8 May in different perspectives – part 6

In many countries that were involved in the European part of the war, a “Day of Liberation” or a “Day of Victory” over Nazi Germany is celebrated. Since 2004, the UN has asked its member states to commemorate 8 and/or 9 May each year “in honour of all victims of the Second World War” as “Days of Remembrance and Reconciliation”.

For many European states, however, 8 May is not the day with the greatest significance. In Italy, for example, the “Festa della Liberazione” is celebrated on 25 April and in Denmark it is “Danmarks befrielse” on 4 May.

Photo: Nationalmuseet – National Museum of Denmark / CC BY-SA

 We have selected a few examples.

Italy: 25 April – Festa della Liberazione (Liberation Day)

Russia 9: May – День Победы (Victory Day)

Denmark: 5 May – Danmarks befrielse (Liberation Day)

The Netherlands: 5 May – Bevrijdingsdag (Liberation Day)

8 May 2020 is a one-time official holiday for the State of Berlin. In memory of the end of the World War 75 years ago, a “Festival of Encounters” was supposed to take place. In other federal states, the day has been an official Day of Remembrance for some time.

8 May is not a national holiday, however. The question whether and how the day should be commemorated is still being grappled with. The ambivalent evaluations play a major role here: interpretations ranging between defeat and liberation are also a result of the East and West German division in the past. Recently, there have been more and more voices calling for this. In social media, we have found some articles whose authors argue for the introduction as a holiday.

Reiner Hoffmann, Chairman of the German Trade Union Federation (DGB): “8 May should become a public holiday – as a day against racism, exclusion and discrimination of any kind.” (Instagram, 29.01.2020)

Peggy Parnass, Holocaust survivor: “This way perhaps even the last German person will accept that 8 May 1945 is not a day of defeat but a day of a great victory.” (Instagram, 21.04.2020)

Esther Berajano, Holocaust survivor: “8 May must become a holiday! A day on which the liberation of humanity from the Nazi regime can be celebrated. This has been overdue for seven decades.” (Instagram, 28.01.2020)

The third example showed Esther Berajano, born in 1924, who as a Holocaust survivor and member of the “Auschwitz Committee in the Federal Republic of Germany”, advocated the introduction of 8 May as a public holiday. In January 2020, she addressed “the rulers and all people who want to learn from history” in an open letter :

“I demand: May 8 must become a holiday! A day on which the liberation of humanity from the Nazi regime can be celebrated. This has been overdue for seven decades. Perhaps it can help to finally make understood that 8 May 1945 is the day of liberation, the end of the NS-regime. Like many others from the concentration camps, I too was forced on a death march. Only at the beginning of May were we liberated by American and Russian soldiers. 8 May (as a holiday) would give the opportunity to reflect on the great hopes of humanity: freedom, equality, brotherhood – and sisterhood.”

The entire text can be found here in German.