Tank Museum (Dorset) – Soviet and Other Relevant Tanks (26.8.2017)

Tank Museum (Dorset)

This place is huge and designed for a family to spend an entire day enjoying the facilities and learning about the history, technical design and purpose of each exhibit as it is presented within its particular epoch and/or theatre of action, etc. As our time was limited, we focused upon the WWII section, and we did this because of our family’s interest in Soviet (and other Communist) tanks and their use in the war against International Fascism (which includes the imperial Japanese military action in North-east China from 1931 [ending only with the Japanese surrender to the USSR in that theatre 1945], the Spanish Civil War [1936-1939], the Soviet-Japanese War [1938-1939], the Soviet-Finnish War [1938-1939], and the UK, US and USSR against Nazi Germany and her Axis supporters [1939-1945]). This should not forget the fact that the UK government (and others) did not officially support the Spanish Civil War and were for years indifferent to the suffering in China, or the fact that Adolf Hitler was handed Czechoslovakia by the European Allies as early as 1938, as an act of attempted appeasement (without the knowledge or agreement of the Czech peoples). This complex situated included a Poland entering into a ‘non-aggression’ pact with Nazi Germany in 1934, before Hitler invaded the eastern or ‘Germanic’ part that country in 1939 (with the USSR annexing the ‘Slavic’ western part of Poland at the sometime in a bid to protect the Slavic people living in that part of the country from the genocidal and racist policies of Hitler’s Nazi regime – a point often [and deliberately] omitted by many anti-Soviet historians). The Western Allies (led by the UK) declared war on Nazi Germany with that regime’s invasion of Poland in 1939 – but not because of the defensive actions of the USSR at the time. Of course, it is no secret that both before, during and after WWII, the US, UK and other European Allies conspired behind the scenes to ‘bring-down’ the Socialist regime of the USSR – a policing ending in the Cold War and the eventual collapse of that regime in 1991. Finally, Finland was originally a part of Czarist Russia – but was granted sovereignty and independence in December, 1917, by VI Lenin immediately following the success of the Russian Revolution. From that moment onward, Finland operated as a base for rightwing and pro-capitalist forces attempting to over-throw the ‘Soviet’ regime, and became a staunch ally of Hitler’s Nazi Germany from 1933 until its demise in 1945 (where Finland escaped any ramifications for its support for Nazi German genocide in the USSR). In 1938, the USSR proposed that Finland be given a large tract of land in exchange for a much smaller tract of land that Soviet forces could defend more easily, should non-Socialist forces attack the USSR from the direction of Finland. As Finland was receiving military and economic aid from both the capitalist West and Nazi Germany in 1938 and 1939 (as a possible corridor for an invasion and destruction of the USSR), The Finnish government refused the Soviet offer (considered ‘fair’ by most historians), and a brutal but short-lived war ensued which saw the defeat of ‘fascist’ Finland (which routinely marked its tanks with a version of the Nazi German swastika), with the USSR prevailing in 1939. In 1941, the fascist-supporting regime of Finland joined Nazi Germany and its Axis allies (i.e. including troops from Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Italy, Croatia and Slovakia – whilst receiving vital [natural] resources from countries such as Sweden and Portugal, etc). Although WWII came to an ‘official’ end in May, 1945 in Europe (and in August-September, 1945 in the Far-East), the USSR had to fight a neo-Nazi insurgency in the Ukraine from 1945-1947 (led by non-surrendered Nazi German officers and their ethnic Ukrainian supporters), which flared-up on occasion to at least 1955, as well as a major neo-Nazi uprising in Hungary in 1956 (which was crushed by the Soviet Red Army), but presented in the then anti-Soviet West, as a ‘fight for freedom’.  Obviously, neither myself nor my family support (or ‘eulogise’) any imperialist wars (whilst regretting and respecting every death), but we do believe that the working class has a right to defend itself against fascism – which is a product of capitalism in decay. Of course, we also thoroughly ‘reject’ the current tendency in he capitalist West to equate fascism with Scientific Socialism, and to attempt to remove the ‘guilt’ for fascism from the capitalist camp. Fascism (and racism) grow-out of the inherent inequalities operating within capitalism, whilst the teachings of Communism – whilst advocating ‘internationalism’ and ‘anti-racism’ is obviously its antithesis. To its credit, although the Tank Museum is in no way pro-Communist, and is fully supportive of the ‘rightness’ of ‘bourgeois’ and ‘imperialist’ wars, (a position my family firmly reject), nevertheless, I would say that the technical assessment of Soviet (or Communist tank) technology was ‘fair’ and certainly far from the usual misrepresentation associated with Cold War rhetoric. We teach our children that war is wrong – but that sometimes wars need to be thought in ‘self-defence’ – until humanity evolves beyond this stupid and disastrous manner of interacting. It is also important for the younger generation to realise the sacrifices and destruction endured by China, the USSR and Europe in the 20th century fight against the forces of International Fascism. Of particular note amongst the relevant tanks we found were the Soviet T26 Model 1933 Light Infantry Tank – a copy and improvement (with official permission) of the British Vickers-Armstrong Marl I Tank, the captured Soviet T34/76 Tank (replete with Finnish Swastikas), and the Japanese Light Tank 95 Ha-Go (bearing a striking resemblance to a Dalek from the science-fiction show Dr Who – which gave the Imperial Japanese Army an edge over lightly armed peasant or guerilla resistance, or poorly armed European colonial troops as it successfully advanced across Asia both prior to, and during WWII, but which was no match (ans virtually useless) against a Soviet armour which had evolved in the European theatre to fight the might of Nazi German ingenuity.

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