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U.S. anti-war delegation in Russia visits Great Patriotic War museum

By Joe Iosbaker |
February 23, 2015
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Delegation of U.S. anti war activists at the Great Patriotic War museum metro
Delegation of U.S. anti war activists at the Great Patriotic War museum metro stop. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Moscow – On Feb. 22 our delegation of anti-war and human rights activists from the U.S. visited the museum of the Great Patriotic War here in Moscow. Built in the 1980s, before the fall of the Soviet Union, it continues to be a source of lessons on war and fascism and an inspiration to Russians and anyone who visits it.

It is a very large museum, with many exhibits about the war, including dioramas showing major battles, plus many cases of weapons, munitions, uniforms and model aircraft. There is a giant room where the walls are covered with the name of every soldier awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union distinction.

We interviewed several Russians at the museum. Anthony, a 38-year-old man with his seven-year-old son, Igor, told us how important the museum is for the younger generation. “For my generation, we didn’t need the museum to teach us the lessons, because our grandparents were in the war. My grandmother dug trenches to defend Moscow.”

Few people in the U.S. understand the dimensions of the war in the Soviet Union. The fascist armies killed 25 million people - more than have ever died in one country in the history of warfare. The total population of the country was 160 million. One out of every six people died.

Compare that to the U.S., where the population was 130 million. Our country lost 400,000, a small fraction of the losses in the Soviet Union. Yet our ancestors who fought that war continue to be called ‘The Greatest Generation.’

Slava, the interpreter for our delegation from the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, said he had not been to the museum since he was a boy. “Look at these images of the Nazis. Can you understand how terrible it is for Russians to see the fascists in Ukraine wearing the swastikas at their rallies? We can’t understand how they can uphold that part of their history.”

He was referring to the Ukrainian fascist, Stepan Bandera, who led an army that fought with the German army against the Soviets. His army killed an estimated 100,000 Poles and many Jews as well. His photo is now prominently displayed in government buildings of the new regime in Kiev. The party of his followers, Svoboda, has several members in the 20-person cabinet of President Petro Poroshenko.