May 9 marks the 73rd anniversary of one of the most significant dates in the 20th century – the surrender by the genocidal Nazi regime to the Soviet Red Army, which had rolled back fascism all the way from Stalingrad to Berlin. The defeat of Hitler fascism was accomplished by a military alliance in which the USSR played the leading role, and included the USA, Britain, Canada and others. A few months later, the USSR entered the Asian-Pacific war, the event (more than the US nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki) which triggered the surrender of Japan’s militarist regime.
These events proved that a country where the working class held political power could rise from poverty and feudal backwardness to a leading place in the global geo-political system. The early achievements of the Soviet Union during less than three decades remain astonishing to this day: the elimination of illiteracy and unemployment, the liberation of peoples from Tsarist oppression, huge strides toward full legal and social equality for women, public ownership and socialist economic planning to meet the needs of the people, and then the triumph over Hitler fascism, won at the terrible price of over 25 million Soviet lives.
The victory over fascism sparked a mighty upsurge of struggles by the working class in the capitalist world, and by the peoples of Asia and Africa who broke the chains of white supremacy and colonial domination over the next three decades.
These lessons must be remembered today, when the menaces of fascism, racism, xenophobia, misogyny and other ideologies of hatred and violence are emerging again, just as they did during the Great Depression, the capitalist crisis which ended in a devastating world war. Once again, unity of the working class is the only way to block the fascist threat, defeat the transnational corporate agenda, and save the planet from imperialist war and environmental catastrophe.