BEEVOR-PORTRAIT_1693461cAntony Beevor, an outstandingly serious professional historian, is writing in The Guardian, on August 5, 2015, that his books have been officially banned in Russia. Beevor says: “Over the past 24 hours I have been receiving slightly ironic congratulations by email from fellow historians. They were prompted by the order from the Ministry of Education in the Yekaterinburg region of Russia to withdraw all my books from schools and colleges. They are to be removed ‘from the access of students and teaching staff’. (It is interesting that teaching staff are not to be allowed to make up their own minds.) I am accused of ‘promoting stereotypes formed during the Third Reich’ and developing the ‘propaganda myth’ of Joseph Goebbels that Red Army soldiers committed mass rapes of German women”[1] .

 

Some solid proof Beevor does not lie

 

The very idea of accusing Beevor of “lies, slander and blasphemy against the Red Army”, to accurately quote a statement made in 2002 by the Russian ambassador in London[2], is completely out of order, to put it mildly. See, for example, Beevor’s large and very detailed The Battle for Spain: The Spanish civil war 1936-1939. The author is explicitly –and legitimately – condemning the general behavior of the NKDV in Spain, but he is also writing that the Red Army sent to Spain some 1,400-1,500 military personnel (officers, NCOs and military technicians), and that 189 of these “were reported killed or missing: 129 officers, 43 NCOs and 17 soldiers”[3]. I presume that a military contingent with 13 % combat casualties of all sorts is brave enough. This very figure is a proof that Beevor does not lie. He simply reports, with all tools of the professional historian, the naked truth. The fact that some parts of this truth are not at all liked by both the Kremlin and low-level regional bureaucrats in Russia is a completely different issue. Beevor is also presenting, also with accurate details, the combat effectiveness, and also the professionally respectable determination of some Russian (Soviet) military units in Spain. One tank regiment, commanded by Col. Kondratiev, had all its tank drivers “members of the Red Army”. All the tanks of this unit have been employed in a major Republican attack in Aragon, and all were lost. But only because “infantry [in International Brigades] failed to support” them when the regiment “broke through” the fortified positions of Franco’s army[4]. The Russian were brave enough to attack in absence of any proper support, and died without faltering. Again, Russian military bravery – if and when it is present – is fully taken into account by Beevor.

But, in Russia, such proofs of obvious professional accuracy and fairness are completely forgotten (or, better said, deliberately neglected). For Putin’s regime, Beevor is not at all acceptable, simply because he wrote, in his books banned now in Russia, that the Red Army has raped practically countless women in Germany, most of them in early months of 1945. But the Red Army really did this. It fought bravely, but it also raped a lot. Even “young Soviet women who had been deported for forced labour in Germany” have been “mass raped” by the Red Army, Beevor is stating in The Guardian, quoting an official report written, many decades ago, by the Soviet (Russian) “General Tsygankov, the head of the political department of Marshal Konev’s First Ukrainian Front”.

Can Putin’s Russia force the entire Europe to forget, just because the Red Army has been brave, in many occasions, the huge and monstrous atrocities of the same Red Army? Can Putin’s Russia forcefully obliterate the memory of an entire continent? I must confess that I strongly doubt this.

[1] Antony BEEVOR, “By banning my book, Russia is deluding itself about its past”, The Guardian, August 5, 2015, at the Internet address http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/05/banning-book-russia-past-holocaust-red-army-antony-beevor

[2] Ibidem, first lines of the second paragraph of the text

[3] Antony BEEVOR, The Battle for Spain: The Spanish civil war 1936-1939, Phoenix / Orion Books, London, 2007, p. 183

[4] Ibidem, pp. 332-333

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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