February 24, 2015
Originally published on March 27, 2010
Translated by Kristina Rus
A conversation with Vyacheslav Nikonov, Molotov’s grandson.
Not “Molotov”, “For Molotov”!
– Everyone heard of the “Molotov cocktail”, but not everyone knows, were it came from…
– I have already realized that Molotov is most commonly associated with two things – the Molotov – Ribbentrop Pact and the “cocktail”. And both are known practically in any country of the world. “Molotov cocktail” is a term that emerged in the years of the Soviet-Finnish war, when Vyacheslav Mikhailovich [Molotov] announced all the declarations of the Soviet government. Finnish guys perceived him as the embodiment of the “Moscow evil”, and it is not surprising that, having developed the recipe of a fiery liquid in the bottle (which was used to set the Soviet tanks on fire), they called it “cocktail FOR Molotov”. In a somewhat abbreviated form the name went down in history.
As for the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact… Grandfather was often asked why he signed it. And he replied: “What else could I have done at that moment?” Poland had to fall. Where would the Germans stop – on the border with the Soviet Union or will go further? That was the question before us at that time. The Pact, or rather, the non-aggression treaty, established the line, where the German troops had to stop after they will defeat Poland.
[Nikonov also said in other interviews that without the Pact Russia could not have defeated Hitler, because he would have reached Moscow and Saint Petersburg much earlier, starting from a closer position. Russia bought 2 more years before the start of the inevitable war, during which it was able to double it’s military capacity. – KR]
– You recently met with the son of Ribbentrop. Whose idea was the meeting?
– It was the idea of my German friend. She lives in Moscow. And recently invited to the Russian capital the son of Ribbentrop, who is her friend. Among the most significant events during his stay in Russia was our meeting. We had dinner, talked about history. He said that Ribbentrop was against the war with the Soviet Union. And it’s true, actually.
At the end of the meeting we signed… the Treaty of peace and friendship of the peoples of our countries, which I have prepared in advance. The last point in the Pact was: “the Secret Protocol is attached” (laughs).
Nations usually disagree about the interpretation of various events in world history, but more often then not the bigger countries ruthlessly pursued their own interests at the expense of smaller countries, which sometimes had to choose sides, and sometimes, the choosing was done for them. However no country, big and small, is without a sin. Force and power usually determined winners and losers.
History is often used today as a tool in geopolitical ambitions, and, whats worse, as a tool to flare up hatred among nations. History should be used as a learning tool and every new day is an opportunity to make the world more just and fair using history as a warning and international law as a guiding light.
Anyone who uses history as a platform to attack modern nations for what was done before today’s leaders were born, is fueling future conflicts by reviving the old ones, unless of course today’s leaders embrace and support the sins of the past.
May be we should get a clue from the descendants of Molotov and Ribbentrop and focus on peace and forgiveness, rather then hatred and blame.
Because only when we reconcile, we move towards peace, and when we hate we move towards war.