Operation Barbarossa 80 years on

On 22 June 1941, the German Reich under Adolf Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. A non-aggression pact was in force between the two powers at the time, so the USSR was ill-prepared for the attack. By the end of the Second World War, 27 million Soviet citizens had lost their lives - the highest death toll of any nation. To this day, the commemoration of the invasion testifies to widely differing perspectives.

Open/close all quotes
Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

A lot of catching up to do

Too many people in Germany are still unaware of the objectives pursued by the German forces in Eastern Europe during WWII, Deutschlandfunk laments:

“The German Reich waged a war of extermination first against Poland and later, as of 22 June 1941, also against the Soviet Union. The goal was not just to conquer territories and locate sources of raw materials. It was to subjugate millions and millions of people who were regarded as subhuman, and to destroy their culture. This was also the objective of the extremely brutal occupying regime. ... Over the last few days it has once again become clear that Germany has a lot of catching up to do on the commemoration front.”

Ria Nowosti (RU) /

When Europe attacked Russia

Russia's state news agency Ria Novosti fuels the narrative that it wasn't Hitler's Germany alone that attacked the Soviet Union 80 years ago:

“The USSR was invaded by the Wehrmacht, which was supported by France's mechanical engineering sector and Norway's steel industry. Belgian SS battalions were also under arms, the Romanian air force was given orders to take to the air and Hitler's officers also commanded Croatian military units. The press was also mobilised: the propaganda machine was constructed with the same German thoroughness as tanks and planes: Goebbels emphasised in his radio address: 'On 22 June 1941, Europe resolved to resist Bolshevik Soviet Russia'.”

Novaya Gazeta (RU) /

Concealment and exploitation

Novaya Gazeta criticises how the "Great Patriotic War" is being exploited for propaganda purposes in Russia today:

“The best and only way to avoid falsifying history would be to open the archives completely. But that is not being done, because those in power do not want to hear the truth about how the murderous war between the two dictators came about. ... Before our eyes, this war is being turned into a propaganda drum, under whose droning one can wonderfully threaten supposed enemies who are allegedly attacking our country. But there are no such enemies, no one is attacking our country. This huge war is being turned into the ideological basis for miserable ideas about splitting Ukraine and enmity with the whole world.”