Victory Day: between reconciliation, antagonization and destabilization? IPN debate

Through a number of public events that took place recently, the organizers and the participants expressed their disagreement, sometimes in categorical terms, with the changes that the government intends to introduce in the legislation on the Victory Day that is celebrated on May 9. It happened after in the public space they have spoken about a legislative initiative that was in the agenda of the May 26 Parliament meeting, but that the MPs didn’t manage to discuss even if they worked till late evening. The experts invited to IPN’s public debate “Victory Day: between reconciliation, antagonization and destabilization” discussed the arguments and goals of this legislative initiative.

Igor Boțan, the permanent expert of the project, said that World War II took place between September 1, 1939 and September 2, 1945. “It was a war of two world military-political coalitions. It was the largest armed conflict in the history of mankind. 62 states of the 74 existing at that moment were involved in that war. Approximately 80% of the population of the world was involved in it. The fighting took place in Eurasia and Africa and also in the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean and the Arctic Ocean,” stated the expert.

According to him, the Great Patriotic War, as it is called, took place between June 22, 1941 and May 9, 1945. This is what in historiography is called the Eastern Front of World War II. “It was a war of the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany. So, two allies in a particular period of time became enemies. The Eastern Front was indeed one of the main components of World War II. The name Great Patriotic War originates in Soviet historiography and is broadly used especially in the Russian Federation. Most of the countries of the world name the Eastern Front what in Russia is called the Great Patriotic War,” explained Igor Boțan.

Mihail Druță, MP of the Party of Action and Solidarity, said that the given bill is a late legislative initiative. “A decision adopted in a meeting of the UN General Assembly of November 22, 2004, ahead of the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, was the basis for drafting this initiative. It is aimed at strengthening peace by commemorating the victims of that war and all the victims from both sides of the front. As a result of the debates of November 19, a decision was adopted by consensus and this recommended all the states of the world to adopt national legal acts by which to commemorate all the victims of World War II on one or both of the dates, May 8 and 9,” stated the MP.

According to him, many years passed until Parliament ultimately passed a bill to adjust the national legislation to the decision adopted by the UN. The legislative initiative envisions amendments to the Labor Code and the Law on Commemorative Days. This way, Victory Day and the day of commemoration of the heroes who died for the independence of the homeland celebrated on May 9 will be substituted with the Day of Commemoration and Reconciliation in memory of those who died in World War II that will be celebrated on May 8,” said Mihail Druță, adding that most of the Western states celebrate on May 8 and the decision is already late and should be adopted as swiftly as possible.

Doctor of History Anatol Țăranu, Moldova’s ex-ambassador to Russia, said that in temporal terms, the surrender of Nazi Germany occurred on May 8, at the end of the day. The act of military surrender was signed in Potsdam, a suburb of Berlin, and took effect at 11pm, Berlin time. But then, according to the time zone, in Moscow it was May 9. “This is the moment related to the time differences, but it is absolutely evident that Stalin didn’t want this day, the day of capitulation of Germany, to be celebrated in the Soviet Union on a day with those from Europe. This war was won not by the Soviet it Union, but by Anti-Hitler Coalition,” noted Anatol Țăranu.

According to him, the next day after the war ended, Stalin started to pursue a policy by which he emphasized primarily the role of the Soviet Union and corrected the role of the allies. Later, this became a norm for the Soviet and Russian propaganda. As to the dates of May 8 and 9, the ex-ambassador said that the whole Europe and the allied countries normally celebrate the end of war in Europe on May 8. In all the allied countries, namely this day is marked by the authorities. In the Soviet Union, it was the opposite.

“In time, the victory in World War II turned into a state ideologeme in the Soviet Union. Later, it was borrowed by the current regime in Moscow and was taken to the dimensions of a paroxysm. Today, when we speak about the state ideology of the Russian Federation, of Putin’s Moscow, under this ideology I think the day of May 9 occupies the central role. From the moment that change occurred, the day of May 9 indisputably has become very problematic. I refer to the celebration of this day by Russia as many international agents that were to express their stance on what Moscow promotes were put in difficulty,” stated the historian.

The public debate entitled “Victory Day: between reconciliation, antagonization and destabilization” was the 11th installment of IPN’s project “Impact of the Past on Confidence and Peace Building Processes” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany.

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