The retrospective coloring of historical judgment shows that history is much more than a dispassionate record of events; it is a dynamic, living web of interpretations. We are not doomed to a false choice between purely objective facts and revisionism, with its often-groundless contestation of those fact[s]. Instead, we ought to observe, carefully and critically, who interprets historical materials, how, and for what purpose, as well as when and where. What does the 2022 equation V Day = Z Day in Putin’s Russia convey? Is it a simple betrayal of Soviet anti-Nazi fight? How does this betrayal unfold in the name of the very ideals and people it betrays? Only such precise questioning, which avoids readymade labels and conclusions, is capable of untangling the complexities of the historical web. And this is a lesson in the meaning of history, which Putin has taught us, largely despite himself.
Related reading, with more historical meat, in the latest from Adam Tooze.