[ Editor’s note: Guest author Alla Pierce gives us a cautionary tale, as she tours through the Khatyn Memorial and shares somewhat of an insider’s view as a descendant of a WWII veteran. Divide and rule has always been a tool of the shadow governments, and even today we observe the stratification of European society becoming precariously wide on such things as the refugee issues and the Brexit vote.
As the veterans pass away, it is good to remember that WWII was probably the most deeply propagandized war in history, so the effort to reflect on those events without misrepresentation is a work in progress. ]
Today the process of rewriting history is gaining momentum. Washington succeeded so well in the substitution of factual evidence and perception thereof by people, that the whole world repeated the mantra after them, indeed that the USA had saved the planet from the brown-shirted plague.
Then, Russia carried out the 60th Victory Day celebrations and, in a politically calculated move, invited President Bush to the parade.
He could not refuse this invitation due to political decorum, and his presence at the Parade in Moscow demonstrated to the whole world that the US “acknowledged” the fact that the efforts of the USSR were truly heroic, and that it emerged as a winner in the war.
That event was conducive to the downturning of the propaganda process of the participants of the Second World War and their role in achieving the victory.
However, Russia will always be “a tasty morsel” for the West because of its natural resources, and Russia will always be a target, while it adheres to the policy of a multipolar world and while its spiritual component would be built on human rather than “market” principles.
Once, when Putin initially came to power, one of my American friends commented that Vlad Putin seems ok, but he would wish him to be more committed to the United States. “Shouldn’t a president be committed to his own country?” – I asked them.
One must ask, who exactly are US presidents actually committed to when they swear allegiance to the State of Israel and only after that to their own country? Something to think about…
Many years have passed since that conversation, but I remember it, because it is still very pertinent to this day. Vlad Putin did not sell Russia. Instead, he dared to defend the interests of his own country. Accordingly, he needs to be demonized as well as all Russian people, as well as the Soviet Union and Russia, where those soviet ideals are re-emerging, not only amongst the older generation, but also amongst the younger generation.
It is necessary to stoke internal divisions amongst the peoples of the former Soviet Union, splitting the country internally, weakening it, in order to have a way to win, because in open battle the Russians, as history has demonstrated numerous times, are invincible.
The subject of the Second World War and the Great Patriotic War as part of it, remains the strongest propaganda weapon, which by skillful manipulation may lead to catastrophes or victories on the information front, and in other arenas.
It is impossible to successfully conduct a war of propaganda against the Liberator and his army. No matter the efforts expended to create an image of a monstrous Russia / USSR, people still remember who liberated Europe and how, despite that 71 years has now passed since the signing of the German unconditional surrender, and that there are only a few living witnesses of that terrible time. Therefore, factual reinvention, distortion and outright lies can be used to alter the pages of history.
This work of propaganda in the framework of one big informational war is carried out in several ways.
The image of the Red Army soldier-rapist was one of the projects carried out in the framework of historical revisionism. Why not? The Media publishes “research” and provides “memories” and “recollections”. Well, someone simply lied and someone allegedly was a little “mistaken” and “mixed” the uniform of the soldiers, who committed the violence. The main thing is to propose the question, and then cement it into people’s minds as truth.
A complacent Poland even constructed a sculpture of Red Army soldiers, raping pregnant Polish woman. Poland, the country in which thousands of Soviet soldiers lay beneath its soil, who died to save it from total destruction by Hitler. Now the “grateful” Poles destroy the monuments created in their honor.
The Red Army were not rapists or looters. If such rare cases took place, the punishment was severe, including shooting by firing squad. There was no such conquistador attitude towards the defeated countries, due to the fact that it would have contradicted with the official ideology of the USSR. The military units had political instructors who taught the necessary ideological work and codes of conduct among the staff. Soldiers and officers were taught that they should display the image of the liberator with generosity and fairness, not with violence and destruction. This was the official line of ideological politics in the country. Deviation from this line was severely punished in wartime.
