The Unknown War
To the Editor:
In my article on The Unknown War [“World War II-Soviet Style,” May], I neglected to acknowledge the generous help of Professor Alexander Nekrich of the Harvard Russian Research Center. Professor Nekrich is a distinguished historian who left the USSR for America three years ago. In 1965 he gained considerable attention in the USSR as well as in the West when his book, 22 June 1941, was published in Moscow. In it, Professor Nekrich described the army purges and numerous strategic blunders by Stalin as contributing to the overwhelming success of the German invasion. Nekrich’s book, however, came out at an inconvenient time, for Brezhnev and his colleagues were in the process of reversing the modest de-Stalinization of Khrushchev’s regime. Nekrich’s book was denounced by historians and military personnel at the Institute of Marxism-Leninism in Moscow. (A report of the meeting can be found in the Samizdat Archives.) Over a year later, in July 1967, Professor Nekrich was removed from the Communist party.
This past year, as The Unknown War was appearing in Boston on WNAC-TV (Channel 7), the station responded to the controversial series by inviting Professor Nekrich to join a panel discussion about the program. The series was defended by John Lord, who was credited with writing the script, and by Rod McKuen, who was billed as script consultant. During the discussion, as Professor Nekrich was exposing the script’s falsification of history by raising issues I would later expand in my own article, he was interrupted by Rod McKuen, who then proceeded to impugn Professor Nekrich’s scholarly credentials. At one point Mr. McKuen claimed that he had been accused of being a Communist (which was a figment of his poetic imagination) and then introduced expressions which the station had to bleep.
As I explained in my article, I found the series to be a distorted and misinforming report of the Soviet-German conflict. In defending their script, the producers, to my knowledge, have not offered a more convincing argument than Mr. McKuen’s bluster.