KNUTD
Kyiv National University of Technologies and Design

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DAYS OF MEMORY AND RECONCILIATION AND VICTORY OVER NAZISM IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR

This year, Ukraine celebrates the memorable dates of May 8 and 9, the days of remembrance and reconciliation and victory over Nazism in World War II, in the context of full-scale Russian military aggression against Ukraine, accompanied by numerous war crimes by the Russian army and military-political leadership. In addition, the Russian Federation is systematically devaluing, distorting, and manipulating the moral heritage of the participants in World War II and the victory over Nazism, and these actions are being intensified before May 9.

World War II was the bloodiest and most brutal in human history (50 to 85 million people died). Ukraine honors the memory of everyone who fought against Nazism, as well as all the victims of the war. World War II was caused by the rise to power and conspiracy of inhumane regimes, Nazi and Soviet ones, which put geopolitical interests above human rights, freedoms, and lives. In addition, the weakness, fear, and indecision of the international community encouraged the aggressors to increase their land-grabbing ambitions, crimes, and military aggression. Eight decades have passed, and Europe is again on the brink of global war. Today, the European community has the opportunity to draw upon the bitter experiences and lessons learned from World War II.

Ukrainians fought on the side of the anti-Hitler coalition (United Nations), both in the Red Army and in the armies of the Western Allies and underground resistance movements, and made a significant contribution to the victory over Nazism. And the Ukrainian land was one of the main battlefields in that war. The price of victory was the extraordinary losses during 1939-1945 – Ukrainians and other peoples who lived on our land. More than eight million Ukrainians died – soldiers and civilians. We have a good knowledge of the price of war and unfreedom, so today, we are fighting for peace and freedom.

At the beginning of World War II, the Ukrainian people did not have an independent and sovereign state and were divided between several countries. Both totalitarian systems (Nazis and Communists), which did not take into account the cost of human life, used the unresolved “Ukrainian issue” and the craving of Ukrainians for independence and sovereignty for their purposes and geopolitical games and viewed Ukrainian lands solely as a resource. The only real Ukrainian political entity in wartime was the liberation movement, people and organizations that fought for independence from both totalitarian systems. Such organizations include, in particular, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.

It is the moral duty of Ukrainians to remember and honor the feat of veterans who fought and defeated Nazism. Equally noteworthy are those affected by the war – Ostarbeiters, underground fighters, children of war, civilians affected by the occupation, and the fighting in their towns and villages. War is always millions of small and large human misfortunes that stretch over time.

Over the past decades in the Russian Federation, the celebration of victory over Nazism has gradually become a cult, and then in general an ugly phenomenon of “victory”, which aims to promote war, rise above other peoples, appropriate the status of “the victor”, justify aggressive ideological mobilization of citizens, as well as the cultivation of irresponsible and baseless revanchism. That is why Ukraine has been consistently implementing a European approach to World War II remembrance since the Revolution of Dignity. It also warns other countries against the consequences of supporting, spreading, or indulging in Russian narratives until May 9, because for the Russian leadership, Russia’s involvement in the victory over Nazism is used as a moral justification for Russia’s current actions.

Now, as in World War II, Ukraine is at war with an insidious aggressor. Today, it is Putin’s Russia that is encroaching on our independence and territorial integrity, trying to destroy the international security system and threatening peace throughout Europe. This struggle has been going on every day for eight years, and we have no right to lose because for us it is a war for freedom, civilization, democracy, and European values against the imperial ambitions of an aggressive criminal neighbor. The power of our armed forces is the key to the existence of the state and the preservation of human rights for citizens. In 1939-1945, the enemy was the Nazis, and today the racists are the Russian version of imperial nationalism and fascism. It is sad to say that unlearned lessons of history, self-love, and imperial ambitions have transformed modern Russians from the heirs of the victory over Nazism to the new Nazis.

No country can claim recognition for its unique role in defeating Nazism. Victory is the result of the monumental efforts of dozens of states and hundreds of nations. Attempts to shelter oneself behind the moral authority of the winner of the Second World War in the conduct of aggressive politics in our time are equally unacceptable. Today, the Russian government is behaving like a destroyer of the system of international relations established by the victorious states of World War II. Doing this, they are more reminiscent of Hitler’s Germany of the 1930s.

Every nation that has contributed to the victory over Nazism has a moral right to be proud of this noble cause but no country can claim individual status as a victorious country, let alone claim that they could have won World War without the help of others. We hear and condemn such statements from the Russian Federation more and more often, because they are not only anti-scientific and do not correspond to historical truth, but also have a significant conflict potential, leading to wars of remembrance and competition of victims.

The Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation and Victory over Nazism in World War II do not symbolize the triumph of the victors over the defeated but should be a reminder of the terrible catastrophe and a warning that serious international problems cannot be solved by force of arms, ultimatums, aggression, and annexation. The most important result of the war should not be the cult of victory, but the ability to value peace, and categorically and uncompromisingly defend it by all reasonable means. Note that in countries where every human life is important, where humanity is recognized as the highest value, the idea of “to repeat” does not take root because respect for human dignity is a kind of “immunity” from the viruses of dehumanization. In this context, peace is not a fear of the enemy, not capitulation, not just the absence of hostilities, but the key factor in the harmonious development of the individual and society.

World War II ended in diplomacy but was won by brave warriors and weapons. Today, when Russia has attacked Ukraine without declaring war and is carrying out disgusting, dishonest, illegal aggression condemned by the whole world, we have not only the right to nationwide armed resistance but also to the support of the world. Ukrainians with weapons in their hands are defending Europe and giving a chance to create a new, fairer world safeguarding system, to build a more lasting peace. But the condition for this is victory over Russia, the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and the impossibility of future Russian aggression against anyone on the planet.

The history of World War II teaches us that the Ukrainian people win when we are united, combined, act together and defend what is important to us. When we are together, when we feel that justice is on our side and stand for our land, then we are invincible. As in the middle of the last century, we are defending our land and our homeland from the aggressor-occupier, which gives us extra strength and the right to desperate resistance. Winning this war means a free life in our own home according to our own rules. We have never been invaders like Nazis or racists, so truth and strength are on our side.

The end of World War II, unfortunately, did not free the world from totalitarian regimes. The Communist Soviet Union took advantage of the victory over Nazism and strengthened its position in the world. It lasted until 1991 and over that period, it was the initiator or participant in numerous crimes (genocide, military intervention, punitive psychiatry, development and use of illicit weapons, etc.). Its successor, not only in property but also in ideology, was the Russian Federation, which for three decades after the collapse of the Union participated in many wars and military conflicts as an aggressor country and as an ally of dictatorial regimes. Now, as part of a full-scale Russian-Ukrainian war, the Russians have already committed a lot of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The actions of the Russian armed forces have at least signs of genocide against Ukrainian citizens. By doing so, the Russian Federation has lost any moral right to appeal to the legacy of the victory over Nazism, as its actions de facto replicate Nazi atrocities and desecrate the memory of World War II veterans and participants. Russia’s crimes in Ukraine must be stopped, and Russia’s Putin regime must be condemned and defeated by the combined efforts of the entire civilized world, just like Nazi Germany.

 

After the victory in the Russian-Ukrainian war, our country and the Ukrainian people will receive a new national holiday of victory over modern Nazism, uniting the whole society, and Ukraine will move exclusively to the European tradition of celebrating May 8 as the Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation for Those Who Lost Their Lives during the Second World War.

 

We have defeated Nazism, and we will defeat racism! Glory to Ukraine!

07.05.2022