1,418 Days in Hell: Soviet Union’s Great Patriotic War in Pictures
The Russian world just celebrated Victory Day on May 9, commemorating the surrender of Nazi Germany in World War II. A friend of mine who lives in Russia now describes World War II as “Russia’s state religion”. This is a big deal over there and a huge part of the national psyche.
I thought this was a cool series of photos about the Soviet war experience. One of the reoccuring themes in my Wolverines: Reflections on Red Dawn book is that during the Cold War we were face to face with a society that had a strong collective history of suffering and endurance through some of the most adverse conditions imaginable. Not just in World War II, but pretty much intertwined throughout Russian history. Things got rough sometimes for our military during the World Wars, but American civilians were largely immune from the horrors of war (and still are). All things considered, we had a very comfortable 20th Century and Russia had anything but.
During the height of the Cold War (and today), the average Russian would have had grown up hearing stories from relatives on suffering and could still see the damage from war around them. The kinds of things they would’ve heard would make grandma’s stories about only being able to buy a couple tin cans of peas a week during the war seem pretty trivial. Would the American public have the mettle to make the kinds of sacrifices needed to win a total war? As we continue to poke the Russian bear and others around the world today, would we have the mettle as a society to stomach the kinds of burdens that a major conflict would bring about? Death, resource scarcity, cyber attacks, economic warfare, etc? I don’t know…