Putin backs WW2 myth in new Russian film
A new film showing Red Army soldiers outnumbered by invading Germans but battling on heroically has become part of the Kremlin’s campaign to restore Russian pride.State television showed Russian President Vladimir Putin watching the film last week, alongside Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, in the Central Asian leader’s capital Astana.
The clear message was that Russia and Kazakhstan are maintaining Soviet-era bonds of friendship, despite tensions in other parts of the former USSR. But the film itself - Panfilov’s 28 Men - is based on a communist myth.
The film depicts an heroic act of self-sacrifice outside Moscow in November 1941.
According to the Soviet mythology, 28 soldiers from the Red Army’s 316th Rifle Division, mainly recruits from the Kazakh and Kyrgyz Soviet republics, stood unflinching against the advancing might of Hitler’s Wehrmacht.
The men, from a larger division led by Maj Gen Ivan Panfilov, were all killed, but destroyed 18 German tanks before they fell.
The 28 were immortalised - posthumously decorated as Heroes of the Soviet Union - and Soviet children learnt about their last stand in school.
Yet historians say the story is not true.
What the heck, everybody is entitled to their own mythology. In American movies we won WW2 all by ourselves, maybe with some help from the Brits.