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Family Reflection

    The Signatures of War Project reminded me of how much opinions of countries involved in World War Two differ from one another. The two opposing sides are obviously America and the Soviet Union. Despite the Soviet Union rejecting communism, which was the main problem that separated the two powers, Russia still possesses a contradictory point of view regarding World War Two.

    I am privileged to have access to both points of view. I lived in Russia the first seven years of my life and the rest I spent in United States. I learned most information on World War Two from American textbooks and lectures; therefore I decided that for The Signatures of War Project I would interview my grandparents in hopes of understanding and learning the Russian perspective on the war.

    It was very insightful to talk to them about how they felt about American involvement. Right of hand they told me that “much more Russian soldiers died in World War Two in comparison to American soldiers” and that I should never forget that. So I went on further questioning them regarding the second front. To this my grandpa responded quickly how obviously afraid America was in sending their soldiers to war. I was surprised by such understanding on his part, since his mother fought in the war and when I was younger I heard much harsher opinions from World War Two participants. It was interesting to compare how United States viewed the second front as a somewhat unjust pressure from Stalin. On the other hand Russia’s point of view was that only with the second front could Hitler be defeated. The ironic part of this situation is that Russia still believes that World War Two was won by them because America’s help was offered to late, while America thinks that only thanks to the second front the Nazis went down. I noticed that both sides like to take more credit than they deserve. This typical human nature, but I still sympathize more with Russia because of my ancestry and the millions of lives they lost to World War Two.

    Therefore my next question for my grandparents was much more controversial. I asked them about the “Polish Invasion” as the rest of the world calls it. My grandpa’s view opposed this name. To him the Soviet Union protected Poland from Nazis and had no choice but to drive them out. This was interesting to hear because for this case I felt that maybe Stalin’s propaganda somehow influenced my grandpa’s opinion.

    My short conversation with my grandparents was very informing. Sadly they did not want to continue discussing the subject, for them it was just too difficult because of all the sad memories. They left me with much more questions than answers. I still feel that both opinions lack perspective and even me, who is exposed to both sides, cannot fully grasp the complexity for the situation. I still think my grandparents are influenced by the massive propaganda Stalin ran, but also United States wants to justify all their actions and seem more helpful. The interview was valuable and hopefully people like me who have relatives involved in World War Two will try to extract some information from the people they love, because despite making them remember hurtful memories understanding what happened during the war is vital.


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