Ukraine joins those observing the days of memory and reconciliation in Europe on May 8 and 9. As the country that paid a huge price in the Second World War, Ukraine is a full-time participant and the triumphant of the most devastating conflict of the previous century. While it still was a part of the USSR at the time, it still has its very own heroes to remember. Naturally, this custom is truly honored and observed regularly in this country.
The controversy around the day of victory over Nazism is that the parties to the conflict signed the act of capitulation of Germany in a suburb of Berlin late at night on 8 May 1945 – precisely at 10:43 pm Central European time, hence, at 0:43 am on 9 May Moscow time. The ceasefire was declared for 11:01 pm Berlin time – when it was already 9 May in Eastern European countries too. This is why the overwhelming majority of European countries sadly commemorate the end of the military actions on 8 May, while on 9 May they celebrate the Europe Day, which began with the proclamation of the Schuman declaration published on 9 May 1950 and is considered the start of the unification of Europe. Taking into account the difference between Kyiv and Moscow time, this date of the end of WWII is considered more appropriate for Ukraine too.
Once the dates and terms of the celebration of the previously universal Day of victory of the Soviet people in the Great Patriotic War, traditions of this celebration of the end of military actions incorporated some changes as well.
Previously in Ukraine, just as in Russia, which is the direct descendant of the USSR, the victory over fascism was celebrated with military parades, fireworks and the cult of Soviet military commanders, seeking to demonstrate military might.
Nevertheless, according to the Institute, Ukraine lost some 8-10 million of its citizens in that horrible war, as well as some 285 million of Soviet rubles in economic losses. Crimes by both the fascist and communist regimes were committed, meaning that there are actually very few events for Ukrainians to celebrate, while there is a lot more of sad and tragic events that should be commemorated. This is why the use of communist or Nazi symbols has been declared officially unlawful, whereas the parades and fireworks were replaced by mourning the victims. The commemoration is now focused on stories of individuals within that horrendous war, as opposed to commemorating the history of military actions.
At the same time, it should be pointed out that the Soviet symbols such as red flags and St. George ribbons were replaced by new attributes. In particular, a poppy flower has become the symbol for the Day of victory over Nazism in WWII, as well as for the Day of memory and reconciliation. The poppy flower is the universal, worldwide symbol of celebrating the memorable days of the Second World War.