Disinfo: Western media try to minimise Soviet victory in WWII

Summary

It is hard to understand how, in so many countries, it has been possible to twist and manipulate the Soviet participation in World War II. Given that the essential role of the Red Army in the war can’t be denied, it is admitted but adding as many layers of doubt and distance as possible, using puerile arguments such as that it was the cold that defeated the Nazis in Russian territory, as if German soldiers came from a tropical country. When talking about the arrival of the Red Army to Berlin, press articles often talk of the damage to civilians or the raping of German women by Soviet soldiers. But if we talk about D-Day and the landings in Normandy, no Western journalist would dare to tarnish the glory of the operation by mentioning US and British bombings against French civilians in the previous weeks and afterwards, which left dozens of thousands of civilians dead, much less the French women raped by US troops in the weeks after the landings. (See 05:00-06:20)

[…]

While journalistic articles on WWII never fail to mention the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, always presented as a ‘carte blanche’ given by the Soviet Union to Hitler to start the conflict, the Munich Pact is never mentioned. In 1938, France and the United Kingdom signed an agreement allowing Hitler to annex almost 30 percent of Czechoslovakian territory, opening the expansionist appetite of the Third Reich. Months later, France and Germany signed a non-aggression agreement that cancelled the mutual assistance pact signed by Moscow and Paris three years before to stop Hitler’s expansionist ambitions. In August 1939, France and UK rejected a proposal for a triple alliance offered by the Soviets to contain Hitler. One week later, and only then, Ribbentrop and Molotov signed the agreement that now is presented as the only one. (See 06:40-08:20)

Disproof

Recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative portraying accurate reporting on Soviet abuses during World War II as a smear campaign by Western media, in this case accusing them of tarnishing the glory of the Red Army's victory while obscuring misdeeds of Allied troops. This message is also part of the Kremlin’s policy of historical revisionism and an attempt to erode the disastrous historical role of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact by claiming that other European countries signed various international agreements with Germany after Adolf Hitler came into power.

A quick internet search shows that many mainstream media have reported on the killing of civilians by allied bombings in Normandy. The same goes for the raping of French women by US soldiers after D-Day, which has been addressed by big outlets such as The New York Times, the Washington Post, US National Public Radio or Der Spiegel, just to name a few, as did many professional historians, while other outlets have reported on sexual abuses and raping by US troops in Germany. Official records show that US forces raped at least 14,000 women in Western Europe. By comparison, the actions of the Red Army in Germany have been described as the largest mass rape in history, with at least 1,5 million cases and massive documentary evidence. The big difference is that allied military authorities worked to prosecute many of the cases among its ranks (though often in racist processes which mostly punished black soldiers), while Soviet leadership tolerated the abuses.

The argument that some Western media try to minimise the Soviet effort during the war by attributing the Nazi defeat in Russia to the cold is false. The article presented as an example, titled “Russia’s cold: the invincible weapon” and published in a Spanish magazine, addresses how the winter helped to defeat invasions by the Swedes, Napoleon and Hitler, but doesn’t claim that it was the only factor in the Russian victory. On the contrary, it explains how it was a liability for both sides in battles such as Stalingrad, though the Soviets were better adapted to it. However, it is well established that the weather was a crucial element in the failure of Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi invasion of the USSR, with the most severe subzero temperatures in several decades and the icy cold paralysing mechanised transport, tanks, artillery and aircraft and decimating German troops that had expected a quick victory in a few weeks and were ill-prepared for such a winter campaign.

It is impossible to compare the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with various agreements signed between Germany and other European countries throughout the 1930s. There is no historical evidence that these agreements contained any secret protocols, which assumed common aggressive actions of Germany and these countries against third parties. The signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was a mutual decision of two totalitarian regimes (Nazi Germany and the Stalinist USSR) aimed at the division of Eastern and Central Europe between these two powers. It is a fact that the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact contained the Secret Supplementary Protocol, which assumed the division of Poland and other Eastern European countries between the USSR and Germany.

See other examples of Russian disinformation narratives on WWII in our database, such as bogus claims that Western countries revise history to avoid responsibility for allowing Hitler to attack the USSR; that the Soviet Union tried to create an anti-Nazi alliance but the West didn’t respond; that the USSR had no role in the outbreak of the war; that Western democracies are primarily responsible for this conflict; or that by defeating Nazism, Stalin atoned for crimes against his own people.

[Note: This disinformation message appeared in the same video clip as the claims that the  "Historical revisionism on WWII is used to justify geopolitical measures against Russia".]

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 198
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 08/05/2020
  • Language/target audience: Spanish, Castilian
  • Country: Russia, US, Germany, France
  • Keywords: USSR, Red Army, Historical revisionism, WWII

Disclaimer

Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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Disproof

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Disproof

This message is part of the Kremlin’s policy of historical revisionism and an attempt to erode the disastrous historical role of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact by the statement that Western countries planned aggressive actions against the USSR.

The statement that France, Germany and Poland planned to partition the USSR before Hitler came to power is a clear historical manipulation not confirmed by any available documents. The same article contains another disinformation message about Poland and Germany signing a secret protocol assuming common actions against the USSR.