The Only Monument to Soviet Army Soldiers in the U.S.?

|

It's in Plummer Park, the L.A./West Hollywood social hub for immigrants from the former USSR—I used to play there when I was a small child; my parents, like so many immigrants from there, moved at first to West Hollywood. The memorial was erected in 2005, long after I left that area, so it took an e-mail from my colleague Kal Raustiala for me to learn about it.

(The photo is from a Russian Embassy tweet; the memorial itself was created by emigre sculptor Mikhail Naruzetskiy, and the quoted poem is by Rasul Gamzatov.)

For all the crimes of the USSR, and indeed the mass atrocities of the Soviet Army against Polish, German, and other civilians, the Soviet Army stopped the Nazis on the Eastern Front; Soviet soldiers gave their lives in the process by the millions; the Soviet Army was ultimately responsible for saving the lives of my parents and millions of others; and many of the soldiers who fought in that horror had reason to be proud of their roles. (The money for the memorial was apparently raised by veterans who had emigrated to the U.S.)

NEXT: Today in Supreme Court History: December 7, 1941

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “Soviet soldiers gave their lives in the process by the millions; the Soviet Army was ultimately responsible for saving the lives of my parents and millions of others;”

    In the spirit of, “These are OUR slaves, you can’t have them!”; If wasn’t a fight over whether your parents would live, just over who their slave masters would be.

    I’d be more impressed with the Soviet fight against the Nazis if the USSR hadn’t started the war on Hitler’s side, and only switched sides when Hitler double crossed Stalin. And if the USSR hadn’t held on to every square inch of Europe it could, to subjugate exactly as oppressively as the Nazis intended to.

    In a fight between Nazi Germany and the USSR, the only pity was that they couldn’t both lose.

    1. What does any of that have to do with the average Soviet soldier?

      1. It’s got as much to do with the average Soviet soldier, as it has to do with the average Nazi Germany soldier. Neither were fighting to save people, they were both fighting over who the people would be oppressed by.

        1. Let’s be fair. The average soldier of both countries was fighting because his own dictator made alternatives uninteresting. The average soldier of both countries was not fighting *for* his own dictator so much as fighting to not be murdered by his own dictator.

          It’s one of those weird things about wars. It’s easy to say best if both should wear each other out, except that involves millions of people murdering each other for no good reason, when what we really want is the two dictators to murder each other.

          A monument to the soldiers as victims of dictator games is not a monument to the dictators.

          1. True: The armies were fighting to decide whose boot heel would grind the people’s faces, the soldiers were fighting because war gave you better odds than a firing squad.

            I agree it wouldn’t be best for the soldiers themselves if the two sides ground each other down to nubs without a conclusive victory. But it would have been better for the people if the war had left the USSR too exhausted to subjugate half of Europe.

            1. By that definition, were the American solider different?

              I tend to wince at utilitarian analyses of war. By that logic, we should have nuked Russia right after Germany surrendered. Which by most metrics would be a pretty morally dark move.

              1. Nuking Hiroshima killed 129,000 people.

                Moscow is more spread out, and with more masonary/stone buildings. So say 100,000 killed per bomb dropped, and the USSR would have folded after the first one.

                And that would have stopped Stalin there and then. China would have remained free, no war in Korea or Vietnam, etc. So it’s an interesting issue…

                1. Great example of how utilitarian analysis leads you to nonstop warcriming.

                  1. Using a nuke against an enemy is not a war crime.

                    1. The USSR suddenly became an enemy the moment Germany surrendered?

                      Are you honestly arguing the moral case was for Truman to have nuked the USSR immediately following victory in WW-2?

                    2. The Soviets were our allies, not our enemies.

                    3. Sarc, Dilan: using the nuclear monopoly to try and establish a postwar world hegemony would have been an exceedingly immoral thing.

                      But Stalin was pretty clearly an enemy (as well as an ally!) prior to VE day. There was no doubt of his intention to rule Eastern Europe going forward[1][2], and we wanted to reestablish a free Europe.

                      [1]See, among much else, his conduct around the 1944 Warsaw rising.
                      [2]And for that matter, Western Europe if he could exploit the postwar chaos to install puppet governments there too.

                    4. Absaroka – I cannot argue with that. But I think you and Bob have different definitions of what an enemy is.

                    5. “The USSR suddenly became an enemy the moment Germany surrendered?”

                      Yes.

                      “Are you honestly arguing the moral case was for Truman to have nuked the USSR immediately following victory in WW-2?”

                      No Korean War, no US involvement in Vietnam, no proxy wars in Africa, no millions repressed in Eastern Europe and Cuba, perhaps even no Red China.

