May 8th is a complicated day, especially this year. The Soviet Union’s Red Army contributed a lot to defeating fascist Nazi Germany and the end of the Holocaust 77 years ago. But Russia is fighting its war of aggression in Ukraine. Because of the situation, the police will protect commemoration events even more than they usually do.
Berlin, May 7th, 2022. Update: 10:51 a.m. CEDT (The Berlin Spectator) — There is a lot of anger at Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and the entire leadership in Moscow, because of its war against Ukraine during which thousands of Ukrainians have been killed and injured while millions were forced to flee their homes. Still, or especially now, Moscow’s Embassy in Berlin, Russian institutes and WWII memorials need to be protected.
Preventing Street Battles
This also applies to commemoration events on the 77th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s surrender in 1945. Because of the time difference and historic events back then, the end of WWII and the Allies’ victory over Germany is being celebrated on both May 8th and 9th. According to the Berlin Police Department (BPD), “many people will visit the memorials, especially in our city”, to commemorate the event.
People needed to have the opportunity to take part in those commemorations, “also in the light of Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine”, the BPD said. The ongoing war is not supposed to lead to battles on the streets of Berlin. That is why the police are putting a lot of effort into protecting those events on Sunday and Monday. Besides, there is a German-Russian War Graves Commission Law which forces Germany to protect Soviet memorials and those graves.
“The dignified commemoration of Soviet soldiers who were killed in action while they contributed to liberating Germany and the world from the Nazi dictatorship, along with the armies of other countries, has priority on this day”, the BPD stated.
According to Berlin’s Police Chief Barbara Slowik, the concept the police will follow has two goals. She says regulations for May 8th and 9th would make sure commemoration events could take place. At the same time, the police would “take action against any support, endorsement or glorification of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. We will not accept an exploitation of the commemorations for these purposes”, Barbara Slowik said.
The display of Russian or Ukrainian flags at those Russian memorials will be forbidden at memorial locations. The same applies to other symbols such as uniforms or parts of uniforms. Marches and other military music may not be played. Chants that endorse, glorify or glamorize the war in Ukraine are banned. WWII veterans and diplomats are exempt from some of the regulations. The Senate Administration of the Interior sent out a message on Saturday morning in which it stressed that carrying Ukrainian flags was generally allowed on May 8th and 9th. The ban applies to certain memorials only.
Berlin needed to make sure appropriate and respectful commemorations were possible, the city state’s Interior Senator Iris Spranger said. The historical relevance of May 8th and 9th should not be exploited by current issues, meaning by Russia’s war against Ukraine, the Senator stated. Provocations and escalations needed to be thwarted.
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