On April 14, at 11:00, the Valdai Club held an online discussion, titled “Ideological Constructs of the Second World War in Modern Discourse” at the Rossiya Segodnya press centre.
Although World War II ended almost 75 years ago, the bitter, powerful memory of the 20th century’s greatest conflict continues to resonate in our modern political, social, and cultural life. Its battles are re-fought perennially in cinemas throughout the world; among the most notable WWII movies in recent years are: “Save Private Ryan”, “Dunkirk”, “Inglourious Basterds”, “Sobibor” and “Stalingrad”. The world literature of the 21st century, from Scandinavian to Japanese, is replete with references to the time of the struggle against Nazism and its ideological confederates in Italy and Japan. Moscow’s theatrical performances of the WWII-themed performances “Our Class” and “Nuremberg” sold out to packed audiences.
The theme of World War II is also actively used by video game manufacturers. They make it possible to virtually immerse oneself in the war, take any side, and even change its outcome.
The political controversies of our time are full of references to the Second World War era. Queen Elizabeth II, in her address to the UK about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, recalled the very first live speech that she delivered in 1940. In online discussions of political opponents, comparisons to Hitler and the Nazis are so hackneyed that a popular internet “rule”, Godwin’s Law, insists that they are inevitable. However, the realities of Europe’s gravest struggle have recently been obscured by the so-called “war of memory.” The death of the ideology of the Soviet Union has contributed to the revision of the historical events of the war by European and post-Soviet states. Today, the historical truth about the war has been sacrificed to the “greater good” of European integration, even as we see Brussels’ authority crumble before our eyes.
The participants in the discussion, representing the views of a wide range of countries – Russia, Germany, Japan, Poland, and Slovakia – annswered the following questions: Why is there no feeling that the Second World War is a thing of the past? Was World War II a deviation from the main path of civilisation? Did the qualities of people and civilisation change after it? What aspects of the events of the Second World War are the most relevant today?
- Vladimir Medinsky, Assistant to the President of the Russian Federation, Chairman of the Russian Military Historical Society (RMHS)
- Géza Andreas von Geyr, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Germany to the Russian Federation
- Yukio Hatoyama, Prime Minister of Japan (2009-2010), Head of the East Asian Community Institute
- Ján Čarnogurský, Prime Minister of Slovakia (1991-1992), Member of the Board of Directors of the Pan-European University of Bratislava
- Natalia Koneva, President of the Victory Memorial Fund
- Alexander Kott, director of the “Brest Fortress” film
- Grigory Zaslavsky, Rector of the Russian Institute of Theatre Arts (GITIS)
- Krzysztof Zanussi, Polish film director
- Nobuo Shimotomai, Professor, Hosei University (Japan)
Working languages: Russian, English.
- Andrey Bystritskiy, Chairman of the Board of the Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club.