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This is from President Obama’s speech, and I have no idea what it means. It seems like a historical story, but I could not find anything on Google. Why did he think of it when he visited Normandy? And could you please explain the story of men from Boston and the Soviet soldiers? Please help me.

To begin with, let me be clear: America wants a strong, peaceful, and prosperous Russia. This belief is rooted in our respect for the Russian people, and a shared history between our nations that goes beyond competition. Despite our past rivalry, our people were allies in the greatest struggle of the last century. Recently, I noted this when I was in Normandy -- for just as men from Boston and Birmingham risked all that they had to storm those beaches and scale those cliffs, Soviet soldiers from places like Kazan and Kiev endured unimaginable hardships to repeal -- to repel an invasion, and turn the tide in the east. As President John Kennedy said, "No nation in history of battle ever suffered more than the Soviet Union in the Second World War."

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He is referring to World War II, when the USA (and the UK, as well as many other countries around the globe) were on the same side of global conflict as the Soviet Union (allied against the Axis powers -- Germany, Italy, and Japan).

...just as men from Boston and Birmingham risked all that they had to storm those beaches and scale those cliffs...

That invasion would be Operation Overlord, the US / UK / Canadian invasion of Normandy in June 1944.

The cliffs scaled is a reference to the action at Pointe du Hoc.

...Soviet soldiers from places like Kazan and Kiev endured unimaginable hardships to repeal -- to repel an invasion, and turn the tide in the east.

That would be Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941.

As for the unimaginable hardships, in the USSR alone about 27 million people lost their lifes. The video The Fallen of World War II does a very good job visualizing the staggering losses.

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  • The soviet Union was not on the same side as the US and UK until June 1941. Before then there was the Soviet-Nazi Pact – RedGrittyBrick Feb 22 '18 at 11:10
  • @RedGrittyBrick: That pact was a bluff by Germany. That there would be war with the Soviets was a given from even before the Munich Conference. Anyway, what happened up to '41 doesn't change that Russia was Allied, not Axis, for when it counted. – DevSolar Feb 22 '18 at 11:19
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    Poles, Finns, Lithuanians, Latvians and Romanians whose homes were annexed by the Soviet Union prior to 1941 might disagree that the SU was an ally of the USA at that time. – RedGrittyBrick Feb 22 '18 at 11:27
  • @RedGrittyBrick: Granted. But in the time frame Mr. Obama was referring to, they were allies. – DevSolar Mar 23 '18 at 14:37

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