«Are you even certain the war is over?»
Both the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, as well as the southern Russian town of Volgograd, formerly called Stalingrad, still carry the title of «City of Heroes». In the former Soviet Union this title was bestowed upon those twelve cities that fought most bravely against the invasion of the «Wehrmacht» (the armed forces of the Third Reich) in the «Great Patriotic War» as World War II is called. The photographs date from August 2007 in Kiev, as well as around the «Day of Victory» on May 9, 2009 in Volgograd. Up till today, May 9 is one of the most important festive days in most of the states of the former Soviet Union; it recalls the victory over Hitler’s Germany.
The esthetics of this political staging may appear strange or may even disgust you, however one should take into account that the Soviet Union with their 25 million war victims bewails the largest number of people who died during World War II. Even today not only war veterans, but also lots of young people take an active part at this culture of remembrance. In view of the intensity of the celebrations during the «Victory Day», the popularity of the enormous war museums for the young and the young at heart, as well as the undaunted pride of the victory one may truly ask when a war is absolutely over.
In his novel «The kindly ones» («Die Wohlgesinnten») Jonathan Littell has his protagonist say: «Are you even certain the war is over? In manner of speaking the war is never over, or else it will be over only when the last child born on the last day of war is safely dead and buried, and even then it will live on in his or her children and then in theirs, till finally the legacy will be diluted, the memories will fray and the pain will fade away».