Sputnik: What are your thoughts about the significance of holding parades on Victory Day?
Prof. Geoffrey Roberts: Very positive thoughts. Victory Day is probably the most important anniversary in the world’s history, it marks the German surrender, the defeat of Hitler and the Nazis. If the Nazis had won the Second World War it would have meant the establishment of a racist empire in Europe and the completion of the Nazi’s plans for the extermination of the Jews. The victory over Hitler and Nazis fundamentally changed world history for the better. So it’s very appropriate, this very important anniversary should be marked annually, and, in this Russian case, by a military parade every year.
Sputnik: Recently a German newspaper called to recognize the Soviet Union’s role in the fight against the Nazis and wrote about Germany’s responsibility to Russia. What’s your take on the role of the Soviet Union and former Soviet republics in the fight against Nazism?
Prof. Geoffrey Roberts: Absolutely fundamental, of course. The most important thing to keep in mind about the Second World War is that it was a fundamentally Soviet-German war. Eighty percent of the combats of the Second World War took place on the Soviet-German front, where nasty military power was crossed. The Germans sought 10 million casualties on the Eastern front including 3 million gone. Hitler’s war machines were smashed up by the Red Army, fundamentally, it was the Soviet Union that won the Second World War. Having said that, I supposed to make it firstly, it was the Soviet Union, not just Russia, all the Soviet republics, all the different people in the Soviet Union played a crucial part in that victory and made huge sacrifices. And also, we mustn’t forget the role played by the Soviet Union’s allies in the war, the great alliance with Great Britain and the United States, other ally countries; they also made a vital contribution to the victory over Germany. I’ve argued that it’s possible that the Soviet Union could have won the war on its own without the West. On the other hand, maybe it might not have been able to win the war on its own. What’s certain is that Western military support was absolutely rightful in securing victory. Without that help Soviet losses would have been even more astronomical than they were.
Sputnik: Professor, do you agree with Vladimir Putin who repeatedly said, there are numerous attempts to re-write history and to downplay the Soviet role in the Second World War?
Prof. Geoffrey Roberts: Yes, that absolutely true, they’ve been numerous attempts happening ever since the end of the war itself. Of course Western politicians have an invested interest in downplaying the Soviet role and, of course, Russia’s role in the war, particularly in this in present conjuncture where Russian-Western relations are in such a bad state. But everyone shouldn’t confuse the allusions of politicians and the inadequacies of the Western media with Western public opinion. There’s far greater recognition of the Soviet role in winning the war against Hitler than it was in the past. The public opinion to a certain extent is too immune to this kind of anti-Russian, anti-Soviet propaganda, distortion of history that you find emanating from various quarters.
The views and opinions expressed by the speaker are those of the analyst and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.