Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Victory Day

Yesterday -- when my internet service got derailed -- was Victory Day here, honoring the end of The Great Patriotic War, World War II, or hostilities in Europe, however you wish to call it. The holiday is a huge deal over here, with parades on Red Square and through the capital of Ukraine, and every TV station playing movies honoring the millions and millions of Russian and Ukrainian lives lost.

You really have to meditate on the numbers to feel the full effect. More than 25 million citizens of the Soviet Union lost their lives during the war, some 16 million of them civilians. It's no wonder this is no Veteran's Day parade on Main Street, with a handful of members of the VFW waving a flag from the back of a convertible with an advertising placard for the local Buick dealership on the side of the front door. Consider: The fatalities suffered by the Russians at the Battle of Stalingrad exceeded the total number of US soldiers killed during the entire war.

The photo above is from the central square in Volgograd (veterans want to rename the city Stalingrad, as it was under this name the city became famous -- before the revolution, it was Tsaritsyn).

You can view some pictures of Veterans here, including one of "three elderly women (two of them with medals, one in WWII uniform) hold(ing) a poster, which reads (RUS): "May 9: How good that the dead cannot see what you have done to my country." (Neeka's Backlog.)