Notes from the Victory Parade in Moscow about our amnesia, & peace

Summary: Yesterday Russians celebrated their history, the 70th anniversary of VE Day. On the day marking this great shared accomplishment, America displayed our ignorance with a pointless gesture of the kind that damages the amity among nations and prevents diplomacy.  {1st of 2 posts today.}

2015 Victory parade in Moscow.
2015 Victory parade in Moscow. Photo by RIA Novosti/Maksim Blinov.

 Lest We Forget: a note about our past and present

By Simon Hunt, Simon Hunt Strategic Services. Posted with his generous permission.

On Saturday 9th May Russia held the Victory Parade in Moscow to mark the anniversary of The Great Patriotic War — as Russia’s defeat of Germany is called. Victory came at a terrible cost. Combat deaths totaled some 10 million Soviets plus another 17 odd-million civilians and prisoners of war of which about 70% were ethnic Russians. About 15% of the Soviet Union’s population was wiped out by the war. Only 3% of Soviet kids who graduated in 1941 survived the war. In contrast, Germany lost 3.5 million people, America 400,000 and the UK 280,000. Still huge numbers but nothing like those that the Soviet Union lost.   Stalin’s achievement in defeating Germany, in the process tying down some 228 German divisions, probably turned the tide of war. In June 1944 the allies faced around 11 German divisions. Had Stalin not been able to hold so many divisions when the allied landing took place the result could have been quite different. In all previous anniversary parades heads of the Allies attended the Victory Parade. Other than Merkel, who laid a wreath on Sunday, there were no leaders from America or its allies. This seems a rather churlish reaction from what is supposed to be the Advanced World.


Simon Hunt

About the author

Hunt began his career in Central Africa as PA to the chairman of Rhodesian Selection Trust, one of the two large copper companies in what was then called Northern Rhodesia. He then joined Anglo American Corporation of South Africa following which he helped start up CIDEC, a new copper producer organisation where he conducted end-use studies for Europe. In 1975 Hunt founded Brook Hunt, one of the world’s leading analysis and consultants about mining and metals markets (now part of Wood Mackenzie). In 1996 he left Brook Hunt to form Simon Hunt Strategic Services. Simon has spent 2-3 months a year for the past 20 years visiting factories across China and has an office in Beijing.

For More Information

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6 thoughts on “Notes from the Victory Parade in Moscow about our amnesia, & peace”

  1. “On the day marking this great shared accomplishment, America displayed our ignorance with a pointless gesture of the kind that damages the amity among nations and prevents diplomacy.”

    There wont’ be any substantial diplomacy since, as far the USA and some of the eastern European states are concerned (the rest of Europe will fall in line regardless of misgivings and interests) Russia is now a foe that must be vanquished. There might tactical, temporary quid pro quo over Iran, Syria or whatever but from now on the only acceptable end result will be a Russia turned into a gas station and with no more foreign policy autonomy than a western NATO ally, preferably less.

    1. Marcello,

      You correctly describe US foreign policy. Our elites seem to believe — probably correctly — that they’ve squeezed all the fear they can get out of the Islamic insurgents in the Middle East, and despite long effort they’ve never managed to get Americans wetting their pants in fear of China. So its back to the usual bandstand of fearmongerering about Russia.

      The Eastern European nations are mostly economically weak, and only small sums of money will get them to join the crusade. Keeping western Europe on board might prove more difficult. Germany has little to gain, much to lose, and is solidifying its role as hegemon of Europe. Hence the significance of Merkel’s actions. If they decide to slide away from the American crusade, the rest of western Europe (ex-UK) will probably follow.

      “acceptable end result will be a Russia turned into a gas station ”

      Here I disagree. As we saw in Iraq, our operations have goals not visible from the cheap seats and unconnected from the usual standards of victory. I suspect that are — as if often the case with Empires — largely domestic. Keeping the people fearful, focused on foreign foes, willing to fund a massive intel and military machine. If these are achieved we might easily change our foreign policy at some future time. We might become BFF (best foreign friends) with Russia.

    2. Hey, who remembers the good old days when “we love the long-suffering Russian people, and wish only to free them from the yoke of Communist tyranny, as we maintain our own freedom” (not an actual quote)? Ah, those were the days, before we were freeing the long-suffering Iraqis from the yoke of Baathist tyranny. That’s our foreign policy, no yoke.

