1939 pp 74-89 | Cite as

The Soviet View

  • Margot Light


The Great Patriotic War remains a very real experience to all Russians, whether they are officials, men in the street, or dissidents. Postwar reconstruction has restored most of the devastated areas and the disabled war veterans are less frequently encountered; but the psychological scars remain. There are indelible memories of near-defeat and there is enormous pride in the final victory. There is also deep resentment that the Soviet contribution to this victory is underestimated. The belief that Soviet effort, hardship and sacrifice is not appreciated in the West causes much bitterness, even in people who do not support the regime.


Foreign Policy Indirect Aggression Baltic Republic Soviet Troop Soviet Historian 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    For a pre-1953 version see ‘Falsifiers of History’, supplement to New Times, no. 8, 18 February 1948; for the post-1953 version see P. N. Pospelov et al. (eds), Istoriya Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny Sovetskogo Soyuza (History of the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union), vol. 1 (Moscow, 1961); and for a more recent account, seeGoogle Scholar
  2. A. A. Grechko et al. (eds), Istoriya vtoroi mirovoi voiny (History of the Second World War), vols 2 and 3 (Moscow, 1974).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    For a detailed Soviet account of events preceding the face-to-face negotiations, see A. A. Gromyko et al. (eds), Istoriya diplomatii (Diplomatic History) 2nd edn, vol. 3 (Moscow, 1965) pp. 769–78.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    A description of the negotiations can be found in ibid., pp. 778–95. Documentary records of the talks were published by the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1948 (Documents and Materials Relating to the Eve of the Second World War) (Moscow, 1948). The records of the military negotiations were republished in International Affairs (Moscow) nos 2 and 3, February and March 1959, and were included in A. A. Gromyko et al. (eds), SSSR v bor’be za mir nakanune vtoroi mirovoi voiny (USSR in the Struggle for Peace on the Eve of the Second World War) (Moscow, 1971).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    See, for example, V. M. Khvostov ‘Anglo-germanskie peregovory 1939 goda’, (Anglo-German Negotiations, 1939), Izvestiya, 7 July 1948, reprinted in V. M. Khvostov, Problemy istorii vneshnei politiki SSSR i mezhdunarodnykh otnoshenii (Problems of the history of the foreign policy of USSR and of International Relations). (Moscow, 1976) pp. 56–61; andGoogle Scholar
  6. A. M. Nekrich (ed.), Protiv falsifikatsii istorii vtoroi mirovoi voiny (Against the Falsification of the History of the Second World War) (Moscow, 1964) pp. 151 and 181.Google Scholar
  7. 6.
    The composition and instructions of the British and French military missions are criticised in all Soviet sources, including relevant memoirs. See, for example, Marshal G. K. Zhukov, The Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov (London, 1971) p. 176.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    The full text of the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact and the secret protocols was published in R. J. Sontag and J. S. Beddie (eds), Nazr-Soviet Relations 1939–1945: Documents from the Archives of the German Foreign Office (Washington DC, 1948). This book aroused an immediate wrathful response, see ‘Falsifiers of History’. Oblique reference to the secret protocols is made inGoogle Scholar
  9. I. M. Maisky, Who Helped Hitler? (London, 1964) p. 201, and inGoogle Scholar
  10. N. S. Khrushchev, Khrushchev Remembers (London, 1971) p. 121.Google Scholar
  11. 9.
    The interpretation of the phoney war as a betrayal of Poland and an attempt to turn Germany on the USSR is not limited to accounts written during the Cold War. It can also be found in Nekrich (ed.) Protiv falsifikatsii istorii, p. 236, and in Grechko et al. (eds), Istoriya vtoroi mirovoi voiny, vol. 3, p. 27. Vol. 4 of Gromyko et al. (eds), Istoriya diplomatii, deals with the outbreak of the war, and makes the same claim (pp. 7–9). The second edition of this volume appeared in 1975. See also the standard, official foreign policy textbook, A. A. Gromyko and B. N. Ponomarev (eds), Istoriya vneshnei politiki SSSR 1917–1945. (The History of the Foreign Policy of the USSR), vol. 1 (Moscow, 1976) pp. 395–9.Google Scholar
