According to Andrii Portnov, Ukrainian historian of the“ Berlin Brandenburg Ukrainian Initiative, “The very existence of those two dates shows that at least the Ukrainian Government understands that Ukrainian society is a society in transition, is a society with a variety of social experiences… There a lot of people, millions of people who do need the 9th of May to be celebrated on the state level... So now you have both holidays.”
When referring to the well-known WWII picture of a Soviet flag flying from Berlin’s Reichstag (Parliament), German historian, Jan Claas Behrends, speaks about the mysteries of official Soviet memory culture “It’s funny that people in the Soviet Union perceive it as a symbol of Nazism, which really it isn’t. Not at all…When it was conquered by the Soviets soldiers it was actually a very meaningless building. Hitler didn’t want a parliament.” Portnov believes that Ukrainian memories from WWII are quite complex as they include a variety of topics, from the Holocaust, to the deportation of Crimean Tatars, to the Ukrainian collaboration with Nazis: “In case of Ukraine, all those stories could not be just reduced to one single narrative. And that’s actually what we see on political, social, cultural level in Ukraine,” he says. In Germany, however, the narrative is closely related to the European narrative. “The whole Soviet story doesn’t really fit in,” says Behrends on Russia’s construction of positive past narratives. “You invent something to make it sound, to make it look a part of a glorious national past,” he adds.
Hromadske’s Nataliya Gumenyuk spoke to Andrii Portnov, Ukrainian historian and Jan Claas Behrends, German historian in May 2016.