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Ukraine commemorates WWII victims

Source : 112 Ukraine

June 22, 1941 marked the start of the Nazi aggression against the USSR; up to ten million Ukrainians lost their lives
09:08, 22 June 2018

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On June 22, Ukrainians pay tribute to victims of the World War II. The most intense and the bloodiest period of the war began in June 1941, when Nazi Germany attacked the USSR; the enemy troops simultaneously crossed the borders of Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia and some other the-then Soviet republics. 

The Nazi-Soviet conflict lasted for almost four years, with the Red Army defeating the enemy on the European battle theatre in May 1945.  

Since 2001, June 22 is marked in Ukraine annually as the Day of Memory of WWII Victims; the respective presidential decree appeared in November 2000.

Related: Lukashenko accuses Russia of trying to privatize victory in WWII

Now that 77 years passed since the beginning of the conflict, the historians still argue about the overall number of military and civilian losses in Ukraine. Currently, Ukrainian scientists suppose the number was from 8 to 10 million victims; almost four million of those served with the Red Army. Over 700 towns and cities across Ukraine were destroyed and burned down. Some 16,000 industrial enterprises, 33,000 schools, and other education facilities were closed. About ten million people became refugees after the Nazis destroyed their homes.

Notably, the May 9 Victory Day holiday that commemorates the defeat of Nazi Germany was celebrated throughout the Soviet and post-Soviet space. Before the Russian invasion, May 9 was the most popular holiday in Donbas and Crimea, and was a popular holiday in the rest of the country. In 2010, 58 percent of Ukrainians recognized it as their favorite celebration. This dropped to 37 percent in 2017, after Crimea and part of Donbas were invaded, and fell to 31 percent this year, according to a survey by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology. However, even with reduced support for the holiday, it is accompanied by clashes on this day every year in the biggest Ukrainian cities: Kyiv, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Zaporizhia, Odesa.

Related: Memory and victory: How the end of WWII is commemorated in Ukraine

Related: Polish police discover three paintings considered lost during WWII

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