When Will Russia Stop Trying to Re-Write History?

August 07,2015 (Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news)

To hear on the very same day that the great historian Robert Conquest had died and that my books and John Keegan’s were being removed from libraries in Siberia, produced a sinister frisson from the past. The Russian authorities were once again accusing me of repeating Goebbels’s propaganda about the Red Army, stereotyping its soldiers as rapists. It is perhaps worth mentioning that any such criticism is now a crime under Russian law with up to five years imprisonment on conviction.

Ever since my book, Berlin – the Downfall, was published in 2002, senior Russians and the Kremlin-controlled media have fulminated against the passages dealing with the mass rapes committed by Red Army troopsduring their advance on Berlin. The fact that the information comes principally from Soviet sources is deliberately ignored. The state archives of the Russian Federation have numerous reports on the subject passed to Beria and Stalin, to say nothing of the diaries and accounts by Soviet officers and journalists in other archives. On the other hand, perhaps the files themselves are now being weeded to remove the evidence.

Even though a quarter of a century has passed since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian sensibilities have hardly changed. If anything, they are again paranoid about the idea that the world is ganging up against its barely concealed intervention in Ukraine. As the May 9 celebrations of the victory in 1945 over “the Fascist Beast” demonstrate each year, the defeat of Germany is regarded as sacred. Nothing must be allowed to tarnish the legend, which is why the truth about the rapes has proved so uncomfortable.

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