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ObssesedNuker
topic
06:16:44 PM Aug 14th 2013
edited by 216.99.32.42
"or betray Polish partisans who assisted them"

While I can't speak of the others, there are many accounts of Polish Home Army partisans in 1944 and 1945 assisting the Red Army, only to have the Soviets turn around, arrest their leadership, and offered the rank-and-file two choices: either join the 1st (Communist) Polish Army to be used as cannon fodder or be sent to Siberia. Out-and-out executions were rare, but they happened. The Katyn Massacre also likely provided some inspiration for that mission, despite being pre-1941.
Jetstreamiest
06:49:36 PM Aug 14th 2013
True, but as outlined in The Bad Comedian's video, the main problem with that twist is that the line of reasoning makes no sense and smacks of card-carrying villainy. Why would the Polish partisans start a war with the goddamn Soviet Union after crushing Nazi Germany?
ObssesedNuker
02:36:44 PM Aug 27th 2013
edited by 216.99.32.45
Because the Polish Home Army was almost as (if not just as) virulently anti-Communist and anti-Russian as they were anti-Nazi and anti-German.
Turtler
05:54:13 AM Sep 2nd 2013
Firstly: Don't cite The Bad Comedian as a source. He is horrendously ill-informed about a lot of what he brought up in that video, this included.

And secondly and more importantly, because the *Soviet Union* was as virulently anti-Polish and anti-Democratic as it was Anti-German and anti-Nazi. Remember: those two were actually allied during the 1939 invasion, and the amount of political and military wrangling and manuevering between Germany, the USSR, and Poland (and later the Polish Home Army) even before the war started was as byzantine and complicated as you can imagine (up to and including limited local agreements, like where the Germans would leave supplies and weapons for the Poles to grab to be used against Soviet Partisans infiltrating Westward). The main thing you need to know is that the Poles were not idly waiting for their fate, and they have a history of rising up against oppressors, of which the Soviet Union was as much of one as Nazi Germany was.

It makes sense. But even if it didn't and smacked of card carrying villainy, this was still the Soviet Union. Nonsense and card-carrying villainy were far from fictional, and if anybody doesn't understand that they need to do some research until they do.

ObssesedNuker
10:00:50 PM Sep 6th 2013
edited by 216.99.32.45
"And secondly and more importantly, because the *Soviet Union* was as virulently anti-Polish and anti-Democratic as it was Anti-German and anti-Nazi."

This is also true, although it should be noted that this works both ways. As I noted earlier, the Poles themselves were (if not just as) virulently anti-Communist and anti-Russian as they were anti-Nazi and anti-German. To some degree, this is the story of Eastern Europe: everybody hates somebody else and they all dredge up history to try and justify it. Additionally, the sort of democracy favored by the Home Army was of the more nationalistic type with some terrible elements of antisemitism (their attitude towards the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising a year earlier was something along the lines of "look at those stupid Jews!"). This, of course, in no way justifies the Soviet actions against it.

"The main thing you need to know is that the Poles were not idly waiting for their fate, and they have a history of rising up against oppressors"

Of course, the problem here was Poland was pretty much doomed by geopolitics to be dominated by the Soviets in 1944. Even had the Soviets moved to the Home Army's aid at Warsaw, or if the Poles had laid low until the Soviet seized all of Poland then tried to revolt, they would have still been crushed... the only difference is they would have died to Soviet bullets rather then German ones. This is the reality of what was an insurgent army attempting pitched battle against a full-on first-rate army like the Wehrmacht or Red Army were in 1944. Indeed, a number of attempts by Polish and other Eastern European nations (particularly the Baltic States) to rebel against the Soviet Union post-war were swiftly crushed by the army and Soviet security services.

"of which the Soviet Union was as much of one as Nazi Germany was."

In this, I KIND OF have to disagree with you. While the Soviet Union was indeed intent on dominating Poland in all spheres except that of outright integration into the country (which naturally included the application of a totalitarian puppet government in Poland), they still squirm into being better for Poland then the Nazis from the fact they did not demand the out-and-out GENOCIDE of the Polish people like the Nazis did. It isn't anything like a big improvement over the Nazis, quite the opposite really, but its an improvement none the less.
Turtler
02:32:14 AM Sep 8th 2013
"This is also true, although it should be noted that this works both ways. As I noted earlier, the Poles themselves were (if not just as) virulently anti-Communist and anti-Russian as they were anti-Nazi and anti-German."

