On October 28, Ukraine marks a memorable event in its history – the Day of liberation of Ukraine from fascist invaders. It is a national holiday dedicated to the removal of German Nazi forces and their allies during World War II out of the territory of modern Ukraine.
The history of the establishment of the holiday
Day of liberation of Ukraine from fascist invaders first appeared on public holidays calendar in 2009.
Surprisingly enough, the initiative to mark this event officially belonged to then Economy Minister Serhiy Tihipko. It was on October 15 and several days later, third President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko supported this proposal, having signed the relative decree.
Since then, this day is marked annually on October 28.
This day was chosen because it is believed that the last Nazi Reich soldier was expelled from the territory of Ukraine on this day in 1944.
According to the official statement, the holiday was introduced “for the nation-wide celebration of the liberation of Ukraine from fascist invaders and to honor heroic act and sacrifice of Ukrainian people during World War II.”
How Ukraine was liberated
During World War II (1939-1945), the battles significant for the liberation of Europe from fascism took place in Ukraine.
On August 23, 1943, the city of Kharkiv was liberated. On October 27, 1944, Uzhhorod was retaken from the Germans, and Soviet troops arrived at what would be the modern western border of Ukraine. On 28 October 1944, the last territory of current Ukraine (near Uzhhorod, then part of the Kingdom of Hungary) was cleared of German troops; this is annually celebrated in Ukraine on 28 October) as the “anniversary of the liberation of Ukraine from the Nazis.”
In total, the Armed Forces of the USSR held 15 assault operations involving half of all Soviet forces – 2.3 million people – on the territory of Ukrainian SSR in 1943–1944.
New view on Liberation Day
After the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine, the name “Day of the liberation of Ukraine from fascist invaders” is considered inaccurate.
Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance (UINR) insisted on using the term “expulsion of Nazi occupants from Ukraine” instead of “liberation from fascist invaders.”
“The term “liberation” means freedom, but in 1944 Ukraine did not become free. With the expulsion of Nazi occupants, it did not gain freedom, but found itself under the other rule which resulted in mass repressions and deportations, including hounded thousands of Ukrainians, Poles, and the whole Crimean Tatar people,” then head of UINR Volodymyr Viatrovych said.
According to him, the thesis of more than 70 years of liberation “is a continuation of Soviet propaganda clichés that Russia still uses in the war against Ukraine.”
The UINR emphasized that during the Second World War, the Soviet Union set the goal not to liberate Ukrainian people, but to restore the totalitarian regime on the territory of modern Ukraine. Ukrainian people regained freedom on August 24, 1991 - the liberation of Ukraine happened only with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
However, the name of the holiday has not been changed on the official level and remained the Day of the liberation of Ukraine from fascist invaders.
How the Liberation Day is celebrated
On Liberation Day, as during the May holidays, people honor veterans and those who gave their lives for expelling the Nazis from Ukraine in the ranks of the Red or Ukrainian Insurgent Army. Memorial events are held also at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
On this day, a wide variety of exhibitions, festivals and holiday concerts is arranged.