. 😉 😉

  5. One bad guy winning against another bad guy pretty much sums up ww2, or should if people bothered to look at the truth.

  6. Having glanced through the history, the document was not actually signed until after midnight because some key sentences or provisions were not in the original draft, and the parties were waiting for a new draft. The Russians definitely have the better of the argument here. Perhaps the Germans were “mostly” complying with the terms, but if those sentences (whatever they were) were worth waiting for, the agreement was not complete until the contract containing those provisions was signed.

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