I happened to watch Enemy at the Gates yesterday which, from my recollection of the book, was a fairly smarmy Hollywoodification of the original. Yet, it did remind me that the war we just recalled having won 60 years ago was in large part won in a tank factory in Stalingrad in a battle that took about 6 months and cost something like 2 million lives on both sides. Two million. This morning I read this on the CBC news:
The 1939-45 war took the lives of 27 million civilians and soldiers from the former Soviet Union, far more than the toll in all the other participating countries combined. Military marching bands and thousands of goose-stepping soldiers made their way through Moscow's Red Square as U.S. President George W. Bush, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and other dignitaries watched. The parade was the latest in a weeklong series of events in Europe designed to celebrate the Allied victory over Nazi Germany...Putin said May 9 is "a sacred day" in Russia, serving as a reminder of "what monstrous consequences violence and moral intolerance, genocide and persecution of others could lead to."Twenty-seven million. Where ever we are today and whatever the nature of totalitarianism has since proved itself to be, at that time the people who fought there in Stalingrad and the other battles under that red flag were, if the words of the remaining Soviet veterans today are to be believed, not coerced but were acts of patriotic fervour. And without that the world would be greatly different today. So thanks.