  12. 11.
    Both Gromyko et al. (eds), Istoriya diplomatii, vol. 4, p. 20, and Grechko et al. (eds) Istoriya vtoroi mirovoi voiny vol. 3, pp. 355–7 describe the liberation of Western Ukraine and Western Byelorussia. It is also defined as a measure to save the inhabitants from Fascist enslavement by Nekrich, in the book which was later to cause so much furore: A. M. Nekrich 22 I’unya, 1941 (Moscow, 1965). For a personal account of the invasion, seeGoogle Scholar
  13. Marshal A. L. Eremenko V nachale voiny (At the Beginning of the War) (Moscow, 1965) ch. 1.Google Scholar
  14. 12.
    All Soviet sources stress that popular pressure forced the governments of the Baltic states to sign the mutual aid pacts and then led to the inclusion of these states in the USSR. See, for example, Nekrich (ed.) Protiv falsifikatsii istorii and 22 I’unya, 1941. Identical explanations are to be found in A. A. Grechko (ed.), Liberation Mission of the Soviet Armed Forces in the Second World War (Moscow, 1975) pp. 28–9; and inGoogle Scholar
  15. A. L. Narochnitskii et al. (eds), 60 let bor’by za mir i bezopasnost’ (60 years of the Struggle of the USSR for Peace and Security) (Moscow, 1979) pp. 136–40. The strategic importance to the USSR of the Baltic republics is mentioned by Khrushchev in Krushchev Remembers, pp. 131–2.Google Scholar
  16. 14.
    Soviet relations with Germany during the period of the non-aggression pact are referred to only briefly in Soviet histories of this period. Soviet authors themselves lament the almost exclusive concentration on the Anglo-French-Soviet talks. See, for example, A. D. Chikvaidze, Angliskii Kabinet nakanune vtoroi mirovoi voiny (The English Cabinet on the Eve of the Second World War). (Tbilisi, 1976) p. 29. In the introduction toGoogle Scholar
  17. S. Bialer (ed.) Stalin and His Generals: Soviet Military Memoirs of World War II (London, 1970), Bialer points out that most of the original documents published in Soviet journals are either captured German documents or reprints from British and American sources. Soviet documents appear to be out of reach even to Soviet scholars.Google Scholar
  18. 15.
    For definitions of the nature of the war, see Grechko, et al. (eds), Istoriya vtoroi mirovoi voiny, vol. 3, p. 444; and P. A. Zhilin, The Second World War and Our Time. (Moscow, 1978) p. 105.Google Scholar
  19. 18.
    See V. Ya. Sipols, Sovetskii Soyuz v bor’be za mir i bezopasnost’, 1933–39 (The Soviet Union in the Struggle for Peace and Security 1933–39) (Moscow, 1974) pp. 353–4; Gromyko et al. (eds) Istoriya diplomatii, vol. 3, p. 789 and Gromyko and Ponomarev (eds), Istoriya vneshnei politiki SSSR, p. 373 for examples.Google Scholar
  20. 19.
    For the positive international implications of the non-aggression pact, see Nekrich, Protiv falsifikatsii istorii, p. 200; and Khvostov, Problemy istorii vneshnei politiki SSSR, p. 412. For a dissenting opinion of its effect on the international communist movement, see Fernando Claudin, The Communist Movement (Harmondsworth. 1975) ch. 4.Google Scholar
  21. 22.
    For an English translation of this book, and an account of the controversy it produced, see Vladimir Petrov, ‘22 June 1941’: Soviet Historians and the German Invasion (Columbia, 1968).Google Scholar
  22. 26.
    For a review of the Russian translation and a comparison with the original, see B. E. Lewis, ‘Soviet Taboo’, Soviet Studies, xxix, 4 (October 1977), pp. 603–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 27.
    Roy A. Medvedev, K sudu istorii (Let History Judge) (New York, 1974) pp. 872–5. The English translation of this book (Let History Judge, London, 1971) is an abridged version, and it omits Medvedev’s comments on the secret protocols.Google Scholar
  24. 29.
    Pyotr Grigor’evich Grigorenko, Mysli sumashedshego (Thoughts of a Madman) (Amsterdam, 1973) p. 82.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© University of Surrey 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margot Light

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