How should Europe celebrate 9 May?
May 9 is not only a day of celebration in Moscow, which commemorates the end of the Second World War on that date. In the EU — and for the first time in Ukraine — it is celebrated as Europe Day and marks the anniversary of the Schuman Declaration, a plan which is considered the beginning of what is now the European Union. Commentators examine how this day should be commemorated in view of the important role played by the Red Army in the victory over Nazi Germany.
Keep the whole story in mind
The Ukrainian war is no argument for forgetting the role of the Soviet Union in defeating Hitler, writes the Tagesspiegel:
“A view of history that only sees Russia’s current culpability would be as dishonest as the commemorations imposed by Moscow over decades in which the Hitler-Stalin Pact didn’t even feature. ... Russia’s complicity at the start of the war was suppressed. The fact that the largest proportion of the Soviet victims of the war were Ukrainians and Belarusians — and the high proportion of non-Russian soldiers in the victory against Hitler — was suppressed. ... Honesty demands that we look at the whole story. Not only on 8 and 9 May, but for Germans on these two days in particular. And on 1 September, when the Germans started the world war.”
Kyiv cutting ties with Russia also in remembrance culture
La Repubblica notes that Ukraine’s decision to no longer celebrate the victory over Nazi Germany on 9 May, but Europe Day instead, is
“the latest in a long series of measures by which Kyiv is severing all its common roots with Russia. But in a country where almost everyone has at least one Russian relative, these roots remain an inextricable knot. ... The bombastic rhetoric is a side effect of martial law and the state of war. It began after the Maidan protests in 2014. In 2016, two years after the Russians seized Crimea and half of Donbass, Kyiv passed a law called ‘decommunisation’, renamed 3,000 towns and villages and dismantled more than 1,300 monuments.”
Towards a free future with Ukraine
Postimees views Europe Day with mixed feelings:
“We have to face the truth. On 9 May 2023 there will be no peace in Europe, and the EU is preparing to produce a million bullets for Ukraine as a peace project. So the meaning of Europe Day has changed, and in view of the current war there is no way back to the peace project of the past. ... What is decisive is how Europeans look to the future, including a Europe which has Ukraine as a member. After all, Ukrainians are fighting for the same values that are upheld on Europe Day: democratic freedoms, solidarity, mutual esteem and respect for human life.”