Historian and writer Nikolay Starikov talked about Stalin and today’s modern Russia in an interview.
Nazi Germany was deliberately led to the borders of Soviet Russia by “certain circles in London and Washington”, says well-known historian and writer Nikolay Starikov.
In an interview with “Business Gazeta Online” he explained why Stalin did not expect such “idiocy” from Hitler, as the war became a “crystal clear referendum” on confidence in the authorities, and what to say to those who now accuse Russia of violating the geopolitical balance.
Nikolay, the Great Patriotic war created a large number of legends, and myths sugar-coat and belittle their importance. How would you briefly formulate the truth about this war? What is it?
“If to explain the essence of the Great Patriotic war in a few sentences, we can say the following. Firstly: it was the most terrible war in human history. Moreover, it was extremely scary for Russia. We were at war not only with Germany and not only with the Third Reich, which includes the same Austro-Hungary — we were at war with the whole of United Europe.
Remember that the Czechoslovakia uprising against the Nazis began on 5th May 1945. Think about it: three days after the actual capitulation of Berlin and three days before the surrender of the whole of Germany! And prior to that, from 1939 to 1945, Czech “honestly” worked to the benefit of the Third Reich, producing an enormous amount of weapons. And they not only worked, but also received a high salary, but at the same time they were exempt from conscription into the army. And none of them rebelled against the Germans.
The next thing we need to remember about the Great Patriotic war is the terrible figure of our losses. We will never see accurate data, but, in my opinion, they are somewhere in between 20 and 27 million people. The terrible truth is that combat losses here are only 9 million – this figure was announced by Stalin in his statements at the end of the war.
This means that the civilian population of our enemies that had been killed was two times more than our soldiers — 18 million. And this refutes any speculation about the “liberation mission” of the Germans. Liberator? No. Fighter — Yes. Outside power came to us to destroy our people, to clean (in modern parlance) our land, and to turn the surviving remnants into slaves. That’s when we remember this, we realize the greatness of the victory that was won by our grandfathers and great grandfathers.”
Among those who in 1941 believed in the “liberating mission” of fascism, there were many white immigrants, in particular the Cossack atamans Krasnov and Shkuro, who once were reputed to be sincere patriots of Russia. Why did they succumb to this temptation?
“A patriot is, unfortunately, not a permanent state of mind. The same Pyotr Krasnov was a patriot of Russia in 1917 – 1918, but not in 1941 when he entered the service of the worst enemy of his people. Moreover, he even began to issue proclamations, declaring that the Cossacks are a separate people. All of this is reminiscent in the most direct way of what today is actively promoted in Ukraine. Thus, Krasnov was a patriot in 1917, but in 1941 became a traitor.
The same thing can be said of Lieutenant-General Andrey Vlasov. At some point, being a prominent commander of the Red Army, he was more preoccupied by the fate of their skin, than the fate of his country, and betrayed her. But all of them can be combined in one word — traitors.”
But in some basic literature, for example, in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s work, exists another more charitable point of view towards Vlasov and yesterday’s white guards…
“With respect to Solzhenitsyn, this is a case of shooting at communism, but hitting Russia. I am familiar with the works of Solzhenitsyn — he has a wonderful novel called “The Red Wheel”. But he also has a collection of fiction stories called “The Gulag Archipelago”. The whole argument boils down to what “one grandmother said,” who was told by other grandfather, who allegedly saw it all with his own eyes.
It is no coincidence that the West immediately took “The Gulag Archipelago” into service and began to use this book to flog the Soviet Union. I think that by the end of his life Solzhenitsyn repented that he had written such a work. His later works are executed in a completely different key.”
In your books and speeches you have repeatedly dismantled the liberal myths that have been developed about the great Patriotic war. There really are a lot. And how many, in your opinion, of these patriotic myths were born from propaganda?
“It is impossible to divide myths into liberal and illiberal. There are myths, and there is truth. The whole truth about our great victory, a priori, is patriotic, so no patriotic myths are unknown to me. But malicious liberal myths, which actively use modern anti-Russian propaganda, I know in sufficient quantity. They have long been analyzed in detail. For example, the legend that Stalin himself was about to attack Germany, but Hitler beat him to it.”
“A lie about our country supported solely by violence”
How far are these liberal myths working actively against Russia at the present time?
“We now see the re-creation of many myths in some territories of the former Soviet Union that were even supported by the Nazis. Now they triumph again, but not because of what turned out to be true, but because the Soviet Union was destroyed in 1991. In Russia, this point of view was also spread in the 1990’s, but not for long. Now we can see the predominance of only “Echo of Moscow”, TV channel “Rain” and a few other liberal sites. But in Ukraine, this view of our history is poured evenly by all media. Please note, any alternative point of view is instantly suppressed. If any historian or political scientist wants to defend an alternative view in one of the Baltic States, they can even be deported immediately.
