Perhaps, given the passage of time and the current focus on the uncertain state of world affairs today, this letter will have little or no meaning to any and all who read it. However it really should be done, whether by me or by someone else matters little, but as no one else seems to be speaking up I have taken it upon myself. Is there a time limit on apologies, or on one given indirectly by a third party? I am not sure, but it cannot hurt to try even if it does only come from one person. As a private citizen and history enthusiast, I can only hope that it will be received in the spirit in which it is intended.

For many, the study of history consists of an intellectual understanding of events, places, eras, and people. Yet there are those of us on whom history exerts an inexplicable magnetic pull capable of leaving indelible imprints on our psyche; haunting traces and fleeting impressions of what has gone before. It is impossible to ignore these even though the people and their times are gone, and some of the places as well. That which was alive, vital, and relevant at one time has since passed on into the realm of the intangible. But does that make it any less real now? I do not think so, for we today are merely the sum of all that has gone before. We cannot really reach out and grasp it, but the past exerts its influence on the present, touching everyone. It is all around us, ever-present, if one only chooses to see it. It is most unfortunate that history does not have a voice of its own to pass on its stories and must rely instead on flawed people with their own slanted biases and agendas. In many cases too much time has passed and what little has come down to us is all we have; it cannot be refuted or proven definitively, but that is not always the case. With more recent histories there is usually a wealth of diverse information. Sometimes that information is readily available and shared, and sometimes not.

This brings me now to the point of this letter. The Great Patriotic War, a horrific and indescribable event in so many ways, with an impact so powerful that the residual memory of it is still potent and persists today. I must confess at this point that I am rather ashamed and embarrassed that it has only been a little over two years since my full exposure to the truth of the war as experienced by your country. Previously I had always concentrated on older world and Russian history and so this was very much like discovering a world I had no idea existed. The sheer intensity and magnitude of that world has reached across time and distance and affected me profoundly. Many times it has brought tears to my eyes along with an indescribable feeling of sorrow and regret that perhaps I have no right to feel, but nonetheless I do. I consider myself fortunate that my love of history has brought many previously unknown truths to my attention. This to me is priceless, and I would not trade it for anything.

Now here I stand in America, seeing or hearing no acknowledgment of that truth, and the initial emotions I experienced of anger, horror, and disgust still have not left me, and I doubt they ever will.

There is a real lack of understanding in America as knowledge about the war in Russia has been severely suppressed. This knowledge is not illegal to possess; it is just not discussed, taught, or acknowledged except in some college classes and a few scattered references here and there to “the Russian Front”, but most people don’t really understand what that means.  Silence can be quite an effective tool by itself, but there also has been an unabashed glorification of America’s role, as if we were mainly responsible for the defeat of Nazi Germany, which is ludicrous. With all due respect to western allies who fought and died, for war is hell no matter where you stand, there simply is no comparison. The numbers, brutality, and scale of the devastation do not lie. This is an unforgivable offense and omission, and one that I try to rectify whenever possible by passing on to others what I have learned. It is difficult, for most do not want to hear it and they will reject what I say. It is hard for them to discard a lifetime of conditioned learning and even harder for me not to attempt to correct it.

The Great Patriotic War by rights should receive the same attention and remembrance as the Jewish Holocaust, for without your country the Holocaust would have went on much longer than it did, perhaps indefinitely, and the adversities suffered by your people were, on the whole, no less profound. This is a very troubling indication of how short, selective, and subject to manipulation the collective human memory is that this is not the case. The fact that no acknowledgment ever seems to be forthcoming in the western world of the sacrifices, hardships, and losses endured by your country sets a dangerous precedent for the future, for already all across Europe right wing hate groups are on the rise once again. What is this, in due course, going to mean for Russia? This bothers me greatly, as it should everyone, as it appears that Russia is once again in danger of becoming the ultimate target.

In light of the deteriorating relations between our two countries, I believe that serious efforts should be made by the citizens of both to reach out and try as much as is possible to negate the damage that is currently happening. It may not do much good in the end, but it is better than doing nothing. With this thought in mind I wish to use this opportunity to extend to the people of Russia my sincerest apologies for the lack of appreciation and respect that you and your predecessors have received concerning your vital and unparalleled role during that perilous time, and to express my gratitude for the very costly sacrifices that had to be endured, which quite frankly defy the imagination. Furthermore, I also apologize for the current dangerous game my government is engaging in against yours. I am at a loss, for this too defies the imagination. As bad as things look now, and let’s face it, its very bad, we must not give up easily….hope is not lost.

BY: Alyx Kaye