Ukraine seeking to reflect country's role as main battlefield and victim of WWII
Ukraine has announced plans to introduce a new national memorial day as part of events to mark the allied victory over Nazi Germany in WWII. As well as traditional Victory Day celebrations on 9 May, this year Ukraine will also host a new Day of Memory and Reconciliation on 8 May.
The 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 under Vladimir Putin.
Ukrainian Culture Minister Vyacheslav Kyrylenko confirmed that the introduction of the new national day would not mean the cancellation of Victory Day itself in Ukraine. "Ukraine has not cancelled Victory Day. We have added a new national day in line with European practice to foster reconciliation and honour the memory of victims."
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.
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.