71st anniversary of the defeat of German fascism

Statement by the Communist Party of Ireland 
8 June 2016

“Not one step back!”

War cry of the Red Army 

Seventy-one years ago this day, people of the world rejoiced together as the news of Nazi Germany’s capitulation reached their ears. Dancing, singing and hugging one another, they celebrated the defeat of German fascism. More than 35 million people died as a result of the war unleashed by fascism. Today we celebrate the 71st anniversary of its defeat. 
     The Soviet Union lost approximately 20 million of its citizens in what the Soviet people call the Great Patriotic War. Soviet citizens came from all walks of life and every single republic within the USSR. Brigades of soldiers from the Far East fought alongside their Slavic Red Army counterparts in the name of socialism. Unity prevailed under the Red Flag as national and gender roles became irrelevant: all that mattered was that the people of the Soviet Union could stand shoulder to shoulder to throw back the Nazi hordes. That is exactly what they did. 
     The damage dealt to the Soviet Union was on a scale never seen before: thousands of cities, towns and villages destroyed; roads, bridges, factories, hospitals and schools lay in ruins. During the occupation of Soviet lands the abuse of prisoners was rife, and an estimated 2 million prisoners of war perished in the conditions of the camps. Civilians in the occupied territories were routinely murdered, raped and robbed by death squads, made up of collaborators from the occupied countries operating under the Reich Main Security Office under Heinrich Himmler. 
     Can we even begin to comprehend the gravity of the millions of civilians killed, and the toll this took on the Soviet Union as a whole? Even the “Western” governments could not deny the fortitude and resilience of the Soviet people, though this admiration quickly vanished after the war was won, with the rapid imposition of the “Cold War” for encircling and isolating the Soviet Union. 
     The resilience and the standing of the Soviet Union in the eyes of the people of all countries for its role sent real ripples of fear through the hearts of the ruling classes around the world. 
     The capitalist states have expended much time and energy, and many billions, on rewriting the history of the Second World War. They continue to use anti-Sovietism as a strategic approach to distorting the people’s understanding of history and of events such as the war. They well know that if you can control and shape people’s historical understanding you can control how they understand events today and act tomorrow. 
     The economic system that gave birth to fascism is still fertile. Fascism is still an important tool in their armoury, as we witness in Ukraine today, and western governments are not afraid to call it forth when it suits their economic, political and strategic interests. 
     We commemorate this day as a victory for humanity!