The Primate Diaries

The Great Patriotic War in Sand and Sorrow

   Recruitment poster calling for defense of the “Soviet Motherland.” Woman holds a document that translates roughly to “military oath.”
My grandmother sends me a lot of chain e-mails. Many of them are of the right-wing Evangelical Christian variety that have been resent so many times that I have to scroll down several pages just to get through the history of everyone it’s been sent to. I’ve received a video about how Muslims are out-breeding Europeans and how this will be the death of Christianity. Another celebrated the anti-Muslim Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders who claims “there is a battle going on and we have to defend ourselves. Before you know it there will be more mosques than churches!” Yet another was a petition to support one of Republican Senator Tom Coburn’s obstructionist tactics on healthcare legislation, or “socialized medicine” as he ominously portends. (Readers of these pages may now have some insight into my personal frustrations with the political right.)

However, something miraculous just occurred. For almost her entire adult life my grandmother has been fervently anti-communist. To this day she still often refers to China as “Red China” (and we all know that it’s mostly brown, especially Beijing). But apparently an artist’s work was so moving that it caused her to forget what it represented: a memory of the “Great Patriotic War” that the Soviet Union was engaged in against the fascists. I must say that I am impressed as well. I am so impressed in fact that I am now passing on to you a forwarded link from my right-wing grandmother.

Kseniya Simonova is a 24-year-old contestant on the TV show “Ukraine’s Got Talent 2009.” In this live performance she creates a story of heartbreak and loss about the Soviet experience in the war. Using only sand and light Simonova shows the effects on individual women of a conflict that killed around 30 million people in the Soviet Union, roughly half of all casualties in the war. Simonova’s work earned her the top prize this year and an estimated €75,000.

And don’t get me wrong, I love my grandmother. She’s a kind and loving person that happens to have some hateful views of people she disagrees with. Also, it may be possible she didn’t realize Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union during WWII.

Comments

  1. #1 MattXIV
    January 5, 2010

    It’s also possible you don’t realize what the Soviets did to Ukraine. And as for the Soviet leadership’s supposed anti-fascist credentials, I suggest looking up something called the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. It’s quite possible to honor the sacrifices made by the Soviet Union’s people to help stop the rise of Nazism and still believe it’s leaders were monsters on par with Hitler. If anything, it takes an serious lack of historical perspective not to.

  2. #2 EMJ
    January 5, 2010

    There’s no need to remind me about the dangers of centralized tyrannies. I don’t think I said anything in support of Stalin, nor would I.

  3. #3 Ollitapio P.
    January 6, 2010

    This was fine study about war. Finland sufferd from Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. But as Churchill said if Hitler would attack against satans reign Britain should defend it against Hitler. War is awful,but it would be worse if Hitler had won.