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Soviet soliders did not fight for socialism?

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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 27 Jul 2013, 05:04
Ideology: Other Leftist
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Post 04 May 2015, 11:55
One of the arguments I hear from conservatives regarding the Soviet military in World War II is that the average Soviet soldier did not fight for socialism or the Soviet state but only for their homeland as defined by traditional concepts of Russian nationhood. Additionally, these same people will say that if Hitler had not treated the people of the Soviet areas he conquered so badly, they would have gladly joined him in fighting Stalin. They claim the Nazis were welcomed as liberators when they first invaded the USSR.

Is there any truth to these arguments? While I have read that some men from ethnic minorities joined the fascists and formed special units within the German army, my understanding is that attempts to form major anti-Soviet units from among the Slavic people of the USSR were dismal failures.

I was hoping some of the comrades here could enlighten me on this issue, as I find myself hotly debating this matter with people I know. I have been having some trouble finding decent sources. You wouldn't believe how much pro-German propaganda there is the United States (a legacy of the Cold War I presume).
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 May 2009, 19:37
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
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Post 09 May 2015, 16:28
Of course there were nationalist people who didn't fight for Socialism (Ilya Ehrenburg is an famous example, a vehement nationalist, but because he didn't sabotage the Soviet Republic, they still let him live in USSR and be a writer). However, I believe there was a considerable number of people who fight for Socialism too.

While I am not fond of Stalin nostalgia, Stalin Society website has quite an interesting page related to the War: http://stalinsociety.org.uk/metelmann.html
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 19 Mar 2005, 20:08
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Post 11 May 2015, 08:11
Engelsist wrote:
Ilya Ehrenburg is an famous example, a vehement nationalist


What?


This is a man who said "Not being proud or ashamed of your national origins. Both pride and shame are equally incomprehensible to me: I don't like it when people are approached as tribal livestock. Of all nationalisms I still prefer internationalism."
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 May 2009, 19:37
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Post 11 May 2015, 10:02
Kirov wrote:
What? This is a man who said "Not being proud or ashamed of your national origins. Both pride and shame are equally incomprehensible to me: I don't like it when people are approached as tribal livestock. Of all nationalisms I still prefer internationalism."


Sorry, I forgot that the "nationalist" contains negative meaning. He should be a "patriotic person", what I mean is he didn't care for socialism or capitalism, he cared for his beloved motherland the most, which wasn't a bad thing at all.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Jul 2007, 06:59
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Post 12 May 2015, 07:19
I think that that statement contradicts either calling him a nationalist or a "patriotic person" (aren't they synonimous?).

He wasn't just a writer, he was part of the Lenin Peace Prize committee, which was a hefty responsability which wouldn't be given to someone who was merely "tolerated", like, say, Bulgakov was tolerated.

Here he is with Pablo Neruda, also part of that committee:

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There are shades to everyone, and times when your opinion might run counter to the official party line, but to say that he didn't care for socialism or capitalism, when he worked with the Bolsheviks and was exiled for it seems too simplistic and probably mistaken.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 May 2009, 19:37
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Post 12 May 2015, 12:53
praxicoide wrote:
There are shades to everyone, and times when your opinion might run counter to the official party line, but to say that he didn't care for socialism or capitalism, when he worked with the Bolsheviks and was exiled for it seems too simplistic and probably mistaken.


That was my feeling when reading his biography, that his main concern was the well-being of people in general, not socialism or capitalism. He is anti-capitalism because of its inhumane nature, but he doesn't really believe in socialism either. The 1931 edition of Small Soviet Encyclopedia described him:

Quote:
He ridicules Western capitalism and the bourgeoisie with genuine wit. But he does not believe in communism or the proletariat's creative strength.


And his own memoirs:

Quote:
If within a lifetime a man changes his skin an infinite number of times, almost as often as his suits, he still does not change his heart; he has but one.


Or they are attempts to muddle his name?
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 29 Sep 2011, 13:51
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Post 31 May 2015, 21:40
Piccolo wrote:
Soviet soldiers did not fight for socialism?


The reasons as to why any one individual Soviet citizen fought varies. On the whole, seeing as this was a war of attrition at its best and a war of annihilation at its worst, I'd think the majority fought simply for the right to exist. In other words, it was basic biological survival instincts that drove people to fight so fiercely for themselves and their families; because the alternative for a fighting soldier's family if the battle were lost would be for Soviet citizens to live out their existence as second or third class citizens in a greater Third Reich at the very best, or be annihilated like the Jews were being at the very worst.

Of course there were people who helped the Nazis purely out of ideological reasons, but they were a minority mostly out of Galicia and the Caucasus. This is something generally true no matter which war you look into; there will almost always be an opposition ready to side with the invader.

Other reasons for betraying the USSR range anywhere from believing that the effort against the Nazi military might was a futile one, to having their family members held hostage, to opportunism, to starvation, to torture, to mere cowardice etc.

Quote:
Additionally, these same people will say that if Hitler had not treated the people of the Soviet areas he conquered so badly, they would have gladly joined him in fighting Stalin.


