Commemorating the Victory in World War II

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RUSSIA BEYOND SPECIAL EDITION:

COMMEMORA T I NG THE VIC TORY IN WORLD WA R I I

RBTH.COM

c o m m e morati ng th e vi c tory in wo r l d wa r ii

1 illustration Natalya Nosova



Maria Karamyan

Introductory remarks by Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov for the special issue of Russia Beyond commemorating 75 years since the Victory.

c o m m e morati ng th e vi c tory in wo r l d wa r ii

Dear friends and veterans!

CONTENTS

This year marks a very significant anniversary — that of 75 years since the victory over Nazism — one that halted the merciless destruction machine, set on wiping out entire nations. The Soviet people did not only defend their Homeland, they managed to prevent the enslavement of a great number of European nations. The Red Army also put a stop to the Holocaust, liberating hundreds of thousands of prisoners from death camps. However, victory came at a high cost. More than 27 million Soviet citizens fell victim to Nazi aggression. Their memory is sacred to us. Every year we witness the continuing growth of the ‘Immortal Regiment’ initiative, as, on May 9, the descendants of Red Army soldiers from across the world take to the streets to march with photographs of their heroes. We are delighted to see that this new tradition has also found a home in the United States, with Americans joining the ranks. Soviet veterans residing in the U.S. are invited to attend a series of events, and to accept, with our utmost gratitude, their awards for the ‘75th Year Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945’. In what was a fateful period for all of humanity, the USSR and the United States fought the aggressor shoulder to shoulder. In honor of this, commemorative ceremonies are being held across the U.S. with the participation of Russian diplomats and local communities in every corner of the country, at the Soviet pilots’ graves in Anchorage, the Navy statue in Seattle, the Allied pilot monument in Fairbanks, in Elizabeth-City on Project Zebra Day on January 11, the WWII Memorial in Washington DC, on Remembrance Day and the Day of the Unknown Soldier. Every year on April 25, the historical day of the meeting of the Allies at the Elbe River in 1945, the Arlington Cemetery is visited by embassy delegates from CIS countries, together with U.S. politicians and Soviet and American war veterans, to participate in a ceremonial wreath-laying at the ‘Spirit of the Elbe’ marker. We profoundly honor the memory of our allies — American, British and French. This year we will immortalize the memory of Hero of the Soviet Union, French pilot Marcel Albert, who flew for the legendary Normandie-Niemen air regiment. After the war, he settled in America. A bronze bust by Russian sculptor Mikhail Serdyukov is being planned at the site of Mr. Albert’s final resting place in Chipley, Florida. Support for the project is being graciously provided by the French Embassy and the local Russian community. The Great Patriotic War has been commemorated in every artform. This publication serves as a great source of information on the subject, including on internationally-renowned Soviet films dealing with the war — many of which have been screened for young American audiences by the Russian Embassy. Thanks to cooperation with the Carmel Institute of Russian Culture and History we have been able to organize Washington DC screenings of many wonderful modern Russian works as well, such as ‘Sobibor’. Lovingly cherishing the memory of an immortal act of heroism by the greatest generation of victors is our common duty. We must work together to defend veterans’ honor, as well as historical truth, and to fight an increasing number of attempts to skew information pertaining to those years. It is wonderful that many of those heroes are alive to this day. Russia Beyond has decided to include them in a special issue to hear their stories, as well as to address future generations.

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A letter from a Russian to an American

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Elbe Day

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Military hardware that became symbols of victory in WWII

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Russian WWII veterans

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#VictoryPages

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Why did Soviet pilots bomb Berlin when the Nazis were at Moscow’s gates?

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How WWII was portrayed in Russian and American movies

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7 of the most important paintings about WWII

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How Soviet diplomats in the US reported from the frontlines

THIS SPECIAL ISSUE WAS PRODUCED BY RUSSIA BEYOND, AN INTERNATIONAL MULTIMEDIA PROJECT OPERATED BY AUTONOMOUS NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION “TV-NOVOSTI”. WWW.RBTH.COM E-MAIL INFO@RBTH.COM PH.: +7 (499) 75 000 75 EXT. 3411 25 BLD.1 PYATNITSKAYA STREET, 115035, MOSCOW, RUSSIA VSEVOLOD PULYA EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, MAX KORSHUNOV DEPUTY EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, OLEG KRASNOV DEPUTY EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, MICHAEL KRAVCHENKO OUTPUT EDITOR, ALEXANDER KISLOV ART DIRECTOR, SLAVA PETRAKINA HEAD OF PHOTO DEPARTMENT, NATALYA NOSOVA DESIGNER, ANTON ROMANOV DESIGNER.

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happy victory day! a letter from a russian to an american Dear John,

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My name is Alexei. I am 32. I am from Russia. I want to tell you a story. On a bright June day in 2014, I was in Cambridge, Massachusetts, having breakfast. The Charles River, the dark redbrick New England houses clad with creepers, the reflection of Trinity Church in the glass windows of the John Hancock Tower, the Prudential Tower from the top of which you can see planes taking off from Logan airport, and Harvard Bridge, across which it is a distance of “364 Smoots and one ear” to MIT — I really love Boston and its suburbs. Two weeks ago, the Allies celebrated the 70th anniversary of the opening of the second front in Europe. We discussed it over breakfast. Our landlady, Cathy Zusi told me: “Oh, yes! I know, you were our allies in the war.” I was hurt. “Do you know that in just one operation — to defend Vyazma — we lost almost as many soldiers as you did in the whole war? 380,000 vs. 405,000?” I asked her. “But I… I…” She was clearly taken aback. “But that is what we were taught. You were our allies.” “No, it is you who were our allies! We lost 27 million in World War II. Yes, we often wasted our soldiers’ lives, at the beginning they were badly armed, sometimes we shot at our own troops to counter desertion and cowardice, but it was our people who won that war. Together with our allies — the U.S., Britain and France. But we were the victorious nation.” Imagine, John, if the French had gone around telling their children that the main role in the American Revolution had been played by Lafayette and Rochambeau, and only foreign aid in the form of supplies by the company set up by Beaumarchais had made it possible for the U.S. to win its independence. You wouldn’t have accepted such an interpretation of your history. I don’t deny the importance of the Lend-Lease program and the second front in WWII but, please, let’s accept that General Washington defeated Britain and Marshal Zhukov defeated the Wehrmacht. Imagine, John, if generals Lee and Grant, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, John Kennedy and Barack Obama, Thomas Jefferson and the two Roosevelts — all so different, but incredibly important for your national identity — had taken part in the same war and on the same side. And imagine that, if they had lost, the Capitol would have been blown up and a lake would have been dug out on the spot where New York used to stand. And your multi-ethnic people would have gradually been wiped out, so that the very name of your country would have been forgotten. Imagine if every family, your family and the families of your neighbours in your street and your colleagues at work, and the families of all the people you know, had lost a husband, a father, a brother, a grandfather, a wife, a mother, a sister, a grandmother, or their children in that war. Imagine if Memorial Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day had all been marked on the same date in the calendar. Then you would understand what the Great Patriotic War means to us. You see, John, there are features of the Russian character that I still don’t understand. You know Wernher von Braun, the father of the U.S. space program? Before sending your guys beyond the Karman line and to the Moon, he invented the world’s first ballistic missile for Hitler. You whisked him out of vanquished Germany and created the world’s best working conditions for him. I have great respect for this ability of your nation to value genius. Seven years before Victory Day, Soviet bad guys seized our own genius, Sergei Korolev, tortured him and sent him to Magadan, where he almost drowned. In all likelihood, they broke both sides of his jawbone. And yet he went on to invent the Vostok 1 spacecraft, which took man into Earth’s orbit for the first time. That is the difference, John. My former country, the great Soviet Union, was capable of doing everything to make a particular individual hate the state. But this person still went on to survive, and then, with the help of that same state and with a country not yet recovered from the most terrible of wars, opened a window into space for all mankind. 2

