I have long advocated that Russian political historiography should de-emphasize combatting the Visegrad/Baltic assault on the Soviet interpretation of history (“we liberated Eastern Europe“) and move towards counter-guilt tripping them.
It’s probably not going to happen soon, because Russian officialese is too invested in its WW2 narrative. That is because Victory is the main legitimizing force of the modern Russian state.
So e.g. Polish kvetching about the Stalinist occupation is going to be rigidly answered by counter-claims that the USSR saved from Nazi barbarism, which is true in a narrow sense (the Nazis would have exterminated most Poles, the Soviets exterminated a small part of their elites and saddled them with Communism for 50 years) but is ultimately a defensive reaction and one that has any number of obvious rejoinders (e.g. loose paraphrase of an argument that commenter AP uses a lot: a victim should not be expected to be grateful to a rapist robber saving her from a mutilator-murderer).
1/1Думаем, что еще живые узники нацистских концлагерей, а также ветераны Войска Польского, которые вместе с красноармейцами освобождали Варшаву и другие польские города, помнят и знают истинную цену свободы, в отличие от своих забывчивых потомков.#WeRemember #МыПомним #StopNazism
— МИД России 🇷🇺 (@MID_RF) January 18, 2020
Same goes for attempts to defend say the Nazi-German Non-Aggression Pact by appealing to the Munich Agreement, or Poland’s own friendly relations with Germany in the mid-1930s, aggression towards Czechia in 1938, etc.
While this might be superior to outright denialism of Soviet crimes – it is basically impossible to deny any genocide/massacre and come out of it looking sympathetic, and thankfully the Russian state (if not individual sovoks) have long since moved away from “powerful takes” on issues like Katyn – it’s not optimal either.
Если поляки не помогали бы установить большевистскую тиранию в России (Дзержинский, куча других чекистов; революционный полк "Красная Варшава" участвовала в подавлении ярославского мятежа), то и сами бы не получили красную тиранию (в своей смягченной форме к 44 году) от русских.
— «««Апат🦠lу "Papa Nurgle Respecter" Каrliп»»» (@akarlin88) January 17, 2020
Instead, I think a more promising approach is focus on making the following points:
- The common contribution of practically everyone in Eastern Europe to imposing Bolshevik tyranny on recalcitrant Russians in the first place.
- Noting that the Bolsheviks, of course, did far more damage to Russia than to any of the East European polities that subsequently had Communism imposed on them by the Red Army (even Poles agree with this, in my experience). E.g., Katyn: 15,000. Great Purge: 600,000-a million.
- There are examples of this for virtually any nation there. While the Latvians are best known in this respect, one can also identify Polish “contributions”: Dzerzhinsky; general overrepresentation in the early Cheka; the heavy involvement of the “Red Warsaw” revolutionary brigade in suppressing the Yaroslavl uprising in 1918; Pilsudski signing a peace agreement with the Bolsheviks in 1919 just to screw over Denikin, allowing the Bolsheviks to save Moscow.
- In this context, the subsequent imposition of Communism can be framed as karmic retribution for past misdeeds, which forces Poland et al. onto the defensive.
- The Pivot: “When will the Poles [Latvians, etc.] have the courage to take responsibility for their complicity in imposing the Bolshevik tyranny on Russians?” As opposed to conflating us with an ideology that you helped force on us.
This approach is probably not going to make Russian many more more friends in Eastern Europe than the current approach. But at least it’s internally consistent, and will put them on the defensive.
This Latvian, at any rate, strongly endorses it, calling it a “great trolling method” – an ultimate accolade if there ever was one.
Those would probably not be the only ones. Whenever a country complains about Soviet/Russian occupation, its always somehow their own fault for helping Bolsheviks at an earlier time. Its actaully a great trolling method. I applaud the Russians for this.
— Chevid-20 🇱🇻🇪🇺 (@cheg) January 18, 2020
And, best of all, it’s not even an exaggeration.
Chinese helped impose Bolshevism in Russia (40k soldiers was a lot in 1918). Russians returned the favor. There is a certain karmic symmetry in that. https://t.co/qpMyL6DMiR
— «««Апат🦠lу "Papa Nurgle Respecter" Каrliп»»» (@akarlin88) October 22, 2018