The Russian people’s 21st-century notion of what they call ‘the Great Patriotic War’ bears little relationship to our own. It ignores Stalin’s 1939-41 pact with Hitler, and the fact that the Luftwaffe planes that bombed London in the Blitz were powered by Russian fuel.
It is impossible to understand the 1930s appeasement of the dictators without grasping the traumatic impact of events in Russia on the propertied classes everywhere. The Winter Palace was stormed only 16 years before Hitler came to power. For at least two decades, Europe’s ‘haves’ were far more frightened of Bolshevism than of fascism.