Texans remember Russians

Texan Bill Broyles Jr. is quite a soldier and memory keeper.
From his 'Brother's in Arms to China Beach and Texas Monthly,
Bill documents memories.

Honoring Soviets' sacrifice

Austin photo exhibit to show chilling images from an ally's battles in World War II

AUSTIN - In the Wyoming home of Texan Bill Broyles Jr., there were two World War II pictures on a wall in his office. One was the famous Joe Rosenthal picture of the Iwo Jima flag raising over Mount Suribachi. The second was a Soviet flag being raised over the Reichstag, Germany's parliament building in Berlin.

To a Western eye, the two photos are odd companions. One shows the bravery and perseverance of venerated Marines in the Pacific war; the other is a vague, smoky image of an Eastern Front we know little about.

Both photos are iconic, but only one has been commonly seen in the United States.

That could change this month. Broyles has included the Reichstag image in a collection of photographs for the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas.

The exhibit, which opened this week and runs through July 17, shows photographs by Soviet World War II combat photographers. The more than 50 images -- many never seen in the West -- provide a "visual record of the devastating war."

In printed material provided for the exhibit, Broyles writes: "The scale of this War in the East was immense, the intensity almost incomprehensible. It was a war of unprecedented fury and brutality. Entire cities were wiped out, whole peoples evacuated and exterminated."

Statistically, the numbers are staggering. The American death toll in World War II was about 400,000. More than 25 million Soviets were killed and tens of millions more were left homeless.

Broyles says the photos in the Ransom exhibit "lift the curtain on a war we Americans never knew."

Broyles has an intimate knowledge of the American perspective on war. He was a Marine infantry lieutenant in Vietnam. He wrote Brothers in Arms, a story of his return to Vietnam long after the war, and he was the co-creator of the war-era television series China Beach.

He is a founding editor of Texas Monthly, a former editor-in-chief of Newsweek and a screenwriter for Apollo 13, Cast Away, and several other films.

He began collecting his Eastern Front photos several years ago after making a trip to Moscow and The Great Patriotic War Museum.

"The place just struck me," he said by phone from his Wyoming home. "I stayed there the whole day, taking it all in. It kindled my imagination and later I went to Stalingrad, Kerch, a number of battlegrounds."

Broyles developed a deep appreciation for the efforts of the ordinary Russian soldier.

"If you look at it objectively, the major part of the credit for winning the war goes to the Russians who fought the Germans for all those years we didn't," he said. "The Germans had probably the best trained and equipped army in the world. They never lost a battle. And the Russians fought them at their freshest and their best, and at their strongest numbers. It is estimated that 75 to 90 percent of the German casualties in World War II came on the Eastern Front."

Broyles quickly added that the American contribution isn't to be diminished. "I don't want to take anything away from the greatest generations of Americans," he said. "That's not the point.

"It is just important to see the whole of it. We have a good idea of what it was like at Normandy, Italy and France, but not much of an idea of what was happening on the other side."

The photo exhibit shows that side. It shows the insufferable conditions at Stalingrad, the dead scattered in the mud and snow. It shows the pride of Russian volunteers who were soon marched off on hopeless missions.

The photos are brutal in their honesty, sometimes touching in their simplicity. A mother kissing her partisan son goodbye, probably knowing she'll never see him alive again, is a heart-rending image.

Broyles has donated more than 250 images to the Ransom Center. This exhibit includes some of those photos and some from his personal collection.

"I started getting so many of them," Broyles said of the photos, "that it struck me that people should be seeing them. They needed to be curated and available. They shouldn't be hidden away."

The Battle for the Eastern Front can be seen at the Ransom Center from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, with extended Thursday hours until 7 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays, the galleries are open from noon to 5 p.m. The galleries are closed Mondays.

8) 'tanks comrades'
Letterwritingman said:
Texans Remember Russians?

Bet they dont.......German Women remember Russians as do Hungarians, Poles,Latvians,Estonians.....blah blah ....you get the picture!
Yes, appalling acts were commited, but so they were during the early days of Operation Barbarosa by the advancing Germans. And also by every army with the upper hand throughout history.

What I took from the article was that someone had discovered information of which he had not been previously aware, and is trying to disseminate to other's who may also be unaware.
I personally do not have a problem with people taking a greater interest in world history, as opposed to being only concerned with their own.

Thank you for the information about this Weatherman, I hope the citizens of Austin find the exibition interesting and informative.
I won't say enjoyable as the history of that period can be quite horrific.
Letterwritingman said:
My main point was made in the first three words............Americans remember very little unless it directly impacts upon them. :wink:
Of course! I was out of character for just a moment, and being nice about the septic 8O
It's alright, I'm OK now :lol:
We remember the Alamo...San Jacinto...Pearl Harbor...Sept. 11th...
But as for the 'Soviets'? We've tried to forget about their 10K warheads aimed at Houston...etc.. Forgeting about their hell hole that they keep renaming...
(a выгребная яма by any other name...still smells...)

THAT's why the Austin photo exhibit was done. Komrades!!

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