The war with him was exclusively the product of the aggression of two totalitarian regimes – Germany and the Soviet Union. And the latter even more so, since it “occupied” half of Europe after war too.
In general it was not a history lesson at all, but a collection of the ideologemes seasoned with separate historical events, and more often with tendentious interpretations of them.
This was provided for, however, by the format itself. It is impossible to tell the story of such a war in just 40 minutes. But it is quite possible to reproduce a set of slogans from the manuals of the former Director of the INM Vladimir Vyatrovich.
Actually, this is what happened. The Ukrainian “Strana” dissected the latest – the third in a row – history lesson of the all-Ukrainian online school.
Hitler = Stalin
The lesson “World War II: the Ukrainian dimension” started with a picture of the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, with a clear hint at who started the worldwide massacre. But first Drobovich started to discuss the First World War and lessons that weren’t learned from it – which led to the Second World War.
“The consequence of this war [World War I – ed] is that peace was finally established in the world,” said the lecturer, drawing a conclusion.
Drobovich said that many countries – including Germany – were dissatisfied with the results of the first war. The teacher describes the suffering of the Germans after the Treaty of Versailles, as a result of which large reparations were imposed on the country (however, he does not talk about reparations: for him, the suffering of the Germans happens as if by itself, and Germany is not to blame for this).
This national discontent also became the reason for the arrival of Hitler. Drobovich emphasised that around the same time, Stalin was installed in power in the USSR, and “quite specific relations” started between the countries.
I.e., already at the beginning the head of the Institute of National memory started to equate the nazis with communists, although Hitler’s relations before 1939 were much better with the states of western Europe, as well as the United States, and the nazis considered the Soviet Union and communists in general to be their main enemy.
But the teacher does not mention this. And he constantly compares the Soviets and Germany in terms of the formation of totalitarianism in both states.
It is also interesting that when listing the suffering of the Germans, Drobovich does not emphasise that Germany lost in the First World War. As well as the fact that only this loss forced the Germans to leave the same Ukraine that they occupied in 1917-1918.
Therefore, his further speculations seem a little strange. By saying that Hitler suddenly started to restore its armed forces, Drobovich is saying that Germany violated the “peace treaty”. Although it was capitulation, which the Germans signed. And compliance with its terms was controlled by the main winners in the war – England and France, which also had the most powerful armies and navies in the world.
I.e., the head of the INM in every possible way avoids the topic of why the western allies from the Entente allowed the nazis to create an army – although they could have easily nipped this process in the bud. Germany, under the terms of the Versailles peace treaty, had only constabulary forces and an army of no more than 100,000 people. And then the Wehrmacht was “suddenly” created – and no one intervened.
However, when the topic approached the annexation of Austria and the capture of Czechoslovakia, it was necessary to explain the West’s neutrality nevertheless. And the explanation that follows is rather interesting.
“They do not want to intervene and start a war. For them the memories of World War I were fresh,” said Drobovich.
The Munich agreement of 1938, as a result of which the Germans and their friendly countries tore Czechoslovakia up, was also explained: it was concluded in order to appease Hitler. i.e., the western allies who gave to Germany (and, by the way, to Poland) an independent state so that they could tear it apart, are seemingly guilty of nothing.
The reality, however, disproves these theses. Before the capture of Czechoslovakia, which had a powerful industrial potential, the German army was much weaker than the allies. And, of course, Germany was not an opponent for England and France in the mid-30s, when it first started to violate the provisions of the Versailles peace treaty and forge its military sword.
Before a direct clash with the same France, the Germans grew up only in 1940 – having absorbed the industrial potential of Czechoslovakia with Austria, as well as defeating Poland.
It is interesting that up to this point Anton Drobovich never mentioned what, actually, the ideology of nazis consisted of. He only spoke about how they promised the Germans to make Germany big again and to revive it.
But Adolf Hitler, even before coming to power, clearly outlined his foreign policy guidelines – the capture of vital space in the east – and also described the racial theory. I.e., the “pacifier” of the West was not just a revenge-seeker, but a real, open racist who was obsessed with the idea of superiority and war – moreover, wars with the slavs, whom he considered to be subhuman, and not with a congenial Europe.
This could in principle quite suit both England and France, as it was impossible to call their relations with the USSR cloudless.
“Conspiracy of totalitarianism”
If Drobovich calls the policy of Europe “weakness”, then when Stalin decided to negotiate with Hitler, he calls it “conspiracy of totalitarianism”.
At the same time, Drobovich said that even before that, the nazis and communists were almost in allied relations. Although from 1937 the USSR was already at war with the nazis on the territory of Spain. Whereas the West either kept neutrality, or supported the nazi-friendly General Franco.
