Monday, May 08, 2006

Citizens Of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, And Other Former Soviet Union Republics Celebrate National Holidays Marking Victory Over Nazi Germany

MOSCOW (AP) -- "President Vladimir Putin thanked veterans Monday on the eve of a national holiday celebrating the World War II victory over Nazi Germany, saying they set an example for Russians who must be ready to give their lives for their country.

After a wreath-laying ceremony at Moscow's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Putin met in an ornate Kremlin reception hall with more than 30 medal-bedecked veterans -- some who fought and others who worked for the war effort -- as well as veterans of later conflicts.

''What has been established by our veterans is the greatest gift left to us from past years: the ability to love one's country, and to spare nothing for its development and prosperity -- including one's life,'' Putin said in a televised comment to his guests -- a striking statement in a time of relative peace.

He thanked them for ''the attention you are giving the state, especially in bringing up the young generation.''

Earlier, Putin walked slowly behind a pair of goose-stepping soldiers who carried a heavy wreath of flowers to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier just outside the Kremlin wall, then rearranged a ribbon on the wreath. Cabinet ministers and lawmakers followed behind him to lay carnations at the tomb.

On a four-day weekend that culminates with Victory Day celebrations Tuesday, Russian cities are teeming with flags and posters commemorating the World War II triumph and state-controlled TV stations are encouraging nostalgia with popular old war movies and Soviet-era imagery.

For many in the former Soviet Union, the victory over Nazi Germany stands out as the proudest moment in a troubled past. It was achieved at a tremendous cost, with an estimated 27 million dead and much of the western part of the country devastated.

Putin told the veterans the government has decided to honor cities whose residents played a particularly powerful role in the nation's defense as ''Cities of Military Glory.'' During the Soviet era, several cities were honored for their wartime role.

On state-run Channel One, news reports about the holiday were accompanied by a graphic featuring a large red star like those that still sit atop the Kremlin towers -- a Soviet military symbol that has been restored under Putin.

After the midday news, the channel showed a sepia-toned clip that appeared to be part of a drive to inspire patriotism and unity: An aging veteran dons a coat laden with medals, and his grandson asks where he is going. His mother explains it is Victory Day, and grandfather and grandson assure each other they are victors.

''One victory for all,'' the advertisement says.

Putin has used a mix of Soviet and czarist-era symbols to remind Russians and the world of the country's past might as he seeks to shape its resurgence under strong state control and reassert its international clout 15 years after the Soviet collapse.

Last year, Putin celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Allied victory by hosting dozens of world leaders for annual commemorations whose centerpiece, a May 9 parade in Red Square, was replete with Soviet-era symbols.

Putin sent a holiday message Monday to the leaders of the other 11 former Soviet republics in the Commonwealth of Independent states, saying they stood shoulder-to-shoulder to rout ''the Nazi aggressors.''" ...

Associated Press "Putin Thanks Veterans on Eve of Holiday" May 8, 2006 via

Leningraders gather water on Nevskii Avenue, 25 October 1942.

Photo credit: From "[Women] Writing the Siege of Leningrad". With thanks. 2002/12/highlt.html

The University of Kyiv [Kiev] burning on November 6, 1943, the day the German Army retreated.

Photo credit: InfoUkes Ukrainian Information Service With thanks. history/ww2/page-29.html

World War II in Ukraine:
Population Losses in World War II by Country

Total Losses in Thousands

Military Civilian Total % of population

Ukraine 2,500 5,500 8,000 19.1
Germany 4,500 2,000 6,500 9.1
Russia (RSFSR) * 1,781 4,000 5,781 (?) 2.9
Poland 123 4,877 5,000 19.6
Japan 2,000 350 2,350 3.4
Yugoslavia 300 1,400 1,700 10.6
France 250 350 600 1.5
Italy 400 100 500 1.1
Romania 300 200 500 3.7
Greece 100 350 450 6.2
Hungary 136 294 430 4.6
Great Britain 290 60 350 0.7
Czechoslovakia 46 294 340 3.0
Austria 270 104 374 5.6
USA 300 - 300 0.2
Holland 12 198 210 2.4
Finland 84 16 100 2.7
Belgium 13 75 88 1.1
Canada 42 - 42 0.4

* This estimate of Russian losses does not include citizens of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, etc.

Source: Ukraine During World War II 1938-1945, by V. Kusyk, Kyiv-Paris-New York-Toronto, 1992, p. 702. B. Urlanis Guerres et populations, Moscou 1975, p. 319-323; Das Dritte Reich (Muenchen 1985) Band 2. S. 404.

The total USSR military loss in World War II was 8,668,400 including Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Armenia, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tadjikistan, etc. according to General M. Moiseyev, Chief of General Staff, USSR Armed forces (Voennoistoricheskiy zhurnal no. 3, March 1990; quoted by Peter G. Tsouras in The Great Patriotic War, p. 240). history/ww2/page-29.html


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