Even such a well-known Italian political scientist as Giulietto Chiesa who has, by the way, a European passport, did not escape this fate. In December 2014, he is known to have been arrested by the Estonian police when he was going to give a speech in Tallinn about the relations of Europe and Russia, and then he was expelled from the country. Why are the lies about our country supported solely by violence?”
But you yourself have been in the Baltic States, given speeches, and were not deported like Chiesa…
“I was in Latvia and Estonia at the time when the total block had not yet been carried out. If today I wanted to work in Riga or Tallinn, I’d be stopped at the border and would receive a ban on entering the Schengen area, or would be deported.”
Excessive patriotism can also lead to negative consequences? You yourself said that at present, a coup under the liberal banner is hardly possible, but under a patriotic one, it’s possible.
“The risk of coup attempts is always there — we must proceed from this. What kind of banners will be chosen depends on the situation. In 1913 – 1914, in Russia, was a coup possible? No. But what happened in February of 1917 can be called a coup with patriotic banners. The Tsar, who was allegedly betraying the interests of Russia, together with the Queen, was removed from power precisely so that the “fair, open, responsible Ministry” of Milyukov-Guchkov came to government. They, as you remember, promised to ensure the victory of Russia in the First world war. The difference between 1914 and 1917 is only three years. So when we say that some political agenda is impossible today, that doesn’t mean that our geopolitical enemy is not working so that this agenda can become possible tomorrow.
To do this, economic sanctions were imposed against Russia, with different tribunes hearing reports denigrating the leadership of our state. The same thing happened in 1917. Ask yourself the question: who ordered a large-scale campaign to demonize the Russian government, which led to the February revolution? If you know the answer, you are aware of those who are trying to discredit our country today.”
You talk about the Anglo-Saxon world?
“Yes, our long-standing geopolitical opponents.”
“Hitler led to the borders of the Soviet Union”
In your books you defend the view that the UK unleashed Hitler on the Soviet Union.
“Remember that in early May 1941, the closest Deputy of Adolf Hitler’s NSDAP party, Rudolf Hess, flew to London. Historiographies are dominated by the view that he did it in secret from the Fuhrer, in accordance with their Anglophile sympathies. But recently, even the magazine “Der Spiegel” recognized that Hess went to Britain on the orders of Hitler, although he was forced to disown this mission, declaring his party comrade as being crazy.”
Hess’ “Feat” was not in vain for Nazi Germany?
“Yes, this is confirmed, at least that the material from “Hess’ mission” in England is still classified. What is being hidden? If Churchill flatly rejected peace proposals of a prominent party leader of the Nazi party, let the world know about it. But, in my opinion, there’s another thing: London “blessed” the German attack on the Soviet Union.”
But London was at war with Berlin?
“You are talking about the bombing inflicted on British cities? But it is well known that in the war 55,000 inhabitants also died in Hamburg after a week of bombs — almost as much as in England during the entire war. The Soviet Union cannot account for the victims and losses suffered in the war.
Why did Adolf Hitler come to power? Why did the number of his party supporters grow steadily in the early stages? Who financed the Nazis? Unfortunately, in the last days of the Third Reich about 90% of the Nazi party’s financial documents were mysteriously destroyed. But without them, we can say that Hitler was led on a chain by certain circles in London, Washington and, to a lesser extent, Paris.
This was done with one purpose: to incite him to attack Soviet Russia. For this purpose, in particular, Germany reduced the distance between it and the Soviet Union. Germany easily absorbed Austria, then Czechoslovakia, and then Poland. Hitler was led to the borders of the Soviet Union.”
“Stalin just couldn’t imagine such idiocy and adventurism on the part of Hitler”
Why was 22nd June 1941 a surprise for the Kremlin? After all, they could not have been too lazy to notice the systematic advancement of Nazi Germany to the Soviet borders.
“Let us first ask ourselves the question: was Hitler and his general staff so idiotic that they were hoping to quietly concentrate more than 5 million troops, thousands of armored vehicles, and aircraft near the Soviet border? Moscow did not even attended to this unprecedented accumulation, which became a reality by June 1941? Obviously not: the concentration of troops at the borders is always a preparation for aggression. And Stalin knew about it. He led a complex diplomatic game with Hitler and he made a mistake in this game. But the further course of the war over one and a half years cannot be explained by the suddenness of Germany.
By the spring of 1942, you can see already there was no suddenness. However, we suffered a defeat near Kharkov, we survived the environment, but the Germans in Stalingrad reached the Volga. It should be recognized that at this stage of the war the German military craft was an order of magnitude higher than ours. So the Soviet army found themselves surrounded.
But we learned fast. By the end of 1942, our military craft was beginning to surpass the craft of the enemy.”
