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Ukraine: The Museum of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45

By Dan Shea

The Ukraine is a region that has suffered grievously over the centuries- first a part of this empire, then another, then split into different regions with different overlords. In 1917 through 1921 the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was formed in a battle of independence parallel to the USSR formation. The Soviet Union quickly swallowed it up, and Joseph Stalin’s Holodomor (Massacre by starvation) of Ukrainians in 1932-33 had far reaching effects as World War II marched into the horizon. This is not to give the impression that Ukrainians are just victims, and everything is so bleak and dark that it’s a hopeless place- certainly not! Ukrainians have a wonderful culture, vibrant colors in clothing and dance, a long history of arts, poetry, and food that’s wonderful for the visitor. They also have a history as warriors, and have tremendous pride in that history.

During World War II, many in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic fought against both the Germans and the Russian Soviets, and in some cases with the Germans against the USSR. This is despite the fact that the Ukraine was one of the founding states of the USSR. Terrible sacrifices were made during The Great Patriotic War, and in the days afterwards. The Ukraine SSR gained a UN seat after the war and a measure of independence, however the USSR was always in the background controlling and not to the benefit of the Ukrainians. In 1991 during the “Breakup” of the Soviet Union days, the Ukraine finally declared itself an independent country.

Plans for the museum started in 1943 during the war, and in the periods of the later 1940s, and 1950s, artifacts were gathered and displayed. It wasn’t until 1974 that the museum really progressed, and in the modern era receives hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. The large parade grounds are perfect for huge commemorative military ceremonies.

The statue “Motherland-Mother” is perhaps the most striking thing about the museum- it is visible for many miles. Sculptor Basil Boroday designed it and had many sculptors,...


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