June 22, 2011
Its too early for trivial pursuit, said one of our brightest young staffers at our 8:30 meeting in Washington today. She had come in as I was quizzing a summer intern on the significance of the date. The intern got the answer right: Hitler invaded the Soviet Union seventy years ago this day. I had to chuckle over that line, trivial pursuit. In those stern days long ago, no one would have thought Hitlers pursuit of conquest and domination was in the least trivial. It is, however, a great tribute to the heroes of those days that we can look back on 22 June 1941 as a date simply for quizzes.
President Roosevelt warned the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin that Hitler was going to attack him. So did British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. Stalin, brooding in the Kremlin, waved away all such warnings. They were merely the provocations of Western imperialists, trying to get him to turn on his Non-Aggression Pact partner, Adolf Hitler.
Stalin ordered that grain shipments from Soviet Ukraine to Germany be stepped up.
Hundreds of Soviet trains were still speeding west, passing Hitlers panzer tanks were driving rapidly east, deeper and deeper into the USSR.
Stalin ordered his border defense units not to resist the Nazi invaders. Surely, he said, there has been some mistake. He did not want to give Hitler the slightest pretext for invading. Those orders soon left Russia prostrate before three million Germans in feldgrau, their distinctive gray-green uniform color.
That figure of three million German troops was the largest invading army in human history. By way of comparison, half a century later, in 1991, President George H.W. Bush assembled a coalition of 34 countries and deployed 540,000 troops to expel Saddam Hussein from Kuwait.
In London, Winston Churchill, famously anti-Communist, nonetheless pledged aid to the USSR. Rhetorically, he would always say he was aiding the brave Russian people. If Hitler invaded hell, Churchill joked, I would at least make favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons. Hell seemed be the only place Hitler had not invaded. Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium,
Luxembourg, France, Greece, and Yugoslavia had all fallen under Nazi domination by the time Hitler turned on Stalin.
The United States was not yet in the war. But the minute Hitler invaded Soviet Russia, American Communists dropped their opposition to U.S. involvement in the Imperialist war and began immediately to agitate for us to open up a Second Front.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt had been elected to an unprecedented third term just seven months before Hitler attacked Russia. Although we were not yet a belligerent, Roosevelt made it clear the U.S. was willing to give material support to anyone who was the victim of Nazi aggression, even to the Communists in the USSR.
And what powerful support that was. During World War II, British industrial output tripled. That of Germany and the USSR doubled. Japans increased fourfold. But the United States of America expanded its production twenty-five times. Even in the 1960s, in the depths of the Cold War, Soviet dictator Nikita Khrushchev had grudgingly to admit that the Soviet people had been kept alive by American Spam. My father narrowly missed shipping out on one of the thousands of merchant ships destined for the hazardous sea passage known as the Murmansk Run. American supply vessels headed for that Russian city were devastated by German air strikes and U-boat sinkings off Norway.
Twenty million in the Soviet Union died as a result of Hitlers decision this day seventy years ago. Among them were millions of Russian, Ukrainian, Byelorussian, and Baltic Jews.
One Russian who escaped Hitlers Drang nach osten, his drive to the East, was Oleg. He is a Christian who addressed us pro-family delegates in 1999 at the Geneva meeting of the World Congress on Families.
Oleg described how he had been born in those early days of the 1941 German invasion of his country. His mother went into labor early on a train speeding East. As the train passed through village after village, she saw they were all on fire. The retreating Red Army was
practicing the time-honored Russian tactic of scorched earth. The train had to have water and coal. There was little thought of food for the passengers. Olegs mother told him tales of the German aircraft that strafed the escaping train.
Oleg lived to tell the story. In the midst of all that death and destruction, a little child came into the world. Too many liberal intellectuals, it seems to me, can find compelling reasons to abort unborn children. Oh, the shocking circumstances of their mothers lives. Poverty. Drug addiction. Or some other excuse. They may grow up fatherless. They may be unwanted. (Doesnt this unwanted pretext say more about the unwanters than about their innocent children?) Pro-Child/Pro-Choice was the bumper sticker on the car in front of me during my commute home last night. We have to kill them for their own good, it argues. It was driven by a Hillary supporter.
Against all this stands the story of Oleg. Born in the midst of the greatest battle in the history of the world, Oleg will turn 70 this week. God bless you, my friend. And as you Russians say: Sto lyetMay you live a hundred.