                    6. “No Korean War, no US involvement in Vietnam, no proxy wars in Africa, no millions repressed in Eastern Europe and Cuba, perhaps even no Red China.”

                      Just curious: in your post-WWII nuclear Pax Americana, the world would have just settled down to be peacefully ruled by the benevolent wise ones in Washington DC?

                    7. It is kinda silly to argue about the morality of this, because there is no way the US public would have supported war against the USSR in 1945. Truman would have been impeached the next day.

                      Similarly, using the A-bomb against Japan was a complete no-brainer. The US public would not have supported the loss of a single additional American soldier to avert further civilian casualties. If word got out that we had a “super weapon” that we refused to use, Truman would have been impeached and he would be most reviled person in US history. He would make Douglas Haig look like Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks rolled into one.

                    8. “in your post-WWII nuclear Pax Americana, the world would have just settled down to be peacefully ruled by the benevolent wise ones in Washington DC?”

                      It would have let us return to the prewar semi-isolationism. So long as we maintained a nuke monopoly, no need to police the world.

                    9. ” So long as we maintained a nuke monopoly, no need to police the world.”

                      How do you plan to maintain a nuclear monopoly without policing the world?

                      Or, you think the Vietnam War would have been prevented. My sense is that Ho Chi Minh would have tried to take over South Vietnam even in the face of an American nuclear monopoly.

                  2. Great example of how utilitarian analysis leads you to nonstop warcriming.

              2. By that definition, were the American solider different?

                I’d be embarrassed to see this sort of performatively nihilistic false equivalency from a 14 year old. You’re better than this.

                1. When I say by that definition, it means I don’t believe it – I think the argument I’m replying to proves too much.

          2. I say the same thing about Confederate memorials…

        2. The average soldier of both countries was fighting because his own dictator made alternatives uninteresting. The average soldier of both countries was not fighting *for* his own dictator so much as fighting to not be murdered by his own dictator.

          True probably for the Russians.

          But Hitler and Nazism were pretty damn popular in Germany. I’d bet the German soldiers were a lot more enthusiastic about their political leadership and the war than those in the Red Army.

          Remember that for Germany the war had thus far been a great success – lots of victory, lots of plunder, lots of conquest, lots of killing. what was there for the Wehrmacht not to like?

          1. There you go again — “what was there for the Wehrmacht not to like?” — back to the collective. The “Wehrmacht” didn’t like or not like anything — this is about individual soldiers. Most soldiers would much prefer a boring job back home than living in cold mud and risking death every day, regardless of patriotism or what the dictator wants.

            1. OK. I’ll make it clear enough that even you can understand it.

              I’ll wager there was a lot more support for Hitler and Nazism among the German soldiers than there was for Stalin and Communism in the Red Army.

              And part of the reason for that was the success of the Wehrmacht and rest of the German armed forces.

              You can disagree, but no need to be an asshole about it.

              1. “I’ll wager there was a lot more support for Hitler and Nazism among the German soldiers than there was for Stalin and Communism in the Red Army.”

                Evidence?

                1. Hitler was massively popular in Germany.

                  See, for example

                  That surely included the armed forces. Many officers joined the Nazi party, even though it was not a requirement, and the Wehrmacht participated in the Nazi atrocities.

                  1. That article is long on opinion, short on facts.

                    I could change some words and write a similar one about Russia.

                    1. Plenty of facts, and the opinion is pretty-well informed.

                    2. “Plenty of facts”

                      What facts? Cheering crowds in Munich?

                      Trump had big cheering crowds. Was he more popular than Biden?

                    3. Wait, did you just compare Trump to Hitler?

                  2. “Hitler was massively popular in Germany.”‘

                    Which Hitler?

                    We look backwards today and Hitler==genocide, etc. But that wasn’t at all apparent in 1938, which your article correctly states as the high point of Hitler’s popularity. In 1938, Hitler was riding a wave of prosperity, autobahns, and indeed, people liked that he was pushing back against the humiliation of Versailles. If he had choked in a chicken bone in 1938, he might largely be looked on favorably today (except, perhaps, by anyone who reads Mein Kampf).

                    There were upwards of a dozen assassination attempts on Hitler. To be sure, popular leaders can still be assassinated (JFK), but that many attempts kind of hints that he might not be universally loved.

                    ‘The Third Reich’ by Thomas Childers is a detailed political (as opposed to primarily military) history of that era in Germany.

              2. You can disagree, but no need to be an asshole about it.

                That’s pretty funny coming at the end of a post that you started with…

                I’ll make it clear enough that even you can understand it.

          2. The German Army really didn’t support Hitler.

            1. Bullshit, Ed. Of course they did.

              Don’t buy the “Clean Wehrmacht” myth.

