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Posted at 10:58 AM ET, 07/22/2010

A bust that belongs at Virginia's D-Day memorial

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Richard Rubenstein
Washington

In arguing that a bust of Joseph Stalin did not belong at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va., Michael Gerson sounded — paradoxically — just like a Stalinist [“Dishonoring D-Day,” op-ed, July 16]. Wasn’t it the Soviet dictator who removed statues from memorials and erased names from the history books to enforce his own “true” interpretation of 8history?

“Stalin and Hitler were moral equals in nearly every respect,” says Mr. Gerson. The kicker is the word “nearly.” That Stalin was a bloodthirsty tyrant responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent people is no longer debatable. But one respect in which his morality far transcended that of Hitler was in his mobilization of the Soviet people to resist fascism and his command of the army that defeated Germany in the most decisive and costly battle of World War II — the Battle of Stalingrad.

Reading Mr. Gerson’s column, one would never guess that of 17 million battle deaths in World War II, approximately 13 million were Russian (295,000 were American), or that the United States and Britain delayed launching the D-Day invasion until after the Red Army had destroyed Germany’s Sixth Army, turned the tide of the war and begun its historic march to Berlin.

As monstrous as Stalin’s behavior was in many respects, one can no more deny him credit for defeating the Nazis than one can deny credit to FDR or Winston Churchill. Leave the Bedford memorial alone.

By washingtonpost.com editors  | July 22, 2010; 10:58 AM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Virginia, history, military  
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Comments

I had no idea that Stalin sent 13 million Russians to fight at D-Day. Why wasn't this part of Saving Private Ryan?

Posted by: jiji1 | July 22, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure I completely agree with Mr Rubenstein's interpretation of history, but I do agree with his basic premise that WWII in Europe was mostly the war between Germany and Russia. If not for Stalin, Hitler would have had over two million troops defending France, as well as a huge air force, and thousands of tanks. The Normandy landings would have been swatted away like a mosquito.

Posted by: HaymarketObserver | July 22, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

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