May 8 – Celebrating with restrictions?

May 8, the day that sealed the Allied victory against Hitler’s fascism in Europe – actually an occasion to celebrate. Since last year, and thus the beginning of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, the day can no longer be enjoyed so carefree.

On the one hand, we want to thank the people of the former Soviet Union for their commitment and sacrifices; on the other hand, we don’t want to play into the hands of Russian propaganda, which invaded Ukraine under the guise of fighting fascism.

The absurdity of war

The photo taken by our teamlead Thorsten in Dolyna, Donetsk Oblast in Ukraine, illustrates the absurdity: a memorial to fallen Soviet soldiers in the Second World War is being destroyed in a war between two former Soviet states, in which tens of thousands of people are dying and suffering again.

Another fact that can cause a headache is the German arms deliveries. Ukraine is buying weapons from the country that once brought so much suffering and destruction to Russia and Ukraine in order to kill Russian soldiers with these German weapons. Even if in defense.

Historical constants

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine is not new in historical terms. Even under Stalin, Ukraine was to be Russified and a Ukrainian identity erased. According to various statements by Putin, this plan seems to be to continue with the new war. The memory of the Holodomor, for example, the systematic starvation of Ukraine in 1932/33 with millions of deaths, was made impossible in the Soviet Union. Even in the current war, Russia is trying to prevent commemoration, as the dismantling of a memorial in Mariupol shows.

A close-up of a plaque with the names of fallen Soviet soldiers at the memorial in Dolyna that was destroyed during the current war in Ukraine. Photo: CADUS

When you can only do wrong

As a humanitarian organization that provides medical support to people on the ground in Ukraine, we see it every day: weapons always cause human suffering, which must be prevented. However, beyond our purely humanitarian perspective, we must also keep the big picture in mind: supporting the people of Ukraine in their right to self-defense and self-determination is also understandable in light of history. It should be borne in mind that when it is argued that, from Russia’s point of view, its soldiers are once again dying at the hands of German weapons, it should not be forgotten that Ukrainians were affected in exactly the same way as part of the Soviet Union during the Second World War. An incomplete or false representation of history for propaganda purposes is as unacceptable then as it is today. From Ukraine’s point of view, it would also be extremely questionable to remain inactive even though we could act and instead be involved in the repeated destruction of Ukraine: once as a perpetrator and once as a laissez-faire observer.

Thank you, but …

So it is and remains complicated, and there will be no simple solutions that satisfy everyone. Despite everything, on this May 8 we should also thank the people of the former Soviet Union, including Russia and Ukraine, out of deep conviction for their liberation from Hitler-fascism.

At the same time, it must be possible to acknowledge the current situation, name the perpetrators and crimes, show solidarity with those affected and help where we can.

Author: by Jonas Grünwald

By CadusPR

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