              1. They sure didn’t like Hitler. Support comes in varying levels.

                1. They may not have liked him personally, or felt that he was not of their class, but they obviously supported his political and military aims, and were certainly complicit in his crimes.

                  That’s what mattered.

              2. I think he is talking about the Prussian officer corps, many of whom viewed Hitler as an uncouth peasant (cf. Corporal, Bohemian), and held him in various degrees of contempt. However, I’d venture to say that the rank and file in the Wehrmacht were as supportive of Hitler as the general population.

                Evidence of this is that there was no need for Political Officers or Commissars in the Wehrmacht. Compare that with the structure of the Red Army, and their, shall we say, “enthusiastic and creative” ways of maintaining discipline.

    2. You know Brett, even among awful things, some things are more awful than others. Oppression is awful. Genocide is worse. If you were a Soviet Jew, even one who later fled the USSR for the USA, I suspect you too would be grateful that the Bolsheviks had saved you from the Nazis.

      Or maybe you think EV is a crypto-pinko.

      1. Do you think the USSR did not kill Jews?

        Stalin murdered far more civilians than Hitler.

        1. Don’t forget what Stalin did to The Ukraine in 1933 — the great hunger. That was true genocide.

        2. Do you think the USSR did not kill Jews?
          Stalin murdered far more civilians than Hitler.

          Don’t be obtuse. The USSR killed millions of people, so obviously some of the victims were Jews. But if you were an Eastern European Jew during 1942-1945, if the Nazis got you you were dead. Period. If the Russians got you, you probably lived. As murderously evil as Stalin was, in that context he was a savior.

          1. [Just to fix the formatting fail (I hope)]

            Do you think the USSR did not kill Jews?
            Stalin murdered far more civilians than Hitler.

            Don’t be obtuse. The USSR killed millions of people, so obviously some of the victims were Jews. But if you were an Eastern European Jew during 1942-1945, if the Nazis got you you were dead. Period. If the Russians got you, you probably lived. As murderously evil as Stalin was, in that context he was a savior.

    3. If wasn’t a fight over whether your parents would live, just over who their slave masters would be.

      Um, no. The Germans didn’t want them as slaves, at least in the long term; they wanted them dead, though they didn’t object to extracting as much labor as they could out of them in the process.

      1. Stalin murdered and enslaved more people than Hitler.

    4. I’m sorry but you all are selling soldiers on both sides short. I disagree with pretty much all the comments here. I am distressed to see this level of anti-veteran ignorance and bigotry. I thought better of you all.

      Yes, many soldiers were conscripted. Many others, however, volunteered. And even those who were drafted – well, you wouldn’t say that the US draftees who fought in Vietnam did so merely “to not be murdered by [their] own dictator”.

      Soldiers do not fight for their political leaders. They enlist for the ideals of the country. They comply with conscription for many reasons well below the death penalty. Once in the service, they fight for their comrades – the members of their squad or troop or company.

      Attributing the aims and goals of Hitler and Stalin to individual soldiers is as inappropriate as projecting the aims and goals of Trump (and Obama and Biden) onto you personally. That’s not why soldiers join up and its certainly not why they stay.

      1. Rossami : “Attributing the aims and goals of Hitler and Stalin to individual soldiers is as inappropriate as projecting the aims and goals of Trump (and Obama and Biden) onto you personally. That’s not why soldiers join up and its certainly not why they stay”

        Four points :

        (1) I think a major part of soldiers’ response to conscription or enlisting is because societies are structured to steer young men towards that choice. That’s obvious with conscription, but also true of enlisting. The white feather in the UK during WWI is a well-known example.

        (2) That said, Stalin immediately adjusted his domestic propaganda to emphasize Mother Russia over the Soviet state after Hitler attacked. That’s what the communist regime thought its soldiers would fight for.

        (3) Take Rossami’s point above in reverse : As a Southerner, I’ve heard a zillion times the Civil War wasn’t about slavery because the average confederate conscript didn’t own slaves. There are multiple problems with that, but Rossami above offers one.

        (4) Stalin’s regime was one of the most grotesquely criminal and murderous in history. And the Soviets did start the war as Nazi allies, the two dictatorships carving up Poland between them. But it’s an unassailable fact the Soviets eventually bore the brunt of the fighting and faced a massively larger German force. In addition to saving Professor Volokh’s family, they also saved scores of thousands of U.S. & U.K. soldier’s lives. That’s just a raw historical fact.

      2. Soldiers do not fight for their political leaders. They enlist for the ideals of the country.

        But the “ideals” of Germany at the time were very much tied up with Nazism. The notion of the Aryan as the apex of humanity was very much part of those “ideals,” so I don’t see how you separate the two.

