Friday, February 9, 2018

Ура Победа!

First off, whenever I use a foreign language title for a post, I get fewer hits, which doesn't perturb me one way or the other. The faithful readers come anyway, often (no doubt) wondering if your beloved Sarge has perhaps gotten into the booze again. (Not that I drink that much these days. For me a wild night is two Guinness, not one. The last time I had too much to drink was March of last year as we Lexicans gathered with The Hobbit to commemorate the passing of our Lex. No, I didn't drive, The Missus Herself was there, as was The Nuke, and the latter has an Uber account, I'll let you do the math.)

Anyhoo, I like foreign languages and abuse them often. So there is that.

Today's post title is in Russian and means "Hooray Victory!" I won't attempt to give you the Russian pronunciation as I know that I would butcher it. (As I once did with the Polish for "Not my circus, not my monkeys." Or "Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy." And in truth, this is my circus and yes, those are my monkeys. Or "To mój cyrk i tak, to są moje małpy." Correct my spelling at any time Paweł. I do have at least one reader in Poland. Not that I'm bragging, well maybe a little.)

So, what is it with you and the Russians Sarge?

Well, there is this -

Two days where the hits were over a thousand, Monday and yesterday. As I often do, I got rather excited and started thinking, "They like me, they really do..." Well, maybe they do, maybe they don't (they, of course, being you Dear Reader). So I did some checking and lo and behold, the Russians have returned...

Mother Russia's spambots (for so I assume they are) are out in force and swarming the parapets here at Chez Sarge. Now if any actual Russians are reading this, "Пожалуйста, оставьте комментарий." (Please leave a comment. In Russian. I think. At least Google Translate thinks so.)

While we're on the subject of the Родина, (The Motherland, in Russian, this time I know), I just finished an excellent book by the late John Keegan, The Second World War. I am always amazed by the scale of the fighting on the Eastern Front of World War II and the huge sacrifices made by the Soviets (for the Red Army had more than just Russians in it) on that front.

And sometimes we in the West get it wrong. (I found this article interesting, I have that game, though I haven't played it yet.) Ideology often gets in the way of fact, also the Russian people would definitely quibble with Tom Brokaw's definition of The Greatest Generation.

Yes, Stalin divided Poland with Hitler, yes, the Nazis and the Communists were buddies for a brief period. But Hitler had always intended to move East and gobble up Lebensraum for the German people. What Slavs that survived would be slaves.

Regardless of the fact that Hitler and Stalin were both a-holes with more in common than some people realize, the peoples of the Soviet Union suffered greatly. Did our assistance help? You bet it did. The Red Army had thousands of trucks built in Detroit. American rations, felt boots of Russian design but made in the U. S. of A.

The Murmansk Run, bringing all of this material to Russia was brutal. Many died in the fight to keep the Soviets in the war, after all, they tied down the bulk of the German military. If Stalin had made a separate peace, D-Day would probably not have happened. I imagine the war might have lasted another ten years. Perhaps even England would have been forced to come to some accommodation with Hitler.

German strength on on the Eastern Front exceeded three million at the height of the struggle, facing over six million Soviets. Four and a half million Germans died there, eight to ten million Soviets perished.

It was a titanic struggle fought on a huge scale, the front stretched for over a thousand miles at its greatest extent.

I will write more about that arena at some point. I have written about it before, and will again. There is much to learn there. If you want to understand Russia, you must understand her history. 1941 to 1945 is huge in the memories of the Russians. As it should be.

So if they want to boost my hit count, go for it.


  1. I had occasion to visit Moscow and visited the Soviet memorial to the dead of "The Great Patriotic War." When you contemplate that the total Soviet deaths were in the vicinity of 20,000,000 you are overwhelmed by the enormity of that war. They say that every single family lost at least one. Think of that, thirteen time zones, and every family was directly affected. It tends to make Russian paranoia a bit more understandable.

    1. When you consider how often they've been invaded (Mongols, Swedes, French, Germans x 2) their paranoia is very understandable. World War II was exceedingly brutal in the East.

    2. As it was in the Pacific, and in China. A horrible decade of war.

    3. Far different scale in Russia.

  2. Around the turn of the century I attended several Origins convention in Columbus OH where I had the good fortune to attend lectures David Glantz gave about the Eastern Front. I was impressed enough to look for his books.....just checked the bookshelves and counted ten of his titles there. Indeed that war theater was huge and greatly affected the Russian psyche which the Soviet "experiment" warped.

    1. I need to look into his work.

      A really good book on the common soldiery of the Red Army is Ivan's War by Catherine Merridale. Check it out at Amazon. I've read it twice, fascinating reading.

