09 May 2015

A Statement from the Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. The Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, on the 70th Anniversary of Victory in the Second World War

A Statement
from the Head of the Russian Imperial House,
H.I.H. The Grand Duchess Maria of Russia,
on the 70th Anniversary of Victory
in the Second World War

My Dear Countrymen,

I extend my heartfelt congratulations to you all on the 70th anniversary of victory in the Second World War.

After seven decades, we have indeed reached an important historical milestone. On the one hand, because we still have living among us those who experienced the war and their children, we continue to feel the pain of great loss, as well as the joy of our victory and enormous accomplishment. On the other hand, the inexorable passage of time creates in the younger generation an entirely new perception of these momentous events, a new perception based on today’s mentality, which is in many ways very different from that of the people of the 20th century.

Now we have the opportunity to bring together the living memory of those who fought in the war with current perceptions from the point of view of the 1,153 years of Russia’s historical path as a state. Doing so is extremely important in order to understand correctly our own times, to crystalize our own notion of the Russian nation, and to chart the future course of our country. We must do all we possibly can to prevent either now or in the future any break in the continuity of our country’s history.

The Second World War was the most terrible and bloodiest of all wars in the history of humanity. Our country suffered the brunt of the war, endured enormous suffering, and made the greatest sacrifices in the cause of its own liberation and the complete destruction of the barbaric Fascist military and political system.

For Russia, this war exceeded the tolls brought upon it even by the previous global conflict—the First World War of 1914-1918. Then, the front lines winded their way far removed from the capitals and from the major population centers of the Empire. In 1941, the very existence of our nation hung in the balance. The Second World War stands alongside the Mongol conquest of Rus’ in the 13th century, the occupation by the Polish and Lithuanian invaders during the Time of Troubles at the beginning of the 17th century, and the invasion of the combined armies of Europe led by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1812. Even so, the Second World War far exceeded all these previous invasions in the number of deaths and in the extent of the destruction.

This history of the Second World War generally and the invasion of Russia in particular will be written by generations of scholars to come, who will offer explanations of its causes, will painstakingly study all its many details, and will sort through the dramatic and painful contradictions of the period. But no one could deny that the most horrific manifestations of the war was the product of the abandonment of God, immorality, hatred, egoism, militant ignorance and secularism. But the feats that were accomplished and the final victory that was won were attained thanks to timeless and immutable ideals—faith, love of country, self-sacrifice, and depth of spirit.

In the 20th century, Russia experienced not only the Russo-Japanese War, the First World War, and the Second World War, but also the torments of the Revolution and Civil War, militant atheism, totalitarianism, and terror. One also cannot deny that, even during peacetime, there were many senseless and meaningless atrocities; and that the modernization of the country, which was certainly necessary, was accompanied by a loss of life on an unprecedented scale, and an utter disregard for human dignity.

However, neither Germany and its allies nor the Western democracies, which had since the 1930s striven to push the Third Reich and the USSR into a conflict with each other, were pursing the goal of freeing Russia from Communism. Quite the opposite: they expected that our country—bled dry and weakened, deprived of its hope in God and of its time-honoured national values—would be easy prey and be forever removed from the arena of world history.

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