Why Stalin mattered to D-Day's success
By Mike Lofgren,
The June 26 editorial “Stalin, hero of D-Day?,” about the new Stalin bust at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va., betrayed either historical ignorance or ideological blindness. Joseph Stalin was an unsavory character. But unlike Poland, France, the Low Countries and others, the Soviet Union did not throw in the towel to Hitler — in part because of Stalin’s ruthlessness. James Dunnigan, author of “Dirty Little Secrets of World War II,” reveals that seven-eighths of all months in combat by German divisions in World War II were expended on the Russian front.
Charles Winchester, in “Ostfront,” informs us that in August 1944, 38 Allied divisions defeated 20 German divisions in France; further east, 172 Soviet divisions overwhelmed 67 German divisions. These data suggest that had it not been for the Soviet Union — and the decisions of its leadership, however odious — the Western Allies on D-Day would have met a fate similar to their abortive landing at Dieppe in 1942.
World War II was a good war in the most important sense: Just ask the intended victims of the New Order who managed to survive. But it was also deeply ambiguous and tragic: With allies like Stalin, Mao Zedong, Tito and Ho Chi Minh, how could it not be? Unfortunately, the editorial offered a cartoon caricature of events that did justice neither to the veterans of D-Day, who were part of a much larger struggle, nor to the historical record.
| June 30, 2010; 7:07 PM ET
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