At best, I'd say this is disputable. I don't mean to play down how rabidly nationalistic the Poles could be, how deathly antagonistic to the Soviet Union they could be, or make up the idea that they were saints. However, prior to the war the Soviets were actively conspiring to dismember and crush the Polish state and nation right up until the start of the war. That's something I can't say for the Poles; by this time Promethianism had run out of steam completely amongst the Polish establishment, who were busy trying to polonize those pesky ethnic and religious minorities in their own territory and play diplomatic games to secure themselves. Up to including approaches to both the Nazi and Soviet governments.

The old hatreds against the Soviets really only kicked off in 1939, and in 1941 they went dormant again until at least 1943. So while the Poles were no innocent saints, there wasn't anywhere near equal levels of aggressive intent since Pilsudski died.

"Additionally, the sort of democracy favored by the Home Army was of the more nationalistic type with some terrible elements of antisemitism (their attitude towards the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising a year earlier was something along the lines of "look at those stupid Jews!"). This, of course, in no way justifies the Soviet actions against it."

I don't deny the importance and prevalence of extreme nationalism and antisemitism, but I think that might be A: overstating matters and B: conflating a couple different things. The later Sanacja were certainly ultranationalist and intolerant of a number of things to understate the matter very thoroughly, but they also not the most popular or legitimate and they probably would've been thrown out in anything approaching a fair election under the current Polish constitution after Pilsudski died. However, while they were ultra-nationalistic and authoritarian they weren't horrendously prejudiced against Jews since Pilsudski had a remarkably enlightened stance on minorities (even as he had a remarkably unenlightened stance on plenty of other things) and his successors had more trouble with national and racial minorities than they did religious ones.

Most of the extreme armed anti-Semites had actually been forced underground long ago, and were generally operating separately from the Polish government. The most obvious'd be the National Democrats, who were a fair bit more popular and far more xenophobic, but they were still fairly firmly democratic and more importantly cut out of power and marginalized after 1926. Beyond that we had OZN and especially the hard core nutters like the "Military Lizard Union" who were both authoritarian and antisemetic but who had at best difficult relations with the Polish government and bodies proper and were always pretty marginal.

After 1939, the Polish Gov't in Exile was led by Sikorski, who was actually both an immaculate democratic republican and a staunch opponent of antisemitism. He also understood the importance of actually using Jews to help in the war effort (probably better than many or most of his countrymen), which was precisely why the Polish Home Army under his tenure started liasing with armed Jewish groups intensively, up to having several Jewish segments and asssisting with smuggling inside the Ghettos. Yes, even up to providing the supplies for the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Now, this isn't to say the AK were saints, or that Sikorski's vision was unanimous. I'm sure there were plenty of higherups even in his government who had the same opinion you describe (or even took the chance to murder some Jews while in the field). But if anything, official policy was just the opposite, and the Soviets were probably more anti-Semetic than the Polish underground in general was. Without their support, there is no way the Ghetto Uprising could have even been launched like it was.

"Of course, the problem here was Poland was pretty much doomed by geopolitics to be dominated by the Soviets in 1944...."

Oh, I agree entirely. Which is why I just mentioned it to explain why the decision of Churkin etc. al. to nip the Polish problem in the bud made sense to them. It helps that there had been umpteen Polish uprisings against the partitioning powers still in living memory, and the Soviets wanted to make sure.

"In this, I KIND OF have to disagree with you. While the Soviet Union was indeed intent on dominating Poland in all spheres except that of outright integration into the country (which naturally included the application of a totalitarian puppet government in Poland), they still squirm into being better for Poland then the Nazis from the fact they did not demand the out-and-out GENOCIDE of the Polish people like the Nazis did. It isn't anything like a big improvement over the Nazis, quite the opposite really, but its an improvement none the less. "

Well, I'd respectfully have to disagree in a few places with you. For one, the Soviets certainly did demand the genocide of the Polish people and actually carried it out in many places; it's just that the genocide was far more "tactical" or "limited." Like the WWI German plans to ethnically cleanse a "Polish Border Strip" of Poles and resettle them with Germans, the Soviets waged unholy genocide against the Polish populations East of the current borders (mainly in the eastern part of pre-1939 Poland, the Ukraine, and Belarus) that was about as bloody and as savage for its' time as the contemporary German occupation from '39-41.