        This doesn’t apply universally, of course. In most countries, though not all, the ideals are not closely bound to the political leadership, but in some, Nazi Germany, maybe North Korea today, the tie is very close.

    5. In a fight between Nazi Germany and the USSR, the only pity was that they couldn’t both lose.

      They did both lose. They were both in the war, weren’t they?

      1. 1. The Soviet Union lost around 27 million people during the war, including 8.7 million military and 19 million civilian deaths. The largest portion of military dead were 5.7 million ethnic Russians, followed by 1.3 million ethnic Ukrainians. A quarter of the people in the Soviet Union were wounded or killed. Germany sustained 5.3 million military losses, mostly on the Eastern Front and during the final battles in Germany.

        2. Part of the reason Stalin allied with Hitler at the beginning of the war was the belief western governments wanted to pit German against Russia and see both bleed out. Stalin was pathologically paranoid, but in this he wasn’t completely wrong.

  2. “Soviet soldiers gave their lives in the process by the millions…”

    Nah, not a lot of “giving” was involved.

    More like, “OK, men, here’s a gun (or wooden stick when guns were in short supply). Sorry, that’s all the ammo you get but trust me Tovarish you’re not going to need much. Now run and shoot in that direction, that’s where the Nazis are, if you see any, kill them. Oh, and don’t try any funny stuff, because the Kommissars are going to be behind you and Trust Me Tovarish, they all have guns with plenty of ammo.”

    1. Stalin’s error in not preparing at the start cost a couple of million lives at least. Plus his purges of the Red Army officer corps cost a lot too. Rokossovsky, the best Red general, just barely escaped with his life in the 30s, got teeth knocked out during toture.

  3. Wow — someone at VC actually saying something good about the Soviet Union.

    At what point will we see an acknowledgement of the Communists’ attempts to introduce literacy and health care to a backward and destitute country? At this rate, the year 2041. I’ll probably still be alive to see it.

    1. You are not going to catch me saying nice things about Marxism. That said, Marxism only came about because of the worst abuses of capitalism. Marx’s solutions may have been wrong, but he was addressing real problems.

      1. Marx’s indictment of capitalism was spot on.

        His analysis of the consequences and solutions of those issues was incredibly wrong.

        1. His indictment was spot on, but his analysis was incredibly wrong. Damn that is so insightful.

          He was clueless from the start. His labor theory of value was bunk. Neither he nor you recognize the difference between government and markets.

          1. Ah. So you haven’t done much reading on this.

            He made predictions of what would happen in capitalist countries that are quite hard to argue with now.
            Giving markets moral force, recessions, depressions, technological improvement leading to increases in productivity not of leisure…

      2. The worst abuses of capitalism were just excuses for Marxism: Notice that Marx predicted revolution in advanced capitalistic society, while all the actual revolutions happened in places that were substantially backwards, and no actual advanced capitalist society ever experienced a communist revolution?

        It wasn’t just Marx’s prescription that was wrong, it was his diagnosis, too.

        1. The worst abuses of capitalism actually existed. That they were used as an excuse only underscores the fact that they existed and could be used as an excuse.

          And maybe if those with libertarian inclinations were willing to spend half as much energy actually trying to fix problems as they are complaining that those problems are abused by charlatans and rascals, there would be fewer instances of charlatans and rascals being able to use those problems to their own advantage.

          The two are not mutually exclusive. It is possible to say BOTH that the conditions of Russian peasants was unspeakable and needed to be fixed, AND ALSO that Lenin and company were rascals and scoundrels.

          1. Krychek_2 : “And maybe if those with libertarian inclinations were willing to spend half as much energy actually trying to fix problems…”

            I think it’s worse than that. Today’s Right spends a large amount of energy complaining about the historical development of modern democracies as they evolved to lessen the abuses of capitalism & make societies more impervious to charlatans, rascals, and upheaval. Much of their whining is probably facile nostalgia, but its still backwards looking, not forward. You don’t expect to be still debating the New Deal at this point.

          2. The worst abuses of capitalism were actually abuses of government.

            1. Á àß äẞç ãþÇđ âÞ¢Đæ ǎB€Ðëf ảhf : “The worst abuses of capitalism were actually abuses of government”

              People come up with the damnedest things when it’s their religion talking.

        2. The main difference between the horrors of Capitalism and of Communism are that the first is generally more from inaction, and the latter are generally more from intentional action.

          Big deal if you’re a pure Kantian, otherwise not so much.

          1. It’s a big deal in either case, (Even assuming bad working conditions are comparable to genocide.) because if horror is deliberate, efforts will be made to circumvent anything you do to avoid it. If horror is indifferent, it won’t pursue you.

