...I learned from video games.
Well, at least initial "spark" came from the interest generated from eastern front themed games and, more significantly, certain sims.
Let me explain:
See, I'm a happy-go-lucky Westerner (***coughAmericancough***). I was born in Germany in 1970, but now live in the United States. All my school years were spent here in the States. When it came time to read the history books, particularly those that chronicle the period of WWII, virtually all of the reading and lectures was about the action over the pacific, western Europe, and maybe a little bit about north Africa. If anything at all, there was ever little more than a minor footnote about what was going on between Berlin and Moscow. In fact, I didn't even know (and was never taught) that, during world war 2, there was a full scale, all-out, fight-to-end-all-fights between the Soviet Union and Germny - until AFTER high school! For example, the division of Germany and Berlin between the allies after the war was detailed without clearly explaining how Stalin got to Germany in the first place! He just conveniently happened to be there, I guess.
Now some of that has to do with the relatively poor quality of public education in most inner-city, urban environments within the U.S. However, the almost total lack of information regarding the eastern front in the western world during the '80s was largely influenced by the global politics of the era; namely, the cold war between the United States/NATO, and the Soviet Union/Warsaw Pact. There was simply no freakin' way the "board of censors" - so to speak - within the U.S. was going to tell the tale of another nation's heroic struggle against it's foe, especially when that struggling hero is your current enemy! And I'm sure that until the wall came crashing down, the CCCP wasn't terribly enthusiastic about releasing accurate figures about the horrible, nearly incomprehensible losses territory, people, and stuff it absorbed during this conflict, either.
But enough of politics. On to my point...
My first real exposure to the Great Patriotic War occured, incredibly, and not "brown-nosingly", when I bought my copy of Forgotten Battles way back in, what, 2003 or something? (I bought the original IL-2 Sturmovik after I bought FB, just to complete the physical collection). Anyway, while looking sideways and crosseyed at all the featured maps, trying hard to figure out how to pronounce all these brymnooptyma-skoyes dotting the landcape, I was curious and wondered, "Who the hell came up with the bright idea to do a game on this part of the world?!?! Except the people who actually live there, who could even find these regions on a globe? Sheesh nothing happened there!"
"Idiots" I thought, as I led my schwarm south to Sevastopol on a sweep at 4000 meters...
Well, four years and a huge, huge stack of books and BBC DVDs later, suffice it to say that I had a feast of dining on my own left foot upon realizing who the real idiot was, albeit born out of honest ignorance.
The war in the east was faught with more bitterness and hatred, and was arguably the most destructive in history. It certainly killed the most people...
Just wanted to send a shout-out to Oleg and his crew for furthering the promise of higher edumacation.