“The grass grows over the graves, time overgrows the pain. The wind blew away the traces of those who had departed; time blows away the bloody pain and the memory of those who did not live to see their dear ones again—and will not live, for brief is human life, and not for long is any of us granted to tread the grass.”
And Quiet Flows the Don (1934)
After the Battle of Stalingrad, the bloodiest battle in the history of warfare and one of the deadliest in WWII, on February 1943 the invading Nazi army capitulated to the Soviets. The Battle of Stalingrad halted the Nazi onslaught and stood as the turning point in the Second World War that eventually led to the surrender of the fascist forces in Berlin on 9 May.
With virtually no support from the capitalist countries in the Allied powers, the Soviets singularly fought off the fascist enemies on the vast plains of Russia, repeating the history of the Patriotic War against Napoleon’s occupying forces.
The war claimed millions as from the frozen Siberian tundra to the flowing banks of Volga, the Soviets, the brave Bolsheviks fought an impossible battle against a beastly, inhuman enemy. The Red Army of the Soviet masses, after destroying flanking Romanian armies and finally crushing the Nazis in Stalingrad, began a great offensive that finally saw the resplendent Red Flag over the fallen Nazi capital, marked in history as the Fall of Berlin.
In the largest military confrontation in history, through bloody battles on the Eastern Front, after the loss of about 30 million lives including 9 million children, the Nazi war machine was halted. The battles raged across hundreds of miles, with numerous armies marching across a vast war front. The Second World War, a war waged by the then capitalist and fascist forces over control of resources and territory was also one of the historic testaments to a peoples’ battle, a battle between fascist, capitalist ideologies and pro-people, proletarian ideologies.
Hitler’s “War of Annihilation” soon turned into a complete annihilation of the Nazi forces invading Russia with the emancipation of Western Ukraine by the Red Army, with the breaching of Finnish army lines, and subsequent fall of Warsaw. Then began the Soviet offensive to capture western Germany and Berlin on 16 April 1945, with assaults on Nazi frontlines on the Oder and Neisse Rivers. While Hitler shot himself, the Soviet Red Army marched into Berlin, routing the remaining pockets of futile fascist resistance. On 9 May 1945 the Nazis surrendered unconditionally, with the Red Flag proudly hoisted over the fallen Reichstag.
History marks those moments as the ‘Fall of Berlin’. Yet it is something more than the simple fall of an enemy-occupied city, yet it is something more than the defeat of an invading army. It is a trumpeting triumph of the masses, a victory of the undaunted toiling people, an absolute testament to peoples’ power over tyranny and fascist ideologies. Ninth May stands proof to what a collected, consummate, tenacious proletarian mass can achieve; it stands proof to sacrifice, love, dignity, and unity of the Bolsheviks.
Seventy-seven years have passed. The wind on the steppes still blow, carrying the final cries of the fallen and forsaken facts of bravery and absolute sacrifice. The Don flows quietly, in its slumberous wake murmuring names of millions of martyrs. The tundras thaw still with the death throes of children. And Stalingrad stands still in cherished loving memories, the final absolute stand against fascist forces.
And the Partisans sing,
“Arise ye pris′ners of starvation
Arise ye wretched of the earth
For justice thunders condemnation
A better world’s in birth!
No more tradition′s chains shall bind us
Arise, ye slaves, no more in thrall;
The earth shall rise on new foundations
We have been naught we shall be all.”
Omar Rashid Chowdhury is a civil engineering graduate from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology ( BUET) and writes from Bangladesh