During the occupation, the Nazis eliminated over 4 million civilians and almost 1.3 million prisoners of war.
In the years of World War II, Ukraine lost about 10 million people, i.e., a fourth of its its citizens.
Over 2.4 million Ukrainians were deported as slave labor to Germany.
Over 3 million Ukrainian citizens were killed in action on the front line.
A lot of Ukrainian residents remained missing and their destiny is still unknown.
Ukraine’s human losses in World War II years exceed the losses of any other country.
Sixty five years ago, on October 28, 1944, the last nook of the Ukrainian land in Transcarpathia was finally cleared of the Nazi invaders. There were still new tragedies in store for our people, which the 20th-ventury world history was so abundant in, but still the main thing was done: Ukrainians defended their rights to live on Earth at the price of millions of lives of their best sons and daughters (historians are still arguing about the overall number of losses – from 5 to 9 million).
It may be difficult for our youngest generation even to imagine that the Ukrainian nation was facing a choice to be or not to be (for the current era has taught many of us to shut our eyes to the crucial issues of existence).
It is still true that the ultimate question of the fighting was “to be or not to be.”
So our sacred duty is to bestow a well-deserved honor on all those who fell in that fiercest fight, all the veterans who fought without sparing their lives against the Nazis and their allies, all participants in the anti-Nazi Resistance Movement in Ukraine. (It should be remembered that this movement comprised various political forces that fought under different flags and any attempts to monopolize one’s contribution to the victory are hardly constructive.)
One more thing. It is at least immoral to use the exploit of the liberators of Ukraine in the expedient interests of the current political struggle, turning the Flags of Liberation into sort of a sledgehammer to strike the other historical figures.
All the Ukrainians, if they sincerely fought to cleanse their native land of the occupiers, deserve that we bow our heads to them whatever their ideological positions may be, for they fought for the freedom of Ukraine, not for the domination of their political party. And nothing can be dearer than the Fatherland’s freedom and independence. Understanding this was and still is the best guarantee of national unity which we need like the air to breathe with.
P.S. On October 27, President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia sent greetings to Ukrainians, including veterans, on the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Ukraine from Nazi Grman invaders, Kommersant-Ukraina reports.
“We are honoring today our dear veterans and bowing our heads to the memory of those who gave their life for the victory, our joint Victory, in a bitterest clash with Nazism,” the Russian president’s greeting says. “The entire world is paying tribute to the extraordinary courage and endurance of the soldiers of victory, partisans and civilians who saved the planet from fascism. They spared neither their efforts nor their lives to win freedom and the right to have an future,” Medvedev said.