75th anniversary of the Great Victory Day

Saturday, 9 May 2020 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Yury Materiy

On 9 May Russia celebrates the 75th anniversary of victory in the Great Patriotic War (22 June 1941-9 May 1945). This victory over the Nazi Germany was of crucial significance to ending the most devastating world conflict in history – World War II several months later, in September 1945.

One should always remember that the victory in the war prevented the Nazis from spreading their inhuman ideology worldwide in accordance with which they planned to physically eliminate entire ethnic groups: Jews, Roma, Russians, Poles, Latvians, Lithuanians, French and Czech.

The Soviet people, who faced the most powerful assault of Nazi Germany and its accomplices, made a heroic and decisive contribution to the defeat of Nazism. Three-fourths of the German armed forces were crushed on the Soviet-German Front. The Red Army fully or partially liberated Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, eastern regions of Yugoslavia, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Norway, Denmark, north-eastern provinces of China and Korea and conquered Berlin.

The great victory came at the cost of irreplaceable losses. According only to official figures the war took lives of 26.6 million Soviet people. The damage done to the Soviet Union was greater than the combined damage inflicted to all other European countries.

However, the USSR didn’t stand alone in this fight. The Soviet Union and Russia, being its successor, always highly appreciated the contribution of the anti-Hitler coalition allies. Our country is eternally grateful to the peoples of Great Britain, the United States of America, France, anti-fascists of various countries and members of the underground resistance, including in Germany itself, who selflessly fought the common enemy.

The victory over Nazism remains a lesson that is relevant today, when there are still those who are trying to revive this abhorring ideology and rewrite history. Arguably the most vivid examples of neo-Nazism can be currently seen in Ukraine. The transformation of a country, whose people suffered huge losses during the World War II, into a state where neo-Nazi formations now openly operate is beyond comprehension.

At the same time, monuments to liberator soldiers and the graves of fallen soldiers are being desecrated and destroyed in a number of European states. The latest example is the decision of one of Prague’s authorities to demolish on 3 April 2020, the monument to Marshal Ivan Konev, liberator of the city from Nazi. This act of political vandalism is a concession to those who insist on revising the outcome of World War II thus ignoring the UN Charter and other imperatives based on international law and morality.

Systemic work aimed at countering attempts to glorify Nazism, any forms and manifestations of racism, xenophobia, aggressive nationalism and chauvinism must be deeply embedded in the agenda of the international community. Russia will continue to do everything possible to combat the falsification of history, to preserve the good reputation of victorious soldiers and to prevent a revision of the internationally recognised results of the defeat of Nazism.

We need to learn due lessons from the tragic past. Humankind must always remember the terrible consequences of attempts to establish world domination, the belief in one’s own exceptionality, unscrupulous behaviour in achieving one’s dubious goals and the neglect of rules of law and morality. Russia is open to cooperation with everyone who is willing to fight terrorism, neo-Nazism and extremism. Collective resistance to bearers of deadly ideas has become crucial once again.

The celebration of the Great Victory Day is the most important event of the year. Due to the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, the military parade to mark the 75th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War and honour all of its veterans in Moscow has been postponed. Nevertheless, Russia held multiple online commemorative events to cherish the memory of those who sacrificed their lives during the war, which include the Immortal Regiment initiative and St. George’s Ribbon project. 9 May is a day of glory, a day of pride for our people, and a day of the utmost respect for the generation of winners.

The writer is the Ambassador of Russia in Sri Lanka.