Counting The Dead – Soviet Losses in the Second World War

Uncle Volodya says, "There is not a discovery in science, however revolutionary, however sparkling with insight, that does not arise out of what went before. 'If I have seen further than other men,' said Isaac Newton, 'it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.”

Uncle Volodya says, “There is not a discovery in science, however revolutionary, however sparkling with insight, that does not arise out of what went before. ‘If I have seen further than other men,’ said Isaac Newton, ‘it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.”

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I’ve added a new page for research papers – entitled, appropriately enough, “Research Papers”. The first contribution to it (well, I may add some older material to it later, like Jen’s research on the Caucasus and Ukraine’s economy) is hoct’s “Breaking Down Soviet WWII Losses”.

What a piece of work. Although educated opinion does play a part in anything for which we cannot find exact statistics, this is not an opinion piece – it’s a magnificent chunk of a person’s time and persistence and patience and intelligence. Meticulously researched and diligently substantiated, it stands, for me, as the best collected and assembled work on the subject that I have ever seen. It is truly an honour to be allowed to publish it here.

Hoct (Hero Of Crappy Town) now stands revealed to the readership as Marko Marjanović, from Ljubljana, Slovenia. He describes himself thus; ” Blogger and history enthusiast writing from Ljubljana. Works as a machinist in a manufacturing plant. Rothbardian anarchist in terms of politics and ideology”. His blog can be found at http://www.crappytown.com/ , and is highly recommended for serious and well-researched content on the region and Europe. Academics researching this particular subject could do far worse than to give this article a long look. I’m still copying over the bibliography, and it’s slow going, but the meat of the research is there and I encourage all interested to check it out. Meanwhile, here’s hoct to introduce it himself:

The 26.6 million people the Soviet Union is usually believed to have lost in the Second World War is the biggest population loss of any country in any war. This being the case one might assume that the topic of Soviet war death has received a great deal of scholarly attention and that scholars so far have had a great deal to say to the public regarding this topic. In fact the opposite is true. Scholars have made only tardy and at times uncertain progress in shedding light on the question of how many Soviet citizens lost their lives in the Second World War and in what circumstances.

To begin with, at times the problem may have been the objective lack of useful primary sources relating to a desperate and chaotic conflict that is now 70 years old. More than that the archives in the Soviet Union were closed and the research by both foreign and Soviet historians greatly impeded. Morever the latter had to contend with censorship. Historians abroad did not, but in the climate of the Cold War, there reigned a certain level of disinterested in the question of how many Soviet citizens perished in the Second World War. The question that excited the Russia-specialists in the West was instead how many people had perished due to repression of the communist Soviet Union against its own citizens. Continue reading

Posted in Education, Europe, Government, Military, Politics, Russia, Slavs, Stalin, Strategy, Western Europe | Tagged , , , , , , , | 83 Comments

The First-Ever Fern of England Photo Caption Contest

Finalists at World Imperialist Poker Championship (Ultimate Doom Edition) agree to play one last round before competing against the current champion (not pictured)” 
Lurch, the butler, struggles bravely to hold in fart before getting up to distribute cards and chips to the players. Miss Susan, the skullduggery maid, searches for choke-proof pretzels, before serving beers. Judges discuss whether next year’s final will be held in conditions of nuclear winter.


Finalists at World Imperialist Poker Championship (Ultimate Doom Edition) agree to play one last round before competing against the current champion (not pictured)

Lurch, the butler, struggles bravely to hold in fart before getting up to distribute cards and chips to the players. Miss Susan, the skullduggery maid, searches for choke-proof pretzels, before serving beers. Judges discuss whether next year’s final will be held in conditions of nuclear winter.

This is a fortuitous moment to take action on an idea proposed by Fern, as the comments are beginning to stack up in the previous post and I am going to be doing “family time” again and will be drawn away from posting and reading. Also, we have an intro coming up from hoct which will lead into publication here on a new page of scholarly articles, this post to deal with researched data on Soviet losses during the war. All things I am looking forward to but have little free time to implement.

