East Europe celebrates victory over Nazi Germany

The end of the Second World War 73 years ago is being remembered across Europe. In Russia the victory in the "Great Patriotic War" has been celebrated with increasing pomp and circumstance in recent years. Commentators describe the celebrations marking the war veterans' victory as unworthy and call on ex-Soviet republics to develop their own commemoration culture.

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Novoye Vremya (UA) /

Ex-Soviet republics need their own commemoration

The Soviet successor states must come up with their own independent narrative about the end of the war, journalist Pavlo Kazarin writes in Novoye Vremya:

“Moscow made Victory Day into a test of loyalty to the system. For that reason the neighbouring states must now find their own language to describe the biggest war of the 20th century. To this end it is not so important that the Ribbon of Saint George [the Russian symbol of military courage] is replaced with the red poppy. Nor is it that important to replace the celebrations May 9 with commemorative services on May 8. Far more important is that a spotlight is shone on the discussion about the cost of this victory. On what was there before the war and what came after it.”

Echo of Moscow (RU) /

Trite reminiscing about other people's victories

Echo of Moscow is disheartened by the profanization of Victory Day:

“Daydreamers dress children up in camouflage suits, hang up portraits of Stalin and posters with childish spelling mistakes, sell underwear printed with victory medals, offer discounts on striptease shows and plaster their cars with stickers with stupid slogans like 'We can do it again'. This victory was won 73 years ago by the veterans, few of whom are still alive today. All the others had nothing to do with it. But that doesn't stop them from celebrating as if they'd stormed the Reichstag themselves. ... We cling to this date out of pure ignorance and small-mindedness and can't even answer the question: what did we do, what are our achievements and victories? We won the war, we sent Gagarin into space - and then what? What has happened in the last 18 years?”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Two different views of the end of WW2

Russia still has a different interpretation of the outcome of World War II than the rest of Europe, comments Hospodářské noviny:

“If two parties do the same thing, that doesn't mean it's the same. That also goes for the commemoration of the end of World War II 73 years ago. While the Western allies at the time believed they were fighting for freedom and peace on the continent, Russia still takes a different view of its victory to this day. The Eurasian superpower saw its triumph in World War II as a springboard for further expansion. And it believes that the rest of the world should respect Russia's war spoils as its permanent reward for the victor. After all, the Russian Bolsheviks had been dreaming of a world revolution since the October Revolution in 1917.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Public holidays are for woes to be forgotten

The propaganda on the subject of the victory against Nazi Germany is meant to divert attention from Putin's failings, writes Russian author Sonja Margolina in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung:

“In almost every talk show the Russian people are called on to take up the fight against the Nazi threat. As the state's failures in the country become more apparent with each passing day, the effect of this is all the more ominous. In March alone, there was a succession of bad news: the Kemerovo fire as well as the mass poisonings resulting from toxic gases leaking from landfills around Moscow, which have affected children in particular. ... But on public holidays the population is meant to forget these woes. Modern fighter jets will paint a Russian flag in the sky over the Kremlin building. And once again the West will be scared by reports of a secret super-weapon, invisibile troll troops and sinister cyber Regiments.”