Six Veterans of Stalingrad Write Open Letter to Angela Merkel
February 2, 2015 — 72nd Anniversary of the Victory at Stalingrad
Published January 22, 2015
Translated from Russian by Tom Winter
Every Museum desires to do educational outreach, and the Museum-Panorama of the Battle of Stalingrad is no exception. (Visit its site here: http://www.stalingrad-battle.ru/index.php?option=com_content&view=frontpage&Itemid=) On January 22, it hosted a Round Table discussion with actual survivors of the historic battle. These old soldiers, still resident in the Volgograd region, Maxim Matveyevich Zagorulko, Alexander Kolotushkin, Maria V. Sokolov, Mikhail Tereshchenko, Eugene F. Rogov, and Alexander Yakovlevich Sirotenko, in their late 80’s or even early 90’s, looked at the present world as well as at the past, and produced an open letter, a “letter of the living” to the Chancellor of Germany. The full text is on several Russian language sites. Their letter follows, in English.
Letter of the Living
to Frau Angele Dorothea Merkel from the Veterans of the Stalingrad Battle
Dear Frau Merkel,
Here in the 70th year after the victory over Nazism, we, veterans of that terrible war and participants in that most horrible combat, are aware that a spectre again is haunting Europe, a spectre of the Brown Plague. This time it is Ukraine that has become the nursery of Nazism, where from the fountainhead of an ideology in ultranationalism, antisemitism, and inhumaneness, there have come into practice rejections of other cultures, physical violence, elimination of dissenters, and murders motivated by ethnic hatred.
Before us there stand familiar pictures: torchlight parades, thugs in nazi-emblemed uniforms, upraised right hands in the Nazi salute, fascist processions with police protection through the center of Kiev, and the imposition, on certain people, of second-class status.
We have seen all this before, and we know where it leads.
In Ukraine the Brown Plague has been smoldering over the last decade, and has broken out into a civil war. Nazist-like formations such as Right Wing (Praviy Sektor), such as the so-called National Guard, numerous informal but well-armed battalions like “Azov,” with regular Ukrainian army support, with air strikes and with heavy artillery, have been systematically destroying the population of Eastern Ukraine.
They are murdering innocent people simply because the people wish to speak their own language, because they have a different idea about the future of their country, and because they do not wish to live in a government led by Banderists.
Banderists are followers of the so-called Ukraine Liberation Army, which, we remind you, Frau Merkel, fought in the time of the Second World War on the side of the Vermacht, and with the SS Galizia Division, who distinguished themselves in the murder of Soviet Jewry. They exalt their idealogical forebears, renaming the streets of Ukrainian cities after Nazi war criminals! The history of the 20th Century is being rewritten before our eyes. No wonder that the Banderists of our time — with a fanaticist’s gleam that is familiar to us veterans from the front of the World War, at Stalingrad — are calling for wiping Donbass off the face of the earth, and incinerating citizens of their own country in the east with napalm! There is documentary evidence that they have killed people simply for wearing the Ribbon of St. George, our symbol of the victory over fascism.
The truth is, Frau Merkel, that in Ukraine an all-out orgy of fascism is going on. It’s not just some anti-semitic remarks in Parliament or by dropouts about the superiority of one “race” over another. It is a matter of full-scale bloody crimes, whose victims now number in the hundreds and in the thousands.
But the west has taken a very strange position, and we do not understand it. The position can be understood as accommodating Ukrainian Nazis. It is understood in Ukraine as the position of Europe, and it is beginning to be perceived as such in Russia. And we would like to know what the German people would say about it from the vantage point of their historic national experience.
It is important for us to know your view, the view of the leader of the great people that once suffered the Brown Plague, but at the cost of terrible sacrifice, recovered from it. We are aware of how they struggle in your country with any manifestations of Nazism, and believe us, we appreciate it. All the more, it makes us wonder why, cleaning out any possible germs of nazism in you country, you are unconcerned about a full-scale outbreak of it in another part of Europe?
Why do European leaders march in support of French caricaturists murdered by Islamic terrorists, but do not march against fascism in Ukraine? Why did the head of state, who ordered annihilation of part of his own population, participate in this march? Why do 12 French victims deserve attention, but thousands of Ukrainian and Russian victims do not?
Do you know how many children got killed in East Ukraine by thugs with Nazi emblems on their uniform? Do you want to know? We will offer you this information — if you do not already have it. Why do the people of Europe look calmly upon the massive violence in Ukraine? Is it simply because there is no mention of it in your mainstream media? Then where is their well-known independance? Independance from facts? Independance from truth? What is the actual goal of your economic sanctions? Weaken Russia as a power? Support Fascism in Ukraine? Or just to eliminate our pensions which we get as veterans of the World War?
Dear Frau Merkel, the grim history of the 20th Sentury has taught us a few lessons.
1. The re-writing of history is the first path to Nazism.
Every European fascist regime in the 20s and 30s started with this. And this is the path they have traveled in Ukraine: from re-writing schoolbook histories to the widespread demolition of Soviet memorials. The acme of falsehood was uttered by Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk in the German media about “the Soviet Union invading Germany and Ukraine”! It would be interesting to know your sentiments about that, the sentiments of a leader where holocaust-denial is a crime entailing actual time in prison.
2. The search for scapegoats is a manifestation of Nazism.
Fascist regimes blame every failure of their country on various groups, ethnic, social, religous. In years past, this was the Jews and the Communists. In today’s Ukraine, the assigned scapegoats are Russians, Russia, and the entire east of the country.
3. If Nazism appears in one country, the disease can spread throughout the world
You cannot promote nazism in one country and suppose that it will stay within that country’s borders. The wave of Nazism spreads to all, overstepping boundaries. That’s the reason they called Nazism “The Brown Plague.” Nazism must be stopped at the distant approaches, lest it arrive in your house.
4. Nazism cannot be ignored; it must be resisted.
Should anyone suppose that one can simply ignore Ukrainian fascism, and pay no attention to it, he is utterly in error. The nature of Nazism is such that it takes being ignored as encouragement, even as an acknowledgement of its strength. Nazism is never local; it can only root, and grow. Therefore the only way with Nazism is an active bitter struggle against it.
5. The most important weapon in the struggle against nazism in its early stages is the truth.
In short, truth defeats nazism. By exhibiting the inhumane essence of nazism, the inhumane essence revealed in it own ideology, in the exhortations of its adherents, in its actual executions of persons, we fight against nazism as it is. Historical truth is the best shield against nazism. If their own government wouldn’t hide the history of their country and their people from the youth, there would be fewer nazi followers in Ukraine. Current mass media play a huge role: they can either form nazism, or they can fight it.
Dear Frau Merkel! In Russia, as successor to the USSR, we have a special and historic mission. 70 years ago, at the cost of the worst casualties of the war, we put an end to nazism in Europe. We personally, Stalingraders all, with superhuman effort, changed the course of history, not just our history, but European history, yes, world history. And we cannot allow the recrudescence of nazism. Certainly not next door! We have fought it; we will fight it; we invite you to fight it together!
A character, archetype of a fascist boss, in a well-known and favorite film here is made to say: “As soon as anywhere, instead of saying ‘Hello’ they say ‘Heil!’ you’ll know: that is where they are waiting for us, and that is where we will start our great revival.”
Frau Merkel, “Heil” is heard everywhere in Ukraine, openly, with official support. It is time for the whole European world to stop this bane.
We very much hope that the German people, and all Europe, together with the people of Russia, will stamp out the reptile, root and branch.