Furthermore, they did seriously consider going farther and trying to incorporate Poland as a SSR a few different times, which would've probably meant even more dire results (probably at minimum killing off the rest of the upper crust and Russifying it). It was more or less dumb luck and the presence of the large LWP in their OOB persuaded them to do otherwise. And even after they did that, it's likely a good chunk of what stopped them from killing more was less that they were more benevolent than the Reich (especially since they saw economic class as more or less as immutable as race and their targeting of it killed more people in several countries- like immediate postwar Romania and Hungary- than the Axis did) and more that the Nazis had already killed off most of the people who would've been targets for them during the three or so years they occupied the entire country. And I'm just loathe to give the Soviets any more credit than the Nazis.

Though again, that's just where I stand.
Jetstreamiest
10:30:42 PM Sep 13th 2013
Well, look at what I started. Whoops.

Point is, the story is historically inaccurate and unfairly demonizes the Red Army while glossing over German atrocities, choosing to accentuate the negative and use Hollywood history in the name of half-assed drama rather than presenting an honest account of what happened - that the Eastern front, like the rest of the war, was brutal and uncompromising, but there was still room for heroism on all sides, and it's rather odd that Relic chose to approach the story in the way they did. This is, after all, Company of Heroes, not Company of Scumbags. We had heroic, very human Germans in the Market Garden, Tiger Ace and Falaise Pocket campaigns of the original game; why not heroic, very human Russians?
Turtler
05:11:00 PM Sep 14th 2013
"Point is, the story is historically inaccurate"

Eeeehhhhh.... not exactly. I am incredibly unfond of a lot of Relic's decisions, and you would be hard pressed to find someone who hates the German military establishment and respects (if still hates) the Soviet military for what it accomplished, but I'd be hard pressed to call it outright "historically inaccurate." It's more like they took what actually happened and stretched it so far that it's technically true but it's neither a good picture or the best story.

But that hardly means that fools like The Bad Comedian or the number of people following him are accurate. If anything, they tend to be even less accurate than Relic, and *that is saying something.*

"and unfairly demonizes the Red Army"

No, not really. If anything, I'd say that it doesn't do anything more in terms of demonization than was warranted. Very little to nothing of the atrocities were flatout wrong. My main issue with Relic is that it tossed things in that I don't find appropriate (just because the Soviet military did torch buildings with civilians inside doesn't mean I'd necessarily want to *play it out.* Especially when the entire block seems to be inside rather than just a few holdouts), and that they didn't show the other side of the equation by fleshing out the characters more, highlighting the immensity of the Soviet military's accomplishments, and the ability of the average soldiers more. Yes, I think they did all that in a way, but I think the way they presented it was immensely subpar and that meant it got drowned out too much by the brutality.

That doesn't *strictly* mean it is historically inaccurate. It's not really, and I despise saying that because I get the feeling Relic is relying on that to try and draw fire off of things they desire to get fried for. But it's a far cry from the atrocity that was the Enemy at the Gates movie (evne if it clearly takes several hints from it).

"while glossing over German atrocities, choosing to accentuate the negative"

This I agree with. I can understand Soviet brutality taking a more dominant role because the PC is a penal officer and they got the worst of it (and both sides tended to let the worst out when they had already seized territory, which is obviously not something a Soviet PC is going to witness since by then they'd probably be out of the area with the others retreating), but the way it sanitizes the Axis is a bit too much for my stomach.

"Accentuates the negative" is also more or less exactly what I'd say they did here. I'd be very hard pressed to point out a place where they outright made schiesten up (like The Bad Comedian and a lot of others seem to think they did), but they certainly played what was there to the hilt. Beyond what I'd say was justified or in good taste (like the Soviet soldiers standing around the field barrels? Seriously? Having a few of a stream of routing/retreating soldiers get caught in order to deny the enemy food or fields is one thing, but having them stand around *just* to get killed?). It doesn't sit well with me at all, and it does strike me as being a heinous disservice to the Soviet soldiers who fought and died.

"and use Hollywood history in the name of half-assed drama rather than presenting an honest account of what happened - that the Eastern front, like the rest of the war, was brutal and uncompromising,"

Ok, you're starting to lose me. The other theaters of the war were by no means saintly, and they certainly could be brutal and uncompromising. However, the Eastern Front was in a class by itself outside of maybe China. This was not just the Western Front with the Germans in cold weather gear and the Americans or Commonwealth putting on Russian accents. This was a no-holds-barred war of annihilation, and both sides knew it. The atrocities captured in-game were hardly atypical; they were direct parts of the strategies of both Hitler and Stalin.

