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08 Mai. 2024

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The Day of Remembrance and Victory over Nazism: why Ukraine started celebrating it on 8 May

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The Day of Remembrance and Victory over Nazism: why Ukraine started celebrating it on 8 May

Ukraine's establishment of the Day of Remembrance and Victory over Nazism on 8 May instead of 9 May is an important step in the process of national self-determination and rethinking its own history. Find out how the country came to move the date of the big victory and what Ukrainians now celebrate on 9 May

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Since 2023, the Day of Remembrance and Victory over Nazism has been celebrated in Ukraine on 8 May, the same day as in European countries. However, for a long time, Ukrainians celebrated Victory Day on 9 May, as they do in many countries of the former Soviet Union. Here's why the holiday was moved and what it was combined with.


To understand the reasons why Ukraine started celebrating the holiday on 8 May, it is necessary to look back at the history of the Second World War. This war left an indelible mark on the history of Ukraine, claiming millions of lives and destroying many towns and villages. 


The Nazis signed the first act of surrender on 7 May in the French city of Reims. But the then dictator of the USSR, Joseph Stalin, refused to recognise the document and demanded that a new one be signed in Berlin, where the Red Army had entered. Thus, the second surrender document was signed late in the evening of 8 May 1945 (Central European Time), which was already 9 May by Moscow time.


How did Ukraine come to move the date?


The rethinking of historical memory in Ukraine began after gaining independence in 1991, but the issue of establishing new commemorative dates became particularly acute after the Revolution of Dignity in 2014 and the outbreak of the war in Donbas. During this period, there was an active discussion of the idea that it was necessary to go beyond the Soviet narrative tradition, which focused exclusively on the events of 9 May and the role of the Soviet Union in the victory over Nazism.


In 2015, in response to public and political initiatives, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine decided to officially establish 8 May as the Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation. This was done to bring Ukraine closer to European traditions of war remembrance, as well as to show solidarity with those countries that commemorate the end of World War II on this day. This decision also underlines the universality of the grief of war and the importance of remembering all victims of Nazism and war, regardless of their nationality.




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Since 2016, Ukraine has celebrated 9 May as the Day of Victory over Nazism in World War II.


As early as 2023, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy proposed to combine the dates to commemorate the Day of Remembrance and Victory over Nazism on the same day, as is done in most European countries. Now Ukraine is celebrating this holiday against the backdrop of another war of aggression, but this time Russia has taken on the role of Nazi Germany. After the war is over, the Day of Remembrance and Victory over Nazism will be a public holiday.


What does Ukraine celebrate on 9 May?


Since 9 May 2023, Ukraine has also started celebrating Europe Day. In 1950, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman proposed the creation of a European Coal and Steel Community for all European countries. Key branches of the military industry should also come under common control, so that no single state could prepare for a new war.


According to recent polls, the majority of Ukrainians support 8 May as the date for commemorating the victims of World War II, not 9.


It is worth noting that the events of recent years, including Russia's full-scale aggression against Ukraine, have had a huge impact on Ukrainians' perception of Victory Day. In the context of the current situation, many Ukrainians celebrate this day as a reminder of the price of peace and the need to fight for justice and freedom. In this sense, 8 May becomes a day not only to remember the past, but also to reflect on the future of Ukraine and the whole of Europe.


We remind you! This year, Ukrainians will be able to enjoy a variety of holidays in May. In particular, citizens will be able to celebrate Easter, Labour Day and many other important dates. Read more about the holidays in May and whether there will be additional days off here.


Want to know more? Read the latest news and useful materials about Ukraine and the world in the News section.




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