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In a Volga to Stalingrad

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  • In a Volga to Stalingrad

    I found this item on the BBC News site.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7241042.stm


    Volga road trip: Stalingrad
    The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes travelled in a Volga car along the Volga river to take a snapshot of life in Vladimir Putin's Russia, as the presidential election looms. This is his sixth and final piece, from the city of Volgograd.

    The huge Motherland statue dominates the war memorial

    Stalingrad. It is a name that reverberates through the history of the 20th Century.

    Today they call it Volgograd, but to me it will always be Stalingrad. Not because I have any love for the Soviet dictator, but because of the titanic battle that bears the city's name.

    In Britain, we learn about Dunkirk and Normandy. Americans learn about Pearl Harbor and Iwo Jima, but (with all due respect) they were sideshows compared to what happened here.

    During the bitter winter of 1942 the streets and buildings of this city became a meat grinder that consumed nearly two million lives. It was a vicious, pitiless struggle with appalling cruelty on both sides.

    Today it is hard to imagine the handsome streets and squares of Volgograd as they were at the German surrender in February 1943.

    Here and there, I found a few glimpses. Across the street from the grand railway station, I found a lone lamp post, left behind as a tiny reminder. From top to bottom it is marked with bullet holes, there is even a large shell hole big enough to put your hand through.

    Down on the bank of the Volga, there is one whole building, a warehouse, left exactly as it was at the end of the battle. The only place I have seen anything like it is the centre of Grozny in Chechnya.

    In 1959, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev ordered the construction of the world's biggest war memorial in Volgograd. It is an extraordinary structure, on a gargantuan scale.

    Driving in to the north of the city, I suddenly saw it - a concrete colossus atop a small hill. An 82m (250ft) figure of a woman holding aloft a huge sword. On her face a howl of rage, as if she is ready to smite any who dare to violate "Mother Russia".

    I went to the city's top high school. I wanted to find out what history Russian kids are learning.

    The class turned out to be an elaborate, and well-intentioned, charade. The chosen topic was people's diplomacy and the experience of Volgograd and Coventry.

    The rotund teacher talked enthusiastically about Queen Elizabeth. Students got up and gave meaningful speeches about Anglo-Russian friendship.

    But minutes later the same students were telling me quite openly how they consider America their enemy and that America and its Nato allies are intent on undermining Russia.

    Later in the day, I went to meet a group of teenagers from a Kremlin-sponsored youth movement called Nashi (Ours).

    "The Americans always claim they won the war. That's rubbish. We won the war ." Russian WWII veteran. They all trumpeted the same line. America wants to keep us weak, it wants our oil. Washington, I was told, has engineered revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia to turn those countries against Russia. It has expanded Nato to encircle Russia.

    Together with the young activists I then went off to meet a couple of Stalingrad veterans. The two ladies were both in their mid-80s and bedecked with medals.

    Over tea and cake they told me of their wartime adventures that had taken them from Stalingrad to Berlin.

    I asked them what they thought of the British and Americans. Surely they must have some warm feelings for their wartime allies?

    With fire in her eyes one of them glared at me.

    "The Americans always claim they won the war," she said. "That's rubbish. We won the war. They only joined in when it was already clear the Germans were going to lose."
    Hitler played Golf. His bunker shot was a hole in one.

  • #2
    Kind of a dumb article, mate!

    Comment


    • #3
      "On her face a howl of rage, as if she is ready to smite any who dare to violate "Mother Russia".

      Sadly those who are violating Russia today are the Russian leaders and businessmen, who let in all those with money to exploit her.

      Comment


      • #4
        State-mandated hatred of America has been the rule for so long, I guess they just can't shake the habbit.
        O r maybe they just didn't like being ignored?

        Anyhow, what is the word on how the former Republics feel about the US?
        "Why is the Rum gone?"

        -Captain Jack

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Exorcist View Post
          State-mandated hatred of America has been the rule for so long, I guess they just can't shake the habbit.
          O r maybe they just didn't like being ignored?

          Anyhow, what is the word on how the former Republics feel about the US?
          There was never a state mandated hate of America. No analog Red Scare, nothing like that. The last 6 years of the USSR were in fact filled with propaganda about friendship / end of the arms-race, Gorby and Ronnie talking, meeting and visiting, etc. In my classroom there was a US/USSR friendship poster...

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Exorcist View Post
            State-mandated hatred of America has been the rule for so long, I guess they just can't shake the habbit.
            O r maybe they just didn't like being ignored?

