Author: Sandro

09.05.2019 10:11

The Dilemma of Victory Day

The Dilemma of Victory Day

Let’s start with facts we all more or less agree on. First fo all, millions of people died during the Second World War. The estimated number of victims varies between 50 and 80 million. Approximately 24 million of them were Soviet citizens, including 300 thousand Georgians.

Everyone - apart from Neonazi groups - does agree that the National Socialists in Germany with their cruel ideology had to be stopped. The victory against the Third Reich is for the humanity as a whole to claim.

That’s all. Everything else could be subject to debate which is about to unroll:

8th or 9th of May?


The struggle is all about timing. The German armed forces declared their surrender and full capitulation on May  7 1945 and signed the preliminary document. A more sophisticated ceremony attended by high-ranking Allied and Soviet officials took place the next day in Berlin. Due to minor disagreements the sides put their signatures on the paper somewhere around midnight on May  8. The trick is that it was already May the 9th in the Soviet Union.

The result is the inconvenience of celebrating Victory Day twice. 8th of May now marks Victory in Europe Day, while the Soviet Union opted for an exclusive date on May the 9th to mark their Victory in the Great Patriotic War. (Most Post-Soviet states celebrate Victory Day on May 9)

The term Great Patriotic War describes the events that took place from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945 along the Estern Front between the USSR and Nazi Germany. Commemorating it apart from the rest of the World gave the Soviets an ideological edge still maintained by Russia and Vladimir Putin.



And still, what about the celebration?


Writing from a country that was once  part of the Soviet Union does not leave one with much choice: The Second World War was part of our history and there is no escape from that. So maybe it’s possible to celebrate our history on our terms instead of complying to the Russian power game.

After all, Victory Day is not an exclusively Russian celebration, it belongs to Allies, the shared  values and those soldiers who laid down their lives to protect those values. This day, as well as the Holocaust Memorial Day are about the victory of humanity over cruelty, rather than Stalin’s or any other official’s cunning strategy.

Those people who went through war and returned to tell their story deserve our respect. They also deserve a day that belongs to them and is not turned into a piece of political agenda.

Every year on January 27 Holocaust survivors gather at Auschwitz to remind us that the horrors of WW2 must never be repeated. “Never forget!” is the message they send to us every single year. This january will mark their 74th gathering and very soon there will be no one left who has seen the war with their own eyes. Maybe that is why it is important to listen to these people while they are around.  To listen, to remember and honor them and make sure that “their past does not become our future”.


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