All these decades, we all wondered how the Third Reich could have happened. How could such civilized and educated nation like Germans turn into a mass of bloodthirsty zombies, attacking peaceful neighbouring countries, murdering countless millions, declaring an entire ethnic group as its enemy to justify the Holocaust? Was it some kind of German genetics even, as some speculated?
Well, what you saw in the last decade in Russia, and what we see now in real time, is what happened in Germany under Nazi rule 80 years ago. And still, nobody in the media dares to speak of fascism, of the genocide which Russia is committing in Ukraine. Our professional journalists still prefer to talk of “a conflict between Russia and Ukraine”. As it was just a conflict between Germany and Poland in 1939, I presume.
I am certainly not an expert. But allow me to remind you that all our politicians, all our TV pundits, all our military experts, all our think tanks failed to predict what is happening now. They all had no clue, despite their degrees, titles, staffs and salaries. Many of those people even met Putin in person, heard him explain his world-view and even his plans, and they still refused to believe their own ears. When Fascist Russia attacked Ukraine in the early morning of 24 February 2022 (incidently same day-time Nazi Germany attacked Poland in 1939), all our experts agreed that Ukraine had merely hours left to exist. But Ukraine is still fighting, in fact, shockingly, they might even win that war, and I am sure many of our business and political elites hate Ukrainians for putting up a fight and wish them a swift defeat.
Unable to destroy the Ukrainian armed forces and civil defence, Fascist Russia turned to Plan B: the Total War, burned earth terror on civilian population. Even as our media prefers not to bother us with the real extent of the horrors of human suffering in Ukraine, on the grounds that it was not independently confirmed (by Russian media, I understand) – the Russian army now almost exclusively attacks unarmed civilians, including and especially children. The idea is to break the will of Ukrainian people so they surrender and let Russia turn Ukraine into a giant concentration camp. And the West wouldn’t mind, because then we could finally resume business and, most importantly, get our much needed fossil fuels.
Recently we got a bit worried when Russians started to bomb and to occupy Ukrainian nuclear power stations. But then we swiftly calmed ourselves that a) Russians are surely not that insane to blow up Zaporizhzhia and Chernobyl, and b) even if something happens, the radioactive contamination will affect parts of central Ukraine only, far enough from us in the Western Europe. This is exactly what Fascist Russia wants you to accept. First of all, we also used to be 100% sure Putin is not that insane to start an all-out war on Ukraine. Now we are 100% sure he won’t use nuclear weapons on Ukraine or blow up Ukrainian nuclear plants.
I don’t think Putin has any red lines. Like Hitler and Stalin, he is insane, unpredictable, and capable of every crime. Putin does think strategically though, in a schoolyard bully manner. He knows the West is afraid of him and will never actively defend Ukraine for fear of a nuclear war with Russia. Which for Putin means he can do anything he wants as long as his monstrous crimes remain inside Ukraine or at least outside of NATO. If his army loses this war, and the relentless bombing of civilians doesn’t force Ukrainians into capitulation, what are Putin’s options then? He said many times that if he can’t have Ukraine, nobody will. This is exactly why Russians are bombing and occupying Ukrainian nuclear plants. It is their Plan C. If such a catastrophe happens, our media will surely bring the Russian version that the stupid evil Ukrainians somehow caused it themselves, and we will be too eager to accept it. Once entire central Ukraine becomes an uninhabitable radioactive wasteland, the West will pop some iodine pills, sulk for a week, and then resume business with Russia. Europe depends on Russian gas and oil, Putin knows that.
Putin even hinted at his horrendous plans of radioactive contamination, by accusing Ukraine of building a “dirty bomb”. If you are sceptical how seriously he meant it: Putin also previously openly announced his plans of genocide. Maybe you recall how we all debated if Putin was right to call it a “genocide on Russian-speaking population” when Ukraine refuses to make Russian its official language? Nobody calls a genocide what Putin does now though. On Russian-speaking population, mind you. Or which language do you think the men, women and children of Kharkiv, Mariupol, Chernihiv and Sumy predominantly speak? Or rather spoke before their lives were ended by Russian bombs, rockets, and yes, bullets, because Russians do execute people on the streets, medical staff, rescue teams, volunteers bringing food and medicine, postal workers, entire families with children even. Our expert journalists and politicians still cannot believe that the great peace-loving Russian nation of poets is capable of such inhuman things we used to associate with Nazi Germany only. Surely those Ukrainians must be again exaggerating or even lying?
We all are being brainwashed by Russian propaganda war, for many years already. Our journalists all watch Russian TV as a source of information, and use it for their “journalistic balance”, which is grotesque and cruel, since one side is obviously blatantly lying. These journalists and other experts think they are immune to the propaganda, but they are not. Russia perfected the art of lying and brainwashing, Goebbels would be more than proud. You may not start believing Russian lies right away, but you will start doubting the facts and to mistrust those whose stories contradict what you just saw on Russian TV. You will doubt everything and become cynical to human tragedies because you will refuse to believe those are real. You will stop caring for anyone and anything but your own personal comfort.
This is exactly how Putin’s regime turned Russia into a Zombie Nation. They even use the Z-sign now everywhere since the invasion army carries it. Whatever that Z mark originally meant, it stands for Zombie now. Many Russians are utterly brainwashed and will follow Putin everywhere, like the Germans used to be brainwashed by Nazi propaganda, Führer befiehl – Wir folgen! These Russian zombies do want Ukrainians dead and they celebrate every bomb dropped on peaceful citizens. They might even hope to personally profit, e.g. move in and take over the land and the possessions once the Lebensraum is conquered and cleared of its original inhabitants. Germans had exactly these plans in World War 2. Guess for which country. No, not Russia. Ukraine.
And then there is a very big fraction of Russians, probably the vast majority, which just doesn’t care about anything but personal comfort. These are the ones who fought in IKEA when the chain announced to close. If the sanctions the West imposed on Russia remain, their comfort will suffer. Which side will these zombies flip to? Will they turn to support Putin’s total war, to compensate with Ukrainian blood for their lost comfort? Or will they join the currently tiny minority of opposition?
Even those who do dare to protest now, even they are victims of Russian propaganda brainwash. The totalitarian system of lies and oppression makes every dissident believe they all alone, surrounded by zombies who are ready to kill them. Maybe your neighbour really worships Putin. Maybe she just pretends to do so, afraid that you will report her if she reveals her real views. This is how the Soviet Union very successfully terrorised its dissidents for decades. They were afraid not just of the system but of each other, literally to death.
The thing I don’t understand though is why Russians in the last decade voluntarily placed themselves in front of a lying TV to let it turn them into zombies. In the Soviet Union, there was hardly any alternative information to state propaganda. My grandfather in Zhytomir (a war hero, by the way) listened to Voice of America with his transistor radio, alone in his room because it was highly illegal to do so.
Thanks to the internet, until last week all Russians had constant access to all kinds of alternative information, in Russian. Foreign news outlets, domestic journalism, make your choice. Hardly anyone chose, the nation remained staring at the hypnotic TV screen. Television has this potential apparently, not just in Russia, look at Fox News in USA, what it turns people into. No wonder Russian military is bombing Ukrainian TV stations and transmitting Russian TV in the southern bits of Ukraine it militarily dominates. Sure, the Ukrainians won’t turn into Russian zombies, but the idea is to make them believe that all is lost, time to betray your country, beg for mercy and maybe then Russia will let you and your family live.
My appeal to everyone: please stop following Russian news sources and please ask your friends and family to do the same. Ignore our media when it quotes Russian propaganda for “journalistic balance”. The fascist lies will brainwash you one way or another, nobody is immune. Don’t give up on Ukraine please.
Слава Україні! Героям слава!
Please find charities to donate to at the end of this article. Prof Timothy Snyder lists Ukraine charities in US, Europe and especially Poland here. Or donate to a humanitarian charity project of your choice. Ukrainians are fighting for all of us.