So, the photo caption contest. Everyone knows how that works. It’s named after Fern – whose surname I do not know, hence the “Fern of England” thing – because it was her idea, and Fern will therefore be the judge as well. This unfortunately means she cannot be a contestant herself: hey, I don’t make the rules. Oh, wait – I do. Anyway, since she is the only judge and decision-maker, it stands to reason she cannot be a contestant. Feel free to carry on the discussion from the last post, but please open with your own entry to the photo-caption contest; after that, each can talk about whatever he/she likes as we are accustomed to do. But everyone’s first comment must include a suggested photo caption. On….let’s say Tuesday, Fern will render her verdict. Once the winner is announced, I will send them a prize of a brand-new, never-worn, one-size-fits-all baseball cap bearing the logo of MEGGITT Training Systems Canada, a subsidiary of a huge European defense conglomerate called EADS (European Aeronautics Defense and Space), which has since changed its name to Airbus. That might have something to do with a fairly-recent financial scandal that inspired a company-wide shakeup; might not. Whatever the case there, MEGGIT Training Systems Canada is small fry in the big pond and could have had nothing to do with Euro-gangsterism. MEGGITT makes remote-controlled targets for the Royal Canadian Navy, chiefly the Hammerhead surface target and the Vindicator air target, as well as the jet-powered air DT series. I was there for that last photo; it features my then-Commanding Officer, Commander Hayden Edmundson (HMCS REGINA) and Meggitt Training Systems Canada’s then-president, Spence Fraser, a former naval officer himself. He recently departed following a nasty head-butting contest with head office, and although he was indeed a stubborn guy, he was a visionary and dynamic leader whose advocacy for the company the parent firm were fools to let go. Behind them are a DT-25 Carrier, with the smaller DT-55 slung on the belly. This provides a very realistic scenario in which the DT-25 acts as a closing aircraft, which then looses off an air-to-surface missile (the DT-55) at you. Speeds are comparable with actual profiles (450 knots for the DT-55 or 517.8 mph, and it’s tiny, only 1.6 m long) , factoring in the size of the target compared with its real counterpart. I know, because I shot at this very target combination after the photo was taken. All this information is straight off the net, no classified sources.

The ball cap itself – which is plain black with the MEGGITT logo – has history as well. I originally obtained it from MEGGITT’s RCN Special Projects Officer, John Leblanc, as a gift for Yalensis, who had won some point of discussion much earlier here on the blog. His chronic nervousness regarding personal security meant he declined to provide a mailing address (he’s a very private person, which is entirely his own affair), and it has since then been cluttering up my closet, awaiting a proud owner.

There: doesn’t that make you want it? Same rules as for the coffee mugs: if you win and prefer to donate it to someone else, you can do so. Obviously you can only win once, because I don’t have any more of them.

It’s on.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 741 Comments

North America Needs a Volunteer Movement

Uncle Volodya says, "How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. "

Uncle Volodya says, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. “

Anyone who pays attention to anything I say might have noticed my commenting and general presence have been a little light over the past few days; whether at work or at home, I have barely been at my desk or at my house over the period. Last week was a killer, and I just could not spend the time on the blog I would like to. As I’ve mentioned on several occasions, I don’t do this for a living, but for fun. I’m aware that the huge queue of comments bogs things down and makes the page run slow – sometimes even crashing the browser (which is funny when you think about it, because so far I have used only 4.14 MB of my allowable space, which barely moves the needle, for the whole blog. How long does it normally take your computer to crunch up 4 MB? Typically not very long), but I can’t seem to get posts out any faster, and I am loathe to discourage free-thinking comments because the Russia-watcher blogosphere agrees we have hands-down the best comment section on the web: I am in awe of the amount of great information, thought and discussion generated by you guys.

Very much in that spirit comes this post, by Johan Meyer. A recent commenter here, Johan is a South African from Saskatchewan – a little like a griffin in a garage in that the two seem to have little in common but a shared first letter – and I think we have quickly learned to respect his intellect and be intrigued by his thinking and analysis.  In this post, Johan articulates the need for volunteerism to change the narrative and the direction in North America – a very timely point to make, as I have frequently said it is easy to criticize but much harder to propose solutions. See what you think. Johan?

“In prosperous times migration, outside of work responsibility and vacation, is a rite of old age – one’s responsibilities are taken care of, and one seeks to visit the places that stirred one’s imagination in youth. A few move early, and adopt new homes, but mostly, people go through life in the regions of their birth.

Entire continents are in migration. People flee poverty, disease, and -often foreign-sponsored – political regimes. Others flee with the loot. Neither group is very welcome with their hosts, whether within their native continents, or in ‘the west’.

The host societies grow loath to provide further training and employment of the migrants and their descendants, leading variously to crime – migrants are often housed, with the native underclass, in dilapidated older structures with lead paint, or near freeways, where they may breath the leaded exhaust fumes – now more remaining exhaust fallout, and the arriving generation is often from high lead poisoning countries; riots – crime and unemployment lead to contempt from the police; terrorism – a new generation finds meaning in instrumental yet fringe ideologies addressed mainly to them, such that they become others’ soldiers. The lucky ones end up in ethnic mafias, or employed in dead-end service jobs. By fleeing, their parents failed to escape. Continue reading

Posted in Corruption, Education, Government, Investment, Politics, Strategy | Tagged , , , , | 890 Comments

How Full of Shit Would You Have To Be, To Be More Full of Shit than Dmitry Tymchuk?

