Staunton, May 9 – Under Vladimir Putin, Russians have changed the words they use when talking about World War II from “never again” to “we can do it again,” a kind of bravado that many simply accept but that is prompting at least a few to ask whether Russians today could do what the Soviets did seven decades ago.
Platon Besedin, an ethnic Russian native of Stavropol in Russian occupied Crimea, is one of them. He writes that for him Victory Day is always a holiday in which pride and tears are combined, pride in what the Soviet people achieved and tears because of how much they sacrificed to achieve it (iarex.ru/articles/80921.html).
But as the years pass since the end of that conflict and the ranks of those who fought thin, he says, another aspect of the day is coming to the fore, questions about the remarkable generation of “Nietschean supermen” who won out despite everything and about whether or not Russians today could do something similar now or in the future.
Those questions increasingly arisen whether he speaks with his 96-year-old grandfather who fought at Stalingrad or when he looks at the pictures of those who gave their lives in the struggle. How could they overcome and suffer such tests, “how could they win and how could they survive?”
Besedin says he sees the sources of their unexpected and remarkable victory “in the Soviet man [who] turned out to be the greatest and strongest of those who have ever walked the earth. The Soviet man drove Darkness back into hell., although I would all the same say that this was a Russian man.”
Russians today need to understand what this happened. Did it have its roots in “special conditions” or “ideology” or “some Divine vision.” “Or is it simply that people then really were different?” An explanation needs to be found and the sooner the better, Besedin continues. “Could we really do what they did?”
And that leads to other questions, the Russian commentator suggests. “Are we worthy of our ancestors? Or have we lost what made ordinary people then titans? Or under certain conditions could we also be transformed into something more?” The more people who ask such questions, the more likely the answers will be found.
Because to pose such questions is a challenge in and of itself that each new generation must face.