It certainly played host to similar brutalities of war and uncompromising hardness that the other theaters hosted on top of the extra special insanity native to it, and it certainly played host to similar heroism and achievements as the other theaters did. However, that alone doesn't mean it was really equivalent in brutality to the others.

"but there was still room for heroism on all sides, and it's rather odd that Relic chose to approach the story in the way they did."

As I've mentioned before, this is one part where I am wholly in agreement with you. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth even as someone who hates Communism and the Soviet Union, and I absolutely know Relic could have handled it better.

"This is, after all, Company of Heroes, not Company of Scumbags. We had heroic, very human Germans in the Market Garden, Tiger Ace and Falaise Pocket campaigns of the original game; why not heroic, very human Russians?"

Ok, first and foremost the whitewashing of the Germans in Relic's previous record was something that struck me as exceedingly bitter as well, especially since I'm an American of Italian and Dutch (and other) origin and know damn well what Hitler and his men did in those battles. Especially Market Garden and its' aftermath. So you can imagine how unpleasant this was for me to play through, and can understand that I'm not some hired stooge by them to shill the party line, or who had zero problems with them beforehand.

But now that we have that out of the way... I have to ask this now: have you actually played the game? Or seen the cut-scenes?

Seriously.

The real bastards in the Soviet military are presented to be a relative handful of the characters, especially dear old Churkin: the Commissars, the NKVD, and the leadership. Which is fortunate, because you don't really ever *play* as them at all, and even Churkin gets his semi-redemption at the end of the story. Sorta.

But most of the other Soviet characters- Lev, Ivan, the normal grunts you command- are absolutely not portrayed as scumbags. Even the anonymous units you get on a mission tend to have little snippets that paint them as human beings worthy of sympathy. This is important, because if they weren't *then the entire sthick of having Churkin and the other Commissars butcher them for stupid reasons to prove how evil they are Wouldn't Make Sense.*

Yes, even when they are engaged in what I can only call "dubious" behavior like executing the German, they are ultimately a bunch of human, heroic people tossed into a series of phenomenally ugly situations getting by the only way they can. Usually at the behest of Churkin or the people above his head. And who ultimately do win the war.

Now, that isn't to say I don't find some of the framing to be faulty at best. Lev in particular comes across as what I can only call a self-hating Russian too extreme to be taken seriously without balance (the "photograph" snippet in particular struck me as *amazingly* bad given what would have happened had the Reich won the war), to cite just one. But again, that hardly means he or the others aren't heroic or human.

It doesn't mean I adore Relic or their handling of the game. I don't, and I've written plenty on my feelings about it here and elsewhere. But that doesn't mean that they should get more heat than they deserve.
Jetstreamiest
05:23:26 PM Sep 14th 2013
edited by 118.208.230.171
Maybe you're right. And yes, I have played the game. I have 49 hours on record, in fact. Personally, I think this is a matter of perspective, so I'm leaving it here.
Turtler
02:37:04 PM Sep 15th 2013
Understandable. My apologies for the massive wall of text and if this got contentious. Suffice it to say, I am also rather disappointed by Relic's handling and how they avoided giving the Soviet soldier their due.

That's part of the reasons why I think a lot of other games do cover the Soviet side of things better. Particularly Men of War and-say- the Soviet campaigns in Steel Panthers: World at War. Highly recommended if you're into those.
Jetstreamiest
04:36:50 PM Sep 15th 2013
Really, everyone should do it like Red Alert and call it a day.
Turtler
10:59:41 PM Sep 15th 2013
Sorry, not sure how you mean by that. And besides, there are plenty of other games that don't blunder as badly as Relic did with this. Particularly some of the ones where things are more or less apolitical and you are just a commander doing a job, with a bunch of people who tend to act like humans, even if they're called upon to shoot you down the line for bungling something.

It's at least as accurate as what Relic put out here, and it probably does a lot more justice to boot.
Ecthel
topic
10:01:29 AM Aug 12th 2013
edited by 70.33.253.42
Perhaps I've somehow gotten a copy of the game with that edited out, but I don't recall any houses with Soviet civilians still inside being burned. Can someone direct me towards the mission(s) this supposedly happens in?

EDIT: Never mind, just found it. Was too busy positioning my troops in earlier playthroughs to notice.
ObssesedNuker
06:15:49 PM Aug 14th 2013
edited by 216.99.32.42
[mistakenly posted as reply, please delete]
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