Uncle Volodya says, "Because veven if the lie is beautiful, the truth is what you face in the end. "

Uncle Volodya says, “Because even if the lie is beautiful, the truth is what you face in the end. “

Most of the readers here know, at least peripherally, who Dmitry Tymchuk is. He’s Kyiv Post‘s military expert, a former soldier in an Army Air Defense unit in the mid to late 90’s, the National Guard until 2000 and in the Defense Ministry after that. Most recently, he has started up the Center of Military and Political Research in Kiev; he is what passes for a think tank in Ukraine.  He writes a blog on military matters, regularly updated, in which he informs his Ukrainian “brothers and sisters” about the latest depredations of the Moskali scoundrels who are coming, any day now, to kill little Ilona and Stas and Maxim in their beds.

In fact, the Moskali invaded Ukraine just yesterday. Yes, sad to say, the fact is confirmed that a Russian military column broke through yesterday to Lugansk, to aid the beleaguered defenders of that city. Up to 40 of them are heavy armored vehicles, which customarily means tanks. How they managed to break through, considering the glorious Ukrainian army has Lugansk surrounded and controls all checkpoints, he is not able to say. This intelligence report is backed up by a photograph of some Russian armored units at the roadside – a truck and a pair of infantry vehicles – in Donetsk, Russia.  There apparently are no photographs of the ones in Lugansk, so pictures of Russian army units in Russia are used instead. But we should not doubt Mr. Tymchuk, because this is confirmed. The Kyiv Post “has not independently verified his findings”, but will be quite happy to accept corrections just as soon as you send them photographs of a Russian armored column not in Lugansk.

If I could have a little sidebar with you for just a moment before we go on, I’d like to talk briefly about jobs in which the experts are full of shit. According to Cracked Magazine – admittedly, not the most reliable source, but I think as long as we’re talking Dmitry Tymchuk, reliability is not a deal-breaker – the 6 Most Statistically Full Of Shit Professions are, in ascending order;

6. Stock Market Experts. The majority of professionally managed funds picked by stock market experts (70 to 85 percent) actually underperform the Dow or S&P indexes, which are technically supposed to represent the average performance of the market to begin with.

5. Wine Tasters. In a university experiment, tasters were given two bottles of the same wine. One was labeled a “vin de table” (France’s version of “Night Train”) and one was labeled a “grand cru” (top-rated vineyard since 1855). According to the article: “Whereas the tasters found the wine from the first bottle ‘simple,’ ‘unbalanced,’ and ‘weak,’ they found the wine from the second ‘complex,’ ‘balanced,’ and ‘full.'” Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Europe, Government, Law and Order, Military, Politics, Russia, Terrorism, Ukraine, Western Europe | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1,073 Comments

From Breadbasket to Basket Case: A Survey of Ukraine’s Economy

Uncle Volodya says, "The angry men know that this golden age has gone; but they cannot find the words for the constraints they hate. Clutching their copies of Atlas Shrugged, they flail around, accusing those who would impede them of communism, fascism, religiosity, misanthropy, but knowing at heart that these restrictions are driven by something far more repulsive to the unrestrained man: the decencies we owe to other human beings. "

Uncle Volodya says, “The angry men know that this golden age has gone; but they cannot find the words for the constraints they hate. Clutching their copies of Atlas Shrugged, they flail around, accusing those who would impede them of communism, fascism, religiosity, misanthropy, but knowing at heart that these restrictions are driven by something far more repulsive to the unrestrained man: the decencies we owe to other human beings. “

Once again, our stooge on the Australian desk has come through, this time with a well-researched post on Ukraine’s economy. Most people know now that the economy is in the toilet, with the national currency – the hryvnia – having lost about 40% of its value since the crisis began. Various agents offered financial help: Yanukovych reversed himself on the very brink of signing the EU Association agreement, and went to Vladimir Putin (whom the pundits love to cast as his bosom pal and confidante, although in reality the two men loathe each other), who offered to buy $15 Billion in Ukrainian debt and cut Ukraine a sweet deal on gas prices, which would have allowed the country to go on subsidizing gas for its citizens to help soften their relative poverty, which was not a good thing. Russia ponied up 3.5 Billion within days, but rather than being happy, the people revolted because they wanted to break away from Russia, or at least the vocal minority did. They didn’t mind keeping and spending Russia’s money, which it didn’t get back, but a western-engineered “popular revolution” drove Yanukovych from power, and a coup government took over. So excited they were practically wetting themselves, the EU promised pots of money in return for Ukraine adopting austerity – which has never worked, not once – and enacting some 2000 reforms. So far, about the same amount of money has shown up as Ukraine got from Russia, except they are expected to pay this back. What are the prospects of them being able to do that?  Here’s Jen to tell us. Take it away, Jen!

