Ukraine Celebrates Victory Day (Updated)
World War II killed more than 70 million people, of which 23-25 million came from the Soviet Union. Ukraine suffered more than 7 million casualties.
My father was born in August 1941, during the first weeks of the German occupation of western Ukraine. When I was a kid, he would tell me about the war. We took regular trips to the Great Patriotic War Museum, one of my favorite childhood places in Kyiv.
The war was indeed patriotic, but it was so in spite, not because of, communist ideology. At the outbreak of the war, Stalin addressed the nation as "brothers and sisters." He feared the the people whom he had repressed so much would turn against him and would turn this war into a payback time for him.
But Hitler would never become the lesser evil in Ukraine.
The bloody game of chess played by Hitler and Stalin made millions of Ukrainians, Belarusians, Russians, Kazakhs, Tajiks, Uzbeks, and many other people fight for their land, fight for their loved ones.
In August 1992, at age 12, I attended the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UPA. With Ukraine now independent, I could learn how the people of western Ukraine fought against the repressive Soviet regime. I guess I grew up recognizing these two dimensions of Ukraine's involvement in WW II.
There's a third dimension: the thousands of Ukrainian Americans and Ukrainian Canadians who fought both in Europe and in the Pacific.
Today, I stayed true to the tradition of visiting the Great Patriotic War Museum.
Victory Day, Ukr. День Перемоги (Den Peremohy), is a national holiday in Ukraine
Some Like It Red
Approaching the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Glory to the Soviet falcons who defeated Hitler and Bandera!
Democracy, isn't it?
Kyiv's left bank
Bridging the generation gap
The wreaths at the obelisk
Victory Day in full progress
More of left-bank Kyiv
The Metro Bridge
Cheapest bread in Ukraine!
No. 31 on the ballot
There he is!
The Gate Church of the Trinity, the entrance to the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra
Approaching the Museum, campaigning rain or shine
Party of Regions, Chernovetsky Bloc, Hromadsky Aktyv kiosks
Caribbean crisis vets?
Ukrainian cossack cannons
That's a very bad habit!
When I was their age I played with those artillery pieces, too!
Baba Paraska: I Just Called to Say I Love You
Bridging the generation gap, again
Entering an open air exhibit
Aircraft, tanks and self-propelled artillery
Amphibious assault vehicles
Heavy artillery and an IRBM
Soviet jet fighters
SS-20 (aka Pioneer/Saber), the Soviet IRBM deployed in Europe and withdrawn under the INF treaty
Great Patriotic War-themed stone carvings
The Eternal Flame
Happy Victory Day!
The entrance to the Museum