Gen X at 40

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Mike -

Well, you're absolutely right. I do believe that most fought first for their country. There would never have been the chance of an assault on the Normandy beaches had Russia not held out. Hitler would most certainly have then turned his attention back to Britain.

Still, even before the war, Soviet Russia was precisely what Putin claims they were fighting against. The poor Russian soldiers who did survive the fight against Germany were deemed to be tainted by the contact they had with the enemy and were sent off to rot in the gulags.

Alan -

It is also the scale that is enormous on top of our debt owed. Weren't there thousands of tanks in the battle at Kursk? Wasn't the reason Stalingrad was cut off by the Soviets that they imagined the pincer move behind the Nazis at about five times the scale the Germans thought would happen? Fantastic stuff.

Alan -

Interesting to note that the movie had an early scene where retreating Soviets were shot by their own as they retreated. When would the British army have stopped a similar practice? Certainly in WWI they got the same treatment after a more formal process. Certainly, in 1745 the Scots highlanders received a treatment not that different from collective responsibility of a totalitarian 200 years later. When did the shift occur? Is there any validity to the intergenerational comparison?

Arthur -

In the Netherlands, I think the very last case of execution because of desertion happened in 1940 (note: Dutch).

Interestingly, (browsing through archives about this particular subject) I ended up here:

" Met de inwerkingtreding van de Rijkswet van 14 juni 1990 werd de doodstraf per 1 jan. 1991 volledig afgeschaft, zowel voor het militair strafrecht als voor het oorlogsrecht. Sinds 1983 bepaalt art. 114 van de Grondwet, dat de doodstraf niet kan worden opgelegd."

Meaning that, officially while the death penalty was (officially) abolished in 1983, only after 1990 the military law was changed accordingly. I haven't heard of people being executed in the mean time, but imagine if the Russians had invaded the Low lands and soldiers (conscription!) had deserted...