Veteran marks VE Day in Ukraine and remembers his grandson killed in Donbas

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By Euronews
Veteran marks VE Day in Ukraine and remembers his grandson killed in Donbas

As VE Day marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe. In Ukraine the commemoration has extra significance as young people are continuing to die in the east of the country.

War veteran Ivan Zaluzhnyi attended the WWII Museum in Kyiv to mark the occasion and remember his 23-year-old grandson, also called Ivan, who died in the conflict in Donbas.

The 97-year-old warned his grandson of the dangers of war:“I know there is no war without victims. I told him that I saw my friends dieing on the frontline. So Ivan knew exactly what war entailed. Still he said to me “I want to protect my homeland, my Ukraine. I want to fight as my grandfather did.”

No grandparent expects outlive their grandchild, but in August 2014 Ivan saw young Ivan laid to rest, killed in conflict.

The story of Ivan, who fought the Nazis in the defining battle for Stalingrad, came to the attention of award-winning Ukrainian filmmaker Oles Sanin.

Sanin produced a 45 second short featuring Ivan’s story.

As the violence in the east continues Ivan had a message for those engaged in the fighting: “We used to share the same trench, we shared a piece of bread, if we had nothing to smoke, we shared our one cigarette. I don’t blame the Russians, but I say:” Guys can you hear me out there, please, appeal, write letters to the Russian president, what are you doing? We fought together!”

At the ceremony Ivan met one of his former foes who fought for the National Liberation Movement, an anti-Soviet organisation.

They exchanged stories and shook hands with dignity.