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Extra! Extra! Nazis on the Run at Stalingrad!

Even if you’re not a military history buff, as I am not, as long as you’re reasonably familiar with the history of World War II, you know that precisely eighty years ago there were turning points in several far-flung battles against the Axis foe, all of them enormous: at Stalingrad (Volgograd) in the Soviet Union (Russia); at El Alamein in Egypt; in Morocco and Algeria, where the Allies successfully landed; and at Midway Island in the Pacific. In the first of these, Soviet forces stopped the Nazi German advance at a horrendous cost in human life; in the second, British Field Marshal Montgomery stopped German Field Marshal Rommel’s advance eastward across North Africa; in the third, “Operation Torch” saw Allied forces land in the opposite corner of North Africa, in a push that would ultimately doom Mussolini’s original Fascists; and in the fourth, the Americans stopped the Imperial Japanese cold. From that point on, it was evident that the Axis could not win the war. But it would take close to three more years and millions more deaths to defeat them entirely.

It is possible that we have reached a parallel global turning point in our generation’s struggle against fascism, which has not, yet, turned into an actual world war, although that may yet happen as events have yet to finish working themselves out in the terrible Russian invasion of Ukraine. First and foremost, of course, is Ukraine’s recapture of Kherson, an enormous blow to Putin and his quasi-fascist Russia (it’s also, as it happens, where my great-grandfather Nathaniel Greenwood came from). Now we also have also seen the fascists stymied in two major elections — Lula’s victory over Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, which the latter has not tried to overturn by force, at least not yet; and the stalemate in the American “midterm” elections, which under the circumstances is understandably viewed as a major victory for the anti-fascist side. And the Iranian religio-fascist regime has a real uprising on its hands.

In none of these countries is the struggle close to final victory. It is instead the case, as Churchill said after El Alamein, that “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”


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