            Anyhow, what is the word on how the former Republics feel about the US?
            Maybe you are surprised, but for the last 20+ years there were no "state-mandated hatred of America" here... Earlier there was some propaganda. So primitive though, that almost nobody had believed in it, Since the times of Perestroika there was so many positive propaganda of America, that I'm even confused to tell this ty... In 1990s America was treated as "our best friend", but observing American politics towards Russia most of Russian people are greatly disappointed with it. So, I would say that right now negative image of America is maiden not by propaganda, but mostly with activities of American politics, who showed their disdain to Russian position, interests and fears. All what we hear now from Mr. Bush &Co. is said in the key "We are trying to explain our position to Kremlin and hope to find understanding of it". Such a position is absolutely insulting for Russians. For thouse, who can't get why I'll explain - in other words it means: "We'll ignore your opinion and make what we atn, even if you are against and you'll need to eat all of this". So, don't be surprised with much negative in our state relations...
            At the same time all Russians which I know (except dumb stalinists and nationalists) have absolutely no hatred against Americans and never have problems in communications...
            Ok. I'm offtop now, but sorry. Can't miss chance to tell you my opiinon about the situation here...

            regards
            Alex
            If you fire a rifle at the past, the future will fire a cannon at you.....

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Exorcist View Post
              State-mandated hatred of America has been the rule for so long, I guess they just can't shake the habbit.
              O r maybe they just didn't like being ignored?

              Anyhow, what is the word on how the former Republics feel about the US?
              Anti-Americanism has been on the rise since the "fall of Communism", to idiotic levels as well, seeing as how AMVAS rightly pointed out that during Perestroika, there were many positive images of America. In fact they were idealistic, naive images of America packaged to sell capitalism. Today nobody wants to admit that at one time, they thought they wanted all that. And that just goes to show what a traitor Gorbachev was, because you can find all sorts of evidence of Soviet state media speaking in glowing terms about the market, capitalism, and so on. Problems that existed had to be solved with more market reforms, there was no talk about how to solve the problems from a Marxist-Leninist approach. And all this in the name of "returning to Leninism!" All the while the US was still pouring out hardcore hatred for the USSR and releasing films like Red Dawn.

              I might also point out that even Soviet films from the 1970s were not anti-American. Most Americans have been sold a bill of goods about all the "brainwashing" and propaganda that allegedly went on during the Cold War. Yet when you look at Soviet media, you see hundreds of films with no political message whatsoever. Kids had cartoons not about destroying the capitalist imperialists but rather about a hare who gets chased by a wolf(the name translates roughly to "Just you wait!!"), and a large-eared creature who has an accordion playing crocodile for a friend(Cheburashka). There is probably less propaganda in these films than in American films of the same era.

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              • #8
                Uncle Joe Stalin

                Originally posted by Sign&Print Name View Post
                The class turned out to be an elaborate, and well-intentioned, charade. The chosen topic was people's diplomacy and the experience of Volgograd and Coventry.
                Compare Stalingrad with Coventry?

                Prime Minister Churchill's performance after the raid did not leave a dry eye when he toured the damage & destruction after the air raid.

                The Russians must have the sense of humor of a Klingon in Star Trek.

                Footnotes

                [1]
                In The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky,
                the monk stank after he was laid on the table after his death to wait for his funeral.
                Maybe he had eaten a large meal before he died? Is that supposed to be funny? Oh, maybe his bones will not turn black as traditionally does happen onto bad monks.

                [2]
                The mention of an early, Communist party cell was revealing.

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bro...jor_characters

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Cmde.Slavyanski View Post
                  I might also point out that even Soviet films from the 1970s were not anti-American. Most Americans have been sold a bill of goods about all the "brainwashing" and propaganda that allegedly went on during the Cold War. Yet when you look at Soviet media, you see hundreds of films with no political message whatsoever. Kids had cartoons not about destroying the capitalist imperialists but rather about a hare who gets chased by a wolf(the name translates roughly to "Just you wait!!"), and a large-eared creature who has an accordion playing crocodile for a friend(Cheburashka). There is probably less propaganda in these films than in American films of the same era.
                  Here they are btw, whatever I was taught about Soviet media, the quality was superb.
                  Ну погоди "I'll get you" Wolf and hare


                  Голубой Вагон (Blue Wagon with the Crocodile)


                  I think Western kids like my 4 year old niece would relate to these very well.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by SkyPilotUU View Post
                    Compare Stalingrad with Coventry?

                    Prime Minister Churchill's performance after the raid did not leave a dry eye when he toured the damage & destruction after the air raid.

                    The Russians must have the sense of humor of a Klingon in Star Trek.
                    The comparison is probably due to the savage bombing that both cities experienced. In Stalingrad roughly 40,000 people were killed in the initial aerial bombing alone.

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                    • #11
                      Haha! Yup, Cheburashka...oh man, that thing is pure genious! What is it?! It's imagination distilled to a raw essence! "Nu Pogadi" is a classic also.

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