8 May, 2016. OTTAWA. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress issued the following statement on the occasion of the 71st anniversary of Victory in Europe Day.
In 2004, the United Nations General Assembly declared 8-9 May a time of remembrance of those who lost their lives during World War II. On May 8, 1945, Nazi Germany capitulated to the Western Allies and the Soviet Union. After more than five years of the most brutal war in history, the nations of Europe began the long and difficult process of rebuilding their homelands.
Today, we unite in solemn commemoration for the millions of victims of this terrible War, and in eternal gratitude to those who fell in the service of our country in the struggle for freedom. More than one million Canadians served in our country’s Armed Forces during World War II, among them some 49,000 Canadian of Ukrainian origin. More than 45,000 Canadians gave their lives defending our freedom.
While on the Western front, Canada and other democracies were liberating Europe from Nazi tyranny, on the Eastern front, Nazi despotism was being driven back by Communist despotism. Caught between the totalitarian and genocidal empires of Hitler and Stalin, Ukrainians fought with valour and bravery against both occupiers. Victory over Nazi Germany brought neither peace nor freedom to Ukraine. Stalin’s war against the Ukrainians continued for several more years, as millions of Ukrainians continued to be executed, imprisoned, or deported to the Gulag, for their determination to live free. Though freedom and independence only came to Ukraine more than four decades after the end of World War II, those brave men and women who fought and died for Ukraine during and after World War II inspired the generation that was finally able to return liberty to Ukraine.
Today, the government of the Russian Federation seeks to whitewash the crimes of the Soviet Union and Stalin. The Kremlin’s propaganda machine mentions only victory, and not the suffering that followed for millions of people. We must always remember that World War II began with the German-Soviet invasion and dismemberment of Poland. And that the War’s end in 1945 brought with it another four decades of brutal occupation for the Baltic States, Ukraine, Georgia and other formerly occupied peoples.
Today, the people of Ukraine are again bravely defending their homeland against tyranny and despotism. For more than two years the Russian Federation has waged a brutal war of aggression against Ukraine. By invading Ukraine, Russia has, for the first time since the end of World War II, sought to change borders in Europe by force. With God’s help, the people of Ukraine will prevail.
Today, we honour the memory of the millions of victims of World War II. We pay tribute to those who served our country with courage and valour so that we may be free. To them we owe a debt that can never be repaid. And we pray that Peace soon return to Ukraine.