So, the attack on the historical reputation of the Red Army by fabricating the image of soldier-rapists was repulsed in the “battle” for true history of the Second World War.
However there is another fight in full blaze on another front in the war of history, which is conventionally called “Stalin-Hitler, the twin brothers’. We are constantly reminded of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact as well as the carving up of a poor defenseless Poland by two monsters. How could Stalin be better than Hitler, if he destroyed his own population?
Once in the States, I was visiting my friends from GB. Beautiful and well educated people. The owner of the house, who was a writer, said:
– Can you imagine Russians still display portraits of Stalin? In their vehicles, for example.
Everyone looked at me.
– Is it true? – Was the question.
– Yes, it is – I said calmly, – and what do you know about Stalin?
The owner of the house, to his credit – a smart man, said:
– Really. What do we know? Just what the West wants us to know.
Now I will not go down the road of explaining the falsified arithmetic of the number of purported victims of Stalin’s regime. If you study history by sources other than Solzhenitsyn’s writing, then you have a chance to arrive at the truth. I can only say one thing: as soon as a leader emerges in Russia who really protects its interests, as soon as he begins to stop the fire sale of its natural treasures, and raises the country to the highest level of development, he would be portrayed by the West as an aggressor and another potential threat to the world. Stalin planned to attack Europe just like Putin is going to attack the Baltic countries. Only lunatics believe such nonsense.
Regarding the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, as well as Pilsudski-Hitler’s Pact, operation “Zaluzha” during which Poland grabbed part of Czechoslovakia is a topic for another article, where we will try to go back to the times of the Polish-Russian war, dividing the territory along the Curzon line, the features of Pilsudski regime and the policies which they carried out on the territory of Western Belarus and Ukraine toward indigenous people and minorities.
Each country acts in its own interests. This is how it always was and how it always shall be. The fact that Poland would receive the land of Czechoslovakia, which it considered its own, and the Soviet Union wanted to get back their lands previously seized by Poland, is objective information. But if the accents are put in a certain way, it becomes subjective information and can be served as a trump card in any battle of propaganda.
The younger generation is exposed to massive historical revision. Attempts to whitewash Hitler led to the fact that even in the Republic of Belarus, which was the most affected nation by German fascist invaders, one can hear statements such as, “Hitler has done nothing wrong.”
The history of the Great Patriotic War, where the Red Army was objectively a winner, and the people of the Soviet Union were heroes and the biggest victims, is now twisted so badly that today we hear warnings not to consider the population of the Soviet Union as the victim in this war, but those who paid a fair price for its current policy.
Revival of Fascism
So, what is the purpose of rewriting the history of WWII? It is an opportunity to successfully demonize the leaders and the people of the Soviet Union and Russia, as its successor, in the ongoing “information war”; and a way to separate the peoples of the former USSR, because the struggle and the great Victory in World War II continues to be a uniting factor between these nations; and is a necessary condition for the revival of fascism in Europe.
Regarding the last point, the whole waves of refugees in Europe were organized in order to establish the rise of right wing regimes. Through their radical action, the masses of people, who rarely understand the underlying reason of the events, would see the salvation from binge refugees, among which we can recognize the militants fighting in Syria, what is also not a coincidence.
Processions of SS veterans and glorification of war criminals in the Baltic countries is a big sign of emerging, or rather, the revival of fascism.
There the fascism is only revived, however in the other places, it is already surging to the forefront of society. The similarity of the situation today in Ukraine with the situation in Germany in 1933 becomes more apparent. This is noted by analysts and ordinary people who remember those times.
The recent disturbing news that “the first part of Adolf Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf” has become a free supplement in the daily Italian edition of Il Giornale” is also evidence of a serious project for the revival of fascism in Europe.
In all European states, ideology is being introduced that emphasizes the idea of their national exclusivity.
Poles refreshed their collective memories of Rzeczpospolita; Belarusians now remember the Grand Duchy of Lithuania; Ukraine, looking for its own national pride is torn between their funny stories about excavating out the Black Sea and attempting to embezzle Russian history.