Why did Stalin make a fatal mistake in the summer of 1941?
“In the framework of this interview we will not be able to hear all the intricacies of the diplomatic game that was led by Stalin and Hitler. But I think Stalin just couldn’t imagine such idiocy and adventurism on the part of Hitler. How was it possible, fighting with Britain and plans for its removal from the international arena, to start another major war? After all, the leader of the NSDAP wrote in Mein Kampf that one should not fight on two fronts. The confrontation with Britain is not only a war with an island nation, it is a conflict with Canada, India, and Australia – with all the countries the British crown has authority over. It is a war with the whole Anglo-Saxon world. And Germany suddenly turned its weapon against Moscow…”
Why were the Bolsheviks able to mobilize the entire country for war with the Nazis, which, still in the period of the Civil war, was a patchwork quilt torn by discontent and controversy?
“The Great Patriotic war became the crucible that melted the contradictions and bloody strife of the civil war. The terrible price we paid for our victory was reconciling yesterday’s enemies in a fratricidal slaughter. Although the Germans captured the very considerable by European standards territory of Soviet Russia, where the vast majority of Soviet citizens lived. If you read Stalin’s order “not one step back”, you’ll remember that we already by the summer of 1942 were not any superior in industrial capacity and in mobilization of resources. A huge number of our people were in the area of the Nazi occupation. These people are the victims, who were among the 18 million civilian killed during the great Patriotic war.
If we talk about the international factor, the Soviet Union managed to recreate the pre-revolutionary policy of the multinational empire — only, perhaps even more successfully. Therefore, at the critical moment, all the people came to the defense of the Soviet Motherland. War in general can be a crystal-clear referendum on the confidence in the authorities. If people go to defend their country, he feels free in it.”
“The current head of Russia is a strong leader”
In the early 20th century, Russia had a strong leader, and we lost in the first World War. In the middle of the century, Stalin was the head of the USSR, and we won the World War. Does this mean that Putin, if he wants to achieve victory in the current geopolitical confrontation, should keep his eyes on Stalin? Do you already now think of Putin as a leader?
“A political leader should be evaluated at the end of his career. But in any case, we can say that the current head of Russia is a strong leader — this is a certainty. Firstly, Vladimir Putin is responsible for his words, which is a very rare quality for a politician. Secondly, he assumes real responsibility, and thirdly, he acts very unconventionally. He uses all of these qualities to bring maximum benefit to the Homeland. For example, Boris Yeltsin or Mikhail Gorbachev, too, had talents, but they used them to the detriment of the Homeland, and knowingly too.”
Russia’s actions in Crimea, in Syria, and the actions of the militia in Donbass is our geopolitical victory, which we owe to Vladimir Putin?
“You piled a different series of events in a heap. I would call the reunification of Crimea with Russia a triumph of historical justice. Crimea became Russian, and here it ended. Crimea and Russia are reunited forever — there can be no other decisions. I am convinced that soon the West will stop making stupid suggestions about the lifting of sanctions in exchange for the transfer of Crimea to anyone. As for Syria, the war in the Middle East is not finished yet, so it is premature to draw conclusions on it. Besides, its easy to debate: what is a victory in Syria? The complete destruction of Daesh terrorists, and the liberation of Syria and Iraq is one point of view. But for me it is clear: in order to be heard in Brussels, we had to start bombing terrorists in Syria. And this too is our victory.”
Russia is now accused of breaking the geopolitical balance established after the second World War. Are we really to blame?
“The one who accuses us of violating the geopolitical balance – let them remember the Yalta and Potsdam agreements, and the Helsinki agreement on the inviolability of borders in Europe. Where were these guardians of the inviolability of borders in 2003 when Yugoslavia, after a bloody civil war, was broken up into Serbia and Montenegro? And what about Czechoslovakia? Not to mention how the Soviet Union was split into separate states…
We can ask this person who makes this claim a lot of questions. But they need to understand that any state’s borders are a reflection of the steady-state balance of power. A change of balance immediately changes the state border. The Soviet Union was destroyed — and the map of Eurasia was rewritten. Today, when Russia is restoring its power and asserting itself on the international stage, the balance of power may change once again.”
Can the balance of power in the world change to such an extent that it will lead to a major war? To the Third World War?
“There are forces that would like to involve Russia in a war, and assign to it the responsibility for its beginning. However, while Russia is headed by Vladimir Putin, they are unlikely to succeed. But there is another scenario — when the destabilizing forces have no other choice but to use overt aggression, even with the risk of losing its international prestige and face. That is, by the way, what happened when Germany attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941. Modern Russia does not want war and has not taken any steps in this direction, but if there is a force in the international arena that will be ready to take responsibility for aggression, it is difficult to say what will alter the situation.”