BFG Track by Track: “Once We Were” (Part 3 of 12)

Whether you’re Christian or not, the Easter holiday brings with it a spirit of rebirth, a hope for redemption and a faith that our sacrifices in this life are not in vain.  So, too, does the haunting seventh track of Bound for Glory’s 25th-anniversary album, Death and Defiance: Entitled”Once We Were,” the song painfully reflects on the two catastrophic global conflicts of the 20th century that took more than 80 million lives, reshaped borders across Europe, Africa, and the Far East, and ultimately ushered in the regimes, policies, legislation, and popular media that have all but doomed those of European descent to extinction.

As Joel, Bound for Glory’s lead vocalist, sorrowfully asks in the second quartet of the song’s chorus:

Once we were brothers
Side by side, we were family
Why did we ever fight over borders
When none of us are free?

The somber tone of the song is further enhanced by searing guitar leads performed by Drew and Goose, Bound for Glory’s two rhythm guitarists.

The true causes for each conflict are complex.  Regrettably, World War II has been sold to generations as “The Good War,” with what Tom Brokaw described as “The Greatest Generation” leaving their homes in America to venture halfway across the world to vanquish the twin evils of Germany and Japan.  Nevertheless, Americans have been left with countless questions–the answers to which exist, though often too unpleasantly for most to accept:

The questions, indeed, are endless, the answers available–but the outcome of both wars cannot be undone.  Ultimately, the only question that remains is the one asked by William Gayley Simpson as the title of his 758-page masterwork: Which Way, Western Man?  Will we continue to blindly serve our democratic masters, fighting wars that benefit a chosen few?  Or will we learn from the past, find the truth, and unite to ensure something so destructively tragic as World Wars I and II never happen again?

Which way, western man?

BFG Track by Track: “Kaytn” (Part 2 of 12)

From the liner notes of Bound for Glory’s Death and Defiance:

“This song is in respect to the fallen Polish officers and intellectuals that were systematically rounded up, taken from their homes, and executed.  This atrocity has scarred many families and shall not be swept under the rug and forgotten.  The people knew who the true criminals were, but were unable to speak up about it, for they faced imprisonment or death.  But in the ’90s, the truth finally came out.  This song is for the victims, their families, and the nation’s loss.”

“Katyn,” the final track from Bound for Glory’s 25th-anniversary album, is a haunting, painful account of a Polish officer being forced from his home and led into the forest to be systematically murdered along with more than 20,000 of his people.  The pain and anger in vocalist Joel’s voice  reinforces the savage brutality with which the Soviet secret police (NKVD) carried out their orders:

“The baby is crying as she clutches her mother’s breast
She hasn’t seen her father since the day that he left
Never would she know the father she loved so much
She weeps of his memory, her mother weeps of his touch
In the forest, the forest of sorrow
Roam their souls, wandering amongst the hollows
In these soils, these bloody soils of pain
Your bones lie with your photos, your uniform is stained
They threatened the people, they made them be silent
The knew the truth, yet they kept it inside them
People threatened by a terror regime
No one dares speak of the victims of Katyn”

Wehrmacht soldiers of the German Third Reich discovered evidence of the massacre in 1943–and, predictably, were immediately blamed for the atrocity by the Soviet propaganda machine.  The Soviet Information Bureau claimed that “Polish prisoners-of-war who in 1941 were engaged in construction work west of Smolensk and who…fell into the hands of the German-Fascist hangmen.”

Astonishingly, Western leaders such as Winston Churchill accepted the Soviet government’s explanation of the massacre.  In Churchill’s own memoirs, he reinforces the 1944 Soviet explanation of the Katyn tragedy, noting that “belief seems an act of faith.”  Similarly, American President Franklin Roosevelt was informed of the massacre and that the Soviet Secret Police were responsible for the murder of more than 20,000 Polish citizens, yet ordered the report suppressed and declared that the Nazi military was ultimately behind the massacre.

The blood of these innocent Polish officers, fathers, and sons is not only on the hands of Stalin but also stains the revered hands of Churchill and Roosevelt as well.  The Western powers chose to ally with the regime of a man responsible for more murders than Hitler can ever be accused of–even if you include the ridiculous and implausible claims that his Waffen-SS manufactured lampshades from Jewish flesh and used the fat of innocent Jewish victims to produce soap.  Hitler’s agenda for Europe was divisive, to be sure, but his ultimate aim was destroy the communist plague infecting the massive eastern tract of the continent.

The Western Allies aligned with Stalin and systematically annihilated Germany.  Following President Truman’s orders, General Eisenhower and his men stood back and watched as the Red Army swarmed into Germany, raping, terrorizing, and murdering hundreds of thousands of innocent German civilians.  Vengeful Red Army soldiers joked that the next generation of German children would all be named “Ivan” as a result of the mass rape of German women by the invading Soviet forces.  Ultimately, the Western powers and the Soviet Union carved up Germany and divided one of history’s great civilizations into “zones” to be occupied by the victorious Allies and Bolsheviks.

Of course, the decision to ally with the Soviet Union had consequences far beyond the second World War.  The next 50 years were spent on the brink of total nuclear war, and thousands upon thousands of American troops lost their lives in Korea and Vietnam attempting to contain the communist menace.  Alas, the winners of the wars author the history books, and the texts taught in school portray America’s alliance with Stalin as necessary to defeat the most evil man in history, Adolf Hitler.  The truth of the massacre in the Katyn forest, of course, isn’t even mentioned, nor are the countless atrocities carried out by Stalin’s Red Army.  Of course, today’s textbooks include several chapters detailing Hitler’s horrible deeds, and many schools even screen Schindler’s List to reinforce the sickening evil of the Third Reich.  Films about the Kaytn massacre do exist, but they will never be shown in any American or European classroom.  It simply doesn’t fit the “official” version of what happened in World War II.