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The Victims of World War II honoured in Vilnius

The Victory Day is celebrated in Europe and on other continents on 8th-9th May. It is celebrated on two dates, as the act of capitulation of Germany was signed in Berlin on 8th May after 11pm, which was already 9th May in Moscow.

Victims of World War II were honoured in Vilnius on 8th May on the occasion of the 72nd anniversary of the termination of the WWII. Respect was paid to soldiers and civilians who fell during World War II. In Paneriai wreaths were laid at the Polish and Jewish quarters and at the quarter of the victims of fascist terror. About 70 thousand Jews, 20 thousand Poles and about 10 thousand Soviet prisoners were killed in Paneriai in 1941-1944 by Nazis and Lithuanian sections of shooters collaborating with them. Wreaths were also laid in Vingis, where German soldiers are buried.
Flowers were laid on the Grave of the Unknown Soldier, on the Grave of a Lithuanian Soldier and at the ‘Pieta’ memorial at the Antakalnis cemetery. Russian soldiers, who died during the liberation of Vilnius, were also honoured.

Ambassadors and military attachés from various countries, including the ambassador of the Republic of Poland Jarosław Czubiński,  took part in the ceremonies. Moreover, Valdemar Tomaševski, member of the European Parliament and leader of EAPL-CFA as well as Michal Mackevič, President of the Association of Poles in Lithuania, and Edmund Šot, secretary of the Veterans’ Club of the Armia Krajowa in Vilnius Region  took part in the commemoration.

Representatives of Polish community honoured also the victims who were killed in other places, includingKriaučiūnai. Namely in Kriaučiūnai, on 13th July 1944, the last and one of the biggest battles between Vilnius Armia Krajowa and German raider took place. 79 Polish soldiers died during the battle, many were injured.

Wreaths were laid on Antakalnis cemetery on 9th May. Battle veterans, Vilnius residents, youths gathered there.

About 500 soldiers of Armia Krajowa and about 900 Russian soldiers died during the liberation of Vilnius from the hands of Nazi occupants.

Some politicians speculate about celebrating the Victory Day. There also many discussions about the ribbon of St George as a symbol of something negative, although holy symbol cannot be associated with anything negative. Such speculations were over in 2016, when Pope Francis pinned the ribbon to his chest.

Member of the European Parliament Valdemar Tomaševski also took part in the commemorations of 8th-9th May. He stressed the importance of honouring the soldiers who fought with Germans. ‘The ones who died were young, common boys, they wanted to live. Each year we pay tribute to them despite politization of such commemorations by some people and by the media. This year even fallen German soldiers and Lithuanians collaborating with them were honoured too. And this is rights, as absolute majority of them did not join the war on their own accord. But some people will always find a reason to manipulate facts and divide nations. We, as Christians, understand that every reconciliation takes place through forgiveness,’ said Tomaševski.

A new fact was noted in Lithuania – victims of WWII were honoured by NATO member states’ ambassadors, EU member states, Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union jointly. ‘It is probably the first case like this,’ said Arnoldas Pikžirnis, adviser of the Lithuanian Prime Minister, during the commemorations.