The idea that a significant number of Soviet citizens believed that life under the Nazis was preferable to Stalin's USSR is a myth. I've personally never heard any senior Soviet citizen say anything of the sort. I've spoken about my grandmother's experiences under Nazi occupation where there was a basic level of economic and social understanding between the two, where a Soviet citizen may even befriend a German soldier here and there; but if I were to ask her now what was the happiest day of her life thus far, she'd always say the day when the Red Army had liberated them.

She'd recollect images of ecstatic Soviet citizens bursting out of their homes onto the streets to embrace one another stranger and neighbour alike, tears of joy overflowing.

No. Soviet citizens were definitely under no illusions. In Kiev the locals were being executed on a daily basis, with pictures online of naked women being executed with their children in their arms.

Furthermore, Hitler never claimed that he was going to treat Slavs as equals, and one needn't go further than Mein Kampf to have a picture of what the Nazi's were going to do with the local Slav population after they had won the war.

This imaginary would-be scenario whereas the Nazis would have treated Slavs better is pure fiction, and so is the argument for that matter.


Piccolo wrote:
One of the arguments I hear from conservatives regarding the Soviet military in World War II is that the average Soviet soldier did not fight for socialism or the Soviet state but only for their homeland as defined by traditional concepts of Russian nationhood.


It's true that Russians in particular did have a sense of national pride, one important reason being that it wasn't the first time they had fought a major war with western Europeans, indeed not even the first time their homeland was invaded by western Europeans.

This sentiment was exploited by Stalin, rightly so in my opinion, when the very existence of the worker's state was on the brink. They had already fought a Patriotic War before, this would be the Great Patriotic War, where Russians would be the last remaining Soviet ethnic peoples not wholly under Nazi occupation that still had a chance of defeating Nazi Germany. The west had already made it clear that they were not going to open up a Western front, and so desperate times called for desperate measures.

It was only after the victory at Stalingrad that the Internationale was replaced with a more patriotic anthem which nevertheless originally neither contained the mention of Russians nor any other ethnic people for that matter.


Piccolo wrote:
While I have read that some men from ethnic minorities joined the fascists and formed special units within the German army, my understanding is that attempts to form major anti-Soviet units from among the Slavic people of the USSR were dismal failures.


As far as I know and have read this is a very accurate statement. There were instances when Soviet prisoners of war were convinced of creating Russian Nationalist SS units in order to overthrow Stalin's communist regime. They were coerced into this only after millions of their comrades had died while they were being starved to the point of eating blades of grass. Nevertheless after being released from German captivity in order to fight the Soviets, they soon rejoined the Soviet side by fighting as partisan groups. One of the leaders of these groups who's name was Rodionov eventually died in battle against the very same Nazis who had released him in the faith that he would help them defeat the Soviet Union; and was posthumously awarded the Order of the Red Star.

Then there are many, many Soviet NKVD agents that the Nazis held in high esteem as double agents gathering valuable intelligence for the Third Reich ; insofar that they allowed them to hold lectures and seminars to teach other willing men under Nazi occupation the craft of betraying the USSR. Later on one by one did it unfold that these double agents were in fact triple agents sent by the NKVD to pose as double agents all the while selling misinformation to the Nazis.

Lavrentiy Beria's brutal execution was one well deserved, but I have to admit that he ran what was most truly the best intelligence agency the world has ever known.

Here are some of the names of these unbelievably brave Soviet agents who's unbridled hubris truly makes James Bond look like a mama's boy.

Richard Sorge
Alexander Demyanov
Pyotr Pryadko
Rudoph Rossler
Leopold Trepper


On another level there most definitely were significant numbers of people who fought for socialism/communism within the Red Army. You can just look up at how often Red Army officers would commit suicide rather than be taken prisoner, and no where was this more prevalent than within the ranks of the NKVD where you'd find the most fanatical of communists.

If you watch the testimonies of the veterans that were interviewed during the last RT War Witness documentary or on other Discovery channel documentaries, you'd often find them talking about the most devoted soldiers who'd often be first in line, and were in fact official members of the communist party.


Then on the most extreme end you had the people that fought for Comrade Stalin. Posters of this site are divided on this topic I know, but the fact remains the same; more people within the Soviet Union fought and died for Stalin than the world will ever be able of comprehending, or at the very least be comfortable of admitting.

I once visited a wax museum in Kiev. Among the many great Soviet and Slavic personalities represented, one of them was Stalin at the very end of his life. What caught me off guard the most at the time was how small and short he was, even shorter than me and I'm pretty short for a guy.

Anyway one of the visitors was an older man who was in Moscow during Stalin's funeral, 12 years old at the time. He assured to the guests present that the tears the Soviet people shed for Stalin were quite sincere, this fully knowing that his regime wasn't exactly a bed of roses; and that hundreds of people died from being trampled in an attempt to see his body one last time; himself being saved only by a police man who picked him up and hoisted him over his shoulders.