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lexei Tokarev, a senior research fellow at the Institute for International Studies at MGIMO University, looks back at the history of the two great powers and attempts to explain why they cannot be friends, but mustn’t be enemies.


Yakov Ryumkin/Sputnik Sputnik Yevgeny Khaldei/Sputnik

Why is everything so bad between us at the moment, John? Let’s not play the diplomat — we should admit openly that we don’t just have our governments to blame. On the one hand, we are both Europeans. Our intellect owes a debt to Plato and Zeno no less than to Tolstoy and Dreiser. You and I have much more in common with each other than with a Filipino, Chinese person or Maori. But I have had to fight my whole life, John. I fought against my fellow Slavs in the XI century. In the XIII century I fought against the Teutonic Knights, who wanted to take away my faith. For three successive centuries I resisted the Mongols, who allowed me to keep my faith but took away my civilization. I fought against Sweden when it was a leading European power. I fought against Napoleon when he struck eastwards. I took part in fighting in the Pacific against Britain, France and Japan. In the past 400 years, I have fought against Turkey as many as 12 times. Like you, I fought in the Civil War, but mine took place in the early 20th century. Your unnecessary war was Vietnam, while mine was Afghanistan. Only recently, I fought for Russia against terrorists in Chechnya, and once again, this was a war on my own territory. The Canadians to the north and the Mexicans to the south securely spared you and your sense of who you are from the need to look at the world from behind fortress walls. After these thousand years of wars it is hard for me to demolish my own fortress. I make calls on my iPhone, I sit in Starbucks with my MacBook, I sip a cola in a branch of KFC, I watch NHL games and express my sincere condolences on Instagram to Kobe Bryant’s family. But you cannot take away from me my awareness and memory of the great culture that I was creating these thousand years and make me feel defeated just because I am surrounded by objects and devices you invented. I know that we cannot be allies and friends. We are too big for some enormous evil (like the Nazis) to arise and be capable of uniting us, as happened 75 years ago. You have to agree that we both suffer from terrorism. These fanatics blew up your skyscrapers and my block of flats, but look at a map of Syria — even on such a small patch of territory we cannot decide who the bad guys are and whom we should reach out to. On the other hand, when our special services aren’t at loggerheads with each other but work together, they succeed in crushing the religious fanatics who threaten our civilization. Your Eastern European friends will doubtless immediately remind you of how Stalin signed the non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany and divided up Europe. I won’t take exception. Prior to that, Britain and France had handed the Czech lands to Hitler and also signed non-aggression accords with him. Great empires think in terms of interests, not values. I know you sincerely believe in human rights, but you must admit that American foreign policy can hardly be described as peace loving. The RD-180 rocket engines that took your guys into space after the closing down of the Space Shuttle program are patently not enough for us. Compared with China’s exports to America, our trade volumes can be likened to a man craning his neck in the hope of seeing the top of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. Some of your friends still believe that we elected your current president. I also read in the media that a Democratic Party mailbox was hacked and it turned out that the primaries had been won by Bernie Sanders, but the establishment designated Hillary Clinton. Believe me, I know how unpalatable this is for you, but let’s both respect America’s great democracy — obviously no-one can influence procedures and institutions to such an extent that the choice of Americans can be manipulated. We in Russia should doubtless have approached this subject more seriously given how sensitive it is for you. The level of trust between us would perhaps have been a little higher then. Despite the present parlous state of our relations, we nevertheless have one extremely important world problem facing us. The New START treaty expires soon. Nuclear non-proliferation and, ultimately world stability, depend on us. Shall we try to put in place a new treaty out of a recognition of our joint responsibility for the future of the planet? Dear John, do come to Moscow. My grandfather, Alexei Adayev, a pilot of the Soviet Air Force and recipient of orders and medals, will undoubtedly be pleased to see you from up above. 27 million of his comrades-in-arms and my fellow countrymen will be watching the Red Square parade to mark the 75th anniversary of our joint victory. It’s just that we will not see them. I hope we shall meet soon. With warm regards. Sincerely yours, Alexei co mme mo r at ing t he v ict o ry in w orld war ii

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2nd Lt. William Robertson meets Lt. Alexander Silvashko

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Pfc. William E. Poulson/U.S. National Archives

BY BORIS EGOROV

Elbe Day

c o m m e morati ng th e vi c tory in wo r l d wa r ii

When Russians and Americans embraced and shook hands in friendship

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ever before, or since, have relations between the two superpowers been so cordial as during the meeting of the two armies on the Elbe River at the end of World War II.

Getty Images

In spring 1945, Soviet and American troops were inexorably moving towards each other, smashing the remains of the Third Reich from opposite directions. A meeting between the Allies was inevitable, and it finally happened on April 25 on the Elbe River, not far from the city of Torgau in northwestern Saxony. This remarkable event became known as Elbe Day. When the Soviet 5th Guards Army commanded 6

by General Alexey Zhadov and the U.S. First Army of General Courtney Hodges met on the Elbe, they effectively cut Germany in half, dealing a mortal blow to what was left of the Wehrmacht and SS troops. American troops arrived on the Elbe several weeks before the Soviets. In theory, they could have continued their advance to Berlin. However, since the Allied command abandoned plans

to attack the German capital, the Americans didn’t cross the river and waited for the Soviet troops. The first Americans who encountered the Soviet soldiers on the Elbe was a patrol unit led by 1st Lt. Albert Kotzebue near the town of Strehla. Later the same day, near the destroyed bridge in Torgau, another U.S. patrol under 2nd Lt. William Robertson met the Soviet patrol com-

manded by Lt. Alexander Silvashko. At first, the Soviets confused the Americans with Germans, but soon realized their mistake. An officer, Alexei Gorlianski, remembered that he almost accidentally shot the approaching Americans, but didn’t open fire when one of them yelled: “Muscovi-Washington. Hitler caput. Harrah!” “Once they recognized us, we were all buddies,” Cpl russia b eyond • r b t h.c om


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We couldn’t speak Russian, and they couldn’t speak English, but the hugs and handshakes said it all.

