Spotted this in the Guardian, the death of one of the three Soviet soldiers photopgraphed hanging the Red Flag over the Reichstag (the picture was of course posed as a replacement had to be put up after the original flag was shot down). Abdulkhakim Ismailov died aged 93 on Tuesday in his native village. After the war, he was in the Communist Party and was a chairman of a collective farm. As time moves on, and we are left with fewer and fewer of the survivors of the Great Patriotic War, it is always worth taking a moment to recall the enormous sacrifices required of the Soviet peoples and their allies in order to defeat fascism.
Last year marked the 70th anniversary of the fall of the Spanish Republic, and next year marks the 75th anniversary of the start of the Spanish Civil War. Already, commemorative events are being organised by left groups in Ireland, such as the Charlie Donnelly commemoration and The Workers’ Party is organising a trip for next year as well. The Spanish Civil War of course remains a matter of great debate and not a little bitterness on the left. No need to go into the arguments now, but there is no doubt that that war proved the vicious and brutal nature of fascism – the last ditch defence of capitalism – and was a warning that too many people ignored, especially in the west.
2011 also sees the 70th anniversary of the Nazi assault on the Soviet Union – Hitler’s attempt to kick in the front door of Soviet socialism in the fundamentally mistaken belief that what he called the whole rotten structure would collapse with it. Instead the peoples of the Soviet Union rallied in defence of Socialism and against the fascist barbarians who were slaughtering their comrades in the occupied territories, with the all too enthusiastic support of local ultra-nationalists, anti-semites and fascists. It took an unpredecented effort to halt the Nazi advance and then drive them back to Berlin, the Red Army crushing their resistance the only way possible – ruthlessly. With the death of Abdulkhakim Ismailov, another link to that past is broken. But their sacrifice, their bravery and their heroism will never be forgotten. The smears of the enemies of the Soviet Union, then and now, can never tarnish the glory of the soliders of the Red Army.