            1. Yeah, Dickensian England was full of agency for the lower classes.

              1. Yes, it actually WAS full of agency for the lower classes. Don’t confuse people not making the choices you think they should have, with people not having choices.

                All through that era people were immigrating to, and emigrating from, Dickensian England. And I’m not talking penal colonies in Australia, either. Immigration into the US from England actually peaked during that period, and America was not a penal colony, these people were choosing to move.

                1. Don’t confuse people not making the choices you think they should have, with people not having choices.

                  Ah yes, the poor lack virtue, that’s why they’re poor.

                  Prosperity gospel much?

                2. I dunno, Brett. In the 1930’s a lot of Jews who could swing it left Germany. But phrasing that as ‘Jews had a lot of agency under Hitler’ seems a little weird.

              2. Funny how so many poor people educated themselves and their children before government schools existed. Funny how so many poor people managed to feed themselves, clothe themselves, shelter themselves, and make better lives for their children, all without government help.

                I suppose you think poor people are too stupid to have contributed to advancing society.

                1. Funny how many didn’t.

                  I love markets as a tool to foreground innovation and select information, but don’t pretend they’re a moral force wherein they are great at choosing meritorious people of character upon whom to bestow success.

                  If you want a moral society, you need guardrails on your markets to turn them from amoral engines of growth and accumulation into something that betters society

                2. Á àß äẞç ãþÇđ âÞ¢Đæ ǎB€Ðëf ảhf : Funny how so many poor people educated themselves and their children before government schools existed.

                  I’m not sure the issue is as simplistic as your religion dictates (and let’s not kid ourselves, we’re talking religion here). For instance, what about the Massachusetts law of 1642 or Connecticut law of 1650 that required children, servants and apprentices learn how to read? Tyrannically Big Brother Oppression at its worst, eh?

                  (I can picture Á àß äẞç ãþÇđ âÞ¢Đæ ǎB€Ðëf ảhf making the sign of the cross, and murmuring a charm against the Evil One)

          2. “Under capitalism man exploits man. Under communism it’s just the opposite.”

      3. One does not have to excuse the horrors of Stalinism in order to acknowledge that in the early years a lot of well-intentioned people went to the Soviet Union to help. Also domestically many worked to create an educated and physically healthy proletariat.

        1. And many people enthusiastically joined the Nazi party and made tremendous personal sacrifices in support of their efforts (up to and including the Holocaust) because they sincerely believed it was the right thing to do.

          Who gives a fuck? They’re both irredeemably evil, and in a just world polite society would have just as much scorn for Soviet apologists like you as it does for Naziphiles.

          1. These are not complicated facts, but they are too complicated for you.

    2. Dictators are always big on literacy: It’s easier to issue orders in writing. What defenders of the USSR usually fail to note is that the Russian empire was already reforming, the communists took over and subverted a process already in motion.

      In all likelihood Russia would have modernized faster without the communists.

      1. “Russian empire was already reforming”

        Right, the tsar had already been deposed. Reds took over in a coup against a democratic government.

        1. The best free countries are the counterfactual ones.

          1. It’s not counterfactual that the communists killed off a democratic government after the tsar was already deposed. They didn’t revolt against the tsar, they revolted against the democracy that had replaced the tsar.

            1. Sure, but it is far from clear that should the whites have won that things would have been better.

              1. I dunno. As it happened, ‘the reds win’ turned out to be pretty far out on the ‘really, really bad’ tail of the distribution. Taking some other random outcome was pretty likely to result in a better outcome. Russia was what, a couple of hundred years behind the rest of Europe on the absolute monarchy–>democracy timeline. Given that the rest of Europe was already demonstrating what an improvement democracy was, do you think it would have taken 100 years for Russia to catch up?

                1. We don’t know. History doesn’t really follow a normal distribution.

                  It’s just not a very good argument to use.

                  There’s no reason to speculate; I try to stay away in general from the whole opportunity cost genre of historical debate absent a specific primary source on the road not taken.

        2. “the tsar had already been deposed. Reds took over in a coup against a democratic government.”

          Which of these assertions is false?

          1. The implication that the Reds were worse than whatever would have occurred should they have lost.

            Plenty of things to attack the USSR for without leaning on some alternate history.

            1. “implication that the Reds were worse than whatever would have occurred should they have lost”

              You don’t think the Reds were worse than Kerensky and the social democrats?

              1. I think I have no idea what would have happened, and neither do you. Russia was a pretty rough place to begin with.

                1. You just cannot bring yourself to criticize the Reds. No enemies to the left I guess.

                  1. Yeah, Bob, I love the Soviets and Communism is the best and Communist countries have great human rights and did nothing wrong and Stalin rocks and didn’t do any genociding of his own people.

