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Falsification of Great War history led to destruction of international security architecture

Every year, June 22 in Belarus marks the anniversary of the beginning of the Great Patriotic War. On the eve of this day, Trostenets memorial complex near Minsk holds a requiem meeting. With tens of millions of lives, the Soviet people liberated their homeland and the whole of Europe from the Nazi "brown plague". However, today the ideological heirs of those Nazis are trying to erase this feat and sacrifice from history.

Equating black and white

The anniversary of the beginning of the Great Patriotic War echoes with pain and sorrow in the hearts of Belarusians and Russians. Without declaring war, on June 22, 1941, Germany attacked the Soviet Union. The terrible war claimed 27 million lives of Soviet citizens. The value of Memorial Day is growing amid ongoing attempts to falsify the history of the Great Patriotic War and refuse to condemn fascism. In recent years, the following trends have emerged in this area.

First of all, the falsification of the history of the Second World War is complemented by the cultivation of Nazi sentiments among young people. This is facilitated by the programmatic glorification of Nazi criminals in Western education systems (and, accordingly, in politics), as well as during war games and sports camps. It is noteworthy that the glorification of the Nazis is recognized by international organizations under the guise of "national liberation movements." Special attention should be paid to the resolution of the European Parliament 2023/2112 (INI) of January 17, 2024, in which, under the term "European historical identity", the sign of equality between the USSR and Nazi Germany is promoted in the education system.

The falsification of history for party building has become a trend. The demolition of monuments to Soviet soldiers, vandalism and desecration of the places of death of Soviet soldiers are gaining momentum. This consolidates the electorate based on the image of the enemy, but sooner or later leads to the loss of control over radical groups and, as a result, to the transformation of the control center.

After purposefully asserting in public opinion the idea of equality between Nazi Germany and the USSR, Western countries began to equate those states that had not abandoned the Soviet legacy with "fascist regimes". Recently, this manipulation has been used against Belarus and Russia. Based on the substitution of concepts, anti-Semitism is being nurtured, which is directed against Belarus and Russia and, apparently, is aimed at disrupting the mediation of peace agreements.

Another trend has been a decrease in the effectiveness of the multilateral instruments of the United Nations, as well as non-governmental organizations in preventing the spread of Nazism. The UN system, as well as the structure of the Security Council, is based on the recognition of the decisive contribution of the USSR to the defeat of fascism. The refusal to condemn fascism will sooner or later lead to the rejection of the post-war architecture of the UN Security Council, which will destroy the system of observing the principle of sovereign equality.

The falsification of history has led to the destruction of the multilateral architecture of collective security. Sooner or later, this makes it inevitable that legislative measures on denazification will be consolidated at the state level. Regional organizations, such as the Council of Europe and the OSCE, are losing their status as negotiating platforms and are returning to the Cold War, when their only function was to prevent the Soviet Union from approaching the countries of Western Europe. The importance of new mechanisms of confidence-building measures, monitoring and coordination within the CIS, CSTO, SCO and BRICS is increasing. The secretariats are expected to be strengthened and the powers of these organizations expanded.

No right to be forgotten

Amid worsening trends, it is important both to preserve and multiply the historical truth. Condemning Nazism should become the basic principle of international communication, included in possible agreements on peace or new systems of collective security.

On the anniversary of the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, the high attention paid to this date in Belarus and Russia should be emphasized. People in our countries condemn fascism and remember the exploits of their ancestors. In fact, the updated Constitution of Belarus says: "The State shall ensure the preservation of historical truth and the memory of the heroic deed of the Belarusian people during the Great Patriotic War." At the constitutional level, it is enshrined that the duty of the citizens of the republic is to preserve the historical memory of the feat of the Belarusian people. Belarusian parliamentarians have developed and adopted laws "On preventing the rehabilitation of Nazism" and "On the пenocide of the Belarusian people." The Prosecutor General's Office continues to investigate the criminal case of the genocide of the Belarusian people during the Great Patriotic War.