I.e., unlike England and France, Moscow had already managed to fight against the Germans.
But we will return to the lesson.
“This conspiracy between the totalitarian modes was a step by the beginning of the global war,” said Anton Drobovich, analysing the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, with which Germany and the USSR divided Poland.
“The Soviet Union entered the war on the side of Nazi Germany,” said the teacher as a conclusion.
According to Drobovich, this breaks the “concept of the Great Patriotic War” – i.e., the USSR is portrayed as an aggressor. At the same time, the teacher himself also says that the Soviet troops entered the territory of Poland only 17 days after the German invasion. However, he does not mention that at this moment the Polish army was defeated, and the government fled the country. I.e., the Polish state disappeared as such.
What options did the USSR have?
1. Do nothing. But then the empty territories would’ve been occupied by the nazis. And the genocide with concentration camps and the Holocaust on the territories of western Ukraine and Belarus would’ve started two years earlier.
2. Enter the unoccupied territories, which were, by the way, inhabited by Ukrainians and Belarusians.
At the same time, nobody denies that Molotov and Ribbentrop came to an agreement in this way, and that the Germans did not go further than the “Curzon Line”. However, to say that the USSR attacked Poland is obvious manipulation. It is Hitler who destroyed the Polish army and state. And the Soviet Union, already after the fall of the Polish government, entered almost ownerless territories and returned to Ukraine and Belarus their original regions, which are a part of these countries also today.
Without the Pact Ukraine, for example, would today have five fewer western regions.
It is interesting that England and France, which at the time of the German invasion were bound by defensive treaties with Poland, did not help their ally in any way. Formally, they declared war on Hitler. But in fact, they let him finish off the Polish state, not firing a single shot at the nazis.
The USSR owed nothing to the Poles. Moreover, throughout the interwar period, Warsaw behaved as a fierce opponent of Moscow. And a year earlier, in fact, it became an ally of the nazis: together with them, Poland captured part of Czechoslovakia – the Těšín region. I.e., it did what Drobovich accuses the USSR of doing – invaded the territory of a sovereign state. Yet no one is accusing the Poles of unleashing the Second World War.
In passing about the Holocaust
Only after criticism of Moscow and concerning the 1939 period did Anton Drobovich recall that Germany had racial politics and the Holocaust. At the same time, after a minute, he again remembers the USSR and says that similar things also happened there.
What are these things? “A part of society was declared as an enemy,” said Drobovich, vaguely characterising the bad symptoms in both countries and recalls that under Stalin the term “enemy of the people” appeared.
During all this time the slide “Racial politics of the Third Reich and the Holocaust” is on the screen.
After trampling on the USSR, the conversation returned to the Germans, and finally it becomes clear what the racial policy of the nazis is – hatred of Jews and Gypsies. This is stated very briefly, and then Drobovich immediately goes on to say that “relations between the USSR and Germany were deteriorating”, and the latter attacked the Soviet Union
Here it could be labeled as an aggressor, but nope. Anton immediately attacks the USSR and says that the term “Great Patriotic War” does not apply to these events. “It is more correct to call it the German-Soviet war. And here two totalitarian regime started to fight among themselves,” said Drobovich, setting the scene.
It is unclear where this new-in-historical-science war came from. In fact, by that time it had already become firmly global. Since it involved at least the whole of Europe. By then – even before the attack on the Union – Hitler took the entire west of the continent, including France, with the exception of insular Britain. Some countries – Italy, Hungary, Romania – entered into an alliance with him.
Anton Drobovich for some reason does not speak about this at all. He only casually mentions it when events reach 1942, and even then he doesn’t indicate when Germany captured the territories of the current EU.
I.e., by 1941 not only were “two totalitarian regimes” at war. Formally, the USSR with the beginning of this war became an ally of the same Britain, and the anti-Hitler coalition was born.
According to the head of the INM, it turns out that the war was started by two very bad countries, and the rest looked at them with disgust and lived a peaceful democratic life.
It is noticeable to the naked eye that during the entire pre-war period Drobovich speaks very succinctly about the aggressive actions of the nazis and their ideology. He sometimes mentions the racial theory as if reluctantly, then he forgets to talk about the occupation of Europe. No sooner had the USSR and Germany captured Poland, than something was not divided between them (what exactly – the teacher does not specify) – and a world massacre ensued. This is the whole model that is taught to school children today.
In the end, Drobovich indignantly noted that after expelling the Germans from the territory of the USSR, the Red Army did not turn back, but went further, capturing the territories of other countries. “Thus, having liberated Europe, the Soviet Union occupied it,” concludes the head of the Institute of National Memory.
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