Georgiy Khomzor/Sputnik

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James J. McDonnell recalled. “We couldn’t speak Russian, and they couldn’t speak English, but the hugs and handshakes said it all.” Silvashko and Robertson were chosen to make history. During official ceremonies and celebrations, a stock photo was made with them warmly greeting each other against a background of Soviet and American flags, and a poster saying “East meets West.” This photo went viral c o m m e morati ng th e vi c tory in wo r l d wa r ii

across the globe, becoming a symbol of unity among the Allies. Despite the later cooling of relations between the two countries, Robertson and Silvashko stayed good friends for the remainder of their life. Robertson visited the Soviet Union several times to see Silvashko. The soldiers were drinking, dancing and exchanging souvenirs. The Americans and British primarily sought

to get Soviet uniform buttons as souvenirs, and Soviet soldiers loved american camouflage helmets. “Somebody got my wristwatch, and I got his,” Robertson recalled. High-ranking officers exchanged their weapons. Even though a few British troops were present on Elbe Day, their main meeting with the Soviets occurred later, in early May, when the British Second Army estab-

lished contact with the Soviet 3rd Guards Tank Corps near Wismar in northern Germany. Starting with Elbe Day, joint Soviet-American-British meetings, conferences and solemn celebrations continued for several months. After this momentous and joyous event, the soldiers had to give way to the politicians, and the world faced the start of the Cold War. 7


military hardware that became symbols of victory in WWII

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Yak-3

In June 1945, pilots of the Normandie-Niemen Fighter Regiment landed at Le Bourget airfield in France in their Yak-3 fighters. They were deemed the easiest to fly and the most maneuverable among the aircraft of the time, and the French wanted to fly only them. In flying the Yak-3 fighters, French pilots took part in the liberation of Lithuania (the Baltic Offensive) in November 1944 and in the fighting in East Prussia in 1945. At the end of the war, the USSR donated about 40 such aircraft to France, and nowadays, one of them is on display at the Le Bourget Air and Space Museum. 8

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Nikolay Kovalevsky/UMMC Museum of Military and Civilian Equipment

At the beginning of the war, the Red Army’s main fighter plane was the Polikarpov I-16. At only six meters in length, it was one of the smallest aircraft at the time. It was introduced in the mid-1930s and during its lifespan it witnessed the Spanish Civil War and the Second Sino-Japanese War. The Spanish nicknamed it ‘Mosca’ (“Fly”), the Chinese called it ‘Swallow’ and the Japanese ‘Abu’ (“Gadfly”). But in the Soviet Union, the fighter was known as ‘Ishachok’ (“Donkey”). It was the first Soviet aircraft with retractable landing gear. In the early days of the war, ‘Ishachoks’ confronted German Luftwaffe planes and often even rammed them. Nikolay Kovalevsky/ UMMC Museum of Military and Civilian Equipment

no other military confrontation were there so many armored vehicles, aircraft and guns deployed. Armaments had to be upgraded all the time despite a severe shortage of time and materials. But what military equipment distinguished itself on the battlefield and is today regarded as a symbol of the victory over Fascism?

Nikolay Kovalevsky/ UMMC Museum of Military and Civilian Equipment

BY ANNA SOROKINA


Katyusha Timofey Melnik/Sputnik

Nikolay Kovalevsky/UMMC Museum of Military and Civilian Equipment

Т34 c o m m e morati ng th e vi c tory in wo r l d wa r ii

“Katyusha went out to the riverbank, the bank was steep and high,” goes a Soviet song about a girl pining for her beloved who is serving in the army. After July 14, 1941, when a battery commanded by Captain Ivan Flyorov, positioned on a steep bank, carried out a strike on a concentration of enemy equipment and armor at a railway junction near Orsha (Belarus), the nickname ‘Katyusha’ was given to the BM-13 multiple rocket launcher system. “The rocket attack was like a hurricane” was how the German newspapers described Katyusha’s destructive power. The rocket fire did have a fearsome effect. The blast waves from a number of rockets intersected, destroying all in their path. Katyushas were used for the entire course of the war from Moscow to Berlin, and became veritable symbols of victory. Initially, rocket-propelled projectiles were used in aviation, but in the years 1938-41, Soviet designers came up with a multiple launcher that could be mounted on various platforms. The BM-13 (with 132 mm caliber projectiles) was predominantly mounted on the American Studebaker. US6 trucks, which were supplied to the USSR under the Lend-Lease program and the BM-8-24 (82 mm caliber) was mounted onto T-60 tanks, on towing tractors, and gunboats. More powerful BM-31-12 launchers firing 310 mm caliber rockets came into service in 1944. The rockets weighed 90 kg each and were nicknamed ‘Andryushas’ (Based on a male name in Russia). The T-34 is one of the most recognizable symbols of the war and was the most mass-produced tank in the USSR. In the Urals alone (in Nizhny Tagil, Chelyabinsk and Sverdlovsk/ present-day Yekaterinburg), about 25,000 T-34 tanks were produced between 1942 and 1944. T-34 tanks were also assembled in Kharkov (a city in modern Ukraine), Gorky (Nizhny Novgorod), Stalingrad (Volgograd) and Omsk. In the north of Moscow Region, there is a T-34 museum, which is the only museum in the world dedicated to just one tank. It was here, near the village of Sholokhovo, just 30 km from the Kremlin, that the advance of German troops was halted in December 1941. In a counterattack by the Red Army, a special role was played by the new Soviet T-34 medium tanks, which managed to drive the enemy back almost 250 km from the capital. A single crew, under the command of Senior Lieutenant Dmitry Lavrinenko (a “tank ace”), destroyed about 50 German tanks in two months during the defense of Moscow.

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Nikolay Kovalevsky/UMMC Museum of Military and Civilian E

from collective farm to front line

Civilian hardware adapted for army needs was brought to the front during the war. GAZ-AA trucks and the GAZ-MM modified version (known as the ‘Polutorka’, the “One-Point-Five”, because of its cargo capacity of 1.5 tons) became another symbol of the wartime era. They were built in enormous volumes — around one million had been assembled before the war, for the needs of the national economy. The output of trucks continued apace during the war, but, in an attempt to save metal, fabric screens were used instead of doors, the cab was made of wood and they were only fitted with a single headlamp, and even that was sometimes dispensed with altogether. Wheeled vehicles were in demand all the time: Even under Lend-Lease, road vehicles were supplied in greater numbers than any other category of equipment (more than 400,000 vehicles versus 11,000 aircraft and 12,000 tanks). The ‘One-Point-Fives’ were used to transport troops and munitions, as well as for the mounting of weapons.

Nikolay Kovalevsky/UMMC Museum of Military and Civilian Equipment

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armored train powered by the ‘little lamb’ locomotive Civilian steam locomotives and trains also served at the front. Without the railways, it would have been impossible to evacuate 2,500 factories, museums and theaters, moreover, in just the three months following the outbreak of war. Just imagine what was involved in moving a whole enterprise with its machines, tools and laboratories and transporting it all a distance of 2,000 kilometers! One of the most widely-used steam locomotives in those years was the ‘Ov’, affectionately known as the ‘Ovechka’ (“Little Lamb”). It seemed tiny in comparison with the giants of the E and FD series. It was predominantly used to haul evacuation trains, hospital trains and even armored trains. But, it was soon discovered that putting protective armor on other types of locomotive simply crushed the rails underneath them. A train of this type — No. 746 — was built in 1943 with funds from the Moscow Metro. A large number of the crew, 58 men, were actually Metro workers. Along with a similar armored train, No. 737, it was involved in the first and most difficult stage of the Battle of Kursk. For three days, they provided cover for a 20 km sector between Belgorod and Prokhorovka, bringing down four aircraft and destroying six tanks and several mortar batteries during that time. Finally, the trains were put out of action at Sazhnoye station, where shrapnel from shells remains in tree trunks to this day. The crew were forced to evacuate, destroying the trains as they departed. This three-day delay to the advance of enemy troops allowed the Red Army to prepare for the decisive tank battle at Prokhorovka.

Nikolay Kovalevsky/UMMC Museum of Military and Civilian Equipment

vilian Equipment

c o m m e morati ng th e vi c tory in wo r l d wa r ii

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more than courage: russian WWII veterans remember the heat of battle

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B Y Y E K A T E R I N A S I N E L S C H I K O VA

ights in the trenches, rusks, tinned food, vodka, shell shock, injuries, death, courage, duty — stories from the Great Fatherland War often share the same horrific details. All those lucky enough to have survived (around 11 million Russian soldiers died) have been praised with medals, orders, honorary badges, and certificates of merit. And all of those who came back, without exception, say: «For Heaven’s sake, don’t turn me into a hero. I was an ordinary participant in the war». The insignia are sewn onto their uniforms or kept in a shoe box wrapped in polyethylene somewhere at the bottom of a cupboard — a family heirloom that only sees the light of day on special occasions. For instance, on May 9, to attend a military parade, although for many it is too painful to remember the war. It is not the done thing to wear awards in everyday life. But behind each of these awards is a story of someone’s life or death, of incredible bravery, and the worst of memories. Russia Beyond asked two participants in the war what they recall when they look at their medals.

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Mikhail Yakovlevich Buloshnikov, aged 98

c o m m e morati ng th e vi c tory in wo r l d wa r ii

Maria Ionova-Gribina

Maria Ionova-Gribina

Maria Ionova-Gribina

I was born in Odessa in 1921. I spent 900 days in Leningrad under siege. The war had started only two and a half months previously but fascist troops had already entered the Leningrad Region. The Germans did not so much advance as squeeze Leningrad in a deadly grip, starving it into surrender. The fascist leaders believed that the city would fall at their feet like an overripe fruit: Leningrad did not have the reserves to last the three years of siege. Before the war about four million people lived in the city; many were evacuated but many didn’t manage to leave. Our task was to break the siege. The most vulnerable place where that could be done was the so-called Nevsky Bridgehead or the Nevsky Pyatachok. It was a short stretch of land on the enemy side, on the left bank of the Neva River. We needed to build a temporary crossing to the other bank. Only how to get close to the edge of the water? You had to cross just 17 km, but on peat soil. It was a real swamp. As soon as you thrust a sapper blade into the soil to make a trench, water would appear. Heavy machinery could not get there. And iron boats — pontoons — had to be used to get to the other side. And they weighed one and a half tons. We loaded them on lorries and somehow drove off-road to take them to the very edge of the water, trying to camouflage our presence with silence, although, in fact, when a lorry was on the move, it was like an alarm bell going off. We did this only at night. In daytime the pontoons could be hit with pinpoint accuracy. But at night it was also a frightening picture. On the other side the Germans fired flares that came down slowly, producing an eerie light. The water was seething with fragments of mines and shells. People were ferried there but neither the injured nor the dead were brought back. That’s what the crossing was like. The medal dearest to me is “For Battle Merit.” I received it at the beginning of 1942. It was my first medal, with the citation “For courage displayed in defense of the state borders.” They wrote about it in the front-line newspaper and I proudly sent a clipping to my parents. Later I was awarded the medal “For the Defense of Leningrad.” I also received the “Order of the Red Star” in 1942 during a ceremony in front of my comrades. Sometimes it was awarded for performing a very difficult mission and sometimes for showing endurance under fire. Separate medals were awarded for taking every capital. After Leningrad we entered Tallinn, and from there, via Belarus and Ukraine, Romanian territory. Then there was Hungary, Budapest. To be honest with you, awards were of little interest to me. I liked to serve. I was a young man and was somewhat adventurous. I enjoyed taking risks. I enjoyed reconnaissance assignments, if I was sent. All of us were far more inspired by the fact that we were in the middle of the fighting.

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Valentin Sergeyevich Barmin, aged 93 I was the youngest in my company. I was 18 on the very day when on January 14, 1945, all forces of the Belorussian Front went on the offensive. I remember how the Katyushas (multiple rocket launchers) started up their whine. We then all lived in dugouts: We dug a large pit, laid wood, and then put soil on top. Often there was water underneath, right under our plank bed. But that was not the worst thing. My captain took me under his wing, treating me like a son. He used to tell me: “Valka [short for Valentin], war is a very hard thing. In war people get killed; we are all doomed. Or people get maimed or captured. But it is better to die than to be captured. And you must know that, if you are afraid of death and run away from it, it will catch up with you. Therefore you must look death in the eye and it might turn away from you.” I remembered these words well, and they saved me. We entered East Prussia; there were mainly towns and country estates, and no big villages. The civilian population of East Prussia had all been evacuated to central Germany. And these estates were already prepared in advance for defense. They were made of stone or brick, and there was a gun slit at basement level, and there would be German soldiers inside. There, we encountered strong resistance; too many were wounded and killed. The driver was thrown quite a distance and he had part of his foot torn off. The commander was wounded. I rushed there and back between them, doing dressings, and lost consciousness for a while. And when I came to and looked around, there was no-one there; everyone had moved forward and to the right. And 12 to 15 Germans were moving in a line towards me. There were 50 meters between us. I thought I was definitely going to die. But I decided I must take someone with me — it was also important not to die in vain. There was a rock and I hid behind it. I had always been small. I had 32 cartridges in my automatic rifle and two grenades in my backpack. I was always a good shot — after finishing my training at military camp I could hit the target 29 out of 30 times with a small-caliber rifle. And I decided to fire single shots, since I would not have time to reload anyway. The Germans began to fall to the ground and then everything went quiet. And then I heard the rustling of bushes. Two more were there, making their way towards me. Then I fired a burst and fainted. I was found by our soldiers. They tried to talk to me. And I was shaking all over — I couldn’t believe I was alive and couldn’t say anything. I had been hit in the leg, my boot was full of blood but I couldn’t feel it. “The lad is a hero,” they said. For that I was awarded the ‘Order of the Fatherland War, First Class’. It was given only to those who were concussed or wounded in battle. But at that moment, I had been thinking about something else. I had been thinking: Death is not the worst thing — the worst thing is that they may not find me. What if they think that I have deliberately fallen behind and that I am a deserter? Anyone could be killed, but a cowardly soldier or a deserter could mean a guilty verdict for relatives. I had my mother and two little sisters. My father also fought in the war and was killed near Leningrad during the breaking of the siege. His death notification came in January 1942. We took Koenigsberg, I was there for just one day. I remember a moat filled with water, fortifications, towers, and a city lying completely in ruins. It was a month before the end of the war. And then there was the meeting with the Americans on the Elbe. After the Elbe, from Berlin we returned home on foot. We covered the 2,340 km of the return journey, it took us the whole of the summer of 1945. The Germans planted trees very close to the roads and it was like walking in a green tunnel. It was summer, and everything was in bloom. And we, the victors, were walking through the tunnel. Some had no-one to return to and after the solemn words “Comrades, the war is over, we have won”, they started crying. And I continued to make dugouts in which to sleep, and every morning that summer I woke up confused, thinking, “Where am I? Maybe in captivity?” 14

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Maria Ionova-Gribina

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c o m m e morati ng th e vi c tory in wo r l d wa r ii

Maria Ionova-Gribina

Maria Ionova-Gribina

I continued to make dugouts in which to sleep, and every morning that summer I woke up confused, thinking “Where am I? Maybe in captivity?”

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#VICTORY PAGES B Y Y E K AT E R I N A S I N E L S C H I K O VA

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Arina Kashavtseva

RT has launched a large-scale project devoted to the Victory in the Great Patriotic War, inviting people to take a fresh look at the events 75 years on, this time through social media and digital art. #СтраницыПобеды (#VictoryPages) offers unique content created by the young and for the young. Dozens of artists, designers, composers and directors bring stories to life through modern mediums, from 3D graphics and podcasts to virtual reality and poster poems. “Digital art is a modern and universal language that the youth speaks. Therefore, we thought that on the 75th anniversary of the end of one of the worst wars, it was important that we should try talk about the war’s legacy in the language of modern media,” says the idea’s author, Kirill Karnovich-Valua. The project runs on five platforms: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and VKontakte, each boasting original content. On Instagram, lines from hundreds of wartime letters – from hopeful to farewell letters – have been turned into one “endless letter”, illustrated by design students and famous artists Mikhail Sorkin and Peter Bankov. On Twitter, the project presents an online “reconstruction” of the last months of 1945; and on YouTube, a documentary series telling the stories of soldiers and officers who left a lasting record of their heroism in inscriptions on the walls of the Reichstag. On Facebook, the project takes the form of digital art. “Drawings made by children in besieged Leningrad were for decades kept at the State Museum of History in St. Petersburg. For our #VictoryPages project, artists from different countries have tried to bring them to life. And this is the result. It is a very touching look,” says Margarita Simonyan, RT Editor-in-Chief, about the VR animation project, which is serialized on Facebook. You can learn more about all the formats and participants of the #VictoryPages project by going to its website https://en.pobeda. page/ or accessing it via a QR code.


Alena Hudyakova

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Yana Nesterenko

Anna Green


Nor th Sea C O P E N H AG E N

BERLIN

LONDON A M S T E R DA M

Why did Soviet pilots bomb Berlin when the Nazis were at Moscow’s gates?

T

BY BORIS EGOROV

he famous Doolittle Raid, when the U.S. Air Force bombed Tokyo in retaliation for the attack on Pearl Harbor, was preceded by an even crazier operation by a severely weakened USSR, which bombarded Berlin from the heavens. When on Aug. 7, 1941, enemy aircraft appeared in the sky above Berlin, the Germans thought the planes were British. However, soon they learned that the capital of the Third Reich was being bombed by the Soviets, something they didn’t

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think was possible as the Germans were convinced the USSR had already lost the war. The Wehrmacht occupied most of the Baltic region, Byelorussia, half of Ukraine, and had come close to Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) and was

now approaching Moscow. Back in July, German Luftwaffe commander Hermann Goering assured Hitler that the Soviet Air Force had been completely destroyed. It was in fact fully operational and capable of bombing Berlin for a whole month. russia b eyond • r b t h.c om


LENINGRAD St. Petersburg

Baltic Sea STOCKHOLM

EZEL ISLAND

Saaremaa Island

V I N DAVA Ventspils L I B AVA Liepaja MEMEL Klaipeda

DA N Z I G Gdansk

WA R S AW

Naval base

Revenge for the capital

c o m m e morati ng th e vi c tory in wo r l d wa r ii

The idea of a retaliatory air strike against Berlin came to the Soviet leadership after the Germans started bombing Moscow in July of 1941. The bombardment of the capital undermined the Soviet people’s faith in their military strength and ability to resist the enemy, so the powers that be decided to fight fire with fire by bombing the heart of the Third Reich. Commander of the Soviet Navy, Admiral Nikolai Kuznetsov, recalled: “If successful, a strike against Berlin will have great importance. After all, the Nazis were trumpeting to the whole world that the Soviet Air Force was destroyed.”

Air Base

(Nikolai Kuznetsov, With a Course for Victory, Moscow, 1975). Achieving it, however, was by no means a certainty, the Soviet Air Force suffered catastrophic losses (several thousand aircraft) during the first few months of the war, which gave the Germans supremacy in the skies. That is why, as far as the Soviet military leadership was concerned, each aircraft was worth its weight in gold and had to be used rationally. Furthermore, the USSR no longer controlled airfields from which aircraft could make non-stop return flights to Berlin. The operational airfields nearest to Berlin were located

outside Leningrad, but they were too far away and Soviet bombers could only reach Libau (present-day Liepaja on the western coast of Latvia). Then a daring decision was made: The USSR would use poorly maintained airstrips on the Moonsund archipelago in the eastern part of the Baltic Sea which were close to the enemy. From there, Soviet DB-3 bombers could cover the 900-km round trip to Berlin. However, the German troops were very close to Tallinn, the main Baltic Sea base, and were making their way to the Gulf of Finland. In addition, Finnish aviation was active in the area. 19


Operation ‘Berlin’

Psychological victory

The airfield on the island of Osel (present-day Saaremaa), the largest in the Moonsund archipelago, was completely unprepared for use by long-range bombers. It had to be urgently reequipped, and soon Soviet bombers were deployed to the island. “Seamen were faced with a difficult task. There were not enough supplies of fuel and aerial bombs on the island... Under heavy protection, small barges loaded with gasoline and ammunition traversed the mined waters of the Gulf of Finland to Tallinn, and then on to the island of Osel. Danger lay in wait for them at every turn. It should be noted that Tallinn was already being besieged by the enemy,” Kuznetsov wrote in his book. Even more dangerous were possible attacks by the Luftwaffe. In order not to attract the Germans’ attention, the aircraft were hidden in different parts of the island, at homesteads, and covered with camouflage nets. The Osel airfield continued to appear abandoned and unused.

On Aug. 6, five aircraft made a reconnaissance flight to Berlin, which proved a success. Two days later, 15 fully loaded DB-3 bombers began Operation “Berlin” in the middle of the night. Most of the journey spanned the Baltic Sea — they turned off at Stettin (present-day Szczecin in Poland) and headed towards the German capital. The raid took the Germans completely by surprise. At first, they took Soviet planes for their own. “The Germans did not expect anything so daring. As our aircraft were approaching the target, they signaled from the ground: Which aircraft are these? Where are they flying? Thinking that those were German aircraft that had lost their way, they invited them to land at the nearest airfields,” Kuznetsov recalled. The city was fully illuminated and clearly visible. British air raids usually came from the west and at that time were rare. German air defense did not expect a strike from the north and was late to react. Five Soviet planes made it to Berlin and dropped bombs. The others bombed the suburbs and Stettin. After the operation, all the crews returned to the base without losses.

In the course of a month, Soviet aircraft performed nine more raids on the German capital but the element of surprise had worn off: The enemy was prepared. In the subsequent raids, the Soviet Union lost 18 aircraft. In early September, after Tallinn was captured, German troops invaded the Moonsund Islands and on Sept. 5, Operation “Berlin” was stopped. The Soviet air raids received extensive coverage in national and Western press. Although it did not cause serious damage, the bombing of Berlin had an important psychological effect: It showed to the world that Soviet aviation was not only alive but was capable of delivering painful blows to the heart of Nazi Germany. Lieutenant-colonel Sergei Ostapenko, who knew some of the pilots who took part in the raids, recalls: “After the first bombings, Russian people began to say, think and write in the newspapers: Truly, if we reached Berlin by air, we shall reach it by land too.”

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Sputnik

Preparations

russia b eyond • r b t h.c om


DB-3 bombers began Operation “Berlin�

c o m m e morati ng th e vi c tory in wo r l d wa r ii

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How WWII was portrayed in Russian and American movies B Y N I K O L A I K O R N AT S K Y

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rom war comedies and patriotic epics about the Motherland to Saving Private Ryan — what did these two major world powers want to tell audiences in their own countries using the medium of — in Lenin’s words — the “most important of the arts”? Nowhere else have so many films about World War II been made as in Russia and the U.S. — we are talking hundreds here. Several dozen among them have become classics of world cinema. The two countries maintained a common interest in the topic during the Cold War years as well, but they rarely concurred on matters of subject matter, heroes or viewpoint. However, at times, history still forced their parallel narratives to intersect.

The importance of cinema as the most influential mass medium was not forgotten on both sides of the Atlantic, even during the difficult war years, and in fact, production never stopped. Movie making in the two Allied countries during those years was similar as far as genres were concerned — films were generally either uplifting dramas or comedies designed to boost fighting morale. But the heroes and stories differed greatly — they were dictated by the war itself. WWII engulfed almost the entire world, but in every hot spot it was different. In Hollywood, three themes dominated. Firstly, the military itself — i.e. soldiers in the theaters of war. Secondly, the home front and the lives of the families of those who had gone to war. And finally, the people who found themselves between the front line and the home front — new conscripts getting ready to go to war. The biggest war-themed hit at the time was ‘This Is the Army’ (1943), an adaptation of a Broadway production about an amateur army dramatics society. According to the plot, members of the troupe head off to their individual military units following their last show in Washington and none of them know whether they will ever get together again. The “face” of Soviet wartime cinema was female. In the USSR until the first decisive victories, there were no movies set at the front. But there were a lot of films about the heroic struggle in areas occupied by the Germans and on the part of those who found themselves in captivity — for obvious reasons, nothing of the kind was made in the U.S., which fought on distant frontiers for the most part. What is important is that in many Soviet films — ‘She Defends the Motherland’, ‘Rainbow’, ‘Zoya’, ‘Girl No. 217’ and others — this struggle was waged by proud and strong women, serving as a vivid embodiment of the Motherland calling on people to come to their country’s defense (‘The Motherland Calls!’ was the name of a popular Soviet poster in the first year of the war). The most important phase of WWII in the USSR was called the Great Patriotic War, which implied that everyone — men as well as women — was engaged in it. And so, too, were the movies. During the four wartorn years, about 70 feature films were released in the USSR and almost 50 of them were thematically linked to the war. For comparison, in the U.S., the war featured in fewer than a third of the total of over 1,200 movies produced between 1942-1945. 22

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Mikhail Kalatozov/Mosfilm, 1957

Andrei Tarkovsky/Mosfilm, 1962

J. Lee Thompson/Highroad Productions, 1961

Steven Spielberg/Amblin Entertainment, 1993

c o m m e morati ng th e vi c tory in wo r l d wa r ii

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The new, Cold War When the last shots died away, the ratio changed dramatically. There was a boom in movies about WWII in the U.S. in all sorts of genres — comedies, films noir and heroic action movies. The most successful film of the decade was ‘The Best Years of Our Lives’ (1946), the William Wyler drama about three war veterans who return to “Civvy Street”, but fail to recover from their wartime experiences. The movie not only won seven Oscars (including best film), but also broke the box office record previously set by ‘Gone With the Wind’. And in the USSR, it was a period of movie famine, owing to ideological restrictions and the extremely dire economic situation. Just a few dozen films came out per year, and at the height of the crisis — in 1951 — only nine. A few of them touched on the war and even those that did could hardly be described as realistic. Genre movies such as the film noir ‘Secret Agent’, or ‘Brave People’, which echoed the conventions of an American Western, enjoyed great popularity with audiences. However, war epics glorifying Stalin as Supreme Commander-in-Chief were emblematic of the entire period. The complex and dramatic history of the Great Patriotic War was presented in terms of a series of victorious operations conducted under the personal command of the Great Leader. In Soviet historiography, it was called ‘Stalin’s Ten Blows’. To consolidate this concept in the collective consciousness, it was decided to depict each “blow” in the language of cinema. In the end, only three of the 10 films were actually made, and the most famous of them was ‘The Fall of Berlin’ by Mikheil Chiaureli. All the events in it were pure invention, including the finale, where a jubilant crowd greets Stalin in the vanquished enemy capital.

The 1960s: Over here and over there The history of cinema can be studied using the huge number of movies about WWII made on both sides of the Atlantic. But the distinctive feature of Soviet films is that watching them readily allows one to trace the history of the country. After Stalin died, Nikita Khrushchev came to power. He debunked the cult of personality and liberalized public and cultural life. ‘The Khrushchev Thaw’ arrived (almost exactly coinciding with the decade of the 1960s). Movies about the war changed, too. When the cinema industry came back to life, almost the first thing film directors did was turn to the subject of the Great Patriotic War. This included both directors who had fought in the war and those who were children during the war. For the first time since the war, they started depicting it not only as a great triumph, but also a great tragedy. Generals in the HQs and the front line almost disappeared from movies, as did the enemy — German presence was often reduced to a silhouette in the background. The focus moved to individual stories of ordinary Soviet people. To a large extent, it is these new films about the war, imbued with humanism, that made Soviet cinema world famous. Just listing the awards speaks volumes. Mikhail Kalatozov’s ‘The Cranes Are Flying’ (1957) — a movie about the turmoils in the life of a young girl, whose boyfriend has volunteered for the front — won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, the only Soviet film to ever win the award. ‘Ivan’s Childhood’ (1962), Andrei Tarkovsky’s debut film about a boy morally crippled by war, earned the USSR a Golden Lion, the main prize of the Venice Film Festival. Grigory Chukhray’s ‘Ballad of a Soldier’ (1959) about a young soldier who is granted leave and goes to visit his mother, was nominated for an Oscar for best screenplay. And, finally, somewhat later, ‘The Ascent’ (1976) directed by Larisa Shepitko about two partisans captured by the Germans won a Golden Bear in Berlin. If, in the USSR, the 1960s are remembered as the heyday of auteur cinema, in the U.S., that decade was a time of genre classics — suspense-filled war thrillers about hard-bitten tough guys. One after another, movies came out that audiences around the world still love and watch today, such as ‘The Guns of Navarone’ (1961) with Gregory Peck and David Niven, or ‘The Great Escape’ (1963) with Steve McQueen. The latter also featured Charles Bronson, who four years later starred in the celebrated movie ‘The Dirty Dozen’. 24

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Steven Spielberg/DreamWorks Pictures, 1998

Other wars: Afghanistan and Vietnam One movie released in the 1960s had a decisive impact on Soviet cinema. ‘The Longest Day’ (1962), a three-hour long, large-scale reconstruction of the Allied landings in Normandy, enjoyed enormous success and sparked an appetite for epic war dramas. All these monumental movies made in the West had one thing in common — they almost completely ignored the Eastern Front. This led to much indignation on the part of the Soviet authorities and the Kremlin decided to respond by telling the story of who had really defeated Nazi Germany. These were the circumstances that led to the making of Yuri Ozerov’s epic ‘Liberation’ (1969-1971), which aspires to the status of a comprehensive chronicle of World War II. The action moves freely from the Supreme Commander-in-Chief’s HQ to Hitler’s bunker, and from a Soviet dug-out to Churchill’s war room. Ozerov was actually only allowed to start with the Soviet victory in the Battle of Kursk (1943), but the director subsequently shot the missing parts. The movie is symptomatic of the Brezhnev period of stagnation when military subjects migrated from auteur cinema to the mainstream. In the USSR in the 1970s, films about the Great Patriotic War were made copiously and frequently — both large-scale epics in the Ozerov mould and movies about “battles of local significance”. But the number of outstanding works was c o m m e morati ng th e vi c tory in wo r l d wa r ii

small, and hard-hitting and original ones were even fewer. Only a handful stood out from the crowd. One could single out the Oscar-nominated drama ‘The Dawns Here are Quiet’ or the completely un-histrionic “Leningrad school” movies (Aleksey German’s ‘Trial on the Road’ and ‘Twenty Days Without War’, Semyon Aranovich’s ‘Torpedo Bombers’, Viktor Aristov’s ‘Gunpowder’). After a brief resurgence during the period of perestroika in the 1980s, when it became possible to broach prohibited and semi-prohibited topics (such as the anti-retreat units, disciplinary battalions and collaborationism), the Great Patriotic War all but disappeared from Soviet cinema. Different armed conflicts began to preoccupy directors — namely Afghanistan and Chechnya. Interest in WWII had petered out even earlier in Hollywood, where the war film genre was almost fully taken up with Vietnam. Only movies about the Holocaust were and still are regularly made. The most high profile of these was Steven Spielberg’s ‘Schindler’s List’ (1993). Five years later, he was to direct another movie that would effectively relaunch the war film genre. ‘Saving Private Ryan’ will be remembered, above all, for its highly realistic scenes depicting the Normandy landings, which became a benchmark for all subsequent directors. Since then, however, few have managed to combine scale with genuine humanism to the same degree. 25


Encounter at the Elbe

William Wyler/The Samuel Goldwyn Company, 1946 Grigory Chukhray/Mosfilm, 1959

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Tatyana Lioznova/Gorky Film Studio, 1973

The Great Patriotic War only became a regular subject of movies again at the turn of the century. After a succession of experiments with genres — one could cite the spy thriller ‘In August, 1944’ (2001) or the We ste r n- ge nre - i nspi red ‘Our Own’ (2004) — a return to the aesthetic of the heroic dramas of the Brezhnev era became the prevailing trend. The greatest success with audiences, however, is enjoyed by movies filmed at the interface between Western and Soviet traditions. One could mention the action dramas ‘T-34’ (2018), which portrayed a duel between two tank crews, and ‘Stalingrad’ (2013), which showed the defence of an unvanquished building in the destroyed city. The latter was shot by Fyodor Bondarchuk, a student of Yuri Ozerov and the son of the Oscar-winning director Sergei Bondarchuk. Strange as it may seem, some Soviet influence is also felt in American war movies today. For instance, legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins, who has just won his second Oscar for his involvement in the World War I drama ‘1917’, has spoken in homage to the Elem Klimov film ‘Come and See’ (1985). And cinematographer for the recent movie ‘Fury’ (2014), Roman Vasyanov, a Russian who has made a career in Hollywood, described it as a “Soviet film with Brad Pitt”. He admitted that the movie strongly reflects the influence of Russian directors such as Klimov and Aleksey German, whose work he and the director had analyzed in the run-up to filming.

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3 TO SEE FROM THE U.S.

Trial on the Road

Casablanca

Come and See

1985

Elem Klimov’s dark masterpiece is still described as one of the most harrowing films in the history of world cinema. And, as a logical consequence of this, it is also seen as perhaps the number one anti-war film. Long preoccupied with ways of conveying borderline states of mind onto the screen, the director made a film about a boy who encounters absolute evil. A Belarusian teenager named Flyora (Aleksey Kravchenko) finds himself at the epicenter of a Nazi punitive operation, in which dozens of civilians are burnt alive in a wooden barn. The screenplay was based on the story of the Katyn tragedy.

The Cuckoo

2002

Director Alexandr Rogozhkin made his name directing popular comedies, and then, out of the blue, he came up with The Cuckoo, a movie pretty much unlike any other, not only in his own filmography, but in the whole of Russian cinema. With the war already approaching its end, a girl from the Sami ethnic minority takes in two soldiers from warring armies. The Russian is suffering from concussion and keeps trying to kill the other, a Finn. The Finn does not wish anyone any harm and only dreams of going home. And the Sami girl herself has long been living in the bosom of nature and wants nothing to do with wars. Everyone speaks only their own language and none of them know the languages of the others. But they are all human, and so end up reaching an understanding of each other.

c o m m e morati ng th e vi c tory in wo r l d wa r ii

1942

There are no shots of rows of tanks, shell-torn dug-outs or martyr’s deaths in this movie. Almost the entire action takes place inside an upscale gaming club in the Moroccan city of Casablanca belonging to Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) — a blasé American who believes neither in high-sounding phrases nor noble ideals. The movie is actually supposed to be a romantic melodrama. But it is difficult to find a more inspiring movie about the sense of duty that dwells in the heart of every decent person — whatever he might think of himself. The film demonstrates that war sometimes brings out the best in people.

The Great Escape

1963

Cinema-goers only got to see Aleksey German’s film in 1985 after it was “shelved” for nearly 15 years. The censor’s objections were perfectly explicable. Given its gritty manner of execution, its unheroic heroes and its very plot, the movie was at odds with the “lofty” style of film-making on wartime subjects in literally every respect. A former collaborator, Lazarev (Vladimir Zamansky), joins a group of partisans, but no-one believes he has genuinely repented. And so it is decided to put him to the test — he is sent on a mission from which it is going to be almost impossible for him to come out alive.

In the year of its release, critics accused the movie of frivolity and predictability, but with the passage of years, its shortcomings have easily turned into strengths. Today, The Great Escape is seen as a paean to resourcefulness and ingenuity. Even in captivity and under threat of death, the cheerful, fearless lads never lose heart, and after the latest setback, they will venture into the breach once more. The film was selected for the famous 1963 Moscow Film Festival and (naturally) lost to Federico Fellini’s 8½. But it did not go completely unrewarded — Steve McQueen did get the best actor award.

Letters from Iwo Jima

2006

1971

3 TO SEE FROM RUSSIA

At the age of 76, Clint Eastwood carried out what can, without exaggeration, be called a remarkable experiment. In a single year, and almost simultaneously, he directed two movies about the battle for the island of Iwo Jima — one of the most important U.S. battles of WWII. The first, ‘Flags of Our Fathers’, depicted events from the American point of view, and the second — ‘Letters from Iwo Jima’ — the way the Japanese saw them. And, curiously, the second of the two companion films, fully (!) shot in Japanese, turned out to be more powerful. And the stereoscopic effects rendered the senseless brutality of war exceptionally vivid.

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7 OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PAINTINGS ABOUT WORLD WAR II BY OLEG KRASNOV

t I

It would be next to impossible to pinpoint a Soviet-era artist who never worked with the theme of the War. Some — like Vasiliy Efanov or Evsey Moisenko — were direct witnesses to the fighting, having participated in it, later transferring those difficult experiences onto their canvases. Others — such as Aleksandr Deyneka and Yuriy Pimenov, both of whom painted while stationed in the rear — still managed to crystalize the experiences of those terrible days, as well as immortalize the faces of their heroes from conversations with frontline soldiers and personal trips to the front. Thousands of paintings, sculptures and photographs dealing with World War II live on in our country’s artistic heritage. Here, we remember some of the most prominent ones known to every Russian.

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I. Kogan/Sputnik

wasn’t only in 1941-1945 that Soviet artists dealt with the theme of war. It would take decades more to redress historical facts, revisit the heroism of soldiers on the front and in the rear, and examine the fates of separate individuals.

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Aleksandr Deyneka ‘The Defense of Sevastopol’ (1942)

c o m m e morati ng th e vi c tory in wo r l d wa r ii

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Russian Museum

Pavel Balabanov/Sputnik

Geliy Korzhev ‘Remnants of War’ (1963-1964)

Russian Museum

Pavel Korin ‘Portrait of Marshal G.K. Zhukov’ (1945)

Yury Pimenov ‘Front line Road’ (1944) 30

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Pekurovskiy/Sputnik Pavel Balabanov/Sputnik

Sergei Gerasimov ‘Mother of a Partisan’ (1943-1950)

Sputnik

Arkadiy Plastov ‘A Fascist Flew By’ (1942)

Aleksandr Laktionov ‘A Letter From the Front’ (1947) c o m m e morati ng th e vi c tory in wo r l d wa r ii

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how soviet diplomats in the u.s. reported from the frontlines

D

uring World War II, the Soviet Embassy in Washington issued an informational bulletin in English. Three times a week, they published the latest updates on the course of the hostilities, the official statements of the Soviet leadership and the diplomatic missions, as well as the translated articles from Soviet media, mostly Pravda (“Truth”), Izvestia (“News”) and Krasnaya Zvezda (“The Red Star”) newspapers. Each bulletin consisted of 9-10 pages. The first issues mostly contained just news from the frontlines about the Soviet, Allies, and enemy losses, and information about the war-torn territories. However, then they began

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BY ANNA SOROKINA

publishing more interesting stories, including those written especially for those bulletins. The design changed, too: more illustrations, photos, and columns, like in a magazine, appeared. It was the only source during wartime that published articles in English written not only by journalists, but also by servicemen, and diplomatic workers. The last bulletin was issued in June 1946 and was dedicated to post-war Sovet life. In July 1946, the bulletin was replaced with an information magazine about the USSR. These bulletins have now been digitised and are available in PDF format in the online library of the U.S. Indiana University.

russia beyon d • rbth .com



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