Reitschuster is considered one of Germany’s top experts on modern Russia, and was a Moscow correspondent for the German weekly Focus for 16 years, according to the Polish website.
“Victory in World War II is for Vladimir Putin the ideological heart of his system. The role previously played by communist ideology is today played by the cult of victory. It is an idea defining the identity of Putin's state,” niezalezna.pl cited Reitschuster as saying.
He added, according to the Polish website, that building such a myth requires a whitewash of Stalin’s record, thus falsifying history.
“Stalin was a criminal, a genocidal, bloody tyrant. That is why – according to the Kremlin's logic – people’s attention should be constantly diverted away from this,” niezalezna.pl cited Reitschuster as saying.
“The last mass verbal attack on Poland is absolutely part of this strategy. Russian politicians say: look, Stalin's role was even more positive than it seemed. The Hitler-Stalin Pact was not so bad, it was mere self-defence, and Poland has itself to blame . This is absolutely cynical, because the victim - Poland - has been turned into a perpetrator,” Reitschuster was cited as saying.
Russian President Putin recently suggested that Poland was partly responsible for the outbreak of World War II, and claimed that the Soviet Union helped “save lives” after it invaded Poland in 1939 following the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact between the USSR and Nazi Germany.
The comments triggered anger in Warsaw. Polish President Andrzej Duda accused Putin of “post-Stalinist revisionism.”
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that Putin “has lied about Poland on numerous occasions, and he has always done it deliberately.”
niezalezna.pl quoted Reitschuster as saying that fostering pride in Russia’s victory in World War II and whitewashing Stalin are key elements in Moscow’s strategy.
“Despite the bellicose rhetoric, Russians suffer from an inferiority complex. They lost the Cold War, the USSR collapsed, and their economy, despite its innumerable natural resources, is not doing well. The cult of victory is a great remedy for these complexes. It's an idea that binds society together,” niezalezna.pl cited Reitschuster as saying.