Memory never fades
[b]Some deeds are untouched by the passing of time. Undoubtedly, Victory Day — celebrated on May 9th — is a date which never loses its significance. Contemporary events do not overshadow its importance, as we continue to remember the unprecedented and enduring heroism of Soviet soldiers.[/b]The Great Patriotic War subdued Belarusian lands like a steam roller, leaving around 3 million people dead and 209 cities, towns and district centres destroyed, alongside over 9,000 villages; 380,000 Belarusians were taken as slaves to Germany and, in the years of occupation, the Nazi ran over 260 death camps on Belarusian territory. Hundreds of prisons and ghettos housed hundreds of thousands of old people, women and children, most of whom died. How can we forget?
The Great Patriotic War subdued Belarusian lands like a steam roller, leaving around 3 million people dead and 209 cities, towns and district centres destroyed, alongside over 9,000 villages; 380,000 Belarusians were taken as slaves to Germany and, in the years of occupation, the Nazi ran over 260 death camps on Belarusian territory. Hundreds of prisons and ghettos housed hundreds of thousands of old people, women and children, most of whom died. How can we forget?
Meanwhile, partisans vowed to avenge the invasion and rid their country of their enemies, working day and night, as never before seen in history.
Over 1.5m Belarus-born people fought on the various fronts of the Great Patriotic War, standing to the bitter end near Moscow, Leningrad, Stalingrad and Kiev. They helped liberate villages and towns across their Homeland, as well as those in Eastern and Central Europe. Around 400 Belarus-born residents became generals and admirals, commanding army and naval units during the war years. Meanwhile, 448 Belarusians were awarded the high title of Hero of the Soviet Union, for their heroism and dignity in defending their Fatherland. Four people were awarded this title twice.
Those sad years saw a third of Belarusians perish; it was the price of freedom. While we remember, others also need to be aware of what occurred. After WWII, Belarus helped found the Organisation of the United Nations — an honour held by few states. Belarus was chosen among the republics of the Soviet Union for its great contribution in defeating Fascism.
May is a special month, marking victory over Fascism in WWII. Belarus reverently honours soldiers’ heroic deeds. Even today, around 50,000 ex-servicemen and partisans of the Great Patriotic War reside here, although they are fewer in number each year. Our veterans continue to receive state attention and support and Victory Day remains sacred. The Great Patriotic War has left its legacy, yet remembered in Belarus, although other countries may choose to forget.
Today’s teenagers sometimes have the opportunity to meet those war heroes. Without doubt, the experience is significant, leading some to seek out soldiers who died in the war, restoring the named of unknown soldiers. Some ‘adopt’ veterans, paying regular visits. They remember and are aware of the war and honour the victors.
Time passes and the world is changing, but the truth cannot be untold. Belarus is building relations with other countries, based on good neighbourly relations, following our contemporary political credo.
The best contests worthily reveal the strongest, as in sport, where competition remains peaceful, despite the sharpest struggle.
The essence of international co-operation is partnership, as Belarus knows, orienting its foreign policy towards mutual relations with other countries. The nation’s political priorities were recently disclosed in the President’s annual State of the Nation Address to the Belarusian People and the National Assembly. Our magazine includes a summary of the text, allowing readers to better understand the position of the country in its quest to be a fully-fledged partner, open to the widest contacts.
Many partners of Belarus have already felt the benefit of economic interaction, including neighbouring Lithuania Moving Forward details the recent Belarusian-Lithuanian Forum, as well as new initiatives by our two countries’ governments.
BY Viktor Kharkov