Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Russia Speaks on You Tube

You Tube is one of the best places in the world to hear history and politics argued by partisans of one side or another. I have had the good fortune to watch and listen to different factions in the history of Yugoslavia. You know you are learning a subject when an in depth treatment leaves you more uncertain than ever. with the advent of the internet, I was finally able to hear Draza Mihailovic defended posthumously. Just when I was about to conclude that he was a better man than Marshal Tito, a letter from a well informed Croat threw my neat conclusion into disarray. There is something about studying history with the resources of the 21st century that makes you want to shut up and listen.

Soviet history on the internet has enjoyed a rebirth. From declassified documents to the closure of old political battles, a wealth of new information has come to light. One You Tube channel, Russia Today, has provided a valuable window into the way that post communist Russia views itself in the world. From the Beslan school massacre to the conflicts in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, from modern life in Russia to revisiting World War Two history, Russia Today provides a valuable glimpse into how the west is viewed and how the past is seen.

I found the treatment of Stefan Bandera to be highly interesting. Some Ukrainians view him as a brave fighter for Ukrainian independence. he is seen by the Russians as a Nazi collaborator. It is said in his defense that he was simply anti Soviet. His troops were also vehemently anti Jewish. The atrocities of Bandera's army in Lvov are well known.

I have no doubt that there are Ukrainians who would paint a radically different picture of their history. The Holodomor, Ukraine's man made famine of 1932 and 1933 (in which anywhere from 2.5 to 10 million people are estimated to have been deliberately starved to death) is another area of Ukrainian history with lessons for ours and future generations. Their videos will probably be up on You Tube, where history is argued with heated passion.

Whatever your historical passion might be, it is most interesting to see its advocates express their opinions and present their facts. The former USSR and the former Yugoslavia are only a couple of many areas where history continues to be debated and presented on the internet. I fully expect readers with a different view of the world to send in their links. That is how people argue and debate today. Viva la difference ! Bring it on. It's a great way to open your eyes.


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