Russia, Ukraine: Victory Day

kyiv veteran
A WWII veteran in Kyiv, Ukraine – by Veronica Khokhlova

On May 9, former Soviet states marked the 61st anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany in WWII. Veterans and troops (as well as ultra-nationalists and Stalinists) marched in Moscow, Kyiv and other cities.

LJ user drugoi has posted photos of Moscow veterans and Russian ultra-nationalists. In the veterans’ set, the self-made poster held by a woman in the first photo reads: “Glory to our fathers” (RUS).

One black-and-white photo of a veteran has been posted separately by drugoi and carries this note (RUS):

Last year, two people showed up from his 931st infantry regiment. This year, he hasn't found anyone. His grandson held a placard with the number of the battalion, regiment and division on it, and the infantryman stood leaning on his grandson's hand and cried like a child.

LJ user warsh has also posted a set of Moscow veteran photos titled “The Victors.” In one photo, three elderly women (two of them with medals, one in WWII uniform) hold a poster, which reads (RUS): “May 9: How good that the dead cannot see what you have done to my country.”

Marat Guelman, a well-known Moscow gallery owner and LJ user galerist, has been posting reproductions of works dealing with war by contemporary artists from the former Soviet Union: war (an LJ exhibition)-1 and war (an LJ exhibition)-2 (RUS).

LJ user maceda has written about her granfather (RUS):

May 9

My grandfather was drafted in 1940. They served three years then. The war began in 1941. bAfter four exhausting years of the [Great] Patriotic War and liberation of Europe, grandfather wanted to return. But he hadn't returned his debt to the motherland yet. He had to “finish” the two obligatory years of the service that he had been drafted into as a 17-year-old kid. Seven years total. In this time, his village had been burned down, the fellow villagers who survived had escaped, his parents and brothers perished. And grandfather was left with nothing but wounds, orders and medals.

He didn't like to recall the war. and was never telling anything. Neither to his children, nor to his grandchildren. He gave his orders and medals to his sons, and they carelessly lost them, exchanged, gave away. “These are trinkets,” grandfather used to say, “and I'm not a German shepherd at a dog show.” All that was left were ribbons, which could say a lot about wounds and awards only to those who knew. “For those who understand,” grandfather would say as he was getting ready for a parade […].

May 9 was always a Day of Remembrance to him. Definitely not a Day of Pride. And I can't even imagine what his face would look like if they tried to get him to take a georgievskaya lentochka (ribbon of St. George) in the street, if he saw these dirty and dusty striped bows on car antennas, or flirtingly used as belts on jeans, or tied to bags, or even to the ankles of tipsy gals who are incapable of telling the difference between a ribbon of St. George and a Beeline logo […].

“For those who undestand…” The feeling of shame is the greatest when you are ashamed for someone else, not yourself. But on the other hand, I'm even glad that grandfather is no longer here to see it all.

Happy Victory Day, grandpa.

LJ user tima, in this year's Victory Day post, has linked to what he wrote last year (RUS):

Twelve glasses of vodka

Good Holiday to all of us.

I can't keep myself from writing this. I don't remember is I wrote this last year or before that. But it doesn't matter. This should be written every year.

I don't remember how to cry anymore, don't remember when I did it last time. Today, my mama will do it for me – she lost all her brothers and sisters during the war, all nine of them. The eldest brothers in the army – near Smolensk, near Oryol, near Kiev. Several of them died of illnesses and the lack of medical care. Some she lost to hunger and cold. Two elder sisters were hung in the center of their native town, and before that they had been raped by the Germans in front of everyone. One of them was lucky – she lost her mind and no longer understood what was going on.

My father turned out to be lucky compared to mama. Of his four brothers and sisters who lost only half – two of them. And his own father. Who went to war at the end of October and was killed almost right away near Rzhev. My only uncle was born an orphan, fatherless.

The total of 12. Out of 19, including grandmothers and grandfathers.

Happy Holiday to everyone.

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