When the museum curator shared the same sentiment about Brezhnev dying, he explained that there simply was no comparison between the two; and when taking into consideration what the two respective leaders went through with their citizens, it makes sense.

He ended his personal story by saying that in Stalin's life Soviet citizens died for him, and in his death they died for him.


Even in Kiev today, which is the capital of Banderite activity and a proud shining example to all fascist, anti-Soviet and Russophobic sentiments; you'll still find senior Ukrainian GPW veterans with their families ready to hold up Stalin's portrait as they do every every year on the 9th of May; with that great old Soviet song "March of the Soviet Tank-men" playing in the background.

Victory Celebrations at the GPW Eternal Flame Memorial to the Unknown Soldier, 9th of May, Kiev, 2015


Thundering with fire and glinting with steel,
Our tanks begin the harshest of campaigns,
When we're all called to war by Comrade Stalin,
And the First Marshal leads us to the fight!


URA! URA! URA!


praxicoide wrote:
...nationalist or a "patriotic person" (aren't they synonymous?).


Just looking up the definition in a dictionary I found this:

Quote:
Nationalist • a person with extreme patriotic feelings, especially one who believes in the superiority of their country over others.


I fully agree with this definition. I may love Ukraine dearly and personally feel most comfortable there than anywhere else, but in no way do I see it superior to any other nation, theoretically neither do I approve of its borders whereby foreigners need permission to visit or reside there. I of course recognise the practical necessity of such a bureaucracy but I'm not comfortable with it, neither do I believe that I have more of a right to live there than anyone else on this site yet still, Slavic food, music, literature and culture may appeal to me more than any other.

So yes I do believe there is an important difference between the two; and is exactly why I find it acceptable to use the word "patriot" when referring to the Great Patriotic War.

I like to think of it lightheartedly in football terms. You may support your country patriotically amongst supporters of other nations over a beer without resorting to fighting and brawling like nationalist football hooligans do.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 01 Jun 2015, 12:07
Quote:
While I have read that some men from ethnic minorities joined the fascists and formed special units within the German army, my understanding is that attempts to form major anti-Soviet units from among the Slavic people of the USSR were dismal failures.

Not true. Cossacks were some of the last German units that fought for fascism the end. You also had ROA and all sorts of other Russian quislings. There was also strong collaboration in Western Ukraine. There were in all hundreds of thousands of quislings from Slavic peoples alone.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_co ... xis_powers
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukrainian_ ... xis_powers

Chechens and Tatars collaborated with Germans a lot.

But then again some "minorities" ( there were actually no minorities in the USSR aside from maybe gypsies or something because each nationality had its own country or at least some "autonomous republic", in name at least ) like the Georgians, Azerbaijanis and Buryats from Asia etc were well known for bravery and persistence in defending the USSR so much that Stalin awarded them some extra lands after the war contributing to today's Frag in the Caucasus.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 29 Sep 2011, 13:51
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Post 01 Jun 2015, 15:46
I have no problem with your Wikipedia link to Ukrainian-Nazi collaboration because West Ukrainian and Galician politics has become common knowledge recently, and I have already said above that there were collaborators in the Caucasus as well.

The Russian link however seems to be extremely unreliable. It literally has only three references, with the most important one by far being a paper prepared by the office of the secretary of defence of the USA; hardly a bastion of reliable information.

I have no doubt that there were many traitors all over Nazi occupied territories. My grand-mother has told me a lot of stories about betrayal amongst Soviet citizens as they opportunistically struggled to stay alive, often leading to hangings on a daily basis. Even Jews in the camps turned on each other, some going to far as to organise special groups that would lead "unfit" prisoners to the gas chambers; such things are to be expected when your life quite literally depends on the whims of an invader.

Still to say that effective anti-Soviet units were formed whereby tactical or strategic advances were gained would be highly inaccurate, and in that sense they were all dismal failures.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 31 May 2016, 15:17
New Comrade (Say hi & be nice to me!)
Post 31 May 2016, 16:53
At first, as a rule our soldiers in GPW was peasants, they couldn't to be theorists of marxism-leninism. You make a mistake, if you think that they was political philosophers. They was fighting for Motherland, let it was Socialist Motherland. Stalin made use of russian nationalism from first half of 1930th, more and more. Many books that about 'The Great Russian People' were published and in 1930th, and in 1940th, and in 1950th. I've read all of these books and i think, it was attempt to unite leninism with russian nationalism. It was not just marxism, it was powerful nationalistic narrative. Russian nationalism was united with leninism. In stalin's era Soviet writers and scientists said that russian people was greatest in the world, that he had special historical mission to bring socialism for all of peoples. Leninism was announced as supreme achievement of russian culture and philosophy, besides it was considered as height of human mind. It was began before war in Europe and GPW, it had difficult causes. In actual situation Soviets created modern russian nationalism, they wasn't struggling with it. Because it wasn't had any concerns in propaganda, just Soviet ideology had some nationalist foundations after 1930th. It follow that russian-soviet soldiers could be and communists, and russian patriots at the same time.
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