Sep 29, 2020
75 years since the end of World War II: commemoration and historical understanding
Three quarters of a century have passed since the end of the most catastrophic military conflagration in human history: World War II. Paradoxically, however, the more that time passes the more we seem to remember it, in official and popular culture: commemorations, memorials, movies and books, above all in Post-Soviet Russia. Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, commemorations of the 75th anniversaries of the German and Japanese surrenders in May and August 1945 respectively by the victorious former Western Allies were subdued affairs. In Washington, President Trump laid a wreath; in Paris, President Macron spoke in front of a near-deserted Arch de Triumphe; in locked-down London, Queen Elizabeth gave a televised address. In Moscow and Minsk, nevertheless, Presidents Putin and Lukashenko oversaw massive military parades celebrating victory in the “Great Patriotic War”.
Such official commemorations usually celebrate the virtues of nation, state and people that seemingly made victory possi…