American students think that it was the USA that won WWII
May 9th, 1945. On this day the German fascist regime collapsed 58 years ago - the regime that had brought so much suffering, bloodshed and destruction to many European countries. In the USA, sociologists ask a question to elementary school students from time to time: "Which country did America fight against in WWII?" The majority of American schoolchildren say that it was the Soviet Union. This answer was given this year as well. Furthermore, they all think that it was the United States that won the war. It seems that there has been a lot of effort to pervert historical facts and falsify the truth about the war.
This is what American students know about the war. However, the situation in Russia leaves much to be desired as well. It just so happens that historical value and truth in Russia are short-lived issues pretty often. The reporters of one Russian television channel asked a question about WWII to Russian schoolchildren: "When did the Great Patriotic War start?" Only a few of them knew the answer. Yet, the saddest thing was the fact that only a few children could answer another question about the victor of the most horrible war in history.
Last winter, soon after the city of Voronezh celebrated the 60th anniversary of the city's liberation from fascism, a WWII veteran told the following story: "I went to meet schoolchildren at one of Voronezh schools. I asked them which event in WWII our city has recently celebrated. They could not answer that question."
It is not clear what such celebrations are for and who they are for. Are they meant for officials? Why do we like to celebrate, forgetting the significance of a date? This is a question for officials, teachers, writers, veterans and so on.
The tragedy of the country that was ruined with the war is immense, for the country concentrated all of its power and strength and gave millions of its people's lives for victory. The consequences of the war last a lot longer both in people's minds and in the economy. No one can say which way Russia would have gone if those WWII years had not happened. All future generations need to keep the truth and the memory of the war in their hearts and souls; this is not a matter for veterans and their children only.
Mass media outlets once reported that a group of Great Patriotic War veterans and historians of Tatar nationality called upon the Russian president to exclude the anniversary of the Kulikovskaya battle from the list of Russian glorious military dates. They explained that the memory of the date causes hostility between nationalities in society, so it might seem offensive to someone. Now what does hostility over nationality have to do with it? What is the point of identifying Russians and conquerors if the Kulikovskaya battle took place 600 years ago?
It is sad to speculate about, but will anything like that happen with the Great Patriotic War in the future too? Will any future historians decide to evaluate the war from the point of view of national notions, not humane ones?
It seems that the people who stand strongly against renaming the city of Volgograd back to Stalingrad are making a very serious mistake. One can understand that they are driven with by principles that can be categorized as political, moral and so on and so forth. Yet, all those principles are things of no importance in comparison with the oblivion of historical truth. For some reason, there is still the metro station Stalingrad, as well as Stalingrad Boulevard, in Paris. For some reason, the Battle of Stalingrad is immortalized in many other countries, and it never occurs to anyone there that all those names are connected with the name of Joseph Stalin. So why is it forbidden in Russia to keep the memory of the battle that determined the outcome of the war?
A German woman once visited the Museum of the Battle of Stalingrad. Her father, a fascist serviceman, died in that battle. In the museum’s guestbook, the woman wrote: "Father, I grieve… But I love your enemies very much." This line contains the realization of Russia's great deed and its significance for the whole world. Yet, the line was written by an elderly woman who had experienced the tragedy of her loss. What will young people think of WWII, if one can pretty often read articles in which Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya or Alexander Matrosov are presented as mentally unbalanced people? Why do Russians keep silent about it? It took a German woman 60 years to realize the truth. On the other hand, 600 years are not enough for others.