Marius Broekmeyer

Stalin, the Russians and Their War

The lies of the Great Patriotic War unravelled: An ode to the Russian people and their resilience

Until the mid-1980s when perestroika opened the floodgates to more critical accounts, it was impossible in Russia to present an honest picture of the struggle against Nazi Germany. On the basis of what has been published since the lifting of censorship (diaries, personal accounts and interviews with survivors), this book presents us with a radically altered perspective: a history ‘from below’.

For generations of Russians the Great Patriotic War was sacrosanct: through enormous sacrifice, Soviet Russia had freed itself and the world from fascism. Rather than a glorious struggle, however, this study reveals an astonishing series of blunders, lies, and mass murder. Stalin’s Red Terror had robbed the army of its best officers before the war, and from 1941 on, millions of untrained and virtually unarmed troops were hurled against enemy lines. Material seemed more important than human lives, and issues of prestige took a huge toll.

Broekmeyer has deliberately chosen an ambiguous title: the Russians waged war against the Germans, but also against each other. Soldiers did not fight to save Stalin and his socialism, but to defend home and hearth against a merciless enemy. The Russians were actually hoping for more freedom after the war, but this proved to be an illusion.

The sources of Broekmeyer’s book include Russian books, newspaper articles, and hundreds of articles in literary-cultural journals. Both an indictment of the deranged regime in Moscow as well as an ode to the Russian people and their almost superhuman resilience, Marius Broekmeyer’s book shows the ugly face of the Soviet Union during the Second World War and its aftermath.

An extraordinary account of a war that was insane in virtually every respect. The power lies in the detail. A fascinating and shocking book.

NRC Handelsblad

The desperation and fear, the repression, suspicion and, above all, complete lack of dignity of their existence imbue every account, personal story and report.

de Volkskrant

It reads like a living tableau of human suffering, stupidity and sacrifice in all its aspects, painted in stroboscopic light. A fascinating and gruesome read.

Prof J. Löwenhardt, University of Glasgow


Marius Broekmeyer

Marius Broekmeyer (1927-2007) was attached to Amsterdam University’s Eastern Europe Institute until 1989. In 1995 he published Het verdriet van Rusland. Dagelijks leven op het platteland sinds 1945 (The Sorrow of Russia: Everyday Life in the Country since 1945) to jubilant reactions in the press:…

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Stalin, de Russen en hun oorlog 1941-1945 (1999). Non-fiction, 319 pages.

With references


Mets & Schilt Uitgevers

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