Updated on 08/05/2022 20:57
- On May 8 and 9, the end of the Second World War is commemorated.
- This year, the commemoration is dominated by the new war in Ukraine.
- Ukrainian Ambassador Melnyk commemorated Ukrainian soldiers and criticized the ban on displaying flags.
Warning of a new war: With commemorative events and rallies, people in many places in Germany commemorated the end of the Second World War in Europe 77 years ago. In Berlin alone, there were dozens of events on Sunday. In view of the war in Ukraine, the police have been deployed in large numbers to prevent possible conflicts and curb pro-Russian pro-war activities. There were no major incidents until the evening.
In a televised speech on the anniversary of May 8, 1945, Chancellor Olaf Scholz underlined Germany’s historic responsibility in supporting Ukraine against Russia’s war of aggression. “We learned a key lesson from the catastrophic history of our country between 1933 and 1945,” Scholz said, according to the text of the speech. He said, “Never again war. Never again genocide. Never again tyranny.”
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in Berlin that one of the lessons of May 8, 1945 was that Europeans should not be separated again by aggressive nationalism and hatred of peoples. He called the war in Ukraine a “break in the ages”.
Commemoration of the end of the Second World War: prohibition of the Russian and Ukrainian flags
On May 8, 1945, World War II in Europe ended with the surrender of the German Wehrmacht. In addition, Russia celebrates its most important holiday on May 9 with the “Day of Victory” over Nazi Germany.
In Berlin, conditions were imposed on 15 memorial sites, including a ban on Russian and Ukrainian flags. Interior Minister Nancy Faeser previously announced consistent action against the glorification of war in Ukraine. “I am very grateful to the police for being deployed with very powerful forces on May 8 and 9 to prevent actions that glorify the Russian war of aggression and Russian war crimes,” the SPD politician told the editorial network Germany.
Ukrainian Ambassador Andriy Melnyk laid a wreath at the Soviet War Memorial in Berlin’s Tiergarten in memory of Ukrainian soldiers who died in World War II. Veterans and members of the Ukrainian army were also present. A few dozen people kept chanting “Melnyk out”. Other participants then reacted by chanting Ukrainian supporters.
Wreaths for Nazi victims in the former Bergen-Belsen concentration camp
Despite the ban, single Ukrainian or red flags with a Soviet connection were shown in Berlin. According to the police, officials intervened on several occasions, including during the unfurling of a 25-meter-long Ukrainian flag. Diplomats and World War II veterans, among others, were exempt from the ban. Ambassador Melnyk, Ukrainian associations and the opposition in the House of Representatives had earlier criticized the flag ban in no uncertain terms.
In Potsdam, the parliament of the Land of Brandenburg commemorated the liberation from National Socialism and the end of the war in Europe. Land President Ulrike Liedtke and Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke (both SPD) called for peace and reconciliation. Prime Minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Manuela Schwesig (SPD) laid a wreath at the “Mother” monument in Raben Steinfeld near Schwerin.
Wreaths have been laid at the site of the former Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Lower Saxony to commemorate the victims. Given the war in Ukraine, the victims of the former Soviet Union are the focus of commemoration this year, according to the Lower Saxony Memorials Foundation.
Fans celebrate Putin in hundreds of vehicles in Cologne
In Cologne, Russia’s war against Ukraine has taken thousands of people to the streets for very different reasons. In the morning, a motorcycle parade took place on the outskirts of the cathedral city, during which, according to the police, around 150 people expressed their support for Russia. Later, around 1,000 people gathered in several hundred vehicles at Fühlinger See, on the outskirts of the city, for a motorcade – among them were many supporters of Russian head of state Vladimir Putin. At the end of the afternoon, a pro-Ukrainian demonstration took place at the Deutz shipyard, in which 10,000 people had registered.
In Freiburg, about 80 cars drove through the city in a parade under the slogan “Against discrimination against Russian speakers – for a quick peace in Europe”.
More commemorative events are scheduled for Monday. (mt/dpa)
On the day of the commemoration of the end of the Second World War, Chancellor Olaf Scholz addresses the public.