On Memorial Day, we commemorate all those who died, were tortured in captivity, died of wounds, hunger and deprivation. Commemorative events and minutes of silence are held. It is customary to fly national flags at half-mast and cancel entertainment events. It has become a tradition to lay flowers and wreaths at the memorials of the fallen, the eternal flame and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The Nazis massacred the civilian population en masse: of the 27 million irretrievable losses of the USSR, the Armed Forces accounted for 8.7 million. By killing old people and children, men and women, Nazi war criminals used barbaric methods: executions, hangings, gas chambers, burning, hunger, cold, unbearable physical labor. Collaborators, for example, from the Estonian Erna group, who carved stars on the foreheads of the victims, committed atrocities.

Every second Belarusian died in the Great Patriotic War. From the first days of the occupation, the Nazis launched genocide – they overtook more than 180 major punitive operations. There were 560 death camps on the territory of the BSSR. The invaders destroyed more than 12,348 villages and settlements of the republic, of which 288 shared the fate of Khatyn – they were destroyed along with their residents.

The huge, but dry figure of 27 million can hardly reflect all the bitterness of loss that affected every family. The Third Reich, led by Hitler, was preparing the extermination of our peoples on racial grounds. Only those were supposed to stay alive who fit racial germanization, and even then with birth control and determination of social status by birth (see "Comments and suggestions on Generalplan Ost"). In Nazi documents, the mass extermination of the population was called "eviction". The destruction of the Slavic population was estimated at 100 billion Reichsmarks.

Based on German documents, the Third Reich planned to finish the war on the Arkhangelsk–Astrakhan line. After the end of hostilities, the Nazis intended to germanize the conquered territories. Germanization was given 25-30 years, each nation was planned to be evicted in different proportions. The plan envisaged extermination and deportation of 80-85% of the population from Poland, 85% from Lithuania, 65% from Western Ukraine, 75% from Belarus and 50% each from Latvia, Estonia and the Czech Republic.

How to preserve the truth

Sacrifices were not in vain. A sociological study by the Institute of Sociology of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, conducted in the first quarter of 2024, shows that the absolute majority of Belarusians (91.9%) are proud to live in one of the countries that won the Great Patriotic War. But despite the fact that the Soviet Union managed to stop the spread of fascism, Nazism is raising its head again. History is once again sacrificed to geopolitical tasks, and some countries at the legislative level refuse to unequivocally condemn fascism. The assessment of the tragic beginning of the Great Patriotic War and the Great Victory has become a litmus test, indicating preparation for information manipulation.

Since the time of the exportation of Nazi criminals, certain groups in the United States have held the position of the so-called "equal responsibility of the USSR and Hitler's Germany for unleashing the war." Any instrument is used here: political actions, history textbooks, amendments to legislation, the creation of "correct" historical research commissions, statements in the UN system, the promotion of the Nazis descendants to key positions. The manipulation technique is the same: the historical role of the USSR is diminished by equating it with the Third Reich. It has become a common lie to equate the Soviet Union with Nazi Germany on the basis of so-called "totalitarianism". The beginning of these manipulations was laid even before the Great Victory in the 1944 publication "The Road to Serfdom" by Friedrich August von Hayek.

Recent examples are illustrative. On February 23, 2024, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski stated during a debate in the UN Security Council: "It was the Soviet Union, together with Nazi Germany, that attacked Poland on September 17, 1939. On September 27, the two countries jointly organized a Victory parade." Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki noted: "The two totalitarianisms, despite numerous discrepancies, were united by the desire to destroy the Polish state."

Since May 21, 2015, Ukraine has prohibited "public denial of the criminal nature of the Communist and National Socialist (Nazi) totalitarian regimes," as well as the public use and propaganda of their symbols. In the Baltic countries, Nazi Germany has been equated with the USSR by legislative recognition of the occupation, and pseudo-legal bullying of veterans continues.

On the anniversary of the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, it is important to popularize classical works that have already answered numerous questions about the Great Patriotic War. Historians have proved that the Soviet Union bore the main burden of defeating the Third Reich, and in the Third Reich, unlike the USSR, the basis of public administration was the programmatic nature of racial theory.

Fascism, like Nazism, is a form of extermination of individual groups of people. It is based on the so-called theory of the racial insolvency of individual peoples, or in another way, racial exclusivity. One of the works that became classic literature in the field of studying the phenomenon of fascism was written by Wolfgang Wipperman in 1983: "European Fascism In Comparison". This work can serve as an important tool in countering the falsification of history and preventing the spread of Nazism. And we will always remember those who saved our generations at the cost of their lives.