The Victory Day: a holiday? Yes, the Holiday

translated by Gennady Kornev (Ukrainian Pravda)
9.05.2005, 17:36

It can be celebrated, it can be ignored or used as a drinking-bout occasion or a day of the “dacha” workout. And what about leaving it for our neighbors? We can lend the 9th of May to Russians, while Ukraine will celebrate the Liberation Day with the rest of Europe on the 8th of May.

These are the ideas we heard recently from the media. And the fundamental question rises related to this line of thinking: should we sacrifice the Victory, for which Ukraine had paid the horrible price of millions of its citizens, to the westernization and Europeanization? Ukrainian blood is spilled over the barrows of the Stalingrad, the steep slopes of the Dnieper, Carpathian mountains and the green meadows of Europe. Four Ukrainian armies had reached Berlin, Vienna, Prague and Belgrade. And Ukrainians were not fighting only in these four countries — millions of our people were the soldiers of the Red Army and as members of resistance groups.

Why, given all these irrefutable facts, our people should feel somehow inconvenient? Should we bestow the 9th of May to Russia instead of being honored with a proud name of victor together with the other nations, who have struggled and finally have won that war? Indeed, the holiday is tearful as a famous soviet song tells. But to refuse the Victory of the Ukrainian people to any other nation means refusing the great page of our history, a page overfilled with tragedies and defeats.

This article had appeared spontaneously — as a natural defense mechanism against propaganda and PR. And that is why it may appear overemotional to the reader. By using 'we' I refer to the authors of this article, their neighbors, colleagues and loved-ones who respect the Victory day as one of the most prominent social holidays of modern Ukraine.

Thus we, the authors, would like to destroy several myths, which Ukrainian people are insistently fed with when addressing the issue of our Victory on the 9th of March.

The first Myth: The Soviet Union had started that war in the Autumn of 1939, at the same time when Germans did.

It is still a mystery for us: why the Ukrainian people, who have become united for the first time in several centuries that year, should regret it. Of course, it is regrettable, that we did not become independent, but at least we have become a part of a single state — the moment desired for such a long time and awaited by several generations of Ukrainian people.

The second Myth: The Wehrmacht was replaced by the Red Army, which was just another group of the occupants.

With some relativity the term 'occupants' can be used with respect to Western Ukraine. However, occupation is an outcome of the military aggression of one state against another. If someone is mad and considers that reichscommissariat “Ukraine” with the capital in Rivne somehow resembles an independent Ukrainian State — well, he should probably render a visit to the shrink. The correlation between Ukrainians, fighting for the Red army and those who fought under the colours of the Third Reich is far not in favour of the latter group. We must admit, that Ukrainian Insurgent Army, backed by the nationalists had not become all-Ukrainian. However, it was anti-fascist without any doubt.

So let us continue: 2/3 of our territory was greeting the Red Army as their liberators. Reds did not meet any organized resistance from the local population. Western Ukraine was a part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and it had not become a separate state during war time.

The Red Army went further to liberate Eastern Europe from Hitler. It had come TO LIBERATE. Americans and Britons also came from the West and they intruded the territory of sovereign states to leave their military personnel in the liberated territories. Let us remind the reader, that US military bases still exist in Western Europe.

The third Myth: our apprehension of WW2 should meet European standards, so let's reschedule the holiday one day back.

For many counties, which have lowered their flags in the face of the German armada, the 8th of May is regarded as the Day of liberation, but not for Ukrainians.

European integration for Ukraine should not be centered on the rescheduling the celebration date, but on the fact that Ukrainians won that battle together with our brothers and sisters from other republics of the USSR and the Western allies. To be short: we created the reason for this day to exist. That is why we ourselves are entitled to decide, what date to use for the Victory celebrations and if our veterans would like to celebrate the 9th of May — nobody else is entitled to tell them when to celebrate their triumph.

Finally, these dates are all the same. In 1945 the 2 hours time difference existed between Berlin and Kyiv. It exists now and will exist until the world stands. The Nazis signed the act of capitulation on 8th of March at 22:43, this fact was then broadcasted by Radio and Telegraph Agency of Ukraine. That was the night of May 9.

The fourth Myth: Communists and Nazis are all the same, the WW2 for Ukrainian people was over in 1991, when the Soviet empire had disappeared.

This individual judgment has nothing to do with the international law. The Nuremberg tribunal had taken place. Success is never blamed and that is why communists had never appeared before the international tribunal. The same excuse was applied to French and British bureaucrats, who were accused of repressions against the population of their colonies in the WW1. Stalin's reign deserved an international trial, however it did not take place yet and is more likely not to be conducted in the future.

Up to this point. Who should we refuse 70 years of Ukrainian history? Yes, Ukrainian Soviet Republic was flawed (although many things were 100% positive), but this is OUR history. And Ukrainians have made an enormous contribution to the victory over Adolf Hitler.

Our grandfathers had brought the liberation to Europe and it is an enormous political achievement for Ukraine. If State Budget 2005 does not need the money, received from Eastern Europeans for Ukrainian visas, this money could be used for a PR campaign in the European newspapers with a final purpose to remind the Western countries, who was their liberator and to whom they should be thankful to.

The last Myth: we should celebrate the Day of Reconciliation, Day of national mourning or memory or something of the kind.

That is absolute nonsense. In Ukraine, the Victory Day is the Day of Mourning at the same time. Nazi and this group does not include all Germans were annihilating all non-Aryans. Ukrainians were not included into the Aryan plans of Hitler, they included only Ukrainian chernozem.

That is why the 9th of May is not a victory of Stalin, Churchill or the communist regime. First of all it is a victory of all Ukrainian people in the struggle for their life. That is a memory of the blessed feats of arms and tragic sacrifices (including those who died from the bullets of their own government). And it shall not be yielded to someone else. Well, we will simply not yield it.

And now some emotions.

We are sick and tired of the skinned Ukrainian 'reds', who have the same relation to the Communism as modern Cossacks have to Bohdan Hmelnitsky. It is easy to understand that veterans, who do not want to reconcile, but it is impossible to understand those politicians, who want to cause a quarrel between their ancestors.

But our honourable government: we don't need any joint parades. Those grandpas and grannies, who wanted to reconcile themselves, did that long time ago. Those, who do not want will be reconciled by God. What is needed from the guys on the Sadova and Bankova Streets is only to arrange that the pension and social privileges of the WW2 freedom fighters are the same irrespective of their political colour.

Excuse me for being overemotional. Today, however, on 9th of May, when Victory is on the streets, let us congratulate the veterans with an open mind. We will go on the rainy streets and meet both — veterans of the Red army and Ukrainian insurgents. We will express our gratitude for being free from the most horrible oppressive political system in modern history, for the liberation of our Motherland and the rest of Europe.

Accept our congratulations, dear friends. And we hope that you have an excellent Victory-day celebration!