Thursday, May 04, 2006

Giggling at V-Day

Josefina Lundblad, a poet and writer from Gothenburg, Sweden, and a student at the Omsk State Pedagogical University, wrote an op-ed in the Moscow Times today:

It's easy to laugh at Russia and the Russians when it comes to history. What other than a giggle can a country expect when it acknowledges only the sweeter bits from the cupboard of the past? How is an educated foreigner expected to swallow amusement when a state prefers legend to fact?

I have chuckled at everything from Poltava to perestroika in my Russian life, and I shamelessly laughed out loud at their Victory Day for more than a year. On May 9, Russia celebrates a Communist victory over fascism and the end of the Great Patriotic War, what those further west call World War II and consider to have ended on May 8, 1945.

Giggling about how stupid Russians celebrate their Victory Day is a personal problem of Josefina. She might probably laughs like mad looking at Jews commemorating Holocaust but why was it necessary to share the fun with thousands of MT readers, more than half of them Russians? Josefina at least could check some facts before writing. Great Patriotic War is a part of World War II and we mean by the name only the war between Germany and the USSR. Germany signed the Instrument of Surrender at midnight May, 8, 1945 when it was already May, 9 in Moscow. World War II ended September, 2, 1945 with the surrender of Japan. May, 9 is not a “Communist victory” over fascism. It is a victory of the USSR over Nazi Germany.

But Victory Day is not simply a day. Victory Day is a concept, an occasion that seems more like a national or maybe state brand. Its influence and force in everyday reality can easily be measured by taking a walk through any average-size Russian town, where the image of Victory Day meets you everywhere. Here in Omsk, the new Metro Bridge was renamed the "60 Years of Victory Bridge" when it opened last fall, partly because there is as of yet no existing metro. The biggest park is called Victory Park, and there are Victory Streets and countless Victory memorials that all in one way or another honor the triumph in the war.

It was at this hysteria that I giggled heartlessly for almost an entire year, until I realized why this day has the overly tense feel that it has. The Soviet Union left very little behind that inspires joy, pride and patriotism, and maybe, maybe out of 70 years, all that remains is one good day.

Needless to say – for every Russian Josefina’s words are blasphemous. I’m not going to start rants about 20 millions people who died fighting German Nazism. I can only add that the fact that these words are written by a Swede make then even more blasphemous.

Swedish schoolchildren today are taught that Swedish criminal “neutrality” during the WWII was not a shame but a good thing that helped so many Swedes not to be killed or wounded. Swedes valued their precious lives so much that they behaved as cowardly whores: letting German troops through their territory, selling them iron, signing anti-Jewish laws. Swedish government even censored press – all anti-German remarks were banned. They could anger Hitler. But the moment Sweden realized that Germany is loosing the war it started wagging its tail, licking hands of the Allies and barking at Germans. I imagine Josefina’s grandparents giggling and laughing in 1945. “We are so smart! Those silly Americans, Brits and Soviets lost so many people but we survived and even made a lot of money. He-he-he.” Ласковый теленок двух маток сосет.

13 comments:

Reith said...

You should have addressed this post to The Moscow Times' letter pages. It is well written, justifiably enraged and a commendably civil answer to a column of monumental and brutal stupidity. As your comments illustrate, it is hard to conceive of anybody with any knowledge of the history of Russian suffering in the Second World War that would fail to be insulted by Lundblad's wicked observations.

Sue said...

What a repellent little essay. At least Russia has some legends to commemorate. What does Sweden have?

darren said...

She needs to spend some time at Victory Park and in particular the Hall of Tears to appreciate just why the Great Patriotic War has such significance. As a visiting American I was stunned as I felt the weight of that hall.

Aurelius said...

I can understand this Swedish girl's ignorance. But she giggles at it??
I can imagine the uproar of a journalist wrote of giggling at a Holocaust memorial parade in Jerusalem, or a memorial service for victims of the World Trade Centre attack.
Giggling at commemorating the end of a war that killed millions?
This girl brings shame on her country.

Anonymous said...

Zdrastvuyte,

You are right, but you should have left out the last paragraph about the Swedish role in WWII, which has nothing to do with your argumentation. Although it's correctly described it seems like you are trying to take revenge on the poet and that is not necessary. Your argumentation is strong enough and personal matters should be left aside.

Behemot

ZZ said...

One million thanks to you for this post! When I read that article in the Moscow Times last week I was boiling, I swear! I’m not Russian; yet it offended me and surprised me that such ignorance was published- it’s not even rubbish; it’s a mean and ignorant ranting of someone who lives in a very small bubble!
This one really killed me:

"It's easy to laugh at Russia and the Russians when it comes to history. What other than a giggle can a country expect when it acknowledges only the sweeter bits from the cupboard of the past? How is an educated foreigner expected to swallow amusement when a state prefers legend to fact?"
This is simply aweful!
I watched the victory parade this week and almost had tears when I shook hands with some veterans and had a short talk with them; I swear to you that I remembered this article right there on the street and I was so angry!
Thank you Konstantin for this awesome post; I hope it appers in the Moscow Times; Will you do that please? For the sake of all those that mad such an ignorant “writer” and so-called poet giggles!!!!!

ZZ said...

Konstantin,
You have got to see this! It explains a lot, yet it just made me angrier at the Moscow Times for thier ignorance!
Have a look at the girl's personal site; and you'll understand why she giggles!

http://medlem.spray.se/nothingbutperfection/
Click on her "pink photo" to get to the main site with her "poetry"!
This is her blog:
and this is her blog,
http://nothingbutperfection.blogspot.com/
Everyone has the right to do his personal site, to look and behave as stupid as he wishes, to play dumb and ignorant, but when it gets to touching a whole nation's heritage and memory, this is really shamefull!

Lecture said...

Now what next? Are you gonna stone Josefina too. Get a life, ZZ and bugger off. Russia isn't perfect and nor are you. Far from it.. ::laughs at your stupidity::

Anonymous said...

If you don't like the article that this Josefina person wrote, don't bully her. Write an answer to the Moscow times instead. That's much better and we can all read your point then.

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