    2. Thanks, I will.

  3. Replies
    1. Which describes the scope of that front very well BC.

  4. I have read several books about the war on the eastern front; and, yes, you are quite correct about the level of warfare there.

    The main problem, as I see it, is that the Russian people ( who, I read, are very nice people, generally ) keep allowing themselves to be ruled by very bad people. That is a condition that only they can change. I sure wish that they would.

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

    1. Well Paul, technically they did change their bad leadership back in 1917. Probably would've worked out better had the Bolsheviks not co-opted the Revolution. (The Mensheviks weren't nearly as bad as the Bolsheviks, both were socialist, neither wanted the czar in power.)

      They also dumped the Communists (who used to be known as Bolsheviks) in 1991. Sometimes it takes a number of tries to "get it right." Can't fault the Russians for not trying.

    2. I totally agree, the Russians are trying.


  5. I like the photograph of the Казаки Запорожской. During the Great Patriotic War a fair number of them fought for Germany against the Soviet forces. Got them a bad rep.

    Heck, a lot of people in the western portions of the Soviet Union welcomed the Germans as liberators. At least at first.

    Having to make a choice between two different socialist dictatorships - not an easy choice.

    1. Love me some Cossacks!

      Yup, those folks were between a rock and a hard place. No winners there.

    2. Like these? ;-)

  6. 8-10M Russians died? I'm not sure if that's a lesson in courage, or how little the leadership valued the lives of their soldiers.

    1. Or doing what needed to be done to stop an invader.

    2. A few things to remember - (1) Stalin had purged his officer corps shortly before the war, the generals he had when the war started weren't all that good (there were some exceptions), (2) initially Stalin was stunned by the attack, and (3) the German military was extremely experienced at the new way of war when they went into the Soviet Union.

      A lot of the Red Air Force was destroyed on the ground, the Red Army was fairly static and the Germans bagged a huge amount of POWs, most of whom died in captivity, Soviet casualties were enormous in the first months of the war.

      But after they got their act together in late '41, it was the Germans who began to suffer massive casualties. We in the West can't really grasp how large the campaign was. For example, in 1941 the front stretched for over a thousand miles, picture the distance between Milwaukee and New Orleans and you have an idea of how big it was.

      Early in the war the Soviets were also very cumbersome tactically, it takes time to adjust. Soviet soldiers paid in blood to keep the Germans out of Moscow and Leningrad.

      Believe me, the Soviets were very brave and fought hard, not always well in the early stages. It also took time for the good Russian generals to establish themselves. Even Zhukov, one of the best generals in the war, on any side, was fired by Stalin once. Their generals had to worry about the Germans AND the NKVD at times, Stalin trusted no one!

  7. And I heard "Yhippie I OHHHH! COW PATTY!" in my head, when I saw the pic.

    And you're reported to the Democratic representatives in Congress, obvious us- russion collusion on the itnerwebs.

    1. Yup. Sprayed the monitor on that one.

      Won't see that ever again without thinking "Yhippie I OHHHH! COW PATTY!"

      Good one c-90.

  8. Alright your resident North (Atlantic) Pole chimes in:
    There is no love lost between Poland and Russia, to be sure, but the Russian victory in WW2 was at the very least change of death sentence for our nation to a lifetime of prison behind iron curtain.
    And you know what, give enough time and you can escape any prison.
    Which Eatern Europeans eventually did.

    As for the Russian losses in WW2 they are hard to even count. When million of lives here on there is only statistic (thanks Stalin for the quote) it just escapes our human capacity to process facts.
    Also from 1941 until D-Day almost 90% of German casualties were occuring on the dreaded Ost-front. Even if inefficient and at staggering loss ratio Soviets were grinding down German manpower relentlessly until Hitler had to recruit teenagers and old men in 1945.

    One more thing: Russians made some of the finest yet most robust and reliable weapons of the time: from the famous PPSH SMG that infantry stormed the German positions with to T-34, the workhorse simple tank that allowed for modernisation that brought the tiger-killer 85mm cannon to it, to the 122mm howitzers that were later bombarding Dien Bien Phu and Khe Sanh, to the famous Katyusha , the mother of all MLRS.

    1. I was wondering when you were going to jump in Paweł. As always your comments are on point. The Russians did build some excellent stuff. The Sturmovik springs to mind as well.

      You're spot on regarding Poland being saved from a death sentence. The Nazis had no use for the Poles at all. Poland still lives!

    2. I will just leave here some artistic comment
      a big fan of Sabaton and they bring the Russian perspective on the Finis Germaniae


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

NOTE: Comments on posts over 5 days old go into moderation, automatically.