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The Daily Vertical: Remembering 1941-45, Forgetting 1939-41 (Transcript) 

  • Brian Whitmore

There will be warplanes streaking over the Kremlin.

There will be tanks rolling down Moscow's streets.

There will be ICBMs rolling across Red Square.

And there will be a lot of praise for the brilliance of the Soviet leadership and the heroism of the Red Army between 1941 and 1945.

But what will be conspicuously absent as Russia marks Victory Day today will be any discussion of what happened between 1939 and 1941.

There will be no commemorations of the brutal occupation of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

There will be no events honoring the tens of thousands of Baltic citizens who were deported to Siberia by the Soviets.

There will be no ceremonies marking the partition and destruction of Poland.

And, of course, there will be no discussion of the secret protocols of the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, in which Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler carved up Europe.

There will be no mention of how the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were allies when the war began.

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These things won't be recognized because under Vladimir Putin the memory of World War II has been turned into something of a religion, an ideology, and a legitimizing myth that glorifies and sanctifies the Russian state.

And the events of 1939-41 just don't fit that narrative. They are heresy.

And mentioning them can get one branded as a heretic -- or to use the Kremlin's preferred term, an extremist.

And this has consequences, because those who do not know their own history are often doomed to repeat it.

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