                    That’s what I’m saying.

                    Red-baiting asshole.

                    1. Every thread on Communism on this site, including this one, has the left here minimizing or deflecting their crimes. Why is that?

                    2. Could be that you have a particularly Manichean view of politics, and see anyone disagreeing with that kind of lack of nuance as a Communist.

                      For instance, I was saying ahistorical counterfactuals are not useful to make any kind of factual claim. You declared this was actually a defense of Communism. That’s more about your knee jerking than any secret liberal Communist agenda.

                    3. “You declared this was actually a defense of Communism. ”

                      Of course it is. Its a deflection of the crimes in a way one would never do with Nazis, for instance, talking about literacy and medical care the Reds instituted.

                      “Oh, we can’t tell for sure that Kerensky wouldn’t have murdered 10 million Kulaks. So, we make no judgment on the Reds, anything could have happened.” That’s a defense.

                    4. Pointing out faulty historical analysis isn’t deflecting.

                      If you insist that even nonsense indictments of Communism must be endorsed as true or else I’m deflecting from the horrors of Communism, you’ve sacrificed truth on the alter ideological purity. Which actually sounds a lot like what happened back in the USSR.

          2. Since you asked, that the provisional government was democratically elected in some way.

            1. To nit pick: he didn’t say it was democratically elected; he said it was democratic. And that seems like a reasonable description: “The intention of the provisional government was the organization of elections to the Russian Constituent Assembly and its convention.”.

            2. That’s what made it provisional.

            3. “provisional government was democratically elected in some way”

              It was indirectly elected. A committee of Duma members formed it. The Duma had been elected. But it was a temporary government formed after revolution, not after free and fair elections.

              It was certainly democratic in operation, unlike Lenin’s government.

    3. It’s not something good. The soviets just happened, by historical accident, to be in a position at that moment in which their interest was in rescuing those particular people. In exactly the same way the Nazis did good too, to those whom they temporarily found in their interest to rescue.

      Such as the FInns. If Eugene were Finnish he would have been completely justified in expressing thanks that Hitler saved Finland from the Soviets, without in any way ignoring all the horrible things he did to other people, or that he might have eventually got around to doing to the Finns had he won.

      The USA allied with the USSR against Germany because at that moment Germany was the threat and the USSR wasn’t. At a different time and in a different posture we could just as easily have allied with Germany against the USSR, and that would have been every single bit as morally justified.

    4. “At what point will we see an acknowledgement of the Communists’ attempts to introduce literacy and health care to a backward and destitute country?”

      Mass murder and a police state are never justified by some good results elsewhere. Its sad you think otherwise.

      1. I didn’t say that.

        Not everything is black and white.

        1. No one ever compliments the Nazis on their highway construction efforts either!

          1. Or their efforts to bring cheap autos to the volk!

          2. To elaborate: not everything is black and white, but some things are. And if you can’t bring yourself to call out the Soviet Union as the evil empire it was, I don’t think you have much of interest to say on questions or morality.

  4. My grandfather’s memories of the Russian Civil War were that the Whites were likely to kill you, the Greens were even worse, bloodthirsty murderers who delighted in killing Jews and would hunt you down and take care not to leave anyone alive, while the Reds probably wouldn’t kill you, so if an army came by you hoped it was Red, because at least you were likely to survive.

    1. Reds were trying to win “heats and minds” at that point. They made up for it later.

  5. There’s a Lend-Lease Monument to Russian and American pilots in Fairbanks, Alaska. “This super-sized statue is the only public memorial to the deal that ended America’s neutrality during World War II.”
    https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/lend-lease-monument
    I’ve seen it. It really is super-sized.

  6. Apologies for a shameless threadjack, but the topic is WWII and it is Pearl Harbor day … I saw a post of FDR’s entire speech, all 7 minutes of it. I’ve heard the sound bites (“day of infamy”) in a zillion documentaries, but had never heard the whole thing.

    It does a great job of capturing the reasons for the mood of national outrage that I have heard about from my parent’s generation. The Japanese knew they couldn’t win an all out war with the US, and thought a sneak attack would dull our will to fight. The actual reaction was exactly the opposite.

    1. Today is also the 50th anniversary of Chancellor Willy Brandt’s visit to the Warsaw ghetto: https://twitter.com/EU2020DE/status/1335899483088019456

      I was particularly moved by what Der Spiegel wrote about it at the time, given that Willy Brandt spent the Nazi time in exile fighting against Hitler (my translation):

      Then he kneeled, who did not need to, for all those who needed to, but did not kneel there – because they did not dare to, or because they couldn’t, or can’t dare. Then he confesses a guilt/debt, in which he himself has no share, and asks for forgiveness, which he himself has no need of. Then he kneels there for Germany.

