- Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said the expansive events commemorating the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of France were painting a “false” picture of who was responsible for winning World War II.
- In an article published Tuesday, Lavrov said the West propagated a “false” history of the conflict that minimized the contributions of the Soviet Union, which sustained the heaviest losses of any nation.
- “Young people are being told that the main credit in victory over Nazism and liberation of Europe goes not to the Soviet troops, but to the West due to the landing in Normandy,” Lavrov wrote.
- Thursday marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day, when Allied forces led by US, Canadian, and British troops landed on the Nazi-occupied French coast at Normandy.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Ahead of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of France, Russia’s foreign minister has written an article arguing that the commemorations of the event are part of a “false” history that belittles the contributions of the Soviet Union toward defeating Nazi Germany.
Sergey Lavrov chastised Western powers in an article published in Russia’s International Affairs magazine on Tuesday, ahead of events in Europe to mark the D-Day landings on the Nazi-occupied Normandy coast.
“False interpretations of history are being introduced into the Western education system with mystifications and pseudo-historical theories designed to belittle the feat of our ancestors,” Lavrov wrote.
“Young people are being told that the main credit in victory over Nazism and liberation of Europe goes not to the Soviet troops, but to the West due to the landing in Normandy, which took place less than a year before Nazism was defeated.”
He added: “It was the peoples of the Soviet Union who broke the backbone of the Third Reich. That is a fact.”
More than 150,000 Allied troops mostly from the US, the UK, and Canada took part in D-Day on June 6, 1944. Just under a year later, on May 8, 1945, the German High Command surrendered in Berlin.
By the time of the Normandy invasion, the Soviet Union had mostly turned back the Nazi forces on the Eastern Front and begun pursuing them west toward Berlin.
After the Allied invasion of Italy in 1943, the D-Day landings intensified pressure on Hitler’s war machine by opening yet another front.
The Soviets ultimately reached Berlin at a similar time as the rest of the Allies.
The Nazis surrendered twice, once to Allied forces in Reims, France, on May 7 and a second time a day later in Soviet-occupied Berlin.
Until 1941, the Soviets had an alliance with Nazi Germany and had agreed to share Eastern Europe – a deal on which Germany ultimately reneged.
Historians agree that the Soviets sustained the heaviest losses of all powers involved in World War II, placing the death toll for the Red Army at between 9 million and 11 million troops, part of an estimated 26 million Soviet citizens who died.
Lavrov also wrote Russia had been falsely labelled as an aggressor in World War II.
“Our detractors seek to diminish the role of the Soviet Union in World War II and portray it if not as the main culprit of the war, then at least as an aggressor, along with Nazi Germany,” he wrote.
“They cynically equate Nazi occupation, which claimed tens of millions of lives, and the crimes committed by collaborationists with the Red Army’s liberating mission.”
The Russian Liberation Army was a group of Russian soldiers who defected in 1944 and served under the German army.
Led by captured Gen. Andrey Vlasov, they aimed to exterminate Communism in Russia. When the Third Reich was defeated in May 1945, they surrendered to US forces.
Historians stress, however, that a huge number of the Liberation Army troops enlisted only because they were already prisoners in Nazi work camps and often faced the choice of enlisting or being worked to death in the camps.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.