Addressing the public on a Victory Day, the governor of Ukraine’s southern Kherson region trampled on the feelings of many veterans and desecrated the memory of all those who perished during the war against Nazi Germany by calling Hitler a “liberator.”
Governor of Kherson region Yuri Odarchenko was booed by thousands including WWII veterans when he told the previously cheering crowd that the Soviet Union tried to enslave Ukraine, while Hitler on the other hand tried to bring freedom to their land.
“Those [Soviet] aggressors justified their capture not only by their desire to seize others' territory and enslave the people, but they also put forward slogans about liberating nations and people that inhabit the lands which Hitler hoped to capture,” Odarchenko told the crowd.
Painting his version of the events further, he challenged history by saying that “if you read history books, we have a number of documentaries on this, then we see that he [Hitler] first of all put forward a slogan of liberating people from the communist yoke, and liberating people from the tyrant Stalin,” Odarchenko said, sparking anger and outraged by the crowd.
As thousands yelled out “shame”, a young woman with a child approached the governor, stripped him of the microphone, before throwing it away.
Historians, citing data available from Second Secretary of the Regional Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine, shows that Nazi forces in Kherson region killed 72,130 citizens and shipped about 40,000 to Germany to work in labour camps, while Germans ruled a crucial port on the Black Sea and Dnieper River from August 21, 1941 to March 13, 1944. Other historians place the figures at 105,000 Soviet citizens killed and more than 60,000 sent to Germany as slave labor.
День памяті загиблих у Другій Світовій війні Херсон парк Слави pic.twitter.com/lZTtnKiapo
— Ирина Тарадыменко (@taurus631) May 9, 2014
As far as Hitler's vision of liberty and justice for the people of Ukraine, there are those among the veterans who still remember what Nazi reign in Kherson was all about. Many witness accounts of the Nazi's actions were written down in history books.
“All those arrived were stripped naked and led to the trench,” eyewitness A. K. Mestkovsky recalled in V. Baraniuk’s historic study of Hitler’s ‘liberation’ of Soviet ‘sub-humans’ in Kherson region. “The adult women and the elderly were stripped to their underwear, placed by the trench on their knees, and shot by the machine guns.”
In the autumn of 1941, about 10,000 Jews were killed in the city of Kherson alone. It is estimated that at least 47,000 Red Army soldiers died while force-crossing the Dnieper as they tried to liberate the city from the Nazis.
The Kherson governor offended the veterans on their most important holiday, Russia's deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Rogozin, said in his twitter post, calling him a “bastard.”
Governor of Kherson Province insulted veterans justifying Hitler at a rally in honour of the Victory Day: http://t.co/cNY2HsaLF8 Bastard
— Dmitry Rogozin (@DRogozin) May 9, 2014
Any attempts to rewrite history and equate executors with their victims are unacceptable, the Russian leadership continues to stress. Russian President Vladimir Putin has numerously reiterated Russia's position on the Soviet nation’s struggle during the Great Patriotic War and said future generations should know the truth about WWII heroes.
“We will always guard this sacred, unfading truth, and we will not allow the heroes to be betrayed or forgotten – everyone who saved peace on the planet, not sparing oneself [from death],” Putin said at the Red Square parade on May 9.