“Later, when the war ended, women made sure over and over again: the men who had been in the hell never talked about it, did not join the societies and clubs of veterans and generally did not want to get involved with organizations that tried to perpetuate the memory of the war”.
No, this is not Viktor Astafyev, not Vyacheslav Kondratyev, not Vasil Bykov, not Viktor Nekrasov. These frontline writers are known for describing not the heroic acts of courage, not the exploits of Soviet soldiers, but the so-called “trench truth”, the merciless truth about the war, as the transcendent horror that our soldiers went through, gaining victory in over fascism World War II. This is a quote from a best-selling novel by Australian author Colleen McCullough I am currently reading.
Australian soldiers who fought on the frontlines of World War II and got into the very thick of hell, behaved after the war in the same way as the Soviet ones did. Just like all the other soldiers of the allies of the victorious countries – American, British, French soldiers. They wanted neither to remember, nor to tell or hear about the nightmare they had gone through.
Until 1965, Victory Day was not celebrated and was not a day off in the Soviet Union. I remember those times well. Probably, the transformation of Victory Day into a holiday was rejected by the society itself, and the then authorities understood all the inappropriateness of organizing pompous parades and festivities on this mournful Day.
But gradually, by sly degrees, with the decrease in the number of real veterans who remembered the naked, terrible truth about the war, its glorification started to prevail in our country. It has reached such ugly forms that by now it has completely degenerated into a victorious rage with its inappropriate grandiose parades and reckless “we can do it again”.
Our allies have proved to be wiser and more far-sighted. For ideological purposes, they did not allow themselves to eviscerate the tragic essence of the war, they do not celebrate this day, do not hold parades, and Victory Day has become a Day of Sorrow for them. And instead of “we can do it again” they repeat as an oath: “never again“.
This is the way true veterans wished it to be, veterans who went through the hellish heat of war and for the rest of their lives rejected the memory of it in any form and did not allow any possibility of its heroification and repetition.
Among them are two of my uncles who fell on the field of battle at the very end of the war in Hungary and the Czech Republic. And my father, who was lucky enough to return home safe and sound, and who was destined to live a long life. Probably according to the will of those who left this life so early…