Misc

A Monumental problem

Firstly let me apologise for not posting lately (or for breaking the silence if you were rather enjoying it.) I damaged my leg whilst playing football (I will be 45 years old tomorrow – even attempting a tackle may be seen as the first stage of senility.)

Actually I fell over while watching younger men racing 20 yards ahead of me. There was nobody even near me (I didn’t even get a free kick out of it, let alone a phone-call from Mourinho.) Afterwards the whole problem was compounded by my doctor (who looks about 12 but has a habit of saying: “In all my years as a doctor I have never known this to happen before”) giving me some tablets which I had a bad reaction too. All this has made it hard to sit at the computer for any length of time, so I offer this thread for anybody who would like to continue old feuds/discussions, talk about anything which is interesting them or tell me to bog off back into obscurity.

One thing that I would have liked to have posted about are the
recent events in Estonia , where the removal of a statue of a red army soldier (not to mention the exhumation of several Russian soldiers bodies) has sparked days of riots amongst the country’s large Russian minority. Many Estonians see the statue as a symbol of nearly fifty years of Russian oppression of their country, whilst Russians see it as a monument to the 50,000 Soviet soldiers who are estimated to have died in Estonian territory while fighting Nazi Germany. This is a seemingly irresolvable conflict and hinges on a question which historians have puzzled over since the fifties or earlier: was the totality of Soviet oppression worse than that of Nazi Germany? Obviously it lasted longer and killed more people, and is also nowadays still a living memory for many Eastern Europeans.

My own view is that it was perfectly reasonable to remove the bodies from a public park (before someone else did) and lay them to rest in a proper cemetery. Moving the statue is harder to justify. The Russian army was itself a prime victim of Stalin’s incompetence and terror and the 30,000 members of the armed forces who were executed in the late thirties made it even harder for the ordinary Russian soldier to play the undoubtedly large part which he and she did in the defeat of Hitler. Surely it is right to remember the ordinary fighting man whilst holding the leaders of the Soviet regime in contempt? I suspect that one objection to this view will be that the red army raped and pillaged its way across Europe in 1945, but Beevor and others have made the distinction between front-line troops who hardly ever engaged in ill-disciplined spite and the reserve troops following behind who often did. Should we (can we?) make the same distinction?

Apparently the Estonian government now intend to restore the statue. Are they right to do so? What do you think?

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