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World War II began 80 years ago

31 August 2019

September 1, 2019 marks 80 years since the start of the most terrible and violent war in the latest history of mankind - World War II...

In 1939, the countries of Axis powers, Italy and Japan, led by Germany, crossed not only geographical borders, invading the territory of other states, but also moral, destroying thousands of innocent people. Evidence and a detailed description of the military events are available in the electronic library of the Presidential Library. These are copies of rare documents, books, letters, audio and video recordings, photographs.

Reading about the horror and chaos that Adolf Hitler and his supporters sowed in the Old World, one might get the impression that in those years, that is, until June 22, 1941, these events did not affect the USSR. But the Reichstag strategists were just getting ready to strike. Of course, they hoped for a blitzkrieg that would allow us to seize our country on the fly, but they perfectly understood how powerful the Soviet Union was, how worthy and strong this enemy was...

Speaking of the allies of Berlin in World War II - Rome and Tokyo - it is necessary to mention the allies of the USSR. Of course, one immediately recalls the main partners in the anti-Hitler coalition - the United States and Great Britain. However, the Presidential Library provides an opportunity to significantly expand knowledge in this matter. The institutions’  portal provides a truly unique study of one of the well-known Russian journalists, a specialist in Latin America, Sergey Brilev. This refers to the book "Forgotten Allies of World War II" (2012). The author has collected materials for several years. Many of the documents that formed the basis of the publication were previously classified or were in the secret archives of a number of states remote from Russia.     

Already from the first pages, Sergey Brilev makes us at least very surprised: “The fate of the world during the World War II was determined not only by the Big Three composed of Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill, but also the “small” countries from among our “forgotten” allies... New Zealanders are not the greatest exotic. Julio Gil Mendes, a volunteer pilot from Uruguayan Soriano, also looked no less unusual as he met victorious May 1945 in the Old World... "   

The book “Forgotten Allies of World War II”, a digital copy of which is available on the Presidential Library’s portal, is of interest for its atmosphere. The author’s text easily takes us to the heat of South American and African countries, when in the air, in addition to the aromas familiar to the local population, the smell of exploding shells suddenly appears... 

The main image is also striking - the image of a small but bold state. It is no secret that the "ordinary" allies of Moscow - Washington and London - dragged on with support, continuing to maintain a certain "semi-neutrality" mixed with open cooperation with Nazi Germany (for example, food trade). Thus, those very small states - Cuba, Honduras, Colombia and others - without a strong army and combat fleet, openly opposed Hitler, and after entering our country’s war they expressed their support. Sometimes it’s only moral, but even this is a lot for millions of suffering people… 

Sergey Brilev in his study shares interesting data concerning the political line of Cuba at the very beginning of World War II - then President Fulgencio Batista stood at the helm of Liberty Island.

In Colombia, in turn, they admired the valor of Russian soldiers and their victories over the German invaders: “It was President of Colombia D. Camargo who formulated everything after the triumph of Soviet weapons at Stalingrad, after which the turning point came on the diplomatic front. D. Camargo wrote to Stalin that the Soviet soldiers “were the first to bring to nothing the enemy’s successes that seemed serious and insurmountable and change the course of the war”, - says the book “Forgotten Allies of World War II”.

Honorable courage in those days was shown by a small power in Central America - Honduras. Its authorities declared allied relations with the USSR almost immediately after the attack on the Nazi Union. Then such behavior in Hitler’s eyes meant a sentence: “In December 1941, Honduras, declaring war on Japan, Germany and Italy, really called itself an ally of not only the United States, but also the USSR. To this, the current president of the country, Porfirio Lobo... literally said the following: “We simply were one of the countries that fought for freedom, against Nazi Germany, which was trying to conquer the world. And I think if this situation would happen again, we would now oppose those who are trying to take away freedom”, - says S. Brilev.

The author goes into detail about New Zealand. The fact is that now it is a completely independent democratic country, then it seriously depended on London, as it was part of the British Empire. However, this did not stop the New Zealand authorities and people from wanting to repulse the Nazis by any means possible. For example, to help Soviet soldiers: “Who declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939? Whose troops still fought on one side of the globe in the Solomon Islands and Kiribati in the Pacific Ocean, and on the other in Crete, Africa and Italy? And even connected with the Yugoslav partisans Tito? Which country put less wool on the Red Army’s overcoats than just the fraternal Mongolia and Tuva? .. This is New Zealand... It was New Zealand that largely wore the Red Army in overcoats, in which our soldiers took Vienna, Budapest, Königsberg, Berlin". 

In the course of the war, New Zealand warriors also distinguished themselves: they proved their dedication and devotion to universal values ​​in battles, fighting shoulder to shoulder with our soldiers. These feats are not written in history textbooks, but they are described in detail in the book by Sergey Brilev. In this regard, it is very important to note that true courage does not have a nationality and expiration date - and our country never forgets about it: “In April 1942, the New Zealander commander (and in the future vice admiral) became the holder of the Soviet Order of the Red Banner of War Royal British Navy) Maxwell Richmond. He, commanding the destroyer Milne, sank the German U-289 submarine off the Norwegian island of Bear on May 31, 1944 - which also has a direct bearing on the defence of the Soviet Arctic. Marking the 60th anniversary of the Victory at the Russian Embassy in Wellington, jubilee medals were awarded to nearly 276 ordinary New Zealand sailors - participants in convoys to Murmansk and Arkhangelsk..."