Step by step, from the consciousness of its exclusivity, to rejection and discrimination to the other nations of Europe lead to a complete regeneration of fascism, as happened in Ukraine, where the killing for the St. George’s ribbon is normal and the prisons are overcrowded with dissidents.
All of these methods of re-writing the history of World War II serve one global goal. Nobody needs a strong Russia. Statements of the Russian leader about a multipolar world are perceived as a direct threat.
For the West, it is necessary to weaken Russia’s position in the international arena and to split peoples within the country, which is also carried out now using the manipulation of the Second World War history.
Thus, participation in the war and the role in the liberation from the Nazi invaders is dividing the former republics of the USSR, with the emphasis on the name of the territory on the title of fronts, such as First Belorussian Front or The Second Ukrainian Front. This seems absurd to everyone who lived in the Soviet Union and who is well aware that territorial names in the Fronts did not mean that the composition of soldiers was made on a national basis.
However, it works for the younger generation or the inhabitants of Western countries. So, using the principle of “divide and rule”, the separation of the peoples in the former Soviet Union are carried out, even though, during Soviet times, they were one monolithic people. The Victory that was gained through horrific suffering and the high price paid was achieved, thanks to the unity of the Soviet people.
Khatyn Memorial Complex
I recently visited the memorial complex erected in memory of the Khatyn atrocity, the event that was one of the worst pages in the history of the Second World War.
The memorial complex covers an area of approximately 0.19 square miles.
A six-meter bronze man with his dead son stands at the center of the complex. The victims who inspired this sculpture named “The Unconquered Man” were Joseph Kaminsky, survived villager, and his deceased son.
Next to the sculpture, we can see two granite slabs arranged in the form of the roof of the barn, in which the villagers were burned alive.
In neatly trimmed grass, exactly at the spot of each incinerated home are standing 26 charred symbols scorched by fire chimneys. They have plaques with the names of those who lived in the houses. Each symbolic chimney ends with a bell that rings every 30 seconds.
On the gravestones of the cemetery, which you can see in the picture, are no names of individual people, but only the name of the village burned by Nazis.
The name of the village and the area to which it belonged is inscribed on each grave, as its first and last name. Everyone gravestone has many people’s lives and their fates behind it. Each grave has a small symbolic flame.
186 villages with their inhabitants were completely burned by Nazis. Another 433 villages were destroyed together with their residents. The villages have been restored. Their names were sealed in the canopies of trees that grew back to life.
There is another memorial. In the long stone wall were knocked out barred windows. Behind them we can see the names of the city where the concentration camps were located. In front of them are flowers, toys, and candy, which were brought by people to those who were tortured in the concentration camps – “camps of death”.
During the occupation by Nazi troops, more than 260 concentration camps were created on the territory of Belarus. It includes Trostinets, one of the largest “death camps”, which holds third place in the number of people killed by the whole system of Nazi camps. Also, there were 14 death camps just for children.
You, who claim that the Soviet people were not victims in that war, would you like to hear what the Nazis did to the children in their camps?
More than 1,400,000 people were exterminated in the Nazi camps in Belarus.
According to previous statistics, every fourth Belarusian died in that war. The “Khatyn” memorial has an Eternal Flame surrounded by three birches. Instead of the fourth, we see the fire set in memory of the deceased fourth person. And, according to recent data, one in three Belarusians perished in the Great Patriotic War.
The tragedy of Khatyn
Broad guerrilla movements emerged in response to the German-fascist terror carried out in the occupied territories. It was spontaneous in the beginning, but evolved to become a full-scale battle front, ubiquitously supported by the population.
The guerrilla movement had a centralized command structure, and the actions of guerrilla groups were well coordinated. Unplanned spontaneous actions were preferably avoided in order not to trigger reprisals against the civilian population by the Nazis.