  2. I am afraid your correspondent has his numbers of the German Army in France very wrong.
    German order of battle
    Nazi Germany had at its disposal fifty divisions in France and the Low Countries, with another eighteen stationed in Denmark and Norway. Fifteen divisions were in the process of formation in Germany.[48] Combat losses throughout the war, particularly on the Eastern Front, meant that the Germans no longer had a pool of able young men from which to draw. German soldiers were now on average six years older than their Allied counterparts. Many in the Normandy area were Ostlegionen (eastern legions) – conscripts and volunteers from Russia, Mongolia, and elsewhere. They were provided mainly with unreliable captured equipment and lacked motorised transport.[49] Many German units were understrength.[50]

    German Supreme commander: Adolf Hitler

    Oberbefehlshaber West (Supreme Commander West; OB West): Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt
    (Panzer Group West: General Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg)
    Army Group B: Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
    7th Army: Generaloberst Friedrich Dollmann
    LXXXIV Corps under General der Artillerie Erich Marcks
    709th Infantry Division (Cotentin Peninsula)
    Allied forces attacking Utah Beach faced the following German units stationed on the Cotentin Peninsula:

    709th Static Infantry Division under Generalleutnant Karl-Wilhelm von Schlieben numbered 12,320 men, many of them Ostlegionen (non-German conscripts recruited from Soviet prisoners of war, Georgians, and Poles).[51]
    729th Grenadier Regiment[52]
    739th Grenadier Regiment[52]
    919th Grenadier Regiment[52]
    352nd Infantry Division (Grandcamps Sector)

    German troops using captured French tanks (Beutepanzer) in Normandy, 1944
    Americans assaulting Omaha Beach were faced with troops of the 352nd Infantry Division under Generalleutnant Dietrich Kraiss, a full-strength unit of around 12,000 brought in by Rommel on 15 March and reinforced by two additional regiments.[53]

    914th Grenadier Regiment[54]
    915th Grenadier Regiment (as reserves)[54]
    916th Grenadier Regiment[54]
    726th Infantry Regiment (from 716th Infantry Division)[54]
    352nd Artillery Regiment[54]
    Allied forces at Gold and Juno faced the following elements of the 352nd Infantry Division:

    914th Grenadier Regiment[55]
    915th Grenadier Regiment[55]
    916th Grenadier Regiment[55]
    352nd Artillery Regiment[55]
    716th Infantry Division (near Caen)
    Allied forces attacking Gold, Juno, and Sword Beaches faced the following German units:

    716th Static Infantry Division under Generalleutnant Wilhelm Richter. At 7,000 troops, the division was significantly understrength.[56]
    736th Infantry Regiment[57]
    1716th Artillery Regiment[57]
    21st Panzer Division (south of Caen)
    21st Panzer Division under Generalmajor Edgar Feuchtinger included 146 tanks and 50 assault guns, plus supporting infantry and artillery.[58]
    100th Panzer Regiment[55]
    125th Panzergrenadier Regiment[55]
    192nd Panzergrenadier Regiment[55]
    155th Panzer Artillery Regiment[55]

    1. David,

      Simon is an expert on Copper, China, and several other subjects — not military history. Whatever the details, his broad analysis here is completely accurate. By any metric the Russians did most of the work defeating NAZI Germany. Everybody else gets an assist for their contributions. But more importantly, we beat them together. It’s not clear that alone anyone other individual nation could have defeated them.

  3. “The Eastern European nations are mostly economically weak, and only small sums of money will get them to join the crusade.”

    Poland and the Baltics would be happy to pay out of their own pocket for the US to take care of the bear. Pro/anti russian mileage elsewhere in eastern Europe seem to vary, though the russians haven’t made a lot of friends in that area.

    “If they decide to slide away from the American crusade, the rest of western Europe (ex-UK) will probably follow.”

    That would be quite a jump in the dark for any german leader to undertake. Very heavy american pressure would be brought to bear (they might be reminded that their exports towards the USA are much greater than those towards Russia for example) and likewise the rest of western Europe, often ambivalent towards german leadership anyway, might be admonished to not follow evil Germany sliding back to its Ribbentrop-Molotov ways.

    “I suspect that are — as if often the case with Empires — largely domestic”

    American world hegemony is the ideological goal shared by most american policymakers, pundits etc. They may be shooting for their own personal slice of pork, re-election or whatever, but that is the overall target being pursued on autopilot. From PNAC manifesto to pols whining about this or that bad guy not being bombed/sanctioned enough for their taste it permeates everything.

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