    2. It wasn’t intended to be a sneak attack — there was supposed to be 30 minutes notice nut they screwed up the time zones.

      1. Not only are you spouting your usual trivially-debunked bullshit, you’re doing it in defense of fascist war crimes.

        What the fuck is wrong with you?

        1. No, he is more or less correct, if a bit simplistic. The Japanese rejection of the Hull November ultimatium was supposed to be delivered before the attack.

        2. “trivially-debunked”????

          “Well after the attack began, the Japanese Embassy in Washington delivered a statement ending the negotiations, a virtual declaration of war, and the newly released documents paint a picture of bureaucratic missteps that caused the delay.

          The documents released today show that the memo declaring an end to the bilateral talks was supposed to have been delivered to Secretary of State Cordell Hull by 1 P.M. on Dec. 7, about 25 minutes before the attack began; this fact has long been known. The note was actually delivered about 1 hour and 20 minutes after the attack began.”

          Source: The Grey Lady. Or any history of WWII, it’s not controversial.

          (of course, it may well be reasonable to say that starting an attack that has been in the works for months a half hour after declaring war is still a ‘sneak attack’, but Ed’s version is accurate, at least as far as the timing – I’m not sure about the time zone part)

          1. 1. The statement was not delivered to the U.S. government until after the attack started, due to delay on the part of the Japanese embassy in Washington.

            2. The 14-part message was so clearly not a legal declaration of war under The Hague Convention. The actual declaration of war was printed in Japanese newspapers late in the day on December 7 (in the U.S.) and was not transmitted to the government until December 8.

            3. We’ve known from documents discovered more than 20 years ago that the Japanese military intentionally failed to make the declaration of war in advance for the specific purpose of misleading the U.S. to safeguard the success of the attack. See https://www.law.virginia.edu/static/uvalawyer/html/alumni/uvalawyer/f06/iguchi.htm

            4. As you note, it still would have been a sneak attack if the declaration of war had come out immediately beforehand, just one that was (arguably) not illegal. Under any reasonable construction of the facts, it was clearly “intended to be a sneak attack”.

            5. The time zone thing is, as best I can tell, a typical Dr. Ed fabrication.

            So while it’s true that Japan tried unsuccessfully to communicate with the American government shortly before the attack, Dr. Ed’s comment is indeed complete bullshit.

            1. Here’s the message, in case you’re interested:

              https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/PTO/Dip/Fourteen.html

            2. If anyone wants an entertaining read from the Japanese perspective, try Martin Cruz Smith’s Tokyo Station (also sold as December 6). It’s main character is a deeply cynical American expatriate operating a bar in Tokyo (ala Casablanca’s Rick) in the days before Pearl Harbor. It’s plot stretches things a bit, but is a good snapshot of Japanese life & attitudes pre-war. It’s also a fun page-turner.

              https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1471131203/reasonmagazinea-20/

              1. (Damn. Two it’s vs its. Wish we had an edit function)

          2. Not to quibble, but stopping bilateral talks isn’t a declaration of war (which is why the diplomatic note is euphemistically described as a “virtual declaration of war” in the section of the article you quote).

            Even if the memo was delivered on time it would only have suggested hostilities were eminent, and not even whether those hostilities would be against the U.S. There were plenty of other targets in Southeast Asia, and oil field in the East Indies were the real prize.

            So Ed’s version isn’t correct. Only a declaration of war is a declaration of war, particularly with planes already in the air.

      2. No, Dr. Ed 2, it wasn’t time zones. It was the delay in decoding and typing within the Japanese embassy in Washington which resulted in the attack taking place before the intended final message was delivered. The American codebreakers had no such delays or shortages, and had the full, decrypted message in hand before the Japanese diplomats did.

        Your larger point is also wrong: Even if the message had been delivered in the hour or two before the attack, that would not have been time enough for Pearl Harbor to mount any sort of effective defense.

        It was indeed intended to be, for all practical purposes, a surprise attack, cloaked in the legal fiction that due notice had first been given.

  7. What ever the merits of their respective political systems and both were pretty horrible, the Nazis attacked the Soviets and the Russians were defending themselves from an existential threat.

    The Soviet Army was defending its homeland, that’s probably why they call it The Great Patriotic War, although initially some in the western Soviet Union welcomed the Germans because of Stalin’s previous oppression.

    It’s been understood for a long time that soldiers join for patriotism, adventure and duty but they fight for their buddies in their unit.

    1. that’s probably why they call it The Great Patriotic War

      I suspect they call it that because it polled better than “oops, our Great Leader screwed up when he thought Hitler wouldn’t attack us in the winter”.

      some in the western Soviet Union welcomed the Germans because of Stalin’s previous oppression

      “Some” includes “most survivors of the Ukrainian genocide”, I assume? (And likewise I assume you’re not counting the countries occupied by Stalin in 1939 with the “Western Soviet Union”?)

      1. Probably the most famous or successful spy in history was one Richard Sorge, a Soviet agent who had infiltrated the German Embassy in Japan. Sorge discovered Hitler’s plan to invade the Soviet Union – including the exact date although that’s disputed – and sent it to Moscow. Stalin was furious to learn about it – he believed it was disinformation – and Sorge was reportedly ordered to return to the USSR where he would likely be shot.
        Stalin said upon hearing Sorge’s report that: “There’s this bastard [Sorge] who’s set up factories and brothels in Japan and even deigned to report the date of the German attack as 22 June. Are you suggesting I should believe him too?”

      2. There were many in the Baltic States who hoped the Germans would restore their independence. That didn’t happen.

        I’m sure people in Soviet Republics other than Ukraine were hopeful of German deliverance from Stalin, but the new boss was the same as the old boss.

        A good many Ukrainians volunteered to fight for the Germans (or maybe against Stalin) as well as many from other parts of the Soviet Union. Estimates vary widely but at least hundreds of thousands served in the German military.

    2. The Soviet Army was defending its homeland, that’s probably why they call it The Great Patriotic War,

      Right, and Stalin played on that by emphasizing that the war was being fought for “Mother Russia,” not to defend Marxist theory.

  8. That’s honestly much sweeter than any of the monuments the soviets built (at least that I saw in Crimea and Ukraine). Of all the WW2 moments that loom large in the mind, the battles for Leningrad and Stalingrad are two of the largest. It’s hard to imagine people going into battle with five other men, one firearm, and the hope that you get your hands on a rifle before you get killed. And yet you still beat the best military on earth. History is fascinating.

  9. For a stunning history of the Soviet Army’s actions on the Eastern Front read Timothy Snyder’s work “Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin.” The horrors are unbelievable. As he details, more Jews were killed OUTSIDE of the concentration camps – rounded up in large and small cities, villages and small communities and shot – then were killed inside of them (with lots of help from Soviet citizens). Then after the war, Stalin targeted those Jews who survived for destruction in the name of fighting “Jewish nationalism”.
    Certainly many ordinary Russian soldiers fought with heroism (although if they didn’t they were shot) but the atrocities committed by the Red Army nearly equaled that of the Nazis. It’s a difficult question: how to honor individual soldiers while remembering the many appalling acts that others did.

    1. The Making of the Atomic Bomb actually has a great analysis of the rise of anti-Semitism and Communism after WWI in both eastern and western Europe.

    2. As he details, more Jews were killed OUTSIDE of the concentration camps – rounded up in large and small cities, villages and small communities and shot – then were killed inside of them (with lots of help from Soviet citizens)

      Lots of help from Poles, Czechs, Balts, etc.

    3. I second this recommendation: “Bloodlands” is essential reading.

    4. I was impressed by Martin Gilbert’s overall account of WWII. As a pure history it’s marginal at best, but he zeros in on individual loss of life, person by person, page by page, right alongside all the generals and battle maps. After plus-900 pages the reader is steeped in carnage.

  10. I used to play in Plummer Park as a kid, too, while my brother rehearsed for the LA Junior Philharmonic there.

  11. Well this is an easy fix. If you are offended, just get a few people who are likewise offended, some rented construction equipment, and destroy the monument. Problem solved! Thanks for normalizing this remedy leftists!

  12. It’s about the soldiers, not the government behind them.

    Let’s try that with a monument to confederate soldiers. Hundreds of thousands of them gave their lives.

    1. I don’t much care for this monument. But I think it’s possible draw a distinction between honoring soldiers who fought for a government that was allied with the United States and soldiers who fought for a government that declared war against it.

      1. That’s a fuzzy standard in this case. The Soviets were first allied with Germany and coordinated the invasion of Poland with the Germans. If Hitler hadn’t betrayed them, they might have stayed with the Axis forces.

        1. Okay? The Soviets were already fighting the Nazis when the U.S. entered the war, which makes the soldiers being honored here our allies. The Confederacy (at risk of belaboring the obvious) was the enemy of the U.S. during the entire war.

  13. The key date on that monument is “1941.”

  14. This may be the only official public monument, but in suburban Detroit where I grew up, the Oak Park Jewish Community Center had a memorial to Soviet veterans.

Please to post comments