It was difficult to completely avoid spontaneous civil disobedience because of the understandably justified anger of the people who wanted to destroy the enemy, given the atrocities Nazis were committing in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union.
While stationed in the town of Logoisk, an SS battalion, commanded by Oskar Dirlewanger, was distinguishable by its uncontrolled cruelty and sadism. Dirlewanger was responsible for the mass killings in many localities, including, Logoisk, Smolevichi, Valeriani and other places.
Besides, at the same time, there was the 118th punitive battalion formed in 1942 in Kiev, mainly of former members of the Kyiv and Bukovyna kurens of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). They were largely captured or surrendered due to cowardice or their own anti-Soviet ideology.
Regardless of how they started out in the punitive battalion #118, these people were trained in various special schools in Nazi Germany. This Battalion distinguished itself in with disgraceful and unrivaled cruel behavior in the extermination of Jews at Babiy Yar, Kiev, which was an action completely beyond humane understanding.
The unbridled and inhumane hatred of Ukrainian nationalists to everybody except themselves and their masters, has been used in different actions of genocide, by global political projectionists.
It is still used to this day in Ukraine, and therefore the nursery of inhumane hatred in Western Ukraine will not be allowed to dissolve, as it is proving to be a very convenient killing tool.
After the battalion proved itself in a certain way in the Kiev massacre, it was redeployed to Belarus to fight the guerrillas, where this movement had unfolded everywhere.
During my stay in the Republic of Belarus, the old people asked me after they found out that I was in the Donbass, whether the militia are supported by the local population of Donbass.
“All our people supported the guerrillas, as they could,” they said to me, thereby drawing a direct parallel between the Nazi regime and Kiev. These people cannot be considered as “victims of Russian propaganda”, since not everyone even has TV in the villages, but they simply still remember the Great Patriotic war.
So, what happened in the terrible day of 22th March 1943?
That morning, on the crossroads leading to Pleshchenitsy-Logoysk-Koziri-Khatyn, guerrillas opened fire on a German convoy, killing one of the commanders of the 118th battalion, former Olympic champion Hans Welke, who served in the rank of Hauptmann.
Since the attack took place near the village of Koziri, punitive reprisals immediately took place, and 26 people who were engaged in tree cutting in the area were executed in cold blood.
When the incident was reported to Sturmbannfuhrer Oskar Dirlewanger, he personally gave an order for the complete destruction of the adjacent village of Khatyn and the murder of all its inhabitants.
I walked around the memorial, listening to the crying bells, saw the chimneys set in places of burned houses … some of them were so close to the forest! It would seem just a few steps – and here it is – salvation!
But no, it did not happen like in the movies, nobody was saved at the last moment. The reality was horrible.
The inhabitants, more than half of whom were children, were herded into a barn and the door were closed. The barn was barricaded with straw and a fire was ignited. I will not tell you in detail about the inhuman screams of the people burning alive or how the barn was shaking in fire as people tried to escape from the flame of hell and then were mowed down by machine-gun fire – there are no words that can adequately describe this horror.
The fire burned 149 villagers to death, including 75 children. Two girls, Maria Fedorovich and Yulia Klimovich, miraculously escaped the inferno and managed to crawl to the forest. They were picked up by the inhabitants of a neighboring village, but their death was merely delayed, since this village also was burned to the ground along with its inhabitants, shortly thereafter.
Some survivors were three children – Victor Zhelobkovich, Anton Baranovsky, Volodya Yaskevich – and a 56-year-old village smith, Joseph Kaminsky, who became the prototype of the monument in the Memorial complex.
There is a version that the Germans, who saw 13-year-old Volodya Yaskevich hiding, regretted to kill him because they probably felt sorry for him. One can only guess. Perhaps the Germans prudently and knowingly left the witness of the crime perpetrated by the hands of Ukrainian nationalists. Just in case.
After the war, the successful operation to capture and unmask the killers who burned Khatyn and their further testimony left no doubt as to whom executed German orders, which were atrocious but typical of the war.