Overview of Ukraine since November 2013

Almost a year has passed since November 2013 when the former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych decided to postpone signing the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, to which decision individuals and groups favouring closer EU and Ukrainian political and economic ties (with a view to Ukraine gaining full EU membership and a visa-free travel regime allowing more or less unrestricted travel through other EU member countries) began assembling on Independence Square (the English translation of the Ukrainian name Maidan Nezalezhnosti – from here on, the square will be referred to as the Maidan) in the capital Kyiv to protest and call for European-Ukrainian integration and Yanukovych’s resignation. Demonstrations and protests escalated on the Maidan and culminated in the shooting of Berkut police and demonstrators alike by unknown snipers on the night of 21 February 2014. Yanukovych and several other government officials fled Ukraine and the Ukrainian parliament impeached Yanukovych’s government and replaced it with a temporary one led by Oleksandr Turchynov, the Speaker of the parliament (Verkhovna Rada), and Prime Minister Arseni Yatseniuk.

A number of new laws passed by the interim government antagonised the ethnic Russian-speaking minority in eastern and southern parts of Ukraine (and smaller groups of Hungarians and Czechs in far western parts). In March 2014, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol held a referendum, deemed illegitimate by Kyiv and the wider world, in which voters overwhelmingly voted for accession to Russia. Russia responded to the referendum result and admitted Crimea and Sevastopol to the Russian Federation on 18 March 2014. Inspired by Crimea and Sevastopol’s actions, the eastern Ukrainian oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk also tried to break away from Kyiv’s control by declaring themselves People’s Republics in April and holding their own independence referendums in mid-May. The response of Kyiv to Donetsk and Luhansk’s actions was to instigate military action against breakaway oblasts in April. Continue reading

Posted in Corruption, Economy, Europe, Government, Investment, Law and Order, Politics, Trade, Ukraine, Western Europe | Tagged , , , , , , , | 440 Comments

The High Cost of Leaving – Russia and the EU Sign Divorce Papers

Uncle Volodya says, "Divorce isn't such a tragedy. A tragedy's staying in an unhappy marriage, teaching your children the wrong things about love. Nobody ever died of divorce. "

Uncle Volodya says, “Divorce isn’t such a tragedy. A tragedy’s staying in an unhappy marriage, teaching your children the wrong things about love. Nobody ever died of divorce. “

When two people decide to get a divorce, it isn’t a sign that they don’t understand each other, but a sign that they have at last begun to.

Helen Rowland

James Nixey has been doing a considerable bit of compositional prancing lately over at The Moscow Times, and since it has been a long time since we visited that American rag, let’s drop in for a bit. James Nixey is head of Chatham House’s Russia and Eurasia Program, and the current British passion for sanctions based on the supposition that Russia is masterminding – not to mention extending – the war in eastern Ukraine should tell you quite a bit about his position on Russia. But if you’d like to form an opinion yourself, by all means check out his latest effort, published at The Moscow Times:  “Russia and EU are Signing Their Divorce Papers“.

Those who are regular readers will know I rarely write of an opinion on Russia which is approving and supportive, both because it hardly ever happens in the English-speaking press and because I naturally prefer an adversarial role. You might therefore presuppose I view James Nixey as a pretentious toad and pompous British windbag, and his learned scrivening as the polar opposite of the gritty realism he obviously fancies it to be. And you’d be right. All in favour? Carried. Shortest post ever, for me.

No, seriously; it’s true that among those who know me even peripherally, my distaste for those who slag Russia day in and day out based on non-facts and silly prejudices is a given, but I like to have a go at convincing those with whom I engage, to try and make a case. So let’s see if I can make a case that James Nixey is full of tightly-compacted dung. Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Government, Investment, Politics, Rule of Law, Russia, Trade, Ukraine, Vladimir Putin, Western Europe | Tagged , , , , , , | 793 Comments

To Sin By Silence: The Juggernaut of Ukrainian State Murder Lurches Onward

Uncle Volodya says, "Right is right, even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong, even if everybody is for it. "

Uncle Volodya says, ““To sin by silence, when we should protest, makes cowards of men.”

To sin by silence, when we should protest, makes cowards of men. The human race has climbed on protest. Had no voice been raised against injustice, ignorance, and lust, the inquisition yet would serve the law, and guillotines decide our least disputes.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox, “Protest”

“In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

Even Human Right Watch, despite its selective concern for human rights based on its political underpinnings, is beginning to get uncomfortable with the ongoing butchery in eastern Ukraine at the hands of “Poroshenko the Pragmatist”. I’ll say he’s pragmatic; he’s an exterminator. Ukraine under his rule is spiraling down, down to a hellish inferno where the basest appetites for cruelty are rewarded and no opposition is tolerated. Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Government, Law and Order, Military, Politics, Rule of Law, Russia, Terrorism, Ukraine, Vladimir Putin, Western Europe | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1,260 Comments