Tuesday the 8th of May, 1945 marked the conclusion of the Second World War in Europe. At 3 pm Churchill made an official radio announcement and the first celebration of Victory in Europe Day began.

Women put on fancy dresses, people danced on the streets of London, and almost the whole nation, including atheists, went to churches to thank God for the defeat of Germany and an end to the six years of fear and war.

God bless you all. This is your victory! It is the victory of the cause of freedom in every land. In all our long history we have never seen a greater day than this. Everyone, man or woman, has done their best. Everyone has tried. Neither the long years, nor the dangers, nor the fierce attacks of the enemy, have in any way weakened the unbending resolve of the British nation. God bless you all‘.

– Winston Churchill

The most astonishing moment of this year’s VE Day’s 70th anniversary, besides the jubilee, of course, was an act of remembrance at the Soviet War memorial. In the current political atmosphere that meant a lot to the veterans of Great Britain and Russia who stood together side by side in 1945 to achieve the allied victory over Fascism. The rising anti-Russian sentiments were ignored on this occasion and the memory of the battles fought together on Russian and German soil was cherished.

Tony Davies, a 90-year-old veteran, said that the Russians have always been very welcoming. He participated in several VE Day celebrations in Moscow and St Petersburg, formerly Leningrad. Every single time he was treated ‘very well’ (including during the period of the Cold War).

‘I feel grateful to be alive. It’s good to be alive and still meet people from the past, and share experiences on some occasions, although the memory gets weak’, spoke Mr Davies. I asked  how often he communicates with the friends he met during the war, to which he wistfully replied: ‘Not that many left here … not many left … ‘.

Veterans are strong enough to counter the popular media propaganda because they know what the word ‘friendship’ means and how to differentiate an ally from an enemy.

Following the events in Eastern Ukraine, some Eastern European governments declared the Georgian Ribbon to be a sign of rising Russian nationalism.

For future reference, the ribbon, which has three black and two orange stripes, is a component of many prestigious military decorations awarded by the Soviet Union, including the Cross of Saint George and the Soviet Order of Glory. The partial ban on wearing the ribbon therefore implies a ban on wearing the well-deserved military awards by those who fought against a common enemy in the 1940s.

Nevertheless, each and every one of the veterans wore the Georgian Ribbon as a sign of solidarity with the past.

Joe Gordon Banks, a 90-year-old veteran, explained the difference between patriotism and nationalism:
‘It is something that we should be all proud to do. We should be all proud of our own nation. This is [an] accumulation of people that you can understand, because you live and they live here. War is not something they [the Russians] run after. We want more of that sort of thing here [in the UK]’.

The Act of Remembrance was visited by representatives of different countries including Italy, Germany and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea which has been the subject of much controversy during the last year. Every Embassy was met with three cheers and all had a drink ‘To Victory’.

Thomas Martin, 68, commented: ‘It’s nice to bring everyone together, to bring back friendship to everybody. We should keep peace with everybody. We should join together’.

Veterans have shown that they ignore stereotypes and the anti-Russian agenda created by Western governments, but do you?

 

By Hanna Kuchar