War. How do you feel about it?

The Second World War is still one of the darkest pages of human history. There remain a lot of secrets, rumours, mistakes and past grievances driving international discussions about who won the war. It wouldn’t be wise to say that there were no political ambitions and economic reasons to start the war. No excuses, just facts.  But would it be wise to say that someone had won this war?

We still don’t know the true count of victims. We’re still trying to recreate the whole picture of the battle years searching for even the smallest pieces of past. And we still have political ambitions and economic reasons to argue about the outcome of the war at the governmental level. But I’m not an expert in policy and economy. So, what can I say about the annual Victory Day celebrations from this point of view?

I’m a regular person. My family members were involved in those tragic things happened in 1940s. My great-grandfather died from combat injuries several years after the 9th of May, 1945 (yes, Russian celebrate the Victory Day at May 9 unlike British due to the time-zone differences at the time the declaration was signed). My great-grandmother lived much longer and she told me a lot of stories about peoples’ lives from the past. Often veterans don’t like to talk about frontline life though. And do you know what? I’ve never heard about policy and economy.

My great-grandparents didn’t fight against Germany. And they definitely didn’t compare with Uzbek, Armenian, Tajik, Georgian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, American and others for the title of the winner. Usually they would say, “We were fighting for…”, followed by personal reasons. For their own freedom so as not to not become prisoners or slaves in their own homeland. For saving innocent people from concentration camps because nobody deserved such destiny. For people they loved to see them alive and happy no matter what. Regular people – soldiers, doctors, factories workers and many others – didn’t fight against states and nations. They’ve been fighting against the fascism. Can you see the difference? 

Here is another important question. As well as for politicians the question is who became the true winner, for regular people the question is if it was the victory? It sounds too idealistic maybe, but let it be so. I mean, ask any family that lost one of its members if the feeling of victory can replace someone dear in their hearts. You already know the answer. And it doesn’t matter your age, gender or nationality. Today we can feel it with our own skin once again because of the current pandemic. It’s hard to celebrate the victory if you lose someone. Uzbek, Armenian, Tajik, Georgian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, American, German, Italian, Polish and many other people suffered. That’s why when talking about winners and losers it’s so important to focus not only at global policy outcome of the war, but also the meaning of the psychologic, social and cultural changes it brought.  There was no one winner for me. We did it together. 

Today we should be grateful to all the regular people – soldiers, doctors, factories workers and many others – from all of the countries who gave us that chance to enjoy today’s life, fighting for us. That’s what I remember from my childhood. That’s what I want my future children to know about the Second World War. 

Peace. How do you feel about it?

Text by Tatiana Shevchenko