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Berlin: WWII Commemoration and Solidarity with Ukraine

Brandenburg Gate in Berlin was illuminated in the colors of the flag of Ukraine on Monday night, in solidarity with the country Russia is fighting a war of aggression against. At the same time, Russian officials commemorated fallen Soviet soldiers who fought Nazi Germany with the other Allies.

Berlin, May 10th, 2022 (The Berlin Spectator) — Sergey Yuryevitch Nechayev is Russia’s Ambassador to Germany. On Monday, he honored Soviet soldiers who gave their lives for freedom when they defeated Nazi Germany, along with the other Allies, 77 years ago. He did so by laying down wreaths at the Soviet memorials located at Treptower Park and Tiergarten.

Contradiction in Berlin

While Ambassador Nechayev was part of those commemorations, the country he is representing continued attacking its smaller neighbor Ukraine. Here, the Russians are not fighting for freedom, but against it. They are not trying to liberate a people, but to subjugate one. Here, they are not saving lives, but taking them. This war is not getting rid of a mean dictatorship. It is an attempt to extend Vladimir Putin’s ’empire’.

On Monday, Brandenburg Gate was illuminated in Ukraine’s national colors again. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

This contradiction led to complications on May 8th and 9th in Berlin, where the end of WWII and the victory against fascist Nazi Germany were commemorated. Because the authorities feared provocations and incidents, thousands of police officers were on duty in the streets of the capital. Special rules applied because people were supposed to have the opportunity to commemorate the liberators in dignity.

Arguments About Flags

No Russian or Ukrainian flags were allowed at 15 memorial sites in Berlin. Because of those regulations, a new argument erupted with the Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany, Andrey Melnyk. On Saturday, he had demanded an immediate retraction of this rule. His boss, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, said Berlin had made a mistake by banning Ukrainian flags at those sites. The largest opposition party in the city state of Berlin, the CDU, saw it the same way. It was going to file a lawsuit against the Berlin Senate because of the ban of Ukrainian flags at memorials on May 8th and 9th, the RBB radio and TV network reported.

One of Berlin’s Soviet Memorials is located at Treptower Park. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

Both days went by without big incidents, according to the Berlin Police Department. Hundreds of people took part in three commemoration events at Soviet memorial sites. Only few members of the Russian biker gang ‘Night Wolves’, which supports Vladimir Putin, showed up in Berlin. The police withdrew “many motorbikes” from circulation when the gang reached Berlin’s city limits, maybe because they were too loud. On both Sunday and Monday, the police took action against persons who displayed Ukrainian flags at those memorial sites in spite of the rules, by taking them down.

Display of Solidarity

In the meantime, on Monday evening, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and France’s reelected President Emmanuel Macron appeared at Brandenburg Gate, which was illuminated in the national colors of Ukraine again. This display of solidarity was implemented on the occasion of Europe Day.

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