Did you know that the United States almost single handedly, with the help of the atomic bomb, won World War II? Yep, Uncle Sam kicked Hitler’s ass. That is the conclusion you will draw if you watch three of the most popular, widely watched documentaries on World War II. This underscores a critical point that my friend Andrei Martyanov has made repeatedly about the misinformation in the west on the role that the Russians played in winning the war in Europe.
Why is this important? If you have had a chance to watch “man on the street” interviews done by entertainers like Jay Leno, Jessie Waters and Mark Dice, the average American knows nothing of American history, much less the history of World War II. Just watch what happens when Dice asks people why we celebrate the 4th of July:
I would be willing to lay down a heavy bet in Las Vegas that 95% of Americans have no idea what role Russia played in defeating the Germans. The truth is this–without Russia crushing the Germans on the Eastern front, Europe and the UK would be speaking German, or required to learn it in school. One of the reasons, not the only one, is how the most popular documentary series’ tell the story of the Great War. The narratives focus primarily on what the United States did with some credit given to the Brits for having a stiff upper lip and Churchill. The Russians generally are presented as bit players who somehow survived the slaughter at Stalingrad.
The vast majority of Americans have no idea that Russia lost more soldiers in the Battle of Stalingrad than the United States lost in the entire war in both the European, North African and Pacific theaters. Ponder that for a minute.
If you examine the list of the top documentaries on World War II that history buffs in America and the UK watch it is no wonder Americans are so clueless.
The World at War–A groundbreaking 26-part documentary series narrated by the actor Laurence Olivier about the deadliest conflict in history, World War II. The specific role of the Soviet Union in World War II is discussed in three episodes–Barbarossa: June-December 1941, Stalingrad: June 1942-February 1943, and Red Star: The Soviet Union – 1941-1943. Russia is mentioned secondarily in three other episodes–Pincers: August 1944-March 1945, Nemesis: Germany – February-May 1945 and Reckoning: 1945… and After. The “Reckoning” episode focuses on the rising Soviet menace.
The Color of War–A 16 episode series featuring actual color footage of World War II. None of the episodes focus on the Soviet front.
WW II in HD–A 10 episode series that focuses exclusively on the United States effort in North Africa, Europe and the Pacific.
If Americans understood what Russia did in stopping the first Nazi invasion outside the city gates of Moscow in December 1941. If they understood the remarkable counter attack the Stavka put together that led to the defeat and capture of the German 6th Army at Stalingrad. If they understood the massive tank battle at Kursk, the capture of Ukraine and Operation Bagration, then I suspect the people of the United States would understand why Putin is doing what he is doing now in Ukraine. The aphorism, “ignorance is bliss”, is wrong. Ignorance is dangerous and can kill you.
This forces me to repeat Sun Tzu’s brilliant insight:
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
America’s fundamental failure is that we no longer know who we are. Until the people of the United States solve that problem, we are on the road to defeat.