On April 25, 2020, the White House released a Joint Statement by President Donald J. Trump and President Vladimir Putin of Russia Commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the Meeting on the Elbe.
In the statement, both parties highlight the “historic meeting between American and Soviet troops, who shook hands on the damaged bridge over the Elbe River. This event heralded the decisive defeat of the Nazi regime.” In addition, the statement conveys that “the ‘Spirit of the Elbe’ is an example of how our countries can put aside differences, build trust, and cooperate in pursuit of a greater cause.”
The Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. (JBANC) is alarmed 1) over the origins of the statement, which purportedly was at the initiative of the Kremlin, 2) that the statement says nothing to reject the revanchism of the Putin regime, and 3) which is without proper historical context in noting the totalitarianism and terror of the Soviet regime.
While there is no doubt that the end of Hitler and Nazism in 1945 was a tremendous victory, it came at enormous cost, and was only a partial victory.
The end of the Second World War meant freedom for some parts of the world, but for Soviet Russia and Soviet-occupied countries it meant a life under a malevolent totalitarian regime, which didn’t regard freedom and liberty as anything of value. It should be remembered that without the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the outbreak of the Second World War in Europe the United States would perhaps not have gotten into the deadly global debacle that Hitler and Stalin created.
As rightly noted in the 2019 Resolution by the European Parliament, “on 23 August 1939, the communist Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed a Treaty of Non-Aggression, known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and its secret protocols, dividing Europe and the territories of independent states between the two totalitarian regimes and grouping them into spheres of interest, which paved the way for the outbreak of the Second World War.” On that basis, the Soviet Union in 1940 occupied Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Only half a century later, the Baltic nations regained their freedom once more.
Today, the Putin regime continues its dangerous historical revisionism and continues to undermine and attack democracies at its borders and around the globe. We must remember what the Soviets wrought and that Americans fought back against this for nearly half a century. We must not let ourselves be played into the Putin regime’s narrative of this history.
The Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. (JBANC) represents the Estonian American National Council, Inc., the American Latvian Association, Inc., and the Lithuanian American Council, Inc.