Attempts to accuse NKVD by using the cliché, “they changed their uniform …”, failed because too many witnesses remained.
When the attempt to accuse the NKVD failed, another revisionist attempt tried to focus on the fact that Ukrainian Nazis had been citizens of the Soviet Union, and therefore they could say that the residents of Khatyn and other villages were destroyed by Soviet Union citizens.
With such a somersault, we have a perfect manipulation of consciousness. Such claims are now contained within the articles of the Belarusian opposition, which ignores that the Ukrainian Nazis were implementing orders of SS Sturmbannfuhrer Dirlewanger, but asserts that the Soviet people were responsible.
They have never been Soviet people by their beliefs nor by their behavior. I do not even know if you can call them a “people”.
After the terrible events in Odessa on May 2nd 2014, it was followed by the well-established definition of “Odessa Khatyn”. Few Westerners realize what this actually means, but now you know.
This is when people are driven into the confines of a building, from which there is no escape, and burned alive. In case someone found a chance to escape, they will be “mowed down by machine-gun fire”. In Odessa, it was guns, baseball bats and axes.
In both Khatyn and Odessa, it was a punitive operation for the purpose of intimidation. In both places, the Ukrainian Nazis did all the dirty work.
Back in the Soviet times, when the full investigation into the Khatyn crime had been completed, the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Ukraine, Vladimir Scherbitsky was instructed not to disclose the identity of the aggressors because it could possibly drive a wedge between the Belarusian and Ukrainian people.
Khatyn was too much of a scary and terrible tragedy. It was better to completely write it off and blame the Germans. One could say they got a little overworked thinking about it. The Bandera snake nursery has never been completely destroyed, and as a result of this, we had the Odessa Khatyn and inhumane torture of people in Donbass under the same slogans and swastikas, as in the past.
The Belarusian land is small in scope. The memory of the Great Patriotic War is carefully cherished there.
This year, in one village an elderly participant of the Great Patriotic war was overlooked to be invited to the celebration of the Victory Day. After that, the head of the village lost his position. Don’t you dare forget the defenders of the Motherland nor the heroism of the Soviet people, nor the Victory and certainly not the price paid for it! Belarusian land is too soaked in blood from that war. One third of its residents died in the terrible years of the GPW. They still remember who went to serve the Nazi’s police, and they remember who killed them, too. Sometimes in the words and memories of ordinary people, I heard more truth than in the polished lines of newspapers.
In the case of today’s fascist Ukraine, the Belarusian government takes a neutral stance. I suppose that the neutral position allows them the chance to play the righteous role of facilitator and to provide a platform for negotiations.
The Zionist junta that came to power in Kiev by a coup is accepted in order to preserve the possibility of attempts to resolve the conflict peacefully.
On the other hand, it is not in the interests of those who are in power in Kiev to stop the war, which brings good gesheft and on which Slavs kill each other so successfully. Therefore, the official Kiev rhetoric is becoming more hateful towards Russia, and military action against the people of Donbass becomes more and more intense.
Belarus is doing practically everything possible to keep terrible mistakes of history retained in the memory of each generation. And so, people remember. Even the Germans remember. On one occasion, the veterans of the Wehrmacht arrived in Khatyn and walked 6 km to the Memorial complex, as a sign of their repentance.
History, if its lessons are not learned, can repeat itself in its very ugliest form. With the Odessa massacre, we got another Khatyn atrocity, where history was forgotten.
While there is glorification of war criminals, falsification of documents, distortion of facts, the substitution of true values by false ones, setting plaques of Hitler’s henchmen in the Russian cities, historical revisionism, the arms race, with missiles targeting entire countries, declaring an aggressor who is actually not going to attack anyone, continuing the attempts to paint criminal stigma on those who defended their homeland… if all this Russophobic orgy won’t stop, we shall only achieve a new hot world war. Only this would be the last one for all of us.
Alla Pierce, the VT correspondent in the region, June 2016, Belarus, Khatyn.