On the 8-th and 9-th of May Ukrainian people will mark a Day of memory and reconciliation and a Day of victory over Nazism in WW II.
Ukrainians made a major contribution to the victory over Nazism, becoming one of the victorious nations. Millions of Ukrainians, with weapons in their hands, fought against Nazism during the war. Ukraine gave the Red Army: 7 Front and Army Commanders, 200 Generals, more than 6 million soldiers, NCO’s and officers. About 120 thousand Ukrainians met the Nazis in September 1939 as part of the Polish Army. In subsequent years, more than 130 thousand Ukrainians fought in the armies of other anti-Hitler Allies (USA, Canada, France, Poland, and Czechoslovakia). Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians fought Nazism in the resistance movement.
As a result of the fighting, more than 700 cities and towns were destroyed in Ukraine along with tens of thousands of villages. Kyiv was 85% destroyed, Kharkiv – 70%, Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia and Poltava suffered great devastation and Ternopil was almost completely destroyed. Nearly 2 million homes were destroyed which resulted in more than 10 million homeless people. Overall, Ukraine’s material losses in the war were 285 billion rubles or $100 billion.
As a vital contributor to the Red Army and a key provider of industrial resources in the USSR, Ukraine incurred the largest number of casualties during WWII. Of the 41,7 million people living in Ukrainian Soviet Republic before the war, only 27.4 million were alive in Ukraine in 1945. Official data says that at least 8 million Ukrainians lost their lives: 5.5 - 6 million civilians, and more than 2.5 million natives of Ukraine were killed at the front. The data varies between 8 to 14 million killed, however, only 6 million have been identified.
The contribution of Ukrainians to victory in World War II was not just limited to the 7 million Ukrainian soldiers in the Red Army. Hundreds of Ukrainians also served as generals and commanders. The flag of victory over the Reichstag was first raised by a Ukrainian from Sumy, Oleksiy Berest. In addition, about 2.5 million Ukrainians received commendations and were awarded with medals by the Soviet Union.
The general demographic loss of Ukraine including those killed, deported, evacuated, the victims of concentration camps, and those who went into exile along with the retreating Nazis add up to at least 14 million people. This is the greatest single loss compared with the losses of other countries and nations in World War II. The USSR lost about 26.6 million lives in World War II. In comparison, the total losses in Germany were about 6 million. In fact, the total Ukrainian losses likely vary between 40 to 44 percent of the total casualties of the USSR.
As one of the epicenters of military battles, Ukraine suffered heavily and lost millions of lives; millions more were left disabled. From June 22, 1941, until October 28, 1944, out of 76 strategic and front-line offensive and defensive operations of WWII, 29 were held on Ukrainian territory. The war destroyed 720 Ukrainian cities and towns and 28,000 villages, 250 of which were completely burned down. In addition, in Ukraine more than 16,500 industrial enterprises, 18,000 medical institutions, 33,000 schools, universities, colleges and research institutes, and 33,000 farms and state farms were destroyed as a result of World War II.
Nearly one in every five Soviet soldiers named a hero of the Soviet Union was a Ukrainian. Of the 115, who were given the award twice, 32 were Ukrainians, and ne Ukrainian – pilot Ivan Kozhedub — received it three times.