The sound of gunfire and the roar of fighter jets are still in dreams of veterans. On May 8, European countries marked the 72nd anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka paid respects to the memorial in Prague; France’s incumbent leader Francois Hollande and president elect Emmanuel Macron came to the eternal light in Paris.
Most European countries celebrate the victory on May 8 remembering the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces. Russia, Belarus and many other former Soviet republics commemorate Victory Day on May 9.
On Wednesday, opposition politician Mikalai Statkevich and his associates laid flowers to the graves of fallen soldiers at the Military Cemetery in Minsk. Civil activists and indifferent citizen visited the grave of Vasil Bykau, a famous Belarusian writer who fought against Nazis and showed the naked truth about the war in his books. At the ebb of his life, Bykau got in wrong with the first and still the only president of Belarus Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
“Bykau died almost 14 years ago, but the Belarusian officials have never come to pay the tribute to his memore, say nothing of bringing flowers. The authorities refuse to name a street in Homiel after him,” says youth activist Yury Lukashevich.
Unfortunately, Vasil Bykau is the only one whom the regime ignores.
“Former prisoners of war and occupied population who had to survive under implausible conditions have been deleted from the history of the war in Belarus,” says historian Ihar Kuznyatsou.
20 years ago every fourth Belarusian was reported to have died in the war. These days, however, historians say about one in three – in total up to 3 mln people. Although the death toll has been clarified, the ideology prevailing in Belarus is reminiscent of the of the USSR. Much information about the war is still classified; taboo subjects and Soviet myths do exist in the country.
“The official Belarusian historiography shows the war as ‘then strokes of Stalin’. Sometimes they admit that there were ‘some problems at the beginning the war. For some reason, they fail to mention, for example, Stalin’s Order 270 that declared all captured Soviet soldiers enemies of the people,” Mr Kuznyatsou stresses.
Belsat.eu, phot. Vasily Fedosenko / Reuters / Forum