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...The men and women who express their thoughts and experiences in the following pages need no introduction -- they must speak for themselves. The confusion and contradictions displayed by some are as revealing as the honesty and insight of others. As we listen to them, however, we need to bear in mind certain aspects of Soviet life with no immediate parallel in the West.
To begin with, we may find it difficult to envisage the almost complete ignorance in which the Soviet public was kept about the war, at least until the advent of some measure of media freedom(the celebrated glasnost) in the mid-1980s. The information available to ordinary people amounted to a few pat phrases about the 'limited contingent' of Soviet troops and the 'fulfilling of international obligations', together with much anti-American propaganda. True public debate and political opposition of the sort which, at the very least, provides some counterweight to the government version of events in more open societies, simply did not exist...
Julia R Robin Whitby, translator
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