Summary: Ask any Russian, “When did the War begin?” – just “the War,” not the Civil, First World, Chechen, or Afghan War – and the answer will be automatic: June 22, 1941. It goes without saying that the War is the one known here as the Great Patriotic War, the one that people cannot get used to calling “the Second World War,” especially since the Second World War actually began two years earlier and, strictly speaking, the Soviet Union was already participating in it, taking eastern Poland, fighting with Finland.
This article appeared in the May/June 2011 issue of Russian Life. The text of this article is not available online. Follow the link to the full issue listing to see if the back issue is available through our webstore.