Friday, February 1, 2013

Rejuvenating A Despot from the Past

Each morning while getting the day started I perform a ritual that I have done almost non-stop for the last 17 years.  And for those of you thinking naughty things - get your minds out of the gutter!  The ritual is that I do a quick scan of news websites to catch up on the happenings of the world for the last day.  The list of websites has continued to evolve over the years and now included websites like Reddit that aggregate news stories that readers think are popular.

This morning in my rounds of the websites I came across articles on both NBCNews.Com and the Guardian (British news paper) that discussed the renaming of the Russian city of Volgograd to Stalingrad.  The city is being renamed Stalingrad in commemoration of the Soviet defeat of the Germans there in World War II.  The German defeat is viewed to be one of the major turning points of the War.

Please see the links below for the stories on NBCNews.Com and the Guardian.

For whatever reason I have always taken an interest in the Battle of Stalingrad.  Part of it has been driven by the book written in 1973 by William Craig called the Enemy at the Gates.  This book is a non-fiction account of the intense battle for the city and the one-on-one sniper dual between the Soviet Vasily Zaitsev and German Erwin Konig.  I read this book in the late 1990's shortly before it was turned into a major motion picture starring Jude Law and Rachel Weisz.

The other reason that I have been interested in this is for personal reasons.  My family background is of half German and half Polish heritage.  Given the comparatively recent time that the German side of the family came to the United States -1903, there remained close connections between my grand-parents and my father with members of the family in Germany.  In World War II like most families, all sides of the family were caught up in the war.  In Germany many of my fathers cousins fought for the German army in various battles around Europe and Northern Africa.  Two of my father's cousins, brothers, were in the German 6th Army that was surrounded, captured and destroyed at Stalingrad.  One of the brothers was a dentist and was part of the army support structure.  All that is known of him was that he was killed sometime during the course of the battle. 

The second brother, Erik was in the infantry and somehow managed to live through the hell of the battle and was marched off into captivity along with over 100,000 other German soldiers.  Most of those 100,000 soldiers were never heard from again.  Erik was different.  Despite the horrible conditions and the brutality he experienced he was one of the 5,000 soldiers of the German 6th Army that eventually made it home to Germany in 1949.  In 2005 I had the pleasure to spend some time with Erik in his home town of Boblingen, Germany.  We had an interesting discussion.  He didn't tell too many stories of all that happened during those horrible times.  But he did speak strongly against war as at the time the US was in the middle of its misadventures in Iraq.  He was a decided pacifist after his experiences fighting in one of the most brutal battles in the 20th century.

Therefore whenever I see something in the press that has to do with the Battle of Stalingrad it catches my attention.  The articles today really caught my attention due to the homage that was being paid of Stalin.  Even despite the fact that Stalin was fighting the most evil monster of all times - the Germany nation in the hands of Adolph Hitler, Stalin is a historical figure who should be consigned to the list of the most horrible despots of all time.  There is little that separates him from the ultimate evil of Hitler and Nazism.

Despite the fact that though his brutality he was able to save the Soviet Union from being conquered by the Nazis, the evil of his ways was so extreme he should be forever shunned and not celebrated.  This week a memorial was held in Germany on the 80th anniversary of Hitler's rise to power.  The memorial was to commemorate the millions of people who died because of the evil spawned by Hitler.  At no point will there be (or should there EVER be) any kind of celebration of anything that occurred while the Nazis were in power.  The same should be true of Stalin.  Nothing should be celebrated about his almost 30 year reign of terror upon the people of Russia and the many other countries that were dominated by the Soviet Union at the time.

Praising the acts of tyrants and despots should never be something that is acceptable.

Just a few words for an early Friday morning.

Hope you all have a great day and a wonderful weekend ahead!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Carletta said...

Hi Jerry,
Thanks so much for your comment on my bird post. In answer to your question, yes, most of the bird shots I've taken are through my double-paned windows. It has taken some time to learn how to achieve the results I want. Most times outside conditions factor in. I also use a zoom lens to bring them in close. I never thought I'd be able to achieve some of what I've done but it practice does pay off. :) I'm glad you enjoyed them.
The photo here of the horse is a beautiful nightshot. Sure hope the city decides to keep it right where it is.
Have a wonderful week!

Tom K. said...


You mentioned reddit in your post. I was curious if you knew that one of the founders of the company went to school with Patty and I?

I guess now is a good time to introduce myself. My name is Tom and I am an '82 graduate of Gateway Senior High. I have been lurking for several years. I must say that I enjoy your posts.