Enough petulant propaganda, please: the hammer of D-Day crushed Hitler on the anvil of Russia

Posted on June 06, 2014, 1:53 am
5 mins

D-Day on Juno Beach: Canadians trudge ashore under a strange colorized sky. Below: The distinguished Canadian military historian, the late Reginald H. Roy.

It’s been 70 years today since our magnificent Canadian soldiers went ashore at Juno Beach in Normandy to play their part the grim and deadly task of sweeping Hitler and his odious empire out of Europe.

But Canadians need to remember, in the context of the present moment in history, that what the landings on June 6, 1944, by 156,000 Canadian, British, American and other Allied soldiers along the beaches of Normandy did was open a second front against Germany.

The first front was in the East, and it was against Russia that Adolf Hitler’s armies were eventually crushed in the vice created by the D-Day landings.

It must have been about 30 years ago when my military history professor – soldier, scholar and author of 1944: The Canadians in Normandy, Reginald H. Roy – reminded my classmates and me that if it hadn’t been for the anvil of the Red Army in the East, the hammer of D-Day in the West would have amounted to much less.

“We’d still be in Normandy,” was the way Professor Roy put it, and he didn’t mean as tourists like the political supernumeraries in the Canadian delegation at Sword Beach near Caen today.

Indeed, the chances are good that without six million soldiers of the Red Army pressing Hitler’s Eastern flank in 1944, we would not be in France at all, but for the dead and a few diplomats. About 80 per cent of the German Army’s casualties were inflicted by the Red Army, which after June 1944 cleared the Wehrmacht from Eastern Europe, wiped out an entire German Army Group and opened the road to Berlin.

Remember that when you hear Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s petulant concession that Russian President Vladimir Putin should be allowed to visit Normandy for the 70th anniversary ceremonies.

Remember that when you read the chickenhawk commentary by some of the mainstream media’s retainers, all togged out in faux fatigues like drivelist Matthew Fisher, who informed Postmedia’s dwindling readership this week that “only one Soviet soldier is known to have been buried in a war grave on the Western Front.”

Well, there’s something like 11 million of the poor bastards buried on the Eastern Front to make up for that, aren’t there? And without them we’d all have had to learn German as our second language in school, regardless of whether it turned out we answered to Washington or Berlin.

Nothing more really needs to be said about the fact Mr. Harper is using, drawing from Mr. Fisher’s warmed-over stenography, “the toughest language of any western leader to describe Putin’s recent behaviour in Ukraine” and intends, like a sullen child, to turn his back on the Russian leader in France.

You’d think from Mr. Harper’s stale Cold War rhetoric that we’d been fighting Russia, not Germany, in 1944. His cartoonish, transparently ideological pronouncements about what’s happening on the border between Russia and Ukraine, and what ought to be done about it, reflect the fact that of all the leaders in Normandy today he has the least to lose, and the most to gain from cynical wedge politics at home.

Francois Hollande, the president of France, hit the right note when he gracefully told French TV a month ago: “We may have differences with Vladimir Putin but I have not forgotten and will never forget that the Russian people gave millions of lives. I told Vladimir Putin that as the representative of the Russian people, he is welcome to the ceremonies.”

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

6 Comments to: Enough petulant propaganda, please: the hammer of D-Day crushed Hitler on the anvil of Russia

  1. Aldis

    June 6th, 2014

    May I add: Russia was just one of the republics within the USSR back then. And neither of the two powers – Nazi Germany or “communist” USSR – was clearly better than the other.
    And more, from my history books. For quite some time the western countries were helping the USSR with supplies.

  2. jerrymacgp

    June 6th, 2014

    Putin’s actions in Ukraine are not a renewal of the Cold War and its nuclear tensions, threatening to virtually annihilate humanity. Instead, they are more reminiscent of 18th & 19th-century great power geo-politics, in which big countries bullied smaller ones almost at will. Think Great Britain and China (the Opium Wars), for example, or the United States and Spain (in their war over the Phillippines). As Gwyn Dyer famously expounded in his seminal book, War, great powers have always behaved in this way. The Cold War in fact served in a perverse way to restrain them, since the threat of nuclear war breaking out tended to limit their aggressiveness.

    It still isn’t good, and Putin deserves to be heartily condemned for it, but there is no need for the apocalyptic rhetoric we are hearing.

  3. Tom in Ontario

    June 6th, 2014

    “Remember that when you hear Prime Minister’s petulant concession that Russian President Vladimir Putin should be allowed to visit Normandy for the 70th anniversary ceremonies.”

    My goodness how important are Mr. Harper’s words on the global stage. His ‘concession’ is like Uzbekistan’s Assistant Minister for Sport admitting that President Barack Obama “should be allowed to visit Normandy…..”

  4. Bruce A

    June 6th, 2014

    Thanks for putting it in some sort of context. Too many North Americans have the notion that history begins June 6th, 1944. I wonder if any Canadian media will acknowledge the old Soviet Unions’ contribution. China also suffered terribly in the Pacific War which I never realized because it’s never mentioned. It’s pathetic that the Harper’s of this world can’t put anything into perspective without themselves at the centre of the universe.


  5. Lars

    June 6th, 2014

    Very well put, David.

  6. ronmac

    June 7th, 2014

    Adding insult to injury, Harper and the rest of the G7 D-Day party-goers left for Ukraine immediately afterwards to celebrate the coronation of the country’s new president who is giving orders to this interesting new military formation:



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