Remembrance Day

I went to the Royal Court Theatre last night to see the play Remembrance Day by Aleksey Scherbak. The play itself was not brilliant although the 90 or so minutes that it lasted went by quite quickly & it was well acted. The gist of the play was that the Latvians were the bad guys & the Russians were the good guys because some Latvians fought with the Germans during World War II. But so did many Russians. In fact the level of collaboration with the Germans by the Russians was high. When the Germans entered Ukraine they were welcomed with bread & salt, the traditional greeting for friends & honoured guests in that part of the World.  We now know that many Russians welcomed the Germans. According to the didactic in the play the Russians did only good things in Latvia. But anyone who knows any history of the region knows that when the Russians annexed the country they visited unspeakable acts of terror upon not just Latvia but also upon the peoples of the other Baltic States. The issue of collaboration with the Germans is one which just isn’t going to go away, at least not yet. The Russians, themselves, have not properly addressed the issue of the terror visited upon them by Stalin, himself, the so-called Great Terror. And indeed these days Stalin is generally seen by the Russians as a great man. Sasha, the one character in the play who advocated reconciliation, a let bygones be bygones & try & live together attitude was excoriated by his fellow Russians as a fascist. Some of the characters spoke with Northern Ireland accents, obviously an analogy with the so-called troubles in Northern Ireland. But by all accounts although there is some tension between the Russians & the Latvians it doesn’t amount to very much. The characterisation was quite poor because it was all too simplistic; the characters, really, were too one-dimensional. Mainly it was interesting to see how the Russians don’t seem to have changed their version of history from Soviet times.

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