: Ukraine holds Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation for World War II victims

11:50 May. 8, 2016

Ukraine holds Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation for World War II victims

Installation "Ukraine - War" set up within the framework of the Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation to honour World War II victims (UNIAN Photo)

The holiday mirrors modern European tradition and comes in contrast to Russia's Victory Day celebrations under Putin 

On May 8, Ukraine marks the Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation, which pays tribute to victims of the 1939-1945 World War II.

The date coincides with Allies' acceptance of Nazi Germany's surrender on May 8 in 1945. This event is usually regarded as a symbolic victory over Nazism.

The memorial day is a relatively new national holiday for Ukraine. It was introduced just last year.

Ukraine also decides to celebrate 9 May as the day of victory over Nazi forces in the World War II, instead of the traditional Soviet-era Victory Day in the Great Patriotic War. The term 'Great Patriotic War' was used in the former USSR to emphasize that in 1941-1945 citizens defended the Soviet Union as their common homeland.

Ukraine's decision to introduce a new memorial day mirrors modern European tradition and comes in contrast to the triumphalism which characterizes the Russian Federation's Victory Day celebrations (May 9) under Vladimir Putin.

The law says it is a sacred duty of the state and Ukraine's citizens to respect the victory over Nazism in World War II, veterans, Ukrainian liberation movement and Nazism victims.

Read also Busting Soviet war-time myths

However, Soviet symbols are banned from using in ceremonies commemorating those who died in World War II, according to Volodymyr Vyatrovych, chairman of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory.

Like many European countries, Ukraine now uses a red poppy to commemorate the WWII victims. 

608xX(UNIAN Photo)

The United States and most European Union countries celebrate the Victory Day on 8 May. The official name of the holiday is Victory in Europe Day. Since 2005, a number of countries have been marking May 8-9 as the Days of Remembrance and Reconciliation which was proclaimed by the U.N. General Assembly and committed to honouring the WWII victims.

Last year Ukrainian activists in honour of the upcoming Victory Day celebrations in Europe have presented two videos titled "We Remember. We Admire. We Will Win". 


BACKGROUND: The Soviet victory of Nazi Germany has become a key flashpoint in the identity conflict which has gripped Ukraine since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Soviet sympathizers have traditionally adopted a hardline approach towards efforts to rehabilitate Ukrainian independence fighters who fought against both Soviet and Nazi forces during WWII, while for many Ukrainians the conflict remains above all a human tragedy.

Read also Ukraine in World War II (Infographics)

During WWII, Hitler prioritized the southern flank of the German invasion of the Soviet Union, making Ukraine one of the key battlefields in the global conflict.

Millions of Ukrainian perished in the conflict, while millions more were also shipped to the Third Reich as slave labour, only to be sent to Soviet Gulag camps upon their 'liberation' from Nazi captivity.

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