“Those who control the present, control the past and those who control the past control the future.”George Orwell, 1984
The 70th Anniversary of the Victory over Nazi Germany is coming. WW II was a singular event in the human history, which defined the world we live in today. I do not like historical "analogies" or cliches, at least most of the time, because I know how they vulgarize and deform the truth which is always multi dimensional and complex. Yet, Orwell's famous quote comes to mind and never as strongly as it did yesterday, when I was getting to sleep and was surfing through the channel guide of my bedroom TV. And here it was.
Some will say--oh, it is just the guide and that they need to attract people to watch programming. Just a bit of marketing, akin to positioning the cutout of semi-naked girl next to the used and drab 1995 Chevrolet Corsica on the lot of the used cars dealership today. Just a little gimmick. Sure, and those people may even have a point if not for one fact--rewriting of the history of the WW II in the US has become a booming business. In fact, I will argue, it is the Modus Operandi of very many (majority?) of the Western historians who are toiling day and night trying to convince Western, in general, and American in particular, population that these were Western Allies who "won" WW II. It is very easy to do.
Nothing could be taken away from heroism and tenacity of the 2nd and 99th US Divisions, as well as from soldiers and officers of Hodges' US First Army in general, at the northern shoulder of German penetration at Ardennes. Nor will resilience and courage of 101st and Antony MacAuliffe at Bastogne be forgotten. But calling the Battle Of The Bulge the "bloodiest battle" of WW II even in the guide, as well as calling some backwater tank engagements around Arracourt in September of 1944 "the greatest tank battle of WW II" (I will make, eventually, the photo of this too), is not only a manifestation of a complete loss of sense of measure and perspective, not only it is an example of tasteless propaganda--it is a smug rejection of the historic truth. It is an expression of a complete disrespect for tens of millions of Soviet citizenry who died at the battlefields of the WW II, moreover--it is belittling of own American, British, Canadian and Anzac soldiers. I don't think those people who fought in WW II need to be awarded with someone's distinctions.
Now to the historic facts. Just numbers.
Battle of the Bulge 16 December 1944--25 January 1945. Losses:
Germans: between 67, 000 and 100, 000 killed, wounded, missing etc.
US Army: 85,000 (19,000 KIA, 47,500 wounded + 23K POWs)
Now, let us open David Glantz' and Johnathan House's The Battle Of Kursk (ISBN 0-7006-0978-4), pages 336-338.
Battle of Kursk 5 July 1943--11 J July 1943. Losses:
Soviet Losses (some formations' losses include period through 23 of July): 177,000.
German losses in 6 days: 49,822.
Now comes this "bloodiest" part. In terms of scale and forces involved, Kursk dwarfs anything that ever was fought in human history, except, except Battle Of Stalingrad which saw 750,000 Axis and 1,100,000 Soviet losses. It is general consensus that 1.5 million people died in that Battle. More people died in Leningrad during its 900 days long siege than United States lost in wars throughout its history combined. The number of forces involved, the scale of operations in the Eastern Front, which annihilated almost 80% of Axis forces, is beyond comprehension of most Americans. As David Eisenhower (the grandson) mentions in his outstanding Eisenhower At War 1943-1945.
"In correspondence between Churchill, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Marshall, Brooke and Smuts, there is scant reference to the Russian destruction of the German Army Group Center in a matter of five days while British and Americans remained pinned in a sixty-mile strip of northwest France. Information was sketchy, or perhaps the omission is an instance what Butcher had called "suppressed emotion that would interest a psychiatrist." Nor would any of the memoirs link the building emotions in London and Washington in early July 1944 to the ensuing destruction of three German armies, the erasure of twenty five German divisions and 300,000 men in the first of two big Russian attacks that summer....
For the next four weeks the Allied press would watch on with admiration and the touch of unease. How far would the Russians go....."
I post the scan of page 335 below:
The West seems to be hell-bent on rewriting the WW II history. The reasons for that are many. One of the most important, if not the most important, ones is understanding that the appropriate understanding of the scale and sacrifice of the WW II, which was the main reason for emergence of, unscathed by war, United States as a superpower, happened on the Eastern Front and it was there that the fate of Nazi Germany was sealed long before Normandy saw Allied soldiers landing there. A lot of what is happening today is a direct result of the battles of WW II, which was a crucible for today's world. Too much is at stake in controlling the past. The 70th Anniversary is coming and all of Russia will be remembering those 27 million people who paid with their lives at Battle at Moscow, and in encirclements at Kharkov, defending and then liberating Sevastopol, dying at Kerch Peninsula, starving in Leningrad, or leading armored columns at Kursk or defending each house in Stalingrad.
It is a privilege to bow in gratitude to America's true scholars who try to speak the truth in the times when Orwell's terrifying vision comes true.
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."