Your Letters: Interpreting WWII Differently

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In response to "Remembering Victory Day in a Different Way," a comment by David Marples on May 8.


Professor Marples is correct when he reminds us that World War II broke out on Sept. 1, 1939, when Germany attacked Poland. The Soviet annexation of the Baltic states, Eastern Poland, Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina was also described well.

Although Hitler's "Operation Barbarossa" plan existed for a long time, it is important to ask what made it easier for Hitler to launch his attack in June 1941. It was the Winter War against Finland from 1939 to 1940. Tightly following the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the Soviet Union attacked is northwestern neighbor with only 3.5 million people on Nov. 30, 1939.

I have studied more than 70 Soviet and Russian middle-school history textbooks for my dissertation. Only two authors concede that the Soviet attack on Finland determined the small country's orientation during the rest of World War II.

When writing history, one should remember that it is not only about the great game between global superpowers. It also involves the heroic battles of smaller nations for their own lives.

Kari Kaunismaa
Paimio, Finland

In response to "Softer Speech Before a Tougher Parade," a front-page article by Anna Smolchenko on May 12.


When I read this story, I was reminded of a recent trip to Kiev. While I was there, I picked up a copy of Kyiv This Month magazine only to be stunned by its column titled "History In Brief," which read: "1944 -- Soviet army occupies Ukraine again. In WWII, both German and Soviet armies were responsible for some 7 to 8 million deaths."

When I wrote the editor of this magazine, I received a reply referring me to another web page from where this phrase was copied, almost word-for-word. To my surprise, the web page was taken from the official site of the CIA.

I wonder what would happen if a Russian official web site wrote about, for example, French history something like this: "1944 -- U.S.-British army invaded Normandy. In WWII both German and Allied troops were responsible for some 600,000 French deaths." Wouldn't that cause uproar in the West?

Why do our wartime allies believe they can twist history as they like?

Andrei Richter
Associate Professor, School of Journalism
Moscow State University