Who divides society? Op-Ed by Victor Pelin

“Before May 9, it is useful to understand that the historical memory should be cultivated with great care without separating some of the events from the others. Or we risk overlooking the cause-effect relationship between a number of events in favor of propagandistic interpretations used by shrewd politicians…

Counterpoising Europe Day and Victory Day

Article 111 of the Labor Code of the Republic of Moldova provides that among the nonworking days is also May 9 – the Day of Victory and commemoration of the heroes killed in the Great Patriotic War and May 9 – Europe Day. There is no reason that would prevent the simultaneous celebration of the two holidays. Regrettably, in the Republic of Moldova there are forces that volens nolens, by their actions, turn the citizens against each other and contribute to dividing society. Among the mentioned forces is the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM), which several months ago announced that “it will insist on celebrating Europe Day on May 8 and only Victory Day on May 9”. Moreover, the announced intention became a programmatic objective of the PSRM, stipulated in the party’s new program: “Our country is closely connected with the events of one of the most terrible wars in the history of mankind. We are the nation who won. The victory in the war forms part of our national identity. We insist on the celebration of Victory Day on May 9 and of the liberation of Moldova from the fascist invaders on August 24”. 

Undoubtedly, the PSRM has the right to interpret the historical events as it considers necessary. But it should not be allowed to extrapolate the own perceptions to the whole country as regards the historical memory of the Great Patriotic War. In the Republic of Moldova, there are enough citizens who wonder why is the keeping of the historical memory of the Great Patriotic War delimited from the memory of World War II? The answer is at the surface – because the start of World War II was preceded by the signing of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact by which two totalitarian regimes divided the spheres of influence in Europe, one of them expressing its interest in Bessarabia.

Those who invoke the historical memory should accept that this is valuable only if it is restored fully, without truncation. Such an approach would help them to realize why May 9 was chosen as Europe Day. It’s simple – the capitulation of the Nazi Germany laid the basis of united Europe that set the goal of ensuring the cooperation of the European nations as a remedy against eventual bloody conflicts. The same historical memory reminds us that for a series of nations May 9 meant the replacement, for almost half a century, of a totalitarian regime with another one. Evidence is provided by the events that happened: in Berlin in 1953; in Hungary in 1953; in Czechoslovakia in 1968; in Poland in 1981. After the fall of the totalitarian Communist regimes in 1991, the countries of Central Europe chose freely and unforced by anyone to join the European Union (EU). As to us, after the signing of the Moldova – EU Association Agreement in 2014, the citizens of our country have the occasion to also celebrate Europe Day, hoping that time will come and our country will manage to fully integrate into the EU.

Cause of truncation of historical memory

No one can doubt the fact that the victory over Nazism should be commemorated if we want to avoid in the future the nightmare experienced by mankind during World War II. However, the transformation of the victory over Nazism into a nonstop propagandistic campaign should be avoided. This happens in Russia and we can presume that the affiliation of heavyweights of the PSRM to the Russian Imperial Movement makes them to engage the party into the propagandistic torrent. The first indicator in this regard is the taking of the Great Patriotic War out of the context of World War II. It is curious to see that the PSRM insists that this procedure directly forms part of our national identity. It is a strange finding if we take into account the fact that a lot of ordinary Bessarabians had to fight on the side of both of the belligerent parties during the Great Patriotic War. Or the PSRM considers that our identity started to strengthen itself after the implementation of the Supplementary Protocol to the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact? If this is so, our identity should be marked by all the events that happened since the start of World War II, including by the:

  • joining of the USSR in World War II, together with the invasion of Poland on September 17, 1939. The given attack happened at the request of Nazi Germany, which was transmitted through diplomatic channels: “We are waiting impatiently to crash the Polish army in several weeks. Then we will keep under military control the territory that was identified in Moscow as a sphere of German interests ... Please, discuss this thing with Molotov and find out if the Soviet Union does not consider that the Russian armed forces should act at the right moment against the Polish armed forces in the area of the sphere of Russian interests and, for its part, occupy this territory. We consider this thing will be not only facilitation for us, but also will be in accordance with the spirit of the Moscow agreements and the Soviet interests….” The USSR was very receptive to the request. It accepted it in only two weeks, when over 4,000 tanks and 600,000 Soviet soldiers invaded Poland;
  • continuation of the conquering of territories from the Soviet sphere of influence by attacking Finland on November 30, 1939, followed by the exclusion of the USSR from the Nations League;
  • occupation in 1940 of three Baltic countries and of Bessarabia in accordance with the secret Protocol to the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, etc.

But this is not everything the historical memory retained. There was also the visit of November 12-13, 1940 by the head of the USSR government Vyacheslav Molotov to Berlin. Then the plan for dividing the whole world was thought up. The plan failed owing to the unshared ambitions of the partners. The USSR wanted the territories rich in crude oil in the Near East, not those proposed by the Nazis. The latter got angry as they needed vital spaces, aspiring also to have territories rich in crude oil. The misunderstanding led to the deterioration of the relations between the war partners, being followed by the clash between the two totalitarian regimes. The historical memory shows how the partners became sworn enemies after they could not come to terms over the division of the spheres of influence at global level. From here we can deduce the causes for which the propagandists prefer to speak exclusively about the Great Patriotic War, not yet about World War II that the dictators started together, hand in hand, in accordance with the Ribbentrop-Molotov Plan for dividing the spheres of influence.


Before May 9, it is useful to understand that the historical memory should be cultivated with great care without separating some of the events from the others. Or we risk overlooking the cause-effect relationship between a number of events in favor of propagandistic interpretations used by shrewd politicians. 

There is no future without realizing the past. If we look into the past, we see that to strengthen historical memory and not to allow society to be divided, on May 9 we should commemorate the Day of Victory against the inhuman Nazi regime and, in particular, should render homage to the soldiers killed in battle in the war caused by the totalitarian regimes.

If we look into the future, we should take care of our identity so that it is cleared of the propagandistic shine. Therefore, on May 9 we should celebrate Day of Europe - that Europe that decided to be united and into which we want the Republic of Moldova to integrate.

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