On September 1st, 1939 the German invasion to Poland marked the beginning of the Second World War. Almost simultaneously, the USSR attacked Poland on September 1stfrom the east and occupied the greatest part of the country’s territory - Western Belarus and Western Ukraine. In June 1940, the USSR took Bessarabia. Northern Bukovyna was annexed by Romania. After the reunification of the Ukrainian SSR and Western Ukraine, the population grew by 8,9 millions and by the middle of 1941 reached 41,7 millions. The territory of the Republic became 560 thousand square kilometers.
On June 22, 1941 Germany and its allied powers invaded the Soviet Union from three strategic directions. Having had a lack of experienced military commanders, as many of them became the subject of repression by Stalin regime before the War, the Red Army suffered great losses and the soldiers often found themselves surrounded. By the end of September, the Red Army left Odessa, and in the middle of October the battles were expanded near Kharkiv and Donbas. Kyiv was occupied on September 19, 1941.
In December 1941, the Wehrmacht suffered its first defeat near Moscow. In the course of counterattack, the Red Army drew the Germans back by 400 km.
Nonetheless, 1942 was still unsuccessful. The catastrophe near Kharkiv, where three armies were surrounded and crushed was one of the greatest tragedies. In July 1942 Sevastopol fell and the retreated Soviet troops left the last settlements in the territory of Donbas, Ukraine.
Adolf Hitler gave a considerable portion of occupied Ukrainian land to his ally, the Prime Minister of Romania I. Antonesku. They created a new Romanian province named “Transnistria” with the center in Odessa. West-Ukrainian lands were subject to governor-generalship which embraced the greatest part of Poland. The Right Bank and the greater part of the Left Bank of the Dniper river and areas adjacent to the Crimea created “Reichscommisariat of Ukraine”.
Nazi considered the territory of Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, as the life space (Lebensraum) for German people. While Hitler`s Nazis occupied the Ukrainian land in 1941, they completely exterminated Jewish and Roma population, as well as all other people suspected of not being loyal to the Reich. Thousands of people starved to death. During the occupation of 1941-1944 Ukraine was covered with a network of 280 concentration camps and 180 camps for war prisoners. About 2 million Ukrainians were taken to forced labor in the labor camps in Germany as the Ostarbeiters.
Nearly 320 Ukrainian villages with their inhabitants were burned to the ground. Belarus Khatyn with 149 killed residents, Czech Lidice with 320 massacred, the French village - Oradour-sur-Glane, where 642 of its inhabitants killed by a German Waffen-SS are included in the annals of Nazi terror in the occupied territories as the symbols of the mass extermination of civilians. But the biggest one-stage Nazi punitive action against the civilian population was held on 1-2 March 1943 in the village Koryukovka in Chernihiv, Ukraine. Nearly seven thousand people were shot or burned alive in this Polissyan village!
The two largest single mass killing by the Nazi regime in Ukraine were massacres in Babi Yar (ravine in the capital Kiev, Ukraine) and in Odessa city. On September 29–30, 1941, in Babi Yar 33,771 Jews, communists, gypsies, Ukrainian nationalists, Red Army’s soldiers, and civilian hostages were killed by Nazi. The Odessa massacre was committed by the Romanian troops in October 1941 - there more than 50,000 Jews were killed.
The population of the occupied Ukraine aggressively struggled against invaders. Invaluable contribution to the victory was made by the underground fighters and partisans who killed 465,000 enemy soldiers and officers, destroyed 411 enemy garrisons and policemen stations, 56 military headquarters, derailed 5019 military trainloads, undermined the 1566 tanks and armored vehicles, 13,500 vehicles, disabled 820 guns and mortars, shot down or destroyed on the ground 211 aircraft, sank 105 ships, barges and boats, blew up 607 rail and 1589 highway bridges, about 2600 industrial objects.
While at the beginning of the war resistance of the population was „spontaneous” the increase in occupants’ punitive actions caused the growth of rows of underground fighters. According to various estimates, nearly 2.2 million residents of Ukraine actively fight back, among which 620,000 partisans and underground fighters, who were organized in 46 large partisan formations, 2000 partisan groups and 3800 underground patriotic organizations and groups. The most efficient partisan raids were carried out by the formations led by the well-known partisan commanders S.Kovpak, O.Saburovov, S.Grishin and O.Fedorov.
Significant contribution to the fight against the Nazi invaders was made by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, which was formed in Volyn on October 14, 1942.
On December 19, 1942, the enemies were dislodged from the first Ukrainian villages. After the victory on the Kursk Bulge in July 1943, Soviet troops counterattacked and quickly liberated Left Bank of Ukraine and Donbas. Kyiv was liberated on November 6, 1943.
In October 1944, the entire Ukrainian territory was free from enemy forces. Transcarpathian Ukraine was reunited with Ukraine in November 1944.
After landing American and English forces in Normandy in June of 1944, the defeat of Germany became inevitable. The Berlin operation, in which the troops of the 1st and 2nd Belorusian and 1st Ukrainian fronts took part (total of 2.5 million people), became the last page in the Second World War in Europe. On May 9, 1945, the statement of unconditional capitulation was signed in the presence of Soviet, American, English and French representatives.
The results of the war and the postwar world order were determined by mutual actions of the countries of the anti-Hitler coalition (first of which were the Teheran and Crimean conferences). The conference in San Francisco in June 1945, founded the United Nations Organization. Ukraine and Belarus, the only republics of the former USSR for the recognizable contribution to the defeat of Nazism, were among the founding nations of the United Nations Organization.
Ukrainian nation was among other nations that not only had sustained many losses during the Second World War but also apply every effort to free the world from Nazism. About 6 million Ukrainians served in the armed forces of the countries of Anti-Hitlerism Coalition. More than two thousand of Ukrainians were honored with highest military award - Soviet Union Hero medal. Twenty nine of them were honored two times. About 3 millions of Ukrainian soldiers were killed. Around 8 - 10 million people born in Ukraine perished during the War. The part of Ukraine in the all Soviet Union losses surpassed 40%.
Marking the 69-th Anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe, we remember all those who stood in the way of the Nazism and we are proud of the determination and unity of those who opposed evil and violence.
Considering the significant losses of Ukraine during the Second World War, our country has always stood for strengthening international mechanisms for the peaceful settlement of any conflicts and was an ardent supporter of the policy of disarmament. In 1994, in exchange for the guaranties of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, which was given by all nuclear states, Ukraine renounced its powerful nuclear arsenal. However, in February 2014 the Russian Federation, in defiance of given warranties and brutally beaked the International Law and World Security Order, has annexed the Ukrainian Crimea and started semi-war in the Eastern and Southern regions of Ukraine.
In this hard situation, Ukraine relies on the assistance of the International community in its struggle against Russian military aggression and doing its